The inaugural meeting of the Regional Audit Quality Assurance Forum was held in Vienna on May 16-17, 2023. The event was organized under the Road to Europe Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening for Small and Medium Enterprises (REPARIS for SMEs) and for representatives of competent authorities responsible for public oversight and quality assurance in the Western Balkans countries. The event was attended by 60 participants including from public oversight bodies, professional accounting organizations (PAOs), and ministries of finance.

A key objective of the Forum is to share international and regional knowledge and experience of public oversight and quality assurance. A representative of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) gave an overview of the UK public oversight system, which outlined the relevant institutions and mandates, noting that some tasks are delegated to PAOs. The Forum also discussed the structure and key functions of the Committee of European Auditing Oversight Bodies (CEAOB), one area of focus was the CEAOB approach to performing assessments on equivalence and adequacy. The experience of Slovak Republic in implementing public oversight and quality assurance systems in line with European Union provisions was shared by a team of experts from the Slovak Auditing Oversight Authority. Representatives of the Public Oversight Board of Albania offered a Western Balkan perspective of its experience regarding public oversight and quality assurance and the ongoing challenges.

The Forum openly explored the issues in a free-flowing and wide-ranging sharing of views and identified areas in which improved regional cooperation could help strengthen the quality of audit in the region. Participants outlined their expectations from a training program for quality assurance inspectors and a quality assurance methodology template to be developed by the ICAEW under the REPARIS for SMEs.

The next Regional Audit Quality Assurance Forum is planned in the fall 2023.