The ECA’s ethical guidelines are based on the values of independence, integrity, objectivity, transparency and professionalism. They apply to all ECA Members and staff.

Ethical Guidelines

The ECA endorses the requirements set out in the INTOSAI Code of Ethics(opens in new window) (ISSAI 130) and has included them in the first part of its ethical guidelines, which are applicable to all ECA Members and staff. The aim of these guidelines is to help ensure that daily decisions on both auditing and the running of the institution comply with the principles laid down in the INTOSAI Code. The second part of the guidelines focuses on the ethical obligations applicable to staff who are subject to the Staff Regulations of Officials.

Code of Conduct for ECA Members

ECA Members are subject to a Code of Conduct setting out their obligation to observe the following ethical principles: integrity, independence, objectivity, competence, professional behaviour, confidentiality, transparency, dignity, commitment, loyalty, discretion and collegiality. 

The ECA publishes its Members’ declarations of interests and absence of conflict of interest in the Organisation Chart.

Reviews of the ECA’s ethical framework

A peer review of the ECA’s ethical framework was carried out in 2019 by the Supreme Audit Institutions of Poland and Croatia, both of which are experienced in the field. The Peer Review Report concluded that the ECA had established sound standards, particularly in its ethical guidelines for all staff and the Code of Conduct for its Members. The peer review team did, however, make specific recommendations for an even clearer, more coherent and continually improving ethical framework at the ECA.

An external consultant reviewed and evaluated the ECA’s ethical framework again in 2022, and made a number of recommendations in different areas that were used to update the ECA’s Ethical Guidelines.

Ethics Committee

The President proposes candidates for the Ethics Committee on the basis of their ability, experience and professional qualities. The Committee is composed of three members, i.e. two ECA Members and an external member, who are selected and appointed by the Court for a term of three years (renewable once).

The Ethics Committee discusses any ethical matters it considers relevant to the ECA's standards and reputation; this includes assessing Members’ outside activities.

Permanent members:

  • George Marius Hyzler, ECA Member
  • Lefteris Christoforou, ECA Member
  • Melchior Wathelet, former Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Alternate members:

  • François-Roger Cazala, ECA Member
  • Nikolaos Milionis, ECA Member
  • Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro, former Judge of the General Court of the European Union

Ethics Advisers

The Secretary-General appoints ethics advisers from among ECA staff.

Any member of staff has the right to and indeed may seek confidential and impartial advice from these advisers with regard to the following:

  • the values and principles that are expected of staff (e.g. independence, integrity, impartiality, professionalism);
  • specific sensitive matters, such as actual or apparent conflicts of interest, acceptance of gifts, etc.;

Gifts and hospitality

ECA Members may not accept gifts worth more than €150. If, by virtue of diplomatic custom, they receive gifts worth more than this amount, they must hand them over to the Secretary- General. The Court’s Secretariat keeps a register of gifts valued at over €150, which is publicly available, and can be found below.​ ECA Members may not accept payment in any form for outside activities or publications occurring during their term of office. Should a payment be made, it must be donated to a charity of their choice.

ECA staff may not accept gifts, favours, such as meals or accommodation, or any other advantage with a pecuniary value of more than €50 offered by third parties. Gifts worth between €50 and €150 may only be accepted with the Appointing Authority’s permission.

Occupational activities of senior officials after leaving the service

Under Article 16 of the Staff Regulations, after leaving the service, all officials continue to be bound by the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance of certain appointments or benefits. Any former officials who intend to engage in an occupational activity within two years of leaving the service must inform their former institution, so that it can decide whether to forbid it or grant approval (subject to restrictions, where appropriate).

Furthermore, in the case of former senior officials, the third paragraph of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations provides that, during the 12 months after leaving the service, the Appointing Authority will, in principle, prohibit any lobbying or advocacy activity vis-à-vis staff of their former institution for their business, clients or employers on matters for which they were responsible during their last three years in the service.

The fourth paragraph of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations requires each institution, in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council, to publish information annually on the implementation of the third paragraph, including a list of the cases assessed.

Information on the occupational activities of senior ECA officials after leaving the service is presented in this report:

Communication on the publication of information concerning the occupational activities of senior officials after leaving the service (Paragraphs three and four of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations) – 2022 Annual Report

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