Procedure : 2018/2166(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0110/2019

Texts tabled :

A8-0110/2019

Debates :

PV 26/03/2019 - 12
CRE 26/03/2019 - 12

Votes :

PV 26/03/2019 - 13.1
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2019)0242

REPORT     
PDF 448kWORD 187k
28.2.2019
PE 626.769v02-00 A8-0110/2019

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Inés Ayala Sender

1.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 2.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 3.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 4.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 5.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 6.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 7.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 8.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 9.  MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Development

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 2017, Section III – Commission

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545),

–  having regard to the Commission's 2017 Annual Management and Performance Report for the EU Budget (COM(2018)0457),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017, together with the institutions’ replies(3), and to the Court of Auditors’ special reports,

–  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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05824/2019 – C8‑0053/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(6), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(7);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, and the resolution forming an integral part of it, to the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to the national parliaments and the national and regional audit institutions of the Member States, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 357, 4.10.2018, p. 1.

(4)

OJ C 357, 4.10.2018, p. 9.

(5)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(6)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


2.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/776/EU of 18 December 2013 establishing the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2009/336/EC(10),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(11);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 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).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 413, 14.11.2018, p. 2.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 209.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 343, 19.12.2013, p. 46.

(11)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


3.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/771/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and repealing Decisions 2004/20/EC and 2007/372/EC(10),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(11);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, 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).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 413, 14.11.2018, p. 11.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 213.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 341, 18.12.2013, p. 73.

(11)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


4.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/770/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2004/858/EC(10),

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2014/927/EU of 17 December 2014 amending Implementing Decision 2013/770/EU in order to transform the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency into the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency(11),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(12);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency, 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).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C431, 14.11.2018, p. 2.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 229.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 341,18.12.2013, p. 69.

(11)

OJ L 363, 18.12.2014, p. 183.

(12)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


5.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Research Council Executive Agency for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Research Council Executive Agency for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Research Council Executive Agency for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/779/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the European Research Council Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2008/37/EC(10),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the European Research Council Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(11);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Research Council Executive Agency, 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).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 413, 14.11.2018, p. 9.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 217.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 346, 20.12.2013, p. 58.

(11)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


6.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Research Executive Agency for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Research Executive Agency for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the Research Executive Agency for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/778/EU of 13 December 2013 establishing the Research Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2008/46/EC(10),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the Research Executive Agency discharge in relation to the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(11);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Research Executive Agency, the Council, the Commission of the European Union and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 413, 14.11.2018, p. 12.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p.16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 225.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 346, 20.12.2013, p. 54.

(11)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


7.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency for the financial year 2017

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency for the financial year 2017(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency for the financial year 2017, together with the Agency’s reply(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(6) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(7), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(8), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(9), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/801/EU of 23 December 2013 establishing the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2007/60/EC as amended by Decision 2008/593/EC(10),

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.  Grants the Director of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ... on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(11);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency, 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).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 413, 14.11.2018, p. 11.

(4)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 16.

(5)

OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 221.

(6)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(8)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(10)

OJ L 352, 24.12.2013, p. 65.

(11)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


8.  PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the closure of the accounts of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission

(2018/2166(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017 (COM(2018)0521 – C8‑0318/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the financial year 2016 (COM(2018)0545), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document(s),

–  having regard to the Commission's 2017 Annual Management and Performance Report for the EU Budget (COM(2018)0457),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017 (COM(2018)0661), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2018)0429),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017, together with the institutions’ replies(3), and to the Court of Auditors’ special reports,

–  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 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05824/2019 – C8‑0053/2019),

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2019 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05826/2019 – C8‑0054/2019),

–  having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(6), and in particular Articles 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes(7), and in particular Article 14(2) and (3) thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of ...on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2017(8);

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank, and to the national parliaments and the national and regional audit institutions of the Member States, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1)

OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.

(2)

OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.

(3)

OJ C 357, 4.10.2018, p. 1.

(4)

OJ C 357, 4.10.2018, p. 9.

(5)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(6)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)

Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA….


9.  MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

with observations forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(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 2017, Section III – Commission,

–  having regard to its decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budgets of the executive agencies for the financial year 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0110/2019),

A.  Whereas the Union budget plays a significant role for achieving Union policy objectives, although it represents only 1 % of Union gross national income;

B  Whereas when the Parliament grants discharge to the Commission it checks whether or not funds have been used correctly and policy goals achieved;

Implementation of the 2017 budget and results achieved

1.  Notes that in 2017 the Union budget was in the fourth year of implementation of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), and amounted to EUR 159,8 billion, including six amending budgets, and that the allocations in different areas were:

a)  EUR 75,4 billion for smart and inclusive growth;

b)  EUR 58,6 billion for support to the European agricultural sector;

c)  EUR 4,3 billion for reinforcing the external borders of the Union and addressing the refugee crisis and irregular migration;

d)  EUR 10,7 billion for activities outside the Union;

e)  EUR 9,4 billion for the administration of the Union institutions;

2.  Underlines that the Union budget supports the implementation of the Union policies and the achievement of their priorities and objectives by complementing resources of Member States dedicated to the same purposes; notes in this regard the achievement of the following results:

a)  in 2017, Horizon 2020 provided EUR 8,5 billion of funding, which further mobilised direct additional investments, leading to a total of EUR 10,6 billion and funding to 5 000 projects;

b)  by the end of 2017, COSME provided financing to more than 275 000 small and medium sized companies (of which 50 % were start-ups) in 25 countries that would otherwise have struggled to secure private financing due to their high risk profile;

c)  as regards the programmes' achievements reported by Member States up to the end of 2016, the implemented projects under the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) had already delivered:

–  support to 84 579 enterprises, of which more than 36 000 are supported by financial instruments;

–  10 300 jobs created along with 636 new researchers employed;

–  41 800 households with an improved energy consumption classification and a 14.9 million kWh/year decrease in annual primary energy consumption of public buildings;

–  2,7 million people benefitting from improved health services; 156 000 additional people served by improved water supply and 73 000 served by improved waste water treatment;

–  broadband access to 1 million additional households;

d)  by the end of 2016, Rural Development Programmes contributed to the restructuring and modernisation of almost 45 000 agricultural holdings;

e)  in 2017 the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) supported the creation of over 7 000 additional places in reception centres; the number of places adapted for unaccompanied minors, an especially vulnerable migrant group, also increased from only 183 places in 2014 to 17 070 places in 2017; by the end of 2017, 1 432 612 third-country nationals had received integration assistance;

f)  the EU provided more than EUR 2.2 billion in humanitarian aid in 80 different countries; EU humanitarian funding supported the education of over 4.7 million children caught up in emergencies in over 50 countries;

The Court of Auditor's Statement of assurance

3.  Welcomes the fact that the Court of Auditors (the “Court”) gave a clean opinion on the reliability of the accounts of the European Union for 2017, as it has done since 2007, and that the Court concluded that the revenue for 2017 underlying these accounts was legal and regular in all material respects;

4.  Notes that for 2017, the Court has issued for a second consecutive year a qualified opinion on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts, which according to the Court, indicates that a significant part of the 2017 expenditure audited by it was not materially affected by error and that the level of irregularities in EU spending has continued to decrease;

5.  Welcomes the positive trend of a continuing decrease in the most likely error rate for payments determined by the Court in recent years, reaching an all-time low level of 2.4% in 2017, which, regrettably, is still above the threshold of 2% but represents an almost two-thirds’ reduction in the most likely error rate estimated by the Court for the financial year 2007, which stood at 6.9% for payments; notes, however, that payments continue to be affected by errors because the control and supervision system is only partially effective;

6.  Notes that where payments were made on the basis of cost reimbursements (where the EU reimburses eligible costs for eligible activities), the Court estimates the level of error at 3.7 % (4.8 % in 2016), whilst the error rate for entitlement payments (which are based on meeting certain conditions) was below the materiality threshold of 2%;

7.  Notes that the Court audited transactions worth a total of EUR 100,2 billion, which represents less than two-thirds of the total budget for 2017, and that the area of ‘Natural resources’ makes up the largest share of the overall audit population (57 %), while in contrast to previous years, the weight of the area of ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ is relatively small (around 8 %);

8.  Regrets that the Court has not examined the level of error for spending under heading 3 "Security and citizenship" and heading 4 "Global Europe"; considers that, although the figures under these headings are relatively low, they are of particular political importance; stresses that the audit of a representative sample size from under these two headings is essential for a rigorous and independent evaluation of financial transactions, as well as for better oversight on the use of EU funds by the European Parliament, and calls on the Court to provide data on the error rate for payments under these headings in its next annual reports;

9.  Points out that the Commission itself has noted that the improved error-rate performance for 2017 was due in large part to the score from the ‘Natural Resources’ area(1);

10.  Urges the Court, in its future reports, to present the error rate for fisheries separately from those for the environment, rural development and health, and not on an aggregate basis; notes that combining them makes it impossible to work out the error rate for fisheries policy; notes that maritime affairs and fisheries are not covered in sufficient detail in the Court’s annual report and that a proper evaluation of financial management in those areas is therefore difficult; considers that, to increase transparency, in future, the Court’s annual report should include a separate breakdown for the figures relating to DG MARE;

11.  Regrets that for the area of "Competitiveness for growth and employment", to which transport belongs, the Court does not provide any comprehensive information regarding the audits performed for transport sector, in particular regarding Connecting Europe Facility (CEF);

Revenue

12.  Notes that in 2017, the Union had own resources of EUR 115,4 billion and other revenue of 17,2 billion, and that the surplus carried over from 2016 was EUR 6,4 billion;

13.  Notes with satisfaction the Court’s conclusion that in 2017 revenue was free from material error and that the revenue-related systems examined by the Court were, overall, effective, but that some controls for Traditional Own Resources (TOR) were only partially effective;

14.  Notes with concern that the Court’s opinion is that there is necessity for improvement in the Commission’s actions to safeguard Union revenue in order to address weaknesses in its management of the risk of under-valued imports in relation to TOR and in its verifications on the VAT-based own resource;

