The transformation of the Court of Auditors

2 min
Image of the Court of Auditors building

On 22 July 2016 the Court of Auditors published an extensive report in which it analysed the foreign action of the different autonomous communities in the period 2011-2014. Seen with today's eyes it is very interesting to see how that report, to which ARA has had access, did not question the external action of autonomous communities, including the Generalitat de Catalunya's, and limited itself to making recommendations towards strengthening synergies between the State and communities to avoid duplicities or increase controls.

In the case of Catalonia, the auditors analysed in depth four lines of ACCIÓ subsidies aimed at the internationalisation of Catalan companies and the attraction of talent. After reviewing a dozen files of each of these lines, the conclusion is that there was no significant irregularity that would justify any sanction. And why? Well, precisely because this report is an example of what does fall within the competence of the Court of Auditors, which is to check whether the money has been spent in accordance with the procedures established by law. And that is that.

The contrast between this report and the current Foreign Affairs case is abysmal. One, from 2016, is a professional audit, made by technicians, in which the files on grants of aid and subsidies are analysed. On the other hand, the 2021 report is made by a political court, in which what is looked at is not the spending procedures, but what was said in institutional acts or visits and, based on a specific pronouncements, all spending is challenged. It is like an Inquisition that acts retroactively, violating rights such as freedom of expression and creating a climate of terror and legal uncertainty among those affected. The transformation has been total.

With this political bias, the Court of Auditors could also declare illegal the budget of the Department of Education (for indoctrinating children by teaching the history of Catalonia) or the Department of Culture, or funding of public media. It is not surprising, then, that among civil servants, and especially among auditors, who, by the way, ultimately depend on the Ministry of Finance, there is a certain psychosis when it comes to giving the green light to files that a political court could, retroactively, deem illegal. And it is clear that this action is intended to frighten public workers and to limit the political ambition of the Generalitat to the maximum in order to reduce it to a simple administrative body.

The Court of Auditors has no right to say what public money should be spent on, because it is beyond its scope, which is only to check that the correct administrative procedures are followed and that the public action does not result in economic damage to the administration. And the auditors are the same. Now the Court of Auditors wants the Generalitat's auditors to become political censors, defending right-wing ideas and thus adulterating the functioning of the administration. And this is what neither the Generalitat nor the Spanish government can allow.