Press Release of the SAO, responding the concluding statement of the European Parliament (EP) CONT mission to Hungary as of May 17, 2023

The State Audit Office of Hungary rejects any statement which attempt to influence the independent and professional operation of the SAO by using content contradicting the facts and by exerting political pressure. The delegation of the Mission of the Committee on Budgetary Control (EP CONT) formulated statements on SAO’s audit activities in relation to the use of EU funds without showing any interest towards SAO’s relevant ongoing audits, their actual progress and methodology, or the digitalisation and risk analysis developments affecting these audits, nor did they pose any questions to the management of the SAO in this regard.

During the visit, the delegation was only interested in practices of the SAO’s during the period preceding the current leadership’s term of office, and expected a subjective assessment of the corruption situation, a general, unsubstantiated conclusion, a kind of political statement from the President of the SAO. As the President of the Hungarian supreme audit institution, who has been in office for less than a year, may only base his official opinion on substantiated findings of the audits carried out under his authority, one simply could not make such a general assessment.

It was also unprecedented in the history of the SAO that a member of the EP delegation, a politician from the Democratic Coalition (DK), the party currently audited in relation to campaign expenses, launched a personal assault on the President of the SAO, in an attempt to influence other EP delegates and place the independent SAO under political pressure.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) visited the State Audit Office of Hungary on May 16. The SAO’s press release issued on the visit stated that the SAO prepared detailed information on, among other things, the powers, operations, methodological and organisational renewal of the institution, the ongoing audits on the use of EU funds, presenting the experiences of the audit of the final accounts, EU funds, the audit of EU funds from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, the targeted audit of EU funds under the Rural Development Programme, covering also the renewal of the methodology of audits on public procurement and the planned increase in the number of such audits for the visit of the mission.

However, the members of the delegation consisting of EP politicians did not listen to the information relevant to the subject of the discussion and the presentation was interrupted. The questions of the delegates were then either along the lines of topics not related to EU funds – e.g. Pink Education analysis, the KSH poverty survey, the audit on campaign costs, the quality of motorways qualified as poor by the EP representative, etc. – or focusing on the assessment of the audits conducted in the period before of the term of office of SAO’s new leadership, and on a general assessment of the corruption situation as alleged by the EP delegates. Not a single question was asked about current practices, specific audits or ongoing developments and methodological innovations. The EP’s political body has thus delivered a statement on the current operation of the State Audit Office of Hungary without establishing it on any relevant information, denying himself from the information.  

The State Audit Office of Hungary continues its work on the basis of impartiality and with SAO’s independence in mind, also pursue the significant methodological and organizational renewal started nearly a year ago, enabling more efficient, comprehensive and more in-depth audits in all respects, thus increasing the protection of EU funds by the State Audit Office of Hungary, as well.