15.  Expresses serious concern that these weaknesses may affect the Member States’ contributions to the EU budget; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to:

a)  improve its monitoring of import flows, including making wider use of reasonable and legal data mining techniques to analyse unusual patterns and their underlying reasons, and act promptly to ensure that due amounts of TOR are made available;

b)  review the existing control framework and better document its application in verifying Member States’ calculations of the weighted average rate (WARs) presented by the Member States in their VAT statements, which the Commission uses to obtain the harmonised VAT bases;

16.  Notes with concern that for the second year in a row, DG Budget set a reservation on the value of TOR collected by the UK, due to the country’s failure to make available to the EU budget customs duties evaded on textiles and footwear imports;

17.  Welcomes the infringement procedure initiated by the Commission on 8 March 2018 as a follow-up to the UK customs fraud case, but, especially in light of Brexit and the increased difficulties this will impose on any collection process, regrets that it took the Commission more than seven years to launch this procedure after its request to the UK in 2011 to set risk profiles for under-valued textiles and footwear imports from China; points out that similar fraud networks operate in other Member States, leading to avoidance of at least 2,5 billion EUR in custom duties since 2015; calls on the Commission to approach such cases without hesitation and unnecessary delays in future; reaffirms the clear need for more cooperation between custom services in the Member States to avoid harm to EU and national budgets and to EU product standards; demands information from the Commission on which products reach the internal market without meeting EU product standards;

18.  Regrets the discrepancies in the level of customs checks between the various Member States; highlights the importance of harmonising checks at all points of entry into the Customs Union and calls on the Member States to ensure coordinated, uniform and efficient implementation of the border system, discouraging divergent practices between Member States to reduce the number of existing loopholes in customs control systems; calls on the Commission, in this respect, to examine the various customs control practices in the EU and their impact on trade diversion, focusing in particular on EU customs practices at external borders, and to develop reference analyses and information on customs operations and the procedures used in the Member States;

Budgetary and financial management

19.  Points out that in 2017, 99,3 % of the amount available for commitments was implemented (EUR 158,7 billion), but stresses that the executed payments were only EUR 124,7 billion, considerably lower than budgeted and than those in the corresponding year of the 2007-2013 multiannual programme period, mainly due to Member States submitting fewer claims than anticipated for the multiannual programmes of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), as well as to the late adoption of the MFF and sectoral legislation; notes that this could create future risks for implementation of the budget if there is a large number of overdue payments at the end of the programming period; calls on the Commission to provide the Member States with the maximum support to improve their absorption rates;

20.  Is deeply concerned that in 2017 the combination of high commitments and low payments increased outstanding budgetary commitments to a new record of EUR 267,3 billion (2016: EUR 238,8 billion) and that the Court projections indicate this amount will rise even more by the end of the current MFF, which may lead to a significantly increased risk of insufficient payment appropriations, but also to a risk of errors under the pressure for a swift absorption given a potential loss of Union funding; stresses the fact that the EU budget is not allowed to run a deficit and that the growing payments backlog in fact represents a financial debt;

21.  Calls on the Commission to present a thorough analysis of why some regions still exhibit low fund absorption rates and to assess specific ways of remedying the structural problems underlying those imbalances; calls on the Commission to increase on-the-spot technical assistance to improve absorption capacity in Member States experiencing difficulties in this regard;

22.  Recalls that the Court reported that the issue of whether to count special instruments within the ceilings for payment appropriations has not yet been resolved; considers that this could represent an additional risk of creating a payment backlog;

23.  Calls on the Commission to improve the accuracy of the payment forecast and to use the lessons learned from the previous programming period in order to deal with the accumulated backlog in payments and avoid its negative effect on the next MFF and to present the Action Plan on reducing the payments backlog during the 2021 - 2027 multiannual financial framework;

24.  Stresses its deep concern that the overall financial exposure of the Union budget has grown, with significant long-term liabilities, guarantees and legal obligations implying that careful management needs to be applied in the future; calls, therefore, on the Commission when presenting legislative proposals that include the creation or addition of sizeable contingent liabilities to accompany them with an overview of the total value of contingent liabilities supported by the budget, as well as with an analysis of stress test scenarios and their possible impact on the budget;

25.  Reiterates its request to add a budget line in future budgets of the Union dedicated to tourism in order to ensure transparency regarding the Union funds used to support actions for tourism;

SHARED MANAGEMENT

26.  Points out that according to the Court, progress has been achieved in reducing the error rate in the spending areas covering ‘Natural resources’ (2,4%) and ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ (3 %), which come under shared management between the Commission and the Member States;

27.  Notes that in 2017, the Court audited less expenditure than last year under the area of ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ comprising payments worth EUR 8 billion;

28.  Points out that similarly to 2016, eligibility errors (i.e. ineligible costs in costs claims, non-respect of agri-environment-climate commitments and ineligible projects, activities or beneficiaries) contributed most to the 2017 estimated level of error;

29.  Takes into account that in the agricultural sector the amounts received by the beneficiaries are relatively small compared to other Union projects and therefore the administrative burden to prove correct use of money is proportionately higher;

30.  Points to a recent Commission study, which demonstrated that between 2014 and 2017 the large majority of ESIF management authorities used SCOs (Simplified Cost Options) (64% of European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Rural Development Programmes (RDPs), 73% of ERDF-CF Operational Programmes (OPs) and 95% of European Social Fund (ESF) OPs); in terms of projects, the number of projects using SCOs is 19% for EAFRD, 65% for ESF, 50% for ERDF and 25% for CF; considers that the use of SCOs could contribute to reducing the eligibility errors;

31.  Stresses that simplifying Union legislation and reducing the administrative burden on farmers and other beneficiaries must continue in the future;

32.  Notes that access to data and good monitoring especially of environmental aspects is essential for the future, considering that certain natural resources underpin long term agricultural productivity, such as soil and biodiversity;

33.  Observes that the Court found very few public procurement errors in 2017: less than 1 % (compared with 18 % in 2016), but notes that the reason for this could be the relatively low level of expenditure accepted under the ERDF and the CF, which have tended to be more prone to errors in public procurement; calls on the Commission and Member States not to weaken, but to continue strengthening their vigilance on the correct implementation of public procurement rules;

34.  Sees the need to further clarify procurement procedures and relations with bidders in Member States as bidding procedures may have turned into semi legal procedures preventing fair competition and possibly allowing fraud; welcomes the ‘single bidder’ study of the Commission and awaits the results; notes with concern shortcomings in the public procurement procedure in Hungary and Slovakia;

35.  Nevertheless, draws attention to the reservations issued by the Commission services during the normal annual discharge procedures and the fact that every Member State performs differently in using the diversity of EU funds and that there are always areas where improvement is required; notes in this regard that for 2017 reservations were issued by:

-  DG AGRI concerning: AT, BE, BG, HR, CZ, DK, FI, FR, DE, HU, IT, PT, RO, SK, SI, ES, SE, UK ; 

-  DG MARE concerning: BG, CZ, IT, NL, RO; 

-  DG REGIO concerning: BG, HR, CZ, ET, FI, FR, DE, HU, IT, LV, PL, RO, SK, SI, SE, UK; 

-  DG EMPL concerning: AU, CZ, FR, DE, HU, IT, PL, RO, SK, UK 

-  DG HOME concerning: FI, DE, GR, UK; 

36.  In this sense, notes that although the services of the Commission did not issue reservations in 2017 for IE, LUX, M, CY, LT, in 2016 they issued for DG AGRI: IE, LT, M, CY, for DG EMPL: CY and for DG REGIO: IE;

37.  Welcomes the progress made in implementing the 181 Greece priority projects:

(a)   119 projects with expenditure of EUR 7,1 billion are reported as completed;

(b)  17 projects with expenditure of EUR 0,5 billion are to be completed by March 2019 with national funds (additional EUR 0,53 billion estimated to be needed);

(c)  24 projects (EUR 0,8 billion) are phased into 2014-2020 where they are estimated to require another EUR 1,1 billion funding;

(d)  21 items with an estimated budget of EUR 1,1 billion have been cancelled;

Sees a success story in the way the Commission supported Greece to implement and finish Union projects;

38.  Notes with deep regret that, despite multiple warnings from the European Parliament, the Commission has reacted to the issue of the conflict of interest of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (the Czech PM) only after Transparency International Czech Republic filed a complaint against him in June 2018; is deeply worried that an EU legal document, dated 19 November 2018, pointed out that the situation of the Czech PM qualifies as a conflict of interest, because he could influence decisions on the use of Union funds from which companies linked to him(2) have benefited;

39.  In this regard calls on the Commission to investigate fully the conflict of interest of the Czech PM as demanded by the European Parliament's resolution of December 2018, as well as to investigate also his situation as media owner and to draw conclusions from this case;

40.  Recalls that the Commission services have asked the national authority responsible for the coordination of EU Funds (Ministry of Regional Development) to provide the necessary information(3) with respect to funding to enterprises that are owned by his holding company;

41.  Welcomes the fact that the Czech Ministry of Regional Development has collected the requested information from the different managing authorities concerned and has forwarded it to the Commission; asks the Commission what action it intends to take in light of its recent legal appreciation of the situation;

42.  Recalls that the European Parliament asked the Commission last year to speed up the conformity clearance procedure opened on 8 January 2016 to get detailed and precise information on the risk of conflicts of interest concerning the State’s Agricultural Intervention Fund in the Czech Republic;

Economic, social and territorial cohesion

Success stories

43.  Notes the progress in project selection and that by January 2018, 673 800 projects had been selected for support by the ERDF, the CF, the ESF, and the Youth Employment Initiative, amounting to EUR 260 billion or 54 % of the total financing available for the 2014-2020 period; notes that the rate of project selection had reached 70 % of the total financing available at the end of 2018 and was similar to the selection rate at the same point in the last period;

44.  Welcomes the fact that out of the 450 000 projects selected up to the end of 2016 to support SMEs, 84 500 have already been completed, thus contributing to productivity and competitiveness of firms;

45.  Welcomes also the fact that up to the end of 2017, around 5 500 projects were selected on the ground to support the achievement of a connected Digital Single Market, corresponding to EUR 9,1 billion of total investment;

