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Accountability and Public Policy Audit in the European Union (APPLAUD)
Start date: Sep 1, 2013, End date: Aug 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

There is growing crisis of confidence among EU citizens in the democratic accountability of the EU and its institutions. There is uncertainty among many political actors about the added vale of EU policies paid for via the EU budget. More than ever, the EU must demonstrate the chains and mechanisms of accountability vis-à-vis its member states and their general publics as to the correct and effective use of taxpayers’ money. The EU budget also remains a mystery to many Europeans, with ordinary citizens unclear about who is supposed to ‘give account’, for what and to whom. Reports in the media on audited expenditure often centres in a fixated way on a percentage error rate, ignoring the bigger picture of who should be made accountable and how. Ex-post budgetary discharge has itself become a ‘short cut’ for accountability. Audit is meant to be a shared governance arrangement with the member states but there is ambiguity over roles and a negative perception of the EU institutions’ ability to deliver policy effectively, in a way that represents value for money.APPLAUD (Accountability and Public Policy Audit in the European Union) will analyse the institutionalisation of audit. It will examine the structures through which the EU has come to ‘give account’ of its public policies, but also how institutions themselves have shaped what we understand by ‘accountability’ in the EU. The results will be an enhanced understanding of the link between accountability and institutionalisation, and the evolution of the Court’s role and practice. The project will contribute to key debates in public policy on government and accountability, and to the state-of-the-art by bringing new theoretical, methodological and empirical dimensions to the study of financial control in the EU since the 1950s. It adopts a mixed method approach of document analysis, elite interviews and questionnaires, and reconciles the literature on accountability with new institutionalism and political sociology.

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