Student reflections on the Bilbao workshop

On the 31st January and 1st February, I had the opportunity to assist the III EUFINACCO Workshop hosted by the Deusto Faculty of Law and organized by the SAPIA Jean Monnet Module held by Maria Luisa Sánchez Barrueco. This event was a great contribution to my academic formation as an International Relations and Law student. Indeed, during this event, I could listen to numerous experts and professionals of the EUFINACCO Network offering several conclusions on the subject that marked the title of the Workshop: the Financial accountability in the European Union institutions, policy and practice.

The event was opened by the Vice-dean of the Faculty of Law, Marta Enciso, who offered the stage to the first speaker, Hartmut Aden. Hartmut together with Gilberto Moggia, EU official at the European Court of Auditors, offered the first insight by explaining what accountability and the Court of Auditors are, as well as their importance in this research project. I must say that this introduction was key to the development of the Workshop, especially, for those of us who had absolutely no knowledge on the subject.

The following day, the Workshop was started by Gabriele Cipriani, also Official at the EU Court of Auditors, who explained the challenges of visibility of the EU Revenue and some possible solutions for integration through visibility. After this, Justyna Lacny (Polish Academy of Sciences), Andreea Hancu (Universitat de Valencia), Claudia Gloazzo (University of Strathclyde) and Maaike Damen-Koedijk (Tilburg University) offered their knowledge from a more practical perspective as they described the financial corrections, the EU Development fund or the financial instruments in the Cohesion Policy and the accountability process of the Cohesion Policy from the Dutch system.

Likewise, Giacomo Benedetto (Royal Holloway University of London) completed the accountability of EU Funds explaining the example of the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Finally, Paul Stephenson offered some remarks on the differences between the parliamentary scrutiny and the audit process of the EU Court of Auditors and Maria Luisa commented the many issues regarding accountability in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU.

I think that, if the first day was the outline, the second was full of colour and details. The picture was fabulously completed and exhibited during the two days and it taught the public not only the theoretical framework of accountability, but also its issues and application to the European Institutions. Thus, the most important thing that a student can extract from this experience is the possibility to learn about a European reality almost unknown and the chance to improve their critical thought when analysing the European Union. Even if some of the discussed problems saw no solutions, the formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution, as Albert Einstein used to say.

by Alex Soroiu, undergraduate student of International Relations and Law, Deusto University.


40 years of auditing the European Development Fund


Last week I had the opportunity to present my MA thesis at the third EUFINACCO Workshop on Financial Accountability in the European Union with a view to the forthcoming edited volume analysing Financial Accountability (Institutions, Policy and Practice) at the University of Deusto in Bilbao.

My thesis entitled “40 years of audit of the European Development Fund: The European Court of Auditors Methods and Results”, supervised by Prof. Dr. Ana Zorio Grima from the University of Valencia, provides insights into the work of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on one of the main EU financial instruments. 2018 brings a shift in the ECA’s strategy with its activity more oriented towards performance audit. The scope of my research is to ascertain whether the ECA’s shift in focus from financial and compliance audit towards a more performance audit-oriented approach is supported by the results of the European Development Fund (EDF) audits so far.

The research aims at determining the impact of the evolution of audit methodology since 1977 to date, on the quality and usefulness of audit results. The analysis finds that the ECA’s audit of the EDF’s internal control systems contributed to the improvement of the controls through the observations and recommendations included in the reports. This improvement has been key to assuring that EDF accounts are reliable and transactions are generally legal and regular. It has allowed the Court to shift resource allocation from financial to performance audit and to focus on gaining assurance over the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of public spending (value for money).


Exploring the EDF’s policy framework, the paper includes considerations on public accountability, describes the ECA’s methodology and contains an analysis of the ECA’s financial and compliance audits of the EDF over forty years (1977-2017). The findings suggest that the ECA’s introduction of audit methodology and adoption of internationally accepted audit standards has improved the impact of audit findings and recommendations, and also contributed to the overall improvement of the audit process.

The research allows us to observe that EDF control systems have gradually improved owing to the ECA’s recommendations. It identifies audit issues that could help improve the use of resources that the ECA allocates to EDF financial and compliance audit. The paper also opens up new research paths on issues related to EDF performance audit and other ECA matters.

