A network of independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) was set up in 2013 on the initiative of the Slovak Budget Council (Budgetary Responsibility Council or CBR). This network, open to all independent institutions of the European Union, provides a framework for them to exchange views, expertise and resources on subjects of common interest. It aims to encourage exchanges of information between institutions on their practices, the difficulties encountered in carrying out their tasks, their reading of European texts, etc. The network holds two meetings each year, in spring and autumn. The autumn meetings were held in Bratislava from 2013 to 2015, in Paris in 2016, in Madrid in 2017. The spring meetings are organised in the margins of the OECD meetings (Vienna in 2015, Paris in 2016, Edinburgh in 2016). There are also numerous e-mail exchanges and bilateral meetings between network members.
After two years of informal operation, the network was established more formally in September 2015 at a meeting in Bratislava. An agreement has been signed by 26 independent European institutions from 24 countries. The network has an elected President and Vice-President for two-year terms. José Luis Escriva, President of the Spanish independent institution (Fiscal Responsibility Authority, AIREF) was elected President and re-elected in November 2017. The Vice-President was Ludovit Odor, member of the independent Slovak institution (Council for Budgetary Responsibility, CBR) from 2015 to 2017. Giuseppe Pisauro, President of the Italian institution (Budgetary Office of the Parliament, UPB) succeeded him in November 2017.
The network has set up a European Affairs Committee responsible for preparing plenary meetings, assisting the institutions on matters relating to the application of the Budgetary Pact and organising relations with the authorities of the Union. List of EU IFI network member institutions: Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
The informal network is very useful for exchanging information and comparing working methods. The main subjects discussed in the first meetings of the network, in addition to the arrangements for implementing the European Treaty, were the estimation of the output gap and the structural balance, the classification of one-off and temporary measures and the definition of common principles for IFIs. Recent meetings have focused on the simplification and renovation of the budgetary framework, to which the network wishes to contribute.
The network shall support efforts to better exploit synergies between the rules of the Budgetary Pact and the institutions, respecting the principle of subsidiarity and encouraging national ownership of the rules. In November 2015, representatives of the network produced a position paper on initiatives to strengthen the European budgetary framework.
Two working groups have been created within the network, on the basis of voluntary participation:
- a working group on medium-term budgetary frameworks, led by the Italian institution (UPB)
- a working group on the output gap and its use, led by the Lithuanian institution (national audit office)
The High Council of Public Finance participates in both working groups.
Cooperation is gradually being established between the IFIs participating in the network and the European committees where economic and financial issues are discussed (Economic and Financial Committee and Economic Policy Committee). It was born from the initiative taken collectively at the beginning of 2015 by the IFIs in two letters, one addressed to the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs and the other to the President of the European Economic Policy Committee. IFIs now have rapid access to methodological documentation on the functioning of the Stability Pact.