46.  Notes with satisfaction that, in the area of energy efficiency and renewables, more than 2,000 MW of additional capacity of renewable energy production was created, and greenhouse emissions were reduced by close to 3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents by the end of 2016; stresses though that more must be done in order to achieve goals from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement;

47.  Notes that by the end of 2017, 99 % of the action plans for ex-ante conditionalities affecting the ESF, the CF and the ERDF had been completed;

48.  Welcomes in particular, with regard to structural funds, the Court’s audit work on preventive measures and financial corrections, ex-ante conditionalities, the performance reserve and absorption;

49.  Notes with satisfaction that the outputs and results described for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) are on track to be achieved and that the instrument compliments national efforts to eradicate poverty and promote social inclusion;

50.  Notes that in the course of the Court of Auditor’s review of 113 completed projects under the ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ spending area, 65% had a performance measurement system with output and result indicators linked to the objectives of the operational programme - which represents an improvement compared to previous years; notes with concern that 30% of the projects had no result indicators or targets, making it impossible to assess the specific contribution of those projects to the overall objectives of the programme;

Critical issues requiring improvement

51.  Regrets that the Court identified and quantified 36 errors in its sample of 217 transactions for 2017, which audit authorities in Member States had not detected, and that the number and the impact of these errors indicate persisting weaknesses with the regularity of the expenditure declared by managing authorities; regrets also that the Court found weaknesses in the sampling methods of some audit authorities; calls on the Commission to work even closer with the managing and audit authorities of individual Member States on detecting these errors and specifically targeting themost frequent ones;

52.  Deplores the fact that for 2017, as noted by the Court, the Commission presented at least 13 different error rates in the area of economic, social and territorial cohesion for the programming periods 2007-2013 and 2014-2020, which makes reporting unclear and confusing, and makes it difficult to evaluate data;

53.  Notes that Member States´ Audit Authorities communicate to DG REGIO the error rates for Structural Funds only after deduction of corrections which does not give a real picture of the situation of EU projects on the spot and of the 2017 error-rate for actual payments;

54.  Is concerned that despite the significant increase in the average absorption rate in terms of payments by the Commission from 3.7% in 2016 to 16,4 % in 2017, the absorption remains even lower than in the corresponding year of the previous MFF, which was 22.1% in 2010;

55.  Observes with concern that as of September 2018 there are still 7 non-completed action plans related to ex-ante conditionalities and that one suspension of interim payments has been adopted and other two are under inter-service consultation for adoption; regrets that the fulfilment of the ex-ante conditionalities proved to be administratively burdensome for managing authorities and one of the reasons for delayed absorption; appreciates in particular the targeted support provided to programme authorities and increased level of implementation reached thanks to the “Catching up Regions” and the “Task force for Better Implementation” initiatives taken by the Commission; asks the Commission to ensure that in the next programming period, the identified weaknesses and problems related to fulfilment of enabling conditions, which will replace ex-ante conditionalities, are properly addressed;

56.  Is worried about the lack of transparency in spending for financial instruments as four times more money is available for financial instruments under the current MFF; notes that by the end of 2017, 24 Member States were making use of FIs and the total programme contributions committed to FIs were nearly EUR 18,8 billion (EUR 13,3 billion at the end of 2016), of which EUR 14,2 billion was from the ESIF; notes as well that a total of EUR 5,5 billion (around 29%) of these amounts committed had been paid to FIs (EUR 3,6 billion at the end of 2016), including EUR 4,4 billion from the ESIF; is concerned, however, that three years after the start of this MFF EUR 1,9 billion (only 10,1%) had been paid to final recipients (EUR 1,2 billion at the end of 2016), of which EUR 1,5 billion (10,5%) was from the ESIF;

57.  Agrees with the Court on the need for more detailed reporting on financial instruments and calls on the Commission to significantly improve reporting on the results of those instruments for 2007-2013 and 2014-2020;

58.  Calls on the Commission to present accurate and complete information on financial instruments under shared management after closure of the 2007-2013 MFF period, indicating amounts returned to the Union budget and those remaining in the Member States;

59.  Deeply regrets that, in the context of financial instruments, the auditors were not able to verify the selection and implementation of investments at financial intermediary level, where a number of irregularities occurred, accounting for 1% of the estimated level of error for the area of “Economic, social and territorial cohesion”;

60.  Stresses that unlike what was done in 2016, the estimated level of error for cohesion includes a quantification of 2017 disbursements to financial instruments; recalls that since the eligibility of expenditures for structural funds for the period 2007-13 was postponed to the end of March 2017, the disbursements to financial instruments for the first three months of 2017 are to beincluded into the calculation of the error-rate; nevertheless regrets that the Court has not mentioned the clear error rate for those disbursements anywhere in its annual report, except in a box; calls on the Court to take on board all the irregularities having a financial impact when determining the most likely error-rate, and to clearly mention the percentage of funds affected; calls on the Commission to table the necessary legislative proposal to put an end to future unilateral decisions on the extension of the eligibility of expenditures for structural funds via implementing acts;

61.  Calls on the Commission to provide accurate and complete information on the closure of the financial instruments for the 2007-2013 MFF, including the final amounts returned to the EU budget and amounts belonging to Member States;

62.  Calls on the Commission to take into account, in the case of large-scale infrastructure projects, all relevant risks of environmental impact and to finance only those which have demonstrated real added value for the local population and from an environmental, social and economic point of view; stresses the importance of strictly monitoring possible risks of corruption and fraud in this context and the need to carry out careful and independent ex-ante and ex-post assessments with regard to the projects to be financed;

63.  Notes that according to the Commission, few evaluations were carried out by Member States relating to the European Social Fund beyond the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI); calls on Member States to systematically evaluate the European Social Fund in order to enable evident based policy making, and on the Commission to promote this;

64.  Recalls that in its special report 5/2017 “Youth unemployment”, the Court found that, while some progress had been made in implementing the Youth Guarantee (YG), and while some results had been achieved, the situation fell short of the initial expectations raised at the launch of the YG; stresses however that the YEI and the YG still represent one of the most innovative and ambitious policy responses to youth unemployment in the wake of the economic crisis, and should therefore have the continued financial and political support of Union, national and regional institutions in their delivery;

65.  Stresses that establishing whether the YEI budget is well spent, and whether the ultimate YEI goal of helping young unemployed people into sustainable employment is attained, can only be achieved if operations are closely and transparently monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, and if Member States that have made no progress are addressed in a more ambitious manner; insists therefore that the Member States improve monitoring, reporting and the quality of data as a matter of urgency and guarantee that reliable and comparable data and figures on current YEI implementation are gathered and made available in a timely manner and more frequently than is required under their annual reporting obligation, as defined in Article 19(2) of the ESF Regulation; calls on the Commission to revise its guidelines on data collection in line with the recommendation of the Court in order to minimise the risk of overstatement of results;

66.  Insists that any internship or apprenticeship programme must provide paid placements, never lead to job substitution and be based on a written internship or apprenticeship agreement in accordance with the applicable regulatory framework or applicable collective agreements, or both, of the country where it takes place, and that it should follow the principles outlined in the Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships(4).

Natural resources

Some success stories

67.  Welcomes the positive evolution of the error rate in the area of “Natural resources” in 2017, being 2,4 % (in comparison with 2,5% in 2016, 2,9% in 2015 and 3,6% in 2014), as well as that for three-quarters of the agriculture budget corresponding to “European Agricultural Guarantee Funds (EAGF) - direct payments” the Court estimated the level of error to be below the materiality threshold of 2%;

68.  Welcomes the fact that the overall level of error established by the Court tallies very closely with the overall error rate for the CAP given in DG AGRIʼs 2017 annual activity report, demonstrating the effectiveness of the remedial action plans that Member States have implemented in previous years;

69.  Stresses that the positive achievements in the area of EAGF direct payments were mainly due to the quality of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) and the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), and to the progressive introduction of the Geo-Spatial Aid Application and new preliminary cross-checks on farmer’s applications, which led to reduced time for completion of aid claims by beneficiaries and is expected to prevent some error and save time in processing of claims;

70.  Notes that direct payments from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund account for around three-quarters of expenditure and are free from material error; points out that direct payments to farmers are entitlement-based and have benefited from simplified land eligibility rules and an effective ex-ante control system (IACS) that allows automated cross-checks between databases; is concerned that a persistently high level of error remains in the other spending areas on rural development, the environment, climate action and fisheries; notes, furthermore, that rural development projects are inherently more complex due to the wider goals pursued, and expenditure in the three other areas is co-financed or disbursed through reimbursement of costs and ineligible beneficiaries, activities, projects or expenditure contribute around two-thirds of the estimated level of error for that MFF heading;

71.  Welcomes the findings in which the Court, having examined a total of 29 rural development investment projects, established that 26 were in line with the priorities and focus areas set out in the rural development programmes and that Member States had applied appropriate selection procedures; also welcomes the fact that, in most cases, the beneficiaries of the projects examined carried them out as planned and the Member States made checks to ascertain whether the costs were reasonable; believes therefore that the rural development approach must remain a fully supported, significant and core element in the CAP Strategic Plans, moving forward;

72.  Welcomes the fact that in its 2017 Annual Activity Report (AAR), the Director General of DG AGRI referred to a slight increase in farmer income, recalling that there had been a slight decrease the last 4 years;

73.  Points out that the corrective capacity of financial corrections and recoveries increased to 2,10 %, compared with 2,04 % in 2016, thus further lowering the amount at risk for the CAP in 2017;

Critical issues requiring improvement

74.  Notes the fact that direct payments per hectare decreased with increasing farm size, while the income per worker increased, and that according to the Commission very small farms, of less than 5 ha, represent over half of the beneficiaries; notes with concern that according to the DG AGRI AAR, ‘Big farms managing over 250 ha represent 1.1 % of farms, manage 27.8 % of the total farmland and receive 22.1 % of total direct aid. Among these “big farms”, the majority has between 250 and 500 ha.’1; urges the Commission to change this unjustifiable and unequal treatment;

