Procedure : 2016/2192(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0093/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0093/2017

Debates :

PV 26/04/2017 - 19
CRE 26/04/2017 - 19

Votes :

PV 27/04/2017 - 5.31

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0162

REPORT     
PDF 305kWORD 67k
28.3.2017
PE 593.861v02-00 A8-0093/2017

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015

(2016/2192(DEC))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Inés Ayala Sender

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015

(2016/2192(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015, together with the Office’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2015, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8‑0078/2017),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(3), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(4), in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0093/2017),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office discharge in respect of the implementation of the Office’s budget for the financial year 2015;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, and the resolution forming an integral part of it, to the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015

(2016/2192(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015, together with the Office’s reply(6),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(7) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2015, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8‑0078/2017),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(8), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(9), in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(10), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0093/2017),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

3. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015

(2016/2192(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0093/2017),

A.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the final budget of the European Asylum Support Office (“the Office”) for the financial year 2015 was EUR 15 944 846 representing an increase of 1,76 % compared to year 2014; whereas 94 % of the Office’s budget derives from the Union budget,

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors ("the Court"), in its report on the annual accounts of the Office for the financial year 2015 ("the Court's report") has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Office’s annual accounts are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular,

C.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority stresses the special importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the institutions of the Union by improving transparency and accountability, implementing the concept of performance based budgeting and good governance of human resources,

Follow-up of 2012, 2013 and 2014 discharge

1.  Notes with concern the high number of outstanding issues and ongoing corrective measures in response to the Court's comments in 2012, 2013 and 2014 related to recruitment procedures, late payments, high staff turnover and reimbursement of costs; calls on the Office to complete as many corrective actions as possible in 2017;

Budget and financial management

2.  Notes that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2015 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 93,74 %, representing an increase of 9,05 % compared to 2014; notes furthermore that the payment appropriations execution rate was 77,32 %, representing an increase of 5,99 % compared to 2014;

3.  Recalls that, according to a decision by the Executive Director, participants in meetings organised by the Office are classified in one of the three categories (A, B, or C) for cost reimbursements; takes note that category “A” participants, who are supposed to assume a specific duty in the meetings, receive a flat rate reimbursement for travel and daily subsistence costs, category “B” participants receive a flat rate reimbursement for travel costs only and category “C” participants are not eligible for any reimbursement; points out that the number of participants classified as recipients of category “A” reimbursements decreased from 69 % in 2014 to 52 % in 2015; notes that the action on clarification of the applicable reimbursement category in invitation letters has been completed;

4.  Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s report, in 2015 the Office made 1 024 (29,2 %) payments after the time limits set out in Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(11), representing an increase of 0,6 % compared to the previous year and resulting in an average delay for late payments of 29 days; acknowledges that in the second half of 2015 the Office put in place a strategy providing for several measures to reduce late payments; welcomes the fact that after the implementation of those measures, late payments decreased significantly, from 38,3 % in the period from January to August 2015 to 12,6 % in the period from September to December 2015; notes that despite this positive trend, which continued until May 2016, the late payments rate increased as of June 2016 due to an increase in the Office’s operational activities and thus also in the number of financial transactions processed by the same number of members of staff; notes that in November 2016 the financial initiation function was decentralised to the Operational Departments and Administrative Units, while the verification function remained centralised in the Administrative Department; notes that this resulted in positive outcomes;

Commitments and carry-overs

5.  Notes that the level of committed appropriations carried over for Title II (administrative expenditure) was at EUR 1 076 583, i.e. 36,9 % (2014: EUR 635 492, i.e. 28,7 %); acknowledges that these carry-overs mainly relate to consulting services for ICT developments contracted in the last quarter of 2015 (EUR 400 000) as well as to investments in IT infrastructure (EUR 300 000) in view of the expected recruitment of additional members of staff following the decision of the budget authority at the end of 2015 to increase the establishment plan; acknowledges that these carry-overs were justified and planned in advance, due to the Office’s role in the migration crisis, in consideration of which the budget authority significantly increased the budget and staff of the Office for 2016; notes that carry-overs may often be partly or fully justified by the multiannual nature of the Office’s operational programmes and do not necessarily indicate weaknesses in budget planning and implementation nor are they always at odds with the budgetary principle of annuality, in particular if they are planned in advance by the Office and communicated to the Court;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

6.  Notes with satisfaction that, according to the Court’s report, the Executive Director approved a new policy for the recruitment of temporary and contract agents, which addresses most issues identified by the Court in its past audits;

7.  Acknowledges that the Office adopted the updated implementing rules on the engagement of temporary and contract agents in January 2016; notes, furthermore, that its updated recruitment policy was approved by the Executive Director in August 2016;

8.  Notes that as of 31 December 2015, the Office had 93 staff members, both in service and appointed, including 61 temporary agents, 21 contract agents and 11 seconded national experts; points out that 63 % of all staff members were female while 37 % were male;

