Procedure : 2016/2154(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0136/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0136/2017

Debates :

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

Votes :

PV 27/04/2017 - 5.17

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0148

REPORT     
PDF 385kWORD 69k
31.3.2017
PE 593.842v02-00 A8-0136/2017

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Section IV – Court of Justice

(2016/2154(DEC))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Benedek Jávor

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Section IV – Court of Justice

(2016/2154(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2015 (COM(2016)0475 – C8‑0272/2016)(2),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2015, together with the institutions’ replies(3),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(4) 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 Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 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 Legal Affairs (A8-0136/2017),

1.  Grants the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Justice 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 Court of Justice, the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Section IV – Court of Justice

(2016/2154(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Section IV – Court of Justice,

–  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 Legal Affairs (A8-0136/2017),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority stresses the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, implementing the concept of performance-based Budgeting (PBB) and good governance of human resources,

1.  Notes with satisfaction that, in its annual report for 2015, the Court of Auditors identified no significant weaknesses in respect of the audited topics relating to human resources and procurement for the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “Court of Justice”);

2.  Welcomes the fact that, on the basis of its audit work, the Court of Auditors concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended on 31 December 2015 for administrative and other expenditure of the Court of Justice were free from material error;

3.  Notes that in 2015, the Court of Justice had appropriations amounting to EUR 357 062 000 (EUR 355 367 500 in 2014) and that the implementation rate was 99 %; welcomes the very high utilisation rate in 2015, identical to the rate in 2014;

4.  Notes that the estimated revenue of the Court of Justice for the financial year 2015 was EUR 44 856 000; asks the Court of Justice to explain why the established entitlements in the financial year 2015 are EUR 49 510 442, which is 10,4 % higher than estimated ;

5.  Notes that revenue from entitlements carried over from 2014 to 2015 amounts EUR 84 620,37 and that 84,28 % represents revenue from persons working with the institutions and other Union bodies;

6.  Notes that the Court of Justice's budget is mostly administrative, with around 75 % being used for expenditure concerning persons working within the Court of Justice and the remaining amount relating to buildings, furniture, equipment and special functions carried out by it; stresses, however, that introducing PBB should not apply only to the Court of Justice's budget as a whole but should include the setting of specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based (SMART) targets to individual departments, units and staffs’ annual plans; in this respect, calls on the Court of Justice to introduce the PBB principle more widely in its daily operations;

7.  Welcomes the productivity of the judicial activity of the Court of Justice in 2015, with 1 711 cases brought before the three courts and 1 755 cases completed; notes that this is the highest annual number of the cases in the Court of Justice's history;

8.  Notes that the Court of Justice completed 616 cases in 2015, which represents a decrease compared to 2014 (719 cases were completed in 2014), and had 713 new cases brought before it (compared to 622 in 2014);

9.  Notes that in 2015 the General Court received 831 new cases and dealt with 987 cases, which constitutes a general increase when compared to previous years;

10.  Notes that in 2015 the Civil Service Tribunal completed 152 cases, as in 2014, and had 167 new cases; stresses that ten years after its establishment, 2015 was the last year of existence of the Tribunal; believes that an in-depth assessment of those ten years of activity should be made by the Court of Justice;

11.  Notes that the 2015 statistics for the three courts confirm the trend seen in recent years as regards the average duration of proceedings, which remains satisfactory (for the Court of Justice, 15,3 months requests for a preliminary ruling (compared to 15 months in 2014), 1,9 months for urgent requests for a preliminary ruling (compared to 2,2 months in 2014), 17,6 months for direct actions (compared to 20 months in 2014) and 14 months for appeals (compared to 14,5 months in 2014); for the General Court and Civil Service Tribunal, respectively 20,6 months (compared to 23,4 months in 2014) and 12,1 months (compared to 12,7 months in 2014) for all types of case; considers that the amendments to the Statute of the Court of Justice adopted in 2015 can only further enhance that streamlining;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the number of cases concluded increased by 57 % during the period 2007 to 2015, largely owing to the coordinated efforts of the courts and auxiliary staff, despite the extremely limited increase in auxiliary staff capacity over that period;