75.  Notes a fast increase in inequalities in direct payments in some Member States, mainly Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where 7 % of the beneficiaries receive currently over 70 % of all direct payments, as well as Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Denmark where over the last ten years a growing share of beneficiaries have received more than EUR 100 000; calls on the Commission and the national authorities to take appropriate measures to remedy those increasing inequalities and to report on those measures;

76.  Notes with great concern that the Court found a persistently high level of error in areas corresponding to one quarter of the budget for ‘Natural Resources’, which includes the expenditure for market measures under the EAGF, rural development, environment, climate action and fisheries; notes in addition that the main sources of error were non-compliance with eligibility conditions, the provision of inaccurate information on areas and non-compliance with agro-environmental commitments; stresses that such errors should be better detected by the managing authorities of individual Member States or in cases when the ex-post audits point to these errors the samples for future audits and on-site checks should be updated to provide for a better controls;

77.  Calls on the Commission to continue its work to assess the effectiveness of the Member States’ actions to address the underlying causes of these errors and to issue further guidance or direct help where necessary;

78.  Calls on the Commission to arrange for a genuine simplification of the procedure, including in the documentation required in order to gain access to funding, without neglecting the principles of audit and monitoring; calls for special attention to be paid to administrative support for small-scale producers;

79.  Notes with great concern that the results of the cross compliance on the spot checks made by DG AGRI are worrying, and in particular that 47 % of the total number of on the spot checks has led to sanctions; urges the Commission to check the implementation of the remedial action taken by Member State authorities where it found it could place no or limited reliance on the certification body’s work;

80.  Recommends that:

(a)  the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) issue separately error rates regarding respectively the direct payments, the market operations and the rural development spending of the CAP as the Director General of DG AGRI does in its annual activity report;

(b)  the Commission assess the effectiveness of the Member States’ actions to address the underlying causes of errors and issues further guidance where necessary;

(c)  the Member States fully exploit the possibilities offered by the system of simplified cost options in rural development;

(d)  the Commission take on board in its proposals for the future CAP that larger farm incomes do not necessarily need the same degree of support for stabilising farm incomes as smaller farms in times of income volatility crisis since they may benefit of potential economies of scale which are likely to make them more resilient;

(e)  DG AGRI define a new key performance objective, accompanied with indicators, aiming at mitigating the income inequalities between the famers;

(f)  the Commission carry out a closer examination of the quality of the certification bodies’ transaction testing;

(g)  the CAP funding remain at current levels at least and to do the job it was designed to do, support the producers so they have a sustainable living, while ensuring an affordable top-quality food-supply for Union citizens;

(h)  the Commission take steps to ensure that CAP funds should be distributed in a weighted manner, such that the payments per hectare are on a reducing scale relative to the size of the holding or farm;

81.  Takes the view that the Commission should require Member State action plans to include remedial action to deal with the most frequent causes of error;

82.  Given that the environmental objectives of ‘greening’ have not met any of the expectations raised and that they produced a considerable increase in the administrative burden for both farmers and public administrations, asks the Commission to ensure that the green architecture of the new CAP proposal with the so-called eco-scheme achieve better environmental results based on the reward of the efforts that overcome the reinforced conditionality of the new proposal;

83.  Recalls in particular, that the Director General of DG AGRI refers to an analysis made by an external contractor, which found that: ‘overall, the greening measures have led to only small changes in farmers’ management practices, except in a few specific areas. For both Member States and farmers, instead of environmental priorities, the main concern tended to consist in minimising the administrative burden of implementation, and avoiding any errors as controls and enforcement may lead to the reduction of CAP payments’;

84.  Calls on the Commission to provide structural data for the 20 biggest receivers of direct payments in Member States;

85.  Is concerned that the highly critical Special Reports of the Court 10/2017 and 21/2017 on Young Farmers and Greening, showing that almost no desired result was achieved, did not have financial consequences; is concerned that the financing of those policy areas just goes on as if nothing had happened;

86.  Stresses that four years after its adoption on 15 May 2014, the implementation rate for the 2014-2020 EMFF remains unsatisfactory, as by October 2018 only 6.8 % of the EUR 5,7 billion made available under the shared management system had been used;

Security and citizenship

Some success stories

87.  Notes that the 2014-2020 allocated resources for AMIF (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) increased from EUR 2 752 million to EUR 5 391.5 million by the end of 2017 and that between 2014 and 2017, the number of target group persons provided with assistance (in reception and asylum systems) increased from 148 045 to 297 083, and that of these, the share of persons having benefited from legal assistance has risen from 18 395 (12.4 %) to 56 933 (19.1 %);

88.  Stresses that the main Union level benefit is considered to come from the transnational dimension of actions such as European Migration Network, but also from burden-sharing, supported in particular by emergency assistance and the relocation mechanism;

89.  Notes that the number of returnees co-financed by the AMIF was 48 250 in 2017 compared to 5 904 in 2014, and that of those returned, the share of non-voluntary returns has increased from one quarter (25 %) in 2014 to half (50 %) in 2017, while the reported number of persons who returned voluntarily was 17 736 in 2017; notes also that there is no Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to measure what's being done to protect those migrants - regular and irregular - who most need protection, the women and children;

Critical issues requiring improvements

90.  Points out that the Court regretted that the accounts of AMIF and ISF (Internal Security Fund) national programmes cleared by the Commission in 2017 did not distinguish between pre-financing payments (advances) by Member States to final beneficiaries, and payments made to reimburse expenditure actually incurred, which does not allow the Commission to obtain information on how much was actually spent;

91.  Asks in this regard the Commission to require from Member States, in the annual accounts of their AMIF and ISF national programmes, to break down the nature of the amounts they report into recoveries, pre-financing and expenditure actually incurred and to report in its AAR from 2018 onwards the actual spending per fund;

92.  Points out that for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and for the Internal Security Fund DG HOME only reports an error rate from which financial corrections have already been deducted, which makes unclear what corrections have been made and what the 2017 actual payments error rate is;

93.  Takes note of the Court’s observation that overcomplicated bureaucracy could be one of the reasons for the increased backlog of commitment appropriations and recommends to the Commission to simplify the regulatory requirements introduced for the national authorities involved in the management of the AMIF and ISF in order to facilitate the faster use of the available funds and to improve the transparency and better accountability of IMF and ISF expenditure;

94.  Points out that the Court found inconsistencies in the way Member States treated the eligibility of value-added tax declared by public bodies and calls on the Commission to provide guidance to Member States in with regard to the AMIF/ISF implementation specifying that, when public bodies implement EU actions, the EU co-financing may not exceed the total eligible expenditure excluding VAT;

95.  Recommends that:

(a)  the Commission define and put in place a balanced and comprehensive migration policy based on the principles of solidarity and partnership instead of considering the migration policy as a crisis management issue;

(b)  DG HOME introduce a Key Performance Indicator relating to situation of the most vulnerable migrants and in particular child migrants and refugee women and girls in order to prevent and avoid abuse and trafficking;

(c)  DG HOME systematically provide error rates at payment and residual error rate;

(d)  the Commission require Member States, in the annual accounts of their AMIF and ISF national programmes, to break down the nature of the amounts they report into recoveries, pre-financing and expenditure actually incurred; and report in its AAR from 2018 onwards the actual spending per fund;

96.  Is seriously concerned about the weaknesses in EASO’s management and audits; considers it unacceptable that the Commission did not monitor them effectively and did not intervene quickly to resolve the situation; calls on the Commission to constantly monitor the agencies operating under Heading 3;

97.  Is concerned that there is a risk that EU money foreseen for development is used for other purposes such as to fight irregular migration or military action;

DIRECT MANAGEMENT

98.  Points out that for 2017, the Court found the highest estimated level of error in spending under “Competitiveness for growth and jobs”, at 4,2 %; notes that these are expenditures managed directly by the Commission, and for which the Commission is solely and directly accountable; expects the Commission to adopt an urgent Action Plan to improve the situation and to implement all measures at its disposal to lower the level of error in spending;

99.  Regrets that of the 130 transactions examined by the Court, 66 (51 %) contained errors and that in 17 cases of quantifiable error made by beneficiaries, the Commission or the independent auditor had sufficient information presented in the reimbursement claim (e.g. incorrect exchange rate or cost incurred outside the reporting period) to prevent, or to detect and correct, the error before accepting the expenditure; emphasises that, had the Commission made proper use of all information at its disposal, the estimated level of error for this chapter would have been 1,5 percentage points lower;

100.  Urges the Commission to undertake all necessary measures to improve the use of the available information at its disposal for preventing and correcting errors before exercising payments in order to return to the positive trend of reduction of the error rate seen in previous years (from 5,6% in 2014, to 4,4% in 2015 and from 4,1% in 2016);

101.  Notes that the Court did not provide a separate error rate for security and citizenship, as just a small part (2%) of the 2017 budgetary payments relate to this area, but that DG HOME presented the following error rates in its AAR, which, however, were not checked by the Court:

a)  Solidarity and Management of migration Flows (SOLID): Detected Error Rate (DER) of 2.26% and Residual error rate (RER) of 0.75%;

b)  Asylum Migration and integration Fund (AMIF) Internal Security Fund (ISF): DER of 0% and RER of 1.54%;

c)  Indirect management decentralised agencies: RER of less than 2 %;

102.  Notes that for 2017, the Court has not calculated an error rate for the Union funds spent under heading 4 of the MFF “Global Europe” and that this decision was taken following the general strategy of the Court to reduce its substantive testing and partially rely on the so-called “work of others”;

103.  Takes note of the positive evolution of the residual error rate as established by the residual error rate (RER) studies ordered by DG DEVCO and DG NEAR and notes that the most likely estimate of the representative RER for the transactions of DG DEVCO was 1.18% compared with 1.67% in 2016, and 2.2% in 2015 whilst for the DG NEAR transactions the residual error rate was 0.67;

104.  Notes, however, that the Residual Error Rate of DG DEVCO and DG NEAR does not refer to a sample of all payments for ongoing projects, but is calculated on transactions only from closed contracts for which all controls and checks have been applied, with the consequence that only pre-2017 payments have been analysed, but not the 2017 actual payments error-rate;