Internal audits

9.  Notes that the Office further developed its internal controls in line with the recommendations received from the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) and the Court, as well as according to the Internal Control Standards of the Office adopted in November 2012; observes that, in addition to the audit of the annual accounts, an audit report on training management in the framework of the Office’s Permanent and Emergency/Special Support Activities was delivered by the IAS; notes that the Office developed an action plan to address the recommendations made by the IAS;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

10.  Notes that the Office has implemented a decision of the Management Board on the prevention of fraud as well as an anti-fraud strategy; notes that a whistleblowing procedure was signed on 23 February 2017 and is in line with the Commission´s guidelines on whistleblowing;

11.  Notes with concern that the Office did not publish the curricula vitae of either the management board or the senior management teams in 2015; notes that the Office has published the curricula vitae of its senior management team since March 2017; notes also that the Office has approached its Management Board and intends to publish the curricula vitae of its members once they are collected; calls on the Office to publish these documents as soon as possible to ensure necessary public oversight and scrutiny of its management;

12.  Reiterates that preventing and managing conflicts of interest is vital for the health of the organisation; stresses that transparency is a key element for upholding the trust of Union citizens in Union institutions;

Performance

13.  Notes that, according to the Office’s annual report, in 2015, 275 participants from 26 “EU+” states and other stakeholders participated in 23 “Train-the-Trainers” sessions organised by the Office; notes moreover that the Office administered 271 national training sessions on its e-learning platform “EASO Training Curriculum” for 3 611 asylum officers;

14.  Acknowledges that, in order to improve its efficacy in relation to translation and interpretation costs, the Office signed a service level agreement with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Interpretation; notes moreover that the Office launched an open call for framework contracts in five lots in cascade, with the award criterion being the lowest price; calls on the Office to report back to the discharge authority on the savings achieved;

15.  Notes that the Office developed further measures to assist Member States in need of special support in their asylum and reception systems and that it provided this special support to Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy; notes moreover that in 2015 the Office further developed its activities to support Member States whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure, in particular by providing support to Greece and Italy and by strengthening the Office’s capacity to respond in a timely and effective manner to emergency situations;

Other comments

16.    Recalls the fact that in 2015 a record number of almost 1 400 000 applications for international protection were made; recognises that the Office invested significant efforts in implementing the activities assigned to it under the European Agenda on Migration, in particular as part of the development of the ‘hotspots’ approach; notes the efforts made by the Office in managing the migrant crisis;

17.    Encourages, in particular, the support and practical cooperation offered on issues relating to asylum-seeking children, including unaccompanied minors; welcomes the launch of the EASO Network on the Activities on Children;

18.  Recognises that the growth of the Office’s budget in 2016 was significant in order to cope with additional tasks relating to the European Agenda on Migration, the hotspots approach, decisions of the EU Leaders Summit on Western Balkans and the EU-Turkey statement; notes with satisfaction that a range of steps were taken by the Office to deal with such an unprecedented increase in tasks, including the decentralisation of financial initiation accompanied by appropriate training and coaching; notes also that this led to a need for enhanced staff and corresponding office space;

19.  Notes with concern that only 7 staff members participated in an away day in 2015 for which the cost was relatively high at EUR 4 000 (EUR 571 per person);

20.  Takes note of the fact that the Office amended its lease agreement and in the second half of 2016 expanded its office space to an additional block of the building in which its premises are situated; acknowledges that, following the approval of the Parliament and of the Council, the Office is now in a position to rent and take over the whole building by 1 July 2017; calls on the Office to inform the discharge authority of further developments regarding its premises;

21.  Notes that the Office aimed to explore the possibility of exchanging information and best practices in order to mainstream elements relevant to the return of failed asylum seekers in close collaboration with the European Migration Network Return Expert Group;

22.  Notes that in 2015 the Office’s communication plan focused on the promotion of its role, values and activities through a number of tools and external communication activities, which concern its publications, social media, website and the organisation of its information day;

23.    Welcomes the solid output of the Agency, with over 117 meetings and workshops organised, 3 764 national staff trained, 272 persons relocated and more than 100 civil society organisations consulted; acknowledges the results of the independent audit by Ernst & Young and the commitment of the Office to develop a corresponding action plan; agrees on the need for the Office to better communicate on the effects and impacts of its activities; welcomes the development of a better web interface for documents related to country of origin (“COI-related documents”); notes that there were 17 000 COI-related documents linked via the portal at the end of 2015;

24.  Acknowledges that, according to the Office’s annual report, in 2014 it started the development of a combined content management system and database, the Information and Documentation System (IDS), in the form of an IT tool which will provide a detailed and up-to-date overview of the practical functioning of the Common European Asylum System;

°

°  °

25.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of [xx xxxx 2017](12) [on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies].).

