Irishman takes office as President of the European Court of Auditors

Irishman takes office as President of the European Court of Auditors
Tony Murphy, new ECA President, credit: ECA

Tony Murphy took up his duties on 1 October 2022 as the new President of the European watch dog for a renewable three-year term.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is governed as a collegial supreme audit institution (SAI) by a board of members from all 27 EU member states. Tony Murphy, an Irish national, was elected by the ECA Members on 20 September to serve as the institution’s 12th President for the period from 1 October 2022 to 30 September 2025.

As ECA President, Tony Murphy will serve as ‘first among equals’. The President is in charge of the institution’s corporate strategy, planning and performance management, communication and media relations, legal matters and internal audit, and represents the institution in its external relations.

He is taking over from German national Klaus-Heiner Lehne, who had presided over ECA the since 2016 and guided the institution during troubled times, not the least during the COVID-19 pandemic when it adapted its work to the lockdowns and continued to produce audit reports and scrutinize the Commission’s handling of the crisis.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, ECA strongly condemned the invasion and expressed its full support to Ukraine and its audit institution, the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine (ACU).

Murphy will become the second Irish national leading an EU institution in charge of the checks and balances in the European governance system. The other one is Emily O'Reilly who has served as European Ombudsman since 2013 and was reelected in 2019. Both institutions are often considered as the fourth branches of power, besides the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

He began his career in the late 1970s as an auditor at the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General in Dublin. He became an ECA Member in 2018 and has mainly been responsible for financial audits, including in his capacity as ECA Member for the annual report on the EU budget. He has also been responsible for audits relating to child poverty and regularity of spending in EU cohesion policy.

“It’s a great honour to be elected as President of the ECA. I want to thank the Members of the Court for their expression of confidence in me,” said Tony Murphy shortly after he was elected, “I am very mindful of the great responsibility the role entails. My focus will be on continuing our work that contributes to improving accountability and transparency across all types of EU action. This is important for citizens’ trust in the EU and its finances.”

Tony Murphy becomes President at a time when the EU in general and the ECA in particular are facing major challenges, ECA comments.

One of the most significant tasks for the institution during his mandate will be ensuring that the €1.8 trillion EU budget is managed in a sound and effective manner and also that the NextGenerationEU package is effectively contributing to the economic recovery in the 27 Member States.

In its latest annual audit report in October last year, ECA concluded that the 2020 EU accounts were giving a true and fair view of the union’s financial position but like in previous years identified pervasive errors in the spending. The EU auditors were also concerned about sound financial management in next budget period.

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