105.  Notes the fact that the Court considered that the RER studies were broadly fit for purpose although the Court had strong concerns about the quality of those studies;

106.  Notes with concern that despite good scores in terms of error rate, the only spending area with an indicative error rate above 2% is “Direct Management - Grants”, with error rates of 2, 80 % for DG NEAR and 2.12% for DG DEVCO;

107.  calls on the DG RTD to publish its country specific recommendations in the AAR of DG RTD;

108.  Highlights the highly negative findings by the Court on Public-Private Partnerships(5) (‘PPPs’) and the Court’s recommendation “not to promote a more intensive and widespread use of PPPs” inside the Union; calls on the Commission to take this recommendation fully into account when dealing with PPPs in developing countries where the environment for successful implementation of PPPs is even more difficult than inside the EU;

109.  Welcomes the results achieved under the three axes of the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) in 2017; draws attention to the importance of EaSI support, and, in particular, of its Progress and European Employment Services network (EURES) axes, for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights; notes with concern however that the thematic section Social Entrepreneurship within the EaSI Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis continues to underperform; appreciates the fact that the Commission is working closely with the European Investment Fund (EIF) to ensure it commits to full utilisation of the resources under the Social Entrepreneurship thematic section;

Research and innovation

Success stories

110.  Notes with satisfaction that with EU co-financing under Horizon 2020 Gérard Mourou won with other researches the Nobel Prize in physics for their research in ultra-brief, ultra-sharp laser beams facilitating refractive eye surgery, as well as that the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDIRC) achieved its objective of delivering 200 new therapies for rare diseases three years earlier than foreseen;

111.  Notes in addition that through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Horizon 2020 has funded 36 00 researchers at all stages of their career, regardless of their age and nationality and that two of the three 2017 researchers, who were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for optimising electron microscopes, have participated in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and other EU-funded research projects;

112.  Welcomes the launch of the first phase of the European Innovation Council pilot in October 2017 as part of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, endowed with funding of EUR 2,7 billion, which aims at supporting top-class innovators, start-ups, small companies and researchers with bright ideas that are radically different from existing products, services or business models, are highly risky and have the potential to scale up internationally;

113.  Notes that the Commission is looking into the possibility to extending the use of the Simplified Cost Option (SCO) even further, in particular using lump-sum funding;

Critical issues requiring improvement

114.  Notes that, according to the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 5.8 % since 2010; notes, however, that there has been no convergence between EU countries; notes that the following countries benefit most from the funds under Horizon 2020 (Participant Net Requested EU Contribution in Euro): Germany 5 710 188 927.80 / United Kingdom 5 152 013 650.95 / France 3 787 670 675.13; calls on the Commission to pay greater attention to the geographic distribution of research funds with the view to contributing to the creation of a level playing field for growth and jobs in the European research area;

115.  Notes that the Commission admits that there are some weaknesses in the performance framework for Horizon 2020 which make it difficult to assess the progress of the programme towards all of its objectives at a given moment; expects that the proposals for the next MFF Horizon Europe programme will address these weaknesses and regrets that no measures are considered for improvement of the performance framework in the current period;

116.  Notes that the Annual Activity Report (AAR) of the Directorate General (DG) RTD mentions 6 different error rates, three for FP7 and three for Horizon 2020; stresses that such an approach does not facilitate transparency and accountability and should be improved immediately; accepts however that two different programmes under two different financial periods are concerned;

Security and citizenship

Some success stories

117.  Points out that DG Home managed a budget of EUR 1,831 million for migration and EUR 313,75 million for security and that the initial overall budget of EUR 6,9 billion for the Multiannual Financing Framework 2014-2020 was substantially reinforced from 2015 to 2017, by EUR 3,9 billion;

118.  Notes that the budget managed by DG HOME and its number of staff have been increased in order to cope with the increased activities in the context of the migration crisis and threats to the internal security; in terms of human resources, at the end of 2017, DG HOME had 556 staff members, compared to 480 in 2016;

Critical issues requiring improvement

119.  Notes with concern that the implementation pace of the resources managed by DG HOME triggered an increase of 24% of the total RAL at the end of 2017 and that the good implementation rate in 2017 reflects the fact that part of the commitment appropriations were carried over to 2018;

120.  Is concerned by the significant weaknesses identified in the management and control systems of EASO that justified the adoption of a reservation on reputational grounds; stresses though that DG HOME has promptly reacted by introducing a co-decision process by the executive board and put in place new management of EASO to bring the situation under control;

121.  Repeats its demand that the budget lines under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) 2014 - 2020 should specify the resources allocated to each of the objectives of the programme devoted to gender equality ensuring a proper accountability of the funds devoted to this aim;

122.  Reiterates its call to have a separate budget line for the Daphne specific objective in order to show the commitment of the Union with the combat of violence against women and girls; calls for increased resources in this budget line and to reverse the decrease of funds dedicated to Daphne during the 2014-2020 period; calls on an steady effort to raise the awareness of the grants included in the Daphne specific objective along with measures to make its related administrative procedures more user-friendly;

Global Europe

Some success stories

123.  Points out that the Court work on the regularity of the transactions revealed that the Commission strengthened its control systems, which has led to proportionally fewer errors than in past DAS exercises;

124.  Notes that the Court has also checked the performance of 7 projects; welcomes the fact that all 7 projects had relevant performance indicators and that the framework was well structured and had achievable outputs;

125.  Takes note of the Special Report of the Court on EU Assistance to Myanmar/ Burma and the response of the Commission; welcomes in this respect that the EU played a leading role in supporting development priorities in a difficult context and with limited staff resources; notes however that EU assistance was found to be only partially effective; supports the Court in stressing the need to pay increased attention to domestic revenue mobilisation, in particular in emerging economies; in view of the documented atrocities committed by the army of Myanmar expresses great concern about continued sectoral budget support provided from the EU budget to Myanmar;

126.  Calls for an incentive-based approach to development by introducing the more-for-more principle, taking as an example the European Neighbourhood Policy; believes that the more and the faster a country progress in its internal reforms in relation to the building and consolidation of democratic institutions, the respect for human rights and the rule of law, the more support it should receive from the Union;

127.  Underlines the importance of increasing the attribution of funds aiming at supporting good governance, democracy and the rule of law in developing countries in order to promote accountable and transparent institutions, support capacity building and foster a participatory decision-making and public access to information;

128.  Draws attention to the scale and implication of energy poverty in developing countries and to the Union’s strong involvement in efforts to reduce such poverty; underlines the need for strong and concerted efforts by governments and stakeholders in affected countries to reduce energy poverty;

Critical issues requiring improvement

129.  Notes with concern that the Court has detected recurrent errors of over-clearance of expenditure in interim payments;

130.  Regrets once again that the external assistance management reports (EAMR) issued by the heads of Union delegations are not annexed to the annual activity reports of DG DEVCO and NEAR as is foreseen by Article 67(3) of the Financial Regulation; regrets that they are systematically considered as confidential whilst in accordance with Article 67(3) of the Financial Regulation , "they shall be made available to the European Parliament and the Council having due regard, where appropriate to their confidentiality";

131.  Notes with concern the large number of contracts awarded to a very limited number of national development agencies, with the attendant risk of re-nationalisation of EU policy contrary to the interests of greater integration of EU external policy; urges the Commission, in addition to granting the discharge authority access to the pillar assessment, to do so in such a way as to make it publicly accessible; in this regard, notes with concern the commercial focus of these national bodies invoked by the European Commission to restrict access to such information; calls on the Commission, as soon as possible, to strengthen and consolidate the monitoring of the tendering and contracting procedures to avoid any distortion of competition between this limited number of strongly subsidised national agencies and other public and private entities with a clear European vocation;

132.  Notes with concern that the Court found that the RER studies have certain limitations, as they are studies and not audits and so do not follow International Audit Standards and include very limited checks on public procurement;

133.  For the 2019 RER study onwards, calls on DG NEAR and DG DEVCO to provide the RER contractor with more precise guidelines on checking second-level procurement and to stratify the RER population based on the inherent risk of the projects, with more weight being placed on direct management grants and less on budget support transactions;

134.  Asks the Commission to take the necessary measures to address the deficiencies detected by its own Internal Audit Service and to transform the EAMR into a reliable and fully public document that properly substantiates the declarations of assurance of the heads of delegation and of the Director General of DG DEVCO;

135.  Believes that when providing external aid, more attention should be put by the Commission on respect for human rights as per the UN Charter, and the Rule of Law, in the receiving countries;

136.   Is concerned about lack of visibility of EU funding pooled for projects; urges the Commission to improve visibility and to strengthen enhanced complementarity of actions of different instruments;

137.  Is very worried by an ongoing trend in Commission proposals to ignore legally binding provisions of Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6) when it comes to Official Development Assistance (‘ODA’) eligible expenditure and eligible countries for Development Cooperation Instrument (‘DCI’) spending; recalls that legality of EU spending is a key principle of sound financial management and that political considerations should not take precedence over clearly spelled out legal provisions; recalls that DCI is first and foremost an instrument designed to fight poverty;

138.  Regrets that in every annual activity report since 2012, the Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development had to issue a reservation on the regularity of underlying transactions which points to serious internal management, deficiencies;

Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

139.  Notes that in 2017 the LIFE Programme celebrated its 25th anniversary; highlights that the programme provided EUR 222 million to co-finance 139 new projects; stresses that further efforts need to be made to lower payments delays under the LIFE Programme, as 5,8 % of payments exceeded legal deadlines in 2017 (3,9 % in 2016, 12 % in 2015);

140.  Points out that the mid-term evaluation of the LIFE Programme, covering the years 2014-2015, was released in 2017; notes that, as most projects had yet to start and few projects had ended, that evaluation focused mainly on the processes put in place to reach the LIFE Programme’s objectives, and concluded that the LIFE Programme provides Union added value, while pointing to possible improvements; stresses that grant management procedures, particularly application and reporting procedures, should not only be simplified but also significantly accelerated;

141.  Notes that the terms of the externalisation decision for cooperation with the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) regarding staff imply that the staffing situation is very tight in DG ENV as regards the activities related to the LIFE programme, which may require further review of the working methods and arrangements within the DG;

