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International Audit of Air Quality in Europe

February 13, 2017

The Netherlands Court of Audit and the Supreme Audit Office of Poland coordinate a European audit of air quality in which 15 Supreme Audit Institutions are engaged, as well as the European Court of Auditors. The participants in the project gathered in January 2017 in Poland to discuss the latest report on the air quality in Europe and to develop a joint audit model.

On 26-27 January 2017, in Kraków, Poland, a working conference was held with the participation of representatives of all the institutions involved in the European air quality audit. The main objective of the meeting was to work out a common parallel audit model. Also, representatives from the European Environment Agency, at the invitation of the conference organisers, presented the latest report on the air quality in Europe.

While opening the meeting, President of the SAI of Poland Krzysztof Kwiatkowski recalled that over 85 percent of the citizens of EU cities breathe the air that contains PM2,5 and benzo[a]pyrene. Unfortunately, Poland is on top of these statistics. Air pollution is the reason for some 45,000 people dying in Poland every year.

The Supreme Audit Office of Poland has many times alarmed that special devices should be installed in plants so as to reduce the volume of dust and gaseous pollutants, and that it is necessary to reduce low emission from household boiler rooms, as well as to allow self-governments to establish zones with limited traffic emission. Possibly, the recommendations of this very audit – on the European scale – will have a greater impact on politicians.

The idea to have a European audit of air protection was initiated within the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions – EUROSAI. The coordination of the audit lies with the SAIs of the Netherlands and Poland. The participants comprise both European Union Member States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Spain), as well as those from outside the EU structures (Albania, Georgia, Israel, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Switzerland). The European Court of Auditors also joined the initiative.

The objective of the audit is to evaluate the activities of individual states aimed at increasing the quality of air. The joint audit report (next to individual national audit reports) is intended to assist the Supreme Audit Institutions in presenting coherent conclusions and recommendations.

President of the Polish SAI Krzysztof Kwiatkowski emphasised that this would be a unique project. ‘Thanks to the audits carried out in your states, we will be able to simultaneously examine and evaluate the activity of the entities responsible for air protection in different countries, and to compare the solutions they apply,’ said President Kwiatkowski to the participants in the conference. He added that joint and coordinated efforts were extremely important in the area, because only thanks to such efforts the air quality could actually improve.

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