On the first day of the Air Quality Meeting of the EUROSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) the supreme audit institutions presented the results of national audits on air quality. Each of these audits is a performance audit and the focus was similar, but the degree and source of air pollution problems revealed by the audits show a different picture.
ECA audit - several countries has been reviewed
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) carried out an audit in six EU memeber states. The Court has audited three countries who receives the highest amount of EU funds such as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Poland. In addition it has also audited three of those with the lowest amount received namely Germany, Italy and Belgium. The audit assessed at european level the possible weaknesses of EU directives, the issue of modernization of combustion equipements as well as the tools and the efficiency of sharing public information at member state level.
According to the ECA's representatives, air quality audit is an important task because in the European Union, a high concentration of particulate matters (PM2.5 and PM10) causes 399,000 deaths per year and 75 thousand people die each year due to high nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations. The former is primarily due to domestic firing and transport, while the latter is clearly the cause of transport.
ECA auditors have analysed differences in target values and indices also the tensions between regional and local government levels. After the completion of the audit in the six countries, the European Court of Auditors analyses the experience with external experts.
National experiences - the factors causing air pollution are different but neighboring countries have identified similar problems
There is a difference between each country in terms of the type and the degree of air pollution that they are facing. While in Albania quarrying is the main cause behind air pollution in Israel and Poland coal power plants cause air pollution. In Slovakia, Romania and the Netherlands, transport also plays a decisive role in the appearance of pollutants, while Estonia excels with the best performace with a ratio under EU limits for all air pollutants which is also due to its favorable geographic loacation.
In the air pollution problems, the participating auditors have also identified similarities as the high concentration of small dust in many countries is caused by residential heating, especially during winter periods. Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Macedonia also face this problem with our country. National audits have already been carried out with some exceptions and audit reports have been disclosed by the Supreme Audit Offices.
On the basis of the reports it can be stated that each country performed a type of performance audit however the methodologies were different. Certain audits are limited to the most polluted areas, others carrying out a country-wide system audit covering all of the control operations. However, the main audit questions were similar, essentially seeking to find out whether measures to improve air quality were effective and efficient and whether national regulations were in line with EU directives.
The Hungarian control system of air quality
On behalf of the State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO) Gábor Görgényi audit manager declared the commitment of SAO to environmental matters and sustainable developement also to the utilization of audits on national level. The manager in his presentation described the Hungarian control system of air quality, stated its goals and evaluated its effectiveness based on the data analysed. The official highlighted that the Hungarian assessment shows an improving tendency in the ration of most air pollutants, on the other hand they also pointed out that the country faces problems associated with the incineration of household waste. They eventually stressed the importance of enhancing environmental and health conscious behavior among citizens.