142.  Highlights that those of DG ENV’s and DG CLIMA’s internal control systems that were audited are only partially effective, as some very important recommendations still need to be addressed in line with the agreed action plans;

143.  Stresses that DG CLIMA and DG BUDG monitor the 20 % climate mainstreaming target in the Multiannual Financial Framework, and that DG CLIMA supports other DGs in integrating climate in their activities; regrets that in 2017, only 19,3 % of the Union budget was spent on climate-related activities, and that it is estimated that the average for the period 2014-2020 will only be 18,8 %;

144.  Is concerned with the fact that the reservation on reputational grounds concerning the remaining significant security weakness identified in the Union registry of the Emissions trading system (EU ETS) is repeated in DG CLIMA’s Annual Activity Report for 2017;

145.  Regrets that DG SANTE's average residual error rate reached 2,5 % for the overall activity in the area of food and feed safety in 2017, exceeding the materiality threshold of 2 %; notes that this is due to overstatements in costs claims of Member States, in the context of structural changes made to management and controls of the claims in one Member State; asks DG SANTE to take all the necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again in the future by increasing for instance the use of simplification measures offered by the Financial Regulation;

146.  Highlights that in 2017 DG SANTE released the mid-term evaluation of the Common Financial Framework for the food chain 2014-2020, which concluded that the current framework functions well and contributed to achieving EU added value; notes that the Commission, as recommended by the Court, is working to develop a cost-effectiveness analysis methodology for the food chain area, in order to make future economic evaluations of the Union-funded interventions more robust;

Transport and Tourism

147.  Notes that in 2017 the Commission selected 152 projects for a total of CEF Transport funding of EUR 2,7 billion, with the total investment of EUR 4,7 billion, including other public and private financing; reiterates the importance of the CEF funding instrument for the completion of the TEN-T network, for achieving a Single European Transport Area, for developing the cross-border links and filling the missing links; 

148.  Invites the European TEN-T Coordinators to conduct a thorough assessment of the projects completed and the improvements achieved along the TEN-T corridors under the current programming period, and to present it to the Commission and the Parliament;

149.  Calls upon the Commission to clearly present for the sector of transport an assessment of the impact of EFSI on other financial instruments, in particular with regard to the CEF as well as on the coherence of the CEF Debt Instrument with other Union initiatives in good time before the proposal for the next MFF; requests that this assessment present a clear analysis on the geographical balance of investments in the transport sector; recalls, however, that the amount of money spent under a financial instrument should not be considered to be the only pertinent criteria to be used when assessing its performance; invites, therefore, the Commission to deepen its assessment of the achievements completed under Union funded transport projects and measure their added-value;

150.   Welcomes the results of the 2017 blending call for CEF funding and the decision to increase its budget to EUR 1,35 billion, which confirms the relevance and added value of using Union grants for blending with financing from the European Investment Bank or National Promotional Banks or other development and public financial institutions as well as from private-sector finance institutions and private-sector investors, including through public private partnerships; takes the view that CEF should therefore continue to support actions enabling combination between EU grants and other sources of financing, while maintaining grants as the main funding instrument;

151.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service, as part of its audit on the Commission’s supervision of the implementation of CEF financial instruments, found that there was a very low rate of implementation of financial instruments under CEF and the majority of the budget originally allocated to CEF financial instruments (EUR 2,43 billion) was re-allocated to CEF grants budget lines, leaving only EUR 296 million available for CEF financial instruments until 2020; also notes that one of the reasons given was that the eligibility criteria of the CEF financial instruments and of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) largely overlap and potential CEF eligible projects have in fact been financed by EFSI, as it has greater political priority and a larger remit; calls on the Commission, as regards the CEF, to improve the level of awareness among beneficiaries of the eligibility rules, in particular by drawing a clear distinction between an implementation contract and subcontract - which was the main source of confusion among beneficiaries; calls on the Commission to ensure that financial instruments complement rather that substitute each other;

152.  Notes that 2017 was the first year of the audit campaign for the CEF programme and that it will require 2-3 further years of CEF auditing to deduce a meaningful error rate calculation for all CEF sectors; nevertheless welcomes the fact that detected errors for CEF and TEN-T audits closed in 2017 were very low;

153.  Is concerned that Commission’s Internal Audit Service found significant weaknesses in DG MOVE's current system of monitoring both aviation and maritime security policy and made three very important recommendations; calls on DG MOVE to fully implement the action plan that it prepared for addressing the identified risks;

Culture and Education

154.  Welcomes the achievements of 30 years of the Erasmus, programme, engaging 9 million people, including young people, students and, recently, members of staff in mobility activity since 1987; stresses the strong European added value of the programme and its role in delivering as a strategic investment in Europe’s young people;

155.  Notes that the Erasmus programme needs to do more to be accessible to marginalised groups, in particular, persons with disabilities and special education requirements, persons who are geographically disadvantaged, early school leavers, persons belonging to a minority, those at a socio-economic disadvantage etc.;

156.  Is alarmed by the low take-up of the Erasmus+ Student Loan Guarantee Facility as well as its insufficient geographical coverage, limited to banks in three countries and universities in another two; urges the Commission and European Investment Fund to put in place an implementation strategy to maximise the Facility’s effectiveness till 2020; or alternatively, to facilitate the redistribution of the unused funds in the programme itself and allow for a better funding coverage of actions within the different strands;

157.  Is worried by the still low project success rates under the Europe for Citizens programme and the Creative Europe Culture sub-programme (21% and 22% respectively in 2017); stresses that a more adequate level of financing is decisive to tackle these unsatisfactory results which are counterproductive to the objectives of the programme itself in discouraging citizens from participating;

158.  Highlights the role of the Education Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) in implementing the three culture and education programmes: expresses however its concern at the weakness of the EACEA internal control identified by an audit on the Erasmus+ and Creative Europe grant management; notes that the Commission's Internal Audit Service itself has found weaknesses in EACEA's Erasmus+ grant management process; takes the view, therefore, that the Commission and EACEA should have no difficulty in putting in place the necessary corrective actions in order to ensure full transparency, and guarantee the highest quality of their implementation of the culture and education programmes;

INDIRECT MANAGEMENT AND FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS

159.  Notes that in 2017, the Commission has signed contracts with UN agencies with a value of nearly EUR 253.5 million of contributions from the EU budget, with United Nations Development Programme (EUR 119.21 million), UNICEF (EUR 29.34 million) and United Nations Office for Projects Services (EUR 20.05 million) being the biggest beneficiaries, and contracts with the World Bank worth EUR 174.11million;

160.  Given the shift in aid modalities from direct grants to trust funds and blended finance, including through the European Fund for Sustainable Development, invites the Council, Commission and European Investment Bank to adopt an inter-institutional agreement with the European Parliament on transparency, accountability and parliamentary scrutiny on the basis of the policy principles set out in the New European Consensus on Development;

161.  Welcomes the Court’s recommendations for improving the transparency of EU funds implemented by NGOs published in the special report 2018/ 35, where it, amongst other things, recommends that the Commission improve the reliability of the information on NGOs in its accounting system, and that the Commission improve the information collected on funds implemented by NGOs; calls therefore on the Commission to implement these proposals before the end of the current mandate;

162.  Fully recognizes the complex nature of many challenges and the need for multifaceted and complementary response actions, but insists on the need for clarity in funding arrangements and respect for international commitments;

163.  Notes that the number of financial instruments has increased considerably which allows for new blending opportunities in the transport sector, while at the same time creating a complex web of arrangements around the Union budget; is concerned that these instruments alongside the Union budget could risk undermining the level of accountability and transparency, as reporting, audit and public scrutiny are not aligned; calls upon the Commission to find how the Union budgetary system could be reformed, in particular as how best to ensure that overall funding arrangements are not more complex than necessary to meet Union policy objectives and guarantee accountability, transparency and auditability;

164.  Points out that the budgetary authority increased the EFSI guarantee from EUR 16 billion to EUR 26 billion and the target investment volume from EUR 315 billion to 500 billion and that by the end of 2017, the EIB Group had signed EUR 36,7 billion worth of contracts (2016: EUR 21,3 billion);

165.  Notes that, according to the Court, 64 % of the total value of EFSI contracts that the EIB Group had signed by the end of 2017 was concentrated in six Member States: France, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, Poland;

166.  Regrets the fact that only 20% of EFSI financing has supported projects that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, whereas the EIB’s standard portfolio has attained the 25% threshold; calls on the Commission to propose sustainable finance or funding options and an environment conducive to investment reflecting the Union’s commitments and general goals, with a view to fostering innovation and economic, social and territorial cohesion within the Union, as well as to reinforcing the social dimension of investment by bridging the investment gap in the social sector and with regard to infrastructure safety;

167.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that EFSI's management bodies take into account the need for a proper geographical balance when signing contracts and to report back to the Parliament on the progress achieved;

Research area

168.  Notes that in terms of payments, in 2017 the Commission invested EUR 11,2 billion in the area of research and innovation (R&I), 58% being managed directly and 42% allocated via entrusted bodies, and that of the latter, 18.2% (EUR 583 million) were executed via Joint Undertakings and 16.8% (EUR 540 million) were distributed via the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF);

169.  Calls on the Commission to report to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control during the second half of 2019 on the implementation and results of the financial instruments in the area of research;

Trust funds

170.  Points out that aid to non-Union countries used increasingly alternative financing models - such as trust funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey - which increases the complexity of existing financial structures; however acknowledges that these instruments have made it possible to react swiftly to challenging circumstances and provide flexibility;

171.  Points out that pooling resources from the EDF, the EU Budget and other donors in trust funds should not have as consequence that money flagged for development and cooperation policy do not reach their normal beneficiaries or pursue their original objectives, such as the eradication of poverty and the promotion of fundamental rights;

172.  Points out that the increased use of trust funds also stems from a lack of flexibility currently possible within the Union budget;