This research was made under the umbrella of the ECA’s 2017 postgraduate research grant programme (11th Edition). The grant gave me the opportunity to visit and consult the EU Historical Archives in Florence and the ECA’s archives and library and Luxembourg as well as to exchange ideas with auditors at the ECA involved with EDF audit. At the same time, thanks to the grant I had the pleasure of meeting previous grant holders, co-convenors of EUFINACCO, Maria Luisa Sanchez Barrueco and Paul Stephenson, who invited me to join the research network.

I’d like to thank all the participants for their comments and feedback on my thesis which will certainly improve its quality and value-added for interested parties. I am very happy to join Eufinacco and participate in any future joint projects on financial accountability and EU affairs.

Andreea Hancu Budui, University of Valencia


EUFINACCO workshop: 31 January-2 February, Deusto Law School, Bilbao

  • What does ‘accountability’ mean in the specific field of European Union financial management?
  • How is EU budget implementation held to account?
  • Which mechanisms operate to hold European public policies to budget accountability?
  • Which accountability breaches or institutional constrains do watchdog institutions face in practice?
  • Are these organs well equipped to cope with innovative financial instruments increasingly used by EU executive bodies?
  • How do accountability breaches impact on broader EU legitimacy and citizens’ trust?

The EUFINACCO UACES Collaborative Research Network kindly invites you to reflect and discuss these and other questions during its III EUFINACCO CRN Workshop, hosted by the Deusto Law School in Bilbao (31 January – 2 February), alongside researchers and practitioners from all across Europe.

This event will be the last activity organised by the EUFINACCO (Financial Accountability in the European Union) as UACES Collaborative Research Network. You can get a glimpse of our membership, activities and achievements over the 2015-2018 period and the conference programme here.

Attendance to the workshop is open and free; however, your registration is much appreciated in order to organise the smooth running of the event (feel free to contact derecho3[at] Academic queries should be addressed to the event organiser marialuisa.sanchez[at]

This event is generously funded by UACES, the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission, and the Deusto Law School.

María-Luisa Sánchez-Barrueco

Call for Papers: Workshop on Policy Evaluation in the EU

Dr. Paul Stephenson (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University) and Prof. Frans Leeuw (Faculty of Law, Maastricht University; Director of the Netherlands Institute for Applied Security and Justice Research WODC, affiliated with the Dutch Ministry of Justice; former president of the European Evaluation Society) are planning a workshop on ‘Policy Evaluation in the European Union’.

The workshop will take place on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 January 2018 at Maastricht University, Campus Brussels, Belgium.

The aim of the workshop is to stimulate debate on approaches to policy evaluation in the EU by bring together EU policy researchers with scholars from the evaluation community. We hope to explore conceptual and methodological approaches to engaging in evaluation, and to take critical perspectives on current evaluation practices in the world of policy making and implementation.

We welcome proposals for research papers addressing the following themes:

  • Approaches to EU policy, programme, or project evaluation
  • Ex ante, mid term and ex post perspectives on policy analysis, including monitoring
  • Theories, concepts and frameworks applied in the evaluation of EU policy
  • Perspectives on effectiveness, efficiency and economy in EU policy studies
  • The link between implementation and evaluation and/or evaluation and agenda-setting
  • Gauging success and failure in EU policy analysis, including framing and discourse
  • Contributions from different perspectives on evaluation, and in particular, realist evaluations of policy making and implementation
  • Evaluation actors, institutions and evaluation culture in the EU​

These proposed topics are indicative and additional proposals fitting the topic are welcome.

Abstracts (250 words) to be sent to by 1 November 2017.  First versions of the presented papers should be submitted, and circulated, by mid-January 2018.

The workshop organisers intend to publish selected papers in a special issue or edited volume, subject to review of the final version of the papers.

The workshop is co-financed by the Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM), FASoS Research Stimulation Fund (RSF), Stichting Universiteitsfond Limburg (SWOL) and the Law Faculty of Maastricht University. Some funding is available to support the travel and accommodation expenses of accepted participants.

For more information please contact:

Research associate opportunity

The Chair of Public Policy at the University of Bamberg invites
applications for one position as research associate in the research
project “Combatting Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators (COFFERS)”
funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020).