13.  Notes that 2015 was the year of adoption of the judicial architectural reform of the Court of Justice, which was accompanied by the development of new rules of procedure for the General Court; understands that, by virtue of the number of judges of the General court being doubled in a three-stage process extending until 2019, that reform will enable the Court of Justice to continue to deal with the increase in the number of cases; looks forward to analysing the achievements of that reform in the Court of Justice's capacity to deal with cases within a reasonable period and in compliance with the requirements of a fair hearing;

14.  Believes that that reform will allow the Court of Justice to deal with its increasing caseload more quickly and efficiently and serve the interests of those seeking justice, respecting their right to due process within a reasonable time, in line with the objectives of an effective, high-quality service;

15.  Notes the upcoming recast of the Code of Conduct for Members where the conditions for carrying out external activities and the publication of their financial interests will be clarified; calls for a greater level of transparency on the external activities of each judge; requests that the Court of Justice provide information regarding other posts and paid external activities of the judges on its website and its annual activity reports;

16.  Notes that out of the commitments of missions of EUR 295 500 only EUR 41 209 were used; points out that this under-investment could be avoided; requests the Court of Justice to improve its budgeting and accountability in regard to the mission budget and emphasises the need for the principle of missions to be cost-effective;

17.  Considers that the Court of Justice should make available a general overview of the participants and the contents of its meetings with external parties other than the ones related to its judicial activity;

18.  Asks the Court of Justice to provide the discharge authority with a list of meetings with lobbyists, professional associations and civil society by June 2017; asks the Court of Justice to present the minutes of those meetings by June 2017;

19.  Notes with satisfaction the improvements made in the e-Curia application and the fact that all Member States used it in 2015; considers that alongside with the dematerialisation of documents data security should be improved;

20.  Notes that, according to its annual management report for 2015, the Court of Justice works closely with the Court of Auditors' team designated to carry out its performance review; in this regard notes that, at the beginning of the audit process, the Court of Justice raised obstacles to the work of the audit team; notes with satisfaction that the Court of Justice has improved its cooperation with the auditors and provided further documents to Court of Auditors; is aware that the principle of secrecy of deliberations is necessary to help preserve the independence of decision-makers, to promote consistency and finality of decisions and to prevent decision-makers from having to spend more time testifying about their decisions than making them; points out, however, that the secrecy of deliberations as principle ab ovo prevents any external control; invites the Court of Justice, therefore, to develop an internal control/remedy mechanism in order to provide in such cases a certain level of control;

21.  Notes that the Court of Justice complies with the interinstitutional agreement to reduce staff by 5 % over a period of five years;

22.  Notes the high proportion of posts occupied (98 %) despite the high staff turnover rate in the Court of Justice and supports its active recruitment policy; calls on the Court of Justice to set up rules on revolving doors;

23.  Welcomes the exchange of staff made by the Court of Justice with the European Central Bank in 2015 and expects that that cooperation continues in the years to come;

24.  Welcomes the initiative of the Court of Justice to improve gender balance in management posts and the fact that the gender balance in middle and senior management posts reached a level of 35 % to 65 % in 2015; believes, nevertheless, that there is further room for improvement in this area in the institution; notes, furthermore, that Parliament and the Council have stated that it is their objective to ensure an equal representation of women and men when appointing new judges to the General Court(6);

25.  Emphasises that geographical balance, namely the relationship between staff nationality and the size of Member States, must remain an important element of resources management, particularly with respect to the Member States that acceded to the Union in 2004 or thereafter;

26.  Welcomes the fact that the Court of Justice has reached a more balanced composition of officials from the Member States which joined the Union before 2004 and from the Member States which acceded to it in 2004 or thereafter; is deeply concerned, however, with the considerable geographic imbalance in middle and senior management level, to the disadvantage of the Member States which acceded to the Union in 2004 or thereafter; calls on the Court of Justice to endeavour to correct that situation and to report to Parliament on the improvements achieved in that regard;