173.  Highlights that the increasing use of other financial mechanisms to deliver EU policies alongside the EU Budget risks undermining the level of accountability and transparency as reporting, audit and public scrutiny arrangements are not aligned; calls, therefore on the Commission to consider putting an end to trust funds, especially where their ‘emergency’ nature is not well justified, where they are unable to attract significant contributions from other donors, and where fundamental rights violations risk to happen or third country authorities are involved that do not respect fundamental rights;

Facility for Turkey

174.  Notes that in its Special report 27/2018 on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, the Court found that, in a challenging context, the Facility for Refugees in Turkey rapidly mobilised EUR 3 billion to provide a swift response to the refugee crisis, but did not fully achieve its objective of coordinating this response effectively, or achieving sufficient value for money; asks the Commission to implement all recommendations made by the Court on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, notably improving monitoring and reporting on cash-assistance projects and improving the operating environment for (I)NGOs with the Turkish authorities, to ensure that funds are accurately targeting refugee projects and not used for any other purposes; calls on the Commission to report regularly to the Parliament on the compatibility of the actions financed with the underlying legal basis;

175.  Notes in addition that according to the Court, the audited projects provided helpful support to refugees and that most of them achieved their outputs, but half of them had not yet achieved their expected outcomes;

176.  Notes that the European Ombudsman has concluded that the Commission should do more to ensure that the EU-Turkey Statement respects EU fundamental rights, and therefore calls on the Commission to systematically include fundamental rights considerations in its decisions under this facility, including through fundamental rights impact assessments; calls on the Commission to report on this regularly to the European Parliament;

177.  Regrets that an investigation by EIC European Investigative Collaborations has raised doubts about the use of funds from the instrument; calls on the Commission to thoroughly investigate the matter and to report to Parliament on the results;

178.  Calls on DG DEVCO to revisit by 2020 the existing guidance to beneficiaries of projects implemented under indirect management, with the aim of ensuring that planned activities are executed in a timely manner and contribute to the practical use of the projects outputs, to obtain the best value for money;

179.  Notes that the Court indicates that the level of error in spending on ‘Administration’ was not material; nevertheless notes with concern that the error rate increased when compared to the previous year (0.55 % in 2017 and 0.2 % in 2016);

180.  Notes that while the Court did not find any significant weaknesses, it did find recurring areas where there was scope for improvement;

Administration

Nomination procedure for the designation of the secretary general of the Commission

181.  Is not satisfied by the Commission’s reactions to the media’s and general public’s valid concerns on the procedure immediately after the appointment of the Secretary-General of the European Commission took place, or by Commission’s explanations presented at the European Parliament’s plenary debate and in its written response to the European Parliament’s resolution of 18 April 2018, which were evasive, defensive and legalistic, demonstrating a lack of sensitivity for the importance European citizens attach to transparent, fair and open recruitment procedures;

182.  Recalls, in this context, the Ombudsman’s finding of four instances of maladministration in its Recommendation in joint cases 488/2018/KR and 514/2018/KR; notes that the Ombudsman’s conclusions are ‘largely similar to those of the European Parliament’ and that it agrees with the European Parliament’s assessment that the double appointment stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law’; stresses the final recommendation of the Ombudsman to the Commission that the Commission should develop a specific procedure for its Secretary General, separate and independent from other senior appointments; regrets, therefore, the Commission’s defiant reply to the European Ombudsman of 3 December 2018, which shows little discernment of the points raised by the Ombudsman following the Ombudsman’s examination of 11 000 pages of documentation;

183.  Takes into account the fact that Commissioner Oettinger organised an inter-institutional round table on senior management selection and appointment on 25 September 2018, although the meeting seems to have been inconclusive; calls therefore on the Commission to put in practice paragraph 29 of its resolution on integrity policy in the Commission;

184.  Calls on the Commission, as well as on all European institutions to review, where necessary, nomination procedures, in particular for senior officials and where relevant for cabinet members, and to take additional measures to improve transparency, fairness and equal opportunity during appointment procedures on the basis of the findings of the European Ombudsman and the forthcoming study of the European Parliament on the appointment procedures of the European Union’s institutions; calls on the Commission to report back to the European Parliament by 31 August 2019 on the progress made;

European Schools

185.  Notes that the European Schools received EUR 189.9 million from the European budget in 2017;

186.  Acknowledges that the Court‘s review did not reveal material errors in the final consolidated financial statements of the European Schools for 2017 and that the European Schools and the Central Office prepared their annual accounts within the legal deadline; notes however that the internal control system of the European Schools still needs further improvements to meet the recommendation made by the Court and the European Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS);

187.  Finds it exasperating that after more than 15 years there is still no sound financial management system in place for European schools;

188.   Remains concerned by the significant weakness in the internal control systems of the Central Office and selected Schools, in particular in payment systems, control environment and recruitment process;

189.   Notes that the Court has been unable to confirm that the Schools' financial management in 2017 was compliant with the Financial Regulation and its implementing rules: demands, therefore, further efforts in closing the remaining recommendations related to the management of extra-budgetary accounts, improvement of the accounting and internal control systems, as well as recruitment and payment procedures and the development of the guidelines to improve budgetary management;

190.  Reiterates Parliament's view that a 'comprehensive review' of the European Schools system is urgently required to consider "reform covering managerial, financial, organisational and pedagogical issues" and recalls its request that "the Commission submit annually a report giving its assessment of the state of progress" to Parliament;

191.  Finds it unacceptable that, according to the Commission, eight critical or very important recommendations issues by the Commission’s Internal Audit Service over the period 2014 - 2017 are still pending; requests to obtain a progress report on these recommendations implementation by 30 June 2019;

Follow up of the Commission discharge for 2016

192.  Notes that in the Communication of the Commission on the follow up of the 2016 discharge, COM(2018)0545, the Commission made a selection of the 394 issues that are raised by the Parliament for the financial year 2016 and did not comment on 108 paragraphs; demands that the Commission reply in detail to all the issues raised by the European Parliament in its resolutions forming an integral part of its decisions on the discharge;

193.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has responded to Parliament’s remarks on the External Assistance Management Reports (EAMR) and Key Performance Indicators contained in its resolution of 18 April 2018 on discharge for the financial year 2016(7), and has made changes in order to improve those; notes that the Commission has transmitted the 2017 EAMR to the Parliament without confidentiality constraints but regrets that the access to those reports de facto has become more cumbersome; looks forward to a facilitated access for Parliament to those reports in the future;

Miscellaneous issues

194.  Is concerned by the Commission’s delay in addressing the growing problem of the disparity in the correction coefficient applied to European civil servants posted to Luxembourg, given that by 2018 this disparity had more than tripled (16.8%) as compared to the threshold of 5% laid down in the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union, with the resulting erosion of the attractiveness of Luxembourg and unfair discrimination against more than 11000 European Union officials, obliging more than one third of them to reside in neighbouring countries, thus worsening cross-border traffic; notes that other international institutions located in Luxembourg have already given a positive solution to this problem; urges the Commission to examine itself the existing problem of the current correction coefficient and to undertake the necessary measures;

195.  Urges the Commission to terminate as soon as possible, as already done in 2018 with the convention with doctors and dentists, the convention with Luxembourg hospitals on over-charging for the treatment of officials and other servants of the European Union in Luxembourg, which costs more than EUR 2 million per year and is in breach of European Directive 2011/24 as regards the equal treatment of European patients, in line with the judgment of the Court of Justice in the year 2000 (Ferlini judgment);

196.  Calls on the Commission to carry out the most rigorous and most up-to-date analysis of the impact of the design of open spaces, as those in the new JMO II building, with regard to the effect on productivity and provision of decent workplaces and working conditions for the staff concerned; asks the Commission to inform the Parliament of the outcome of this analysis;

2014 - 2017: How the European Parliament contributed to and continues to contribute to establishing sound financial management structures in the Commission and in the Member States

Performance based budgeting and auditing

197.  Insists that the planning, implementation and reporting on the achieved results  of the European Union budget should be policy driven;

198.  Insisted that the implementation of the European Union budget should focus on results and achieving broader positive outcomes and that the structure of the EU budget should be modified to provide for measuring progress and performance;

199.  Encouraged, in this context, the Commission and the Court to pay greater attention to simplification, results and broader outcomes achieved, performance audits and the final impact of policies;

200.  Stresses that any and all audits should be focused on the areas most likely to be subject to error, especially those with the greatest funding levels;

201.  Notes the close cooperation with the Commission to develop the Article 318-Evaluation-Report into a comprehensive synthesis report, recording the progress in different policy areas, which later became the first part of the Annual Management and Performance Report;

Integrated internal control framework

202.  Supported the inclusion of Article 63 in the revised Financial Regulation, which introduces the “single audit scheme” into the shared management, emphasising that well-functioning management and control systems at national and European level are a crucial element in the single audit chain; agrees that the single audit approach allows a better use of resources and should avoid duplication of audits at the level of beneficiaries; notes that the Commission’s single audit strategy is to ascertain the reliability of audit results and error rates reported annually by audit authorities and to monitor their work through a robust and coordinated control and audit framework; encourages the Commission to continue monitoring and reviewing the work of audit authorities in order to ensure a common audit framework and reliable results;

Research

203.  Advocated clearer rules and greater use of the simplified cost option (SCO), i.e. lump-sum payments under the Horizon 2020 programme;

Structural funds

204.  Insisted on strengthening the responsibilities of national management and audit authorities for the budget implementation;

205.  Supported the move away from “reimbursement” (reimburse incurred costs) to “entitlement” schemes which reduce considerably the risk of errors;

Agriculture

206.  Advocated that environmental requirements should be reinforced, that income support should be more fairly allocated with progressive payments scheme favourable to small farms and sustainable and environmentally friendly farming and that the CAP should urgently and definitively be made more attractive to young farmers;

207.  Called on the CAP to become more environmentally sensible whilst farmer-friendly;

Migration

208.  Contributed EU funding to meet the increased migratory challenges for the period 2015-2018 by doubling the funding to EUR 22 billion;

209.  Called on the Member States to address the root causes of migration in coordination with development policy as well as with external policy;

EU Foreign affairs

210.  Called for EU foreign affairs to be consistent and well-coordinated and that the EDF, trust funds and financial instruments be managed in step with internal policies;