The position is designed to promote early-career researchers and give
successful applicants the opportunity to pursue either a PhD or a
post-doc project. The salary is determined by the collective bargaining
agreement for public employees in Germany (TV-L 13). For a researcher
pursuing a PhD, the position would be for a period of 30 months at 50%
of paid working time. A post-doc researcher would typically be employed
on the basis of a full-time (100%) contract for a period of 15 months.

Our Faculty is an equal opportunities employer and encourages
applications from female candidates. Where candidates are otherwise
equally qualified, preference will be given to candidates with
disabilities. The Otto Friedrich University Bamberg has been certified
by the Hertie Foundation as a family-friendly university and is
committed to creating a balance between work and family life.

Your Tasks:
•    Pursue a PhD or post-doc project that is related to COFFERS work
package 3 (“jurisdictions”) and the overall COFFERS project. A brief
description of the work package is available at Info on COFFERS and all work
packages can be found at
•    Contribute to our COFFERS work package through conference
presentations, co-authorship of articles and data collection.

Your Qualifications:
•    An excellent university degree in Political Science, Economics,
Sociology or related subject
•    A special interest in International Political Economy and
international and comparative tax policy
•    Effective command of social science research methods (qualitative
and/or quantitative)
•    Proficient command of English
•    Ability to organize yourself efficiently and work collegially in a team

Your Application:
Please send your application, a brief description of your PhD or
post-doc project and one work sample (e.g. MA thesis, seminar paper,
working paper, journal article or chapter) in one pdf document to
Deadline: 7 July 2017.

For further information about our team and our work, visit and If you
have any further enquiries about the positions, don’t hesitate to
contact Thomas Rixen or Lukas Hakelberg at

Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Prof. Dr. Thomas Rixen
Professur für Politikwissenschaft, insbesondere international
vergleichende Politikfeldanalyse
Feldkirchenstraße 21, 96052 Bamberg
E-Mail: or

Second EUFINACCO workshop in Berlin

On 17-19 May 2017 the three co-convenors of EUFINACCO, Paul Stephenson (Maastricht University), Hartmut Aden (Berlin School of Economics and Law) and Maria Luisa Sanchez Barrueco (Deusto University) held the second of three workshops on financial accountability in the EU at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.


The event brought together 18 researchers and practitioners, including staff of the European Parliament and European Court of Auditors, to explore EU budgetary accountability from a range of policy, institutional and conceptual perspectives. Academic institutions from 6 member states were represented: Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain.


EUFINACCO now has 25 members from various academic disciplines (political science, public policy, law, economics, sociology, history and criminology). The second workshop gave an opportunity for several PhD students and younger scholars to present their work, including Mechthild Herzog (University of Luxembourg), Emma van Gelder (University of Utrecht) and Napoleon Xanthoulis (Kings College London). Some novel topics were discussed including new financial tools such as EU Trust Funds and the role of EU enforcement authorities. Papers addressed the ECB, ECA, EP and Commission, as well as the UN and private actors.


The EUFINACCO event followed on from the first workshop held at Maastricht in May 2016. A third event for book authors will be held in Bilbao in Spring 2018. It is hoped to develop the EUFINACCO network and brand long-term via an application for funding.

Three network members publish in special issue on supranational activism

Two network members, Justyna Łacny and Paul Stephenson, have published research articles in the new special issue of the Journal of Contemporary European Research (Volume 13, Issue 2)  examining the supranational activism of EU institutions. The issue is co-edited by network member David Howarth.

Łacny, of the Polish Academy of Science, examines the case law of the Court of the Justice of the European Union and its role regarding the financial corrections imposed by the Commission on the Member States. Stephenson, of Maastricht University, explores the entrepreneurship of the European Court of Auditors in setting international audit standards and what it has meant for the institution over time.

The special issue, co-edited by David Howarth, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Luxembourg, is the result of a fruitful workshop held in Luxembourg in June 2016, organised with David’s co-editor, Mechthild Roos, also of the University of Luxembourg.

The joint introduction to the issue, entitled ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ sets the context for the 11 original research articles addressing 7 different bodies: European Parliament, European Commission, European Central Bank, European Court of Auditors, Court of the Justice of the European Union, Europol, Committee of the Regions, and the bureaucracies beyond.

All articles are freely accessible and can be downloaded here.