27.  Regrets the fact that the Court of Justice's internal whistleblowing rules were adopted only in the beginning of 2016; recommends that the Court of Justice disseminate those rules among its staff so that all employees are aware of them; asks the Court of Justice to provide, by June 2017, details of the whistleblower cases in 2015, if any, and of how they were handled and finalised;

28.  Urges the Court of Justice to enact the submission of declarations of interests, instead of declarations of the absence of conflicts of interests, as self-evaluation of conflicts of interests is, in itself, a conflict of interests; considers that the evaluation of a situation of conflicts of interests must be done by an independent party; asks the Court of Justice to report by June 2017 on the changes introduced and to indicate who is checking the situations of conflicts of interests; reiterates that transparency is a key element to the public trust; calls on the Court of Justice to establish clear rules regarding "revolving doors" and to put in place measures and dissuasive penalties, such as the reduction of pensions or the prohibition to work at least three years in similar bodies, to prevent "revolving doors";

29.  Notes the cooperation of the Court of Justice with the Commission and Parliament’s interpretation services within the Interinstitutional Committee for Translation and Interpretation, particularly in the area of interpretation; expects that that cooperation will be extended to the translation area and supports it, where possible and without undermining the Court of Justice’s responsibilities;

30.  Calls on the Court of Justice to provide Parliament with the costs of translation according to the harmonised methodology agreed within the Interinstitutional Working Group on key interinstitutional activity and performance indicators;

31.  Notes that the translation directorate of the Court of Justice had a workload increase of 1,4 % and that its productivity increased by 7 % in 2015 due to the outsourcing of workload control and the implementation of new translation supporting tools;

32.  Supports the review of expenditure and of the conditions for use of official cars jointly conducted by the internal audit services of the Court of Justice and of the Court of Auditors; calls on the Court of Justice to consider, within the frame of that review, the possibility of reducing the number of official cars at the disposal of its members and staff; calls on the Court of Justice, moreover, to improve its checks against the use of official cars for private purposes;

33.  Welcomes the commitment of the Court of Justice to high environment targets; encourages the institution to apply the principles of green public procurement and calls for the establishment of rules and a sufficient budget for carbon offsetting;

34.  Notes the detailed information on the Court of Justice’s buildings policy, particularly with regard to the construction of a fifth extension of the current buildings complex;

35.  Welcomes the opening of the Court of Justice’s historical archive at the Historical Archives of the Union in Florence;

36.  Welcomes the Court of Justice’s initiative to publish its annual activity report in a new format; calls on the Court of Justice to publish the Court of Auditors annual report, in particular the parts referring to the Court of Justice;

37.  Calls on the Court of Justice to improve its communications policy towards the citizens of the Union;

38.  Considers the answer given by the Court of Justice to Parliament’s question (Question 26) on the allowances to be incomplete; asks the Court of Justice for clarification and for a clear and detailed answer.

2.2.2017

OPINION of the Committee on Legal Affairs

for the Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Section IV – Court of Justice

( 2016/2154(DEC))

Rapporteur: Gilles Lebreton

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Legal Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Applauds the fact that the rate of implementation of appropriations for Section IV – Court of Justice remained very high in 2015 (99.1% overall, and as much as 99.8% for the appropriations in Chapters 14 and 21);

2.  Stresses that the budget of the Court of Justice is purely administrative, with some 75% spent on persons working with the institution and the remainder on buildings, furniture, equipment and miscellaneous operating expenditure;

3.  Expresses its satisfaction that in its 2015 Annual Report the Court of Auditors made no observation concerning the Court of Justice, as has been the case since 2010; points out, further, that it is some time since the Court of Auditors issued a special report dealing with the Court of Justice;

4.  Notes that the 2015 statistics for the three courts which make up the Court of Justice confirm the trend seen in recent years as regards the average duration of proceedings, which remains very satisfactory [Court of Justice: 15.3 months for requests for a preliminary ruling (15 months in 2014), 1.9 months for urgent requests for a preliminary ruling (2.2 months in 2014), 17.6 months for direct actions (20 months in 2014) and 14 months for appeals (14.5 months in 2014); General Court and Civil Service Tribunal: respectively 20.6 months (23.4 months in 2014) and 12.1 months (12.7 months in 2014) for all types of case]; considers that the reform of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union adopted in 2015 can only further support that streamlining;