15.2.2017

OPINION of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

for the Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2015

(2016/2192(DEC))

Rapporteur: Petr Ježek

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the Court of Auditors' (“the Court”) conclusions that the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office (“EASO”) present fairly its financial position on 31 December 2015 and that its transactions are legal and regular;

2.  Notes that the EASO committed only 93,7 % of its approved budget and that 36,9 % of committed appropriations were carried over for administrative expenditure; acknowledges that these sub-optimal figures do not reflect structural issues within the EASO; takes note of the staff and budget increases in 2015 due to its key role in assisting Member States, in particular through emergency support; calls on the EASO to improve the timeliness of the payments made in compliance with Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13); welcomes the approval of a new policy for the recruitment of temporary and contract agents that addresses most issues identified by the Court in past audits;

3.  Notes with concern the high number of outstanding issues and ongoing corrective measures in response to the Court's comments in 2012, 2013 and 2014 related to recruitment procedures, late payments, high staff turnover and reimbursement of costs; calls on the EASO to complete as many corrective actions as possible in 2017;

4.  Recalls the fact that in 2015 a record number of almost 1 400 000 applications for international protection were made; recognises that the EASO invested significant efforts in implementing the activities assigned to it by the European Agenda on Migration, in particular as part of the development of the ‘hotspots’ approach; notes the efforts made by the EASO in managing the migrant crisis; calls on the EASO to submit to the discharge authority a plan with reforms to improve its budgetary and management performance parameters;

5.  Encourages, in particular, the support and practical cooperation offered on issues relating to asylum-seeking children, including unaccompanied minors; welcomes the launch of the EASO Network on the Activities on Children;

6.  Urges the EASO to publish the Court's annual report in addition to its annual activity report; urges the EASO to adopt a policy and a practice guide on both institutional management and the prevention of conflict of interests; calls on the EASO to adopt internal binding rules for the protection of whistleblowers, in accordance with Article 22c of the Staff Regulations of the Officials of the European Union, which entered into application on 1 January 2014;

7.  Welcomes the solid output of the Agency, with over 117 meetings and workshops organised, 3 764 national staff trained, 272 persons relocated and more than 100 civil society organisations consulted; acknowledges the results of the independent audit by Ernst & Young and the commitment of the EASO to develop a corresponding action plan; agrees on the need for the EASO to better communicate on the effects and impacts of its activities; welcomes the development of a better web interface for documents related to country of origin (“COI-related documents”); notes that there were 17 000 COI-related documents linked via the portal at the end of 2015;

8.  Regrets that some of the Management Board members from Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece and Ireland published incomplete declarations of interest; regrets the fact that the Management Board members from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia did not publish their declarations of interest at all; reiterates that preventing and managing conflicts of interest is vital for the health of the organisation; stresses that transparency is a key element for upholding the trust of Union citizens in Union institutions.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

9.2.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

40

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Heinz K. Becker, Michał Boni, Caterina Chinnici, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Tanja Fajon, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Nathalie Griesbeck, Sylvie Guillaume, Eva Joly, Dietmar Köster, Barbara Kudrycka, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Monica Macovei, Roberta Metsola, Péter Niedermüller, Soraya Post, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Branislav Škripek, Csaba Sógor, Sergei Stanishev, Helga Stevens, Traian Ungureanu, Bodil Valero, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Udo Voigt, Josef Weidenholzer, Kristina Winberg, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Petr Ježek, Jeroen Lenaers, Nadine Morano, Morten Helveg Petersen, Emil Radev, Barbara Spinelli, Anders Primdahl Vistisen, Axel Voss

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Georg Mayer

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

22.3.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

23

3

0

Members present for the final vote

Inés Ayala Sender, Dennis de Jong, Tamás Deutsch, Martina Dlabajová, Luke Ming Flanagan, Ingeborg Gräßle, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Jean-François Jalkh, Bogusław Liberadzki, Monica Macovei, Notis Marias, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Bart Staes, Hannu Takkula, Derek Vaughan, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

Richard Ashworth, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Benedek Jávor, Karin Kadenbach, Julia Pitera, Patricija Šulin

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Jens Geier, Piernicola Pedicini

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

23

+

ALDE

ECR

GUE/NGL

PPE

S&D

VERTS/ALE

Martina Dlabajová, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Hannu Takkula

Monica Macovei, Piernicola Pedicini

Luke Ming Flanagan, Dennis de Jong

Tamás Deutsch, Ingeborg Gräßle, Julia Pitera, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Joachim Zeller, Patricija Šulin

Inés Ayala Sender, Jens Geier, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Karin Kadenbach, Bogusław Liberadzki, Derek Vaughan

Benedek Jávor, Bart Staes

3

-

ECR

ENF

Richard Ashworth, Notis Marias

Jean-François Jalkh

0

0

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 66.

(2)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 66.

(3)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(4)

OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.

(5)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(6)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 66.

(7)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 66.

(8)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.

(10)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(11)

Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).

(12)

Texts adopted of that date, P[8_TA(-PROV)(2017)0000].

(13)

  Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

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