5.  Notes that overall the three courts making up the Court of Justice closed 1 775 cases in 2015, as against 1 685 in 2014, an increase of 4.2%; points out, at the same time, that the annual output of the institution has reached an unprecedented level, and that the number of cases brought rose from 1 691 in 2014 to 1 711 in 2015, registered as the largest number of cases brought in the history of the Court(7);

6.  Welcomes the fact that the number of cases concluded increased by 57% during the period between 2007 and 2015, largely owing to the coordinated efforts of the courts and auxiliary staff, despite the extremely limited increase in auxiliary staff capacity over that period;

7.  Believes that judicial reform will allow the Court of Justice to deal with its increasing caseload more quickly and efficiently and serve the interests of those seeking justice, respecting their right to due process within a reasonable time, in line with the objectives of an effective, high-quality service;

8.  Welcomes the success of the ‘e-Curia’ application for the electronic lodging and service of court documents, as demonstrated by the growing numbers of access accounts for the application (2 914 in 2015, as against 2 230 in 2014) and Member States using it (26 in 2015, as against 25 in 2014); encourages Member States to take measures along those lines to promote the use of the application, and calls on the Commission to propose suitable ways of achieving this, for example via public information campaigns in the Member States and the dissemination of documentation through the Member State courts;

9.  Notes with satisfaction the fact that the Court is working to maintain a balance between men and women in senior posts (in 2015, 53% of administrators’ posts and 35% of management posts were occupied by women, and women made up around 60% of the total staff of the Court of Justice) and that a special working party has been set up to consider obstacles to progress in this area and ways of doing away with them; notes, furthermore, that the European Parliament and the Council have stated that it is their objective to ensure an equal presence of women and men when appointing new judges to the General Court(8).

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

31.1.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

0

7

Members present for the final vote

Max Andersson, Joëlle Bergeron, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, Jean-Marie Cavada, Kostas Chrysogonos, Therese Comodini Cachia, Mady Delvaux, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Sajjad Karim, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Gilles Lebreton, António Marinho e Pinto, Jiří Maštálka, Emil Radev, Julia Reda, Evelyn Regner, Pavel Svoboda, József Szájer, Axel Voss, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Angel Dzhambazki, Evelyne Gebhardt

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, Jean-François Jalkh, Bogusław Liberadzki, Notis Marias, Georgi Pirinski, 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, Benedek Jávor, Karin Kadenbach, Markus Pieper, Patricija Šulin

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

Raymond Finch, Jens Geier, Arne Lietz, Piernicola Pedicini

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

23

+

ALDE

ECR

EFDD

GUE/NGL

PPE

S&D

VERTS/ALE

Martina Dlabajová, Hannu Takkula

Richard Ashworth

Piernicola Pedicini

Luke Ming Flanagan, Dennis de Jong

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

Inés Ayala Sender, Jens Geier, Karin Kadenbach, Bogusław Liberadzki, Arne Lietz, Georgi Pirinski, Derek Vaughan

Benedek Jávor, Bart Staes

3

-

ECR

EFDD

ENF

Notis Marias

Raymond Finch

Jean-François Jalkh

0

0

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

OJ L 69, 13.3.2015.

(2)

OJ C 380, 14.10.2016, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 375, 13.10.2016, p. 1.

(4)

OJ C 380, 14.10.2016, p. 147.

(5)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(6)

See Annex to Parliament’s legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 – Joint statement by the European Parliament and the Council – Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0377.

(7)

Annual Report 2015 – Management Report (ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORT BY THE AUTHORISING OFFICER BY DELEGATION) – p. 6 – http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2016-06/rapport_gestion_2015_en_version_web.pdf

(8)

See Annex to the legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 – Joint statement by the European Parliament and the Council – Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0377.

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