Administration

211.  Insisted on the revision of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, which finally entered into force on 31 January 2018;

212.  Insisted that the recruitment procedures for senior positions in European institutions and bodies be revised and that all vacant posts should be published in the interest of transparency, integrity and equal opportunities;

213.  Continued to advocate a policy of zero-tolerance for fraud;

Recommendations for the future

Reporting

214.  Recalls that for future years, Article 247(1)(c) of the Financial Regulation sets out an obligation for the Commission to communicate annually to the European Parliament and the Council an integrated set of financial and accountability reports, including a long-term forecast of future inflows and outflows covering the next 5 years;

215.  Insists that this report should analyse the impact of commitments to the size of payments’ backlog of a given Multiannual Financial Framework;

216.  Calls on the Commission, for management and reporting purposes, to establish a way of recording EU budgetary expenditure that will make it possible to report on all funding related to the refugee and migration crisis, as well as for the future EU policy on management of migration flows and integration;

217.  Wonders why the Commission uses two sets of objectives and indicators to measure the performance of financial management: on the one hand, the Commission’s Directors-General evaluate the achievement of the objectives defined in their management plan in their AARs, and, on the other, the Commission measures the performance of spending programmes via the programme statements of operational expenditure annexed to the draft budget; calls on the Commission to make its reporting based on single set of objectives and indicators;

218.  Points out that performance information is mainly used at DG level to manage programmes and policies; is concerned that as the performance information that meets day-to-day management needs is not aligned with the Commission’s external reporting responsibilities, DGs do generally not use the Commission’s core performance reports to manage their performance of the EU budget;

219.  Points out that there is no requirement for DGs or the Commission to explain in their performance reports how they used performance information in decision-making; calls on the Commission to include such information in their future performance reports;

220.  Regrets once again that AARs do not include a declaration on the quality of the reported performance data, and that consequently in adopting the AMPR, the College of Commissioners takes overall political responsibility for the financial management of the Union budget but not for the information on performance and results;

221.  Points out that the Communication to the Commission on the Governance in the European Commission adopted on 21 November 2018 does not modify the distinction made between the ‘political responsibility of Commissioners’ and the 'operational responsibility of Directors-General’ introduced by the administrative reform of 2000; observes that it has not always been made clear whether ‘political responsibility’ encompasses responsibility for the directorates-general, or is distinct from it;

222.  Reiterates the findings of the Court’s 2017 audit, indicating that the ‘Commission should make better use of its own performance information and develop an internal culture more focused on performance’; consequently, calls on the Commission to incorporate performance based budgeting in their whole policy cycle;

223.  Deplores the increasingly late publication of the Commission’s ‘Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions’, practically hampering Parliament’s oversight and public accountability, with the report on 2016 published only in March 2018 and the report on 2017 still outstanding; invites the Commission to publish the report on 2018 by the end of September 2019 at the latest and to maintain this calendar for subsequent years;

224.  Notes that a number of weaknesses were found in the performance measurement systems of Member State authorities, in large part related to projects completed under the 2007-2013 period; invites the Commission to improve the overall performance measurement system, including the presence of result indicators at project level to allow the assessment of the contribution of a given project to specific operational programmes objectives; notes that the legislation covering the 2014-2020 programming period has strengthened the intervention logic and focus on results;

225.  Reiterates its request that the Commission, in view of the multiple sources of funding, provides an easy access to projects, in form of a one-stop-shop to allow citizens to clearly follow the developments and funding of infrastructures co-financed by Union funds and by the EFSI; encourages the Commission therefore to publish, in cooperation with the Member States, an annual overview of transport and tourism projects that have been co-financed through the ERDF and cohesion funds as it is practised for the CEF;

226.  Calls on the Commission to:

a)  streamline performance reporting by:

–  further reducing the number of objectives and indicators it uses for its various performance reports and focusing on those which best measure the performance of the Union budget;

–  improving the alignment between high-level general objectives and specific programme and policy objectives;

b)  better balance performance reporting by clearly presenting information on the main EU challenges still to be achieved;

c)  provide a declaration on the quality of the reported performance data;

d)  take overall political responsibility in the AMPR for the information on ‘performance and results’;

e)  include up-to-date performance information in performance reporting, including in the AMPR, on progress made towards achieving targets and always take, or make proposals for, action when these targets are not met;

f)  indicate how performance information concerning the Union budget has been used in its decision-making;

g)  introduce or improve measures and incentives to foster a greater focus on performance in the Commission’s internal culture, taking into account in particular opportunities offered by the revised Financial Regulation, the Budget Focused on Results initiative, performance reporting for on-going projects, and other sources;

h)  develop data processing methods for the vast quantities of data created by performance reporting with the goal of giving a timely, fair and true picture on achievements; insists that performance reporting should be used to take corrective action when the objectives of programmes are not met;

227.  Recommends that the Court continue to provide a separate chapter for security and citizenship in its annual report and to deepen its analysis in this regard, as the public and political interest in the security and migration part of the Union budget is much higher than its financial share;

228.  Urges the Commission to give an overview on VAT overcompensation in EU funded cohesion and rural development projects which harms the financial interests of the EU and the European taxpayers;

229.  Welcomes the proposal made by the Court in its consultation paper on ‘Recurrent reporting on the performance of EU action’ to publish annually, in November of year N+1, an evaluation of the performance of EU action, covering a detailed review of the performance information reported by the Commission in its Article 318 TFEU evaluation report; insists once again that this report should contain in a second part a detailed review of the synthesis of the financial management of the Commission as stated in the second part of the Annual Management and performance report;

230.  Recalls that the ultimate objective of a more performance-focused audit analysis should be to put in place a global and consistent cost/benefit model assessing the implementation of the European budget;

231.  Insists that the Court should improve the coordination between project level performance assessments carried out in the context of the Statement of Assurance work and the remainder of its performance work, through the reporting, in particular, of the main conclusions of its special reports in sectoral chapters of its Annual report;

232.  Requests the Court to provide the discharge authorities with an assessment in terms of both compliance and performance, of each European policy, following chapter by chapter the budget headings in the Court annual report;

233.  Insists that the Court put in place an extended follow-up of its performance audit recommendations;

234.  Stresses that women’s rights and gender equality should be integrated and ensured into all policy areas; reiterates therefore its call for the implementation of gender budgeting at all stages of the budgetary process, including the implementation of the budget and assessment of its implementation;

235.  Reiterates its demand to include in the common set of result indicators for the implementation of the Union budget also gender-specific indicators, with due regard to the principle of sound financial management, namely in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness;

Error rate calculation and reporting

236.  Is of the opinion that the Commission’s methodology for estimating its amount at risk or errors has improved over the years but that individual DGs’ estimations of the level of irregular spending are not based on a consistent methodology and that the AARs of the DGs and the AMPR use a complex terminology that could be confusing;

237.  Notes in particular that the services of the Commission use at least all the following concepts: residual error rate, reported error rate, error rate at payment, error rate detected in the year, net residual error rate, weighted average error rate, error rate at closure or common representative error rate;

238.  Points out, in addition, that for more than three quarters of 2017 expenditure, Commission DGs base their estimates of amount at risk on data provided by national authorities whilst it appears from the annual activity reports of the concerned Commission directorates general (DG AGRI and DG REGIO) that the reliability of Member States control reports remains a challenge;

239.  Notes that the reported global amount at risk at payment estimated by the Commission in its Annual and Performance Report (AMPR) 2017 is based on figures of the individual services responsible for spending programmes which use different methods of calculation of the level of error reflecting different legal and organisational frameworks; underlines that further harmonisation of methods of calculation would increase the credibility, accountability and transparency of the reported global amount at risk and allow a clear picture of the situation with regard to residual error rate and the rate of risk on payment in the future;

240.  Is worried, in addition, that the Annual Management and Performance Report compares very different figures and is therefore misleading, given that the Court’s estimated level of error is an error rate at payment and without deduction of corrections, while the Commission’s global amount at risk reported in the AMPR is calculated after deduction of corrections; finds it therefore impossible to make proper comparisons or to draw reliable conclusions; supports the Court in calculating the error rate without taking corrections into account; calls on the Commission to indicate error rates without and with corrections in all annual activity reports, as well as in the AMPR; would appreciate that, in order to find a solution to this incomparability, the Court express its opinion on the Commission’s error rate after correction;

241.  In this regard, asks the Commission to further harmonise its methods for calculating error rates with the Court, taking into account the different management modes and legal bases while making the error rates comparable, and to clearly distinguish the amount at risk with and without integrated financial corrections; requests also that the Commission present information about the corrective capacity for recovering unduly payments from the EU budget;

242.  Reiterates its concern at the difference between the Commission’s and the Court’s methods for calculating errors, which prevents proper comparison of the error rates reported by them; stresses that in order to present a reliable comparison of the error rates reported by the Commission in its AMPR and the AARs of the Directorates General and estimated by the Court, the Commission should use an equivalent methodology to that of the Court when assessing the error rate and that both institutions should conclude as a matter of urgency an agreement in this regard; calls on the Commission to present the data in a manner consistent with the methodology adopted by the Court and including the expected estimated corrections;

243.  Asks the Commission and the Member States once again to put in place sound procedures to confirm the timing, the origin and the amount of corrective measures and to provide information reconciling, as far as possible, the year in which payments are made, the year in which the related error is detected and the year in which recoveries or financial corrections are disclosed in the notes to the accounts; asks the Court to mention the level of correction applied to calculate the error rate in its Annual Report, as well as the original error rate before corrections;

244.  Deplores the fact that the Annual Management and Performance Report (AMPR) has not been audited by the Court whilst some annual activity reports (AARs), and in particular, the ones of DG EMPL and DG REGIO have been examined by the Court; calls on the Court carefully to examine and review the AMPR in its annual report;

Timely absorption and performance

245.  Notes that the low absorption rate is mainly due to the later closure of the previous MFF, the late adoption of legal acts, difficulties in implementing the new requirements for the current MFF, the change in the de-commitment rules from N+2 to N+3 and the administrative burden linked to overlaps between MFF periods;

246.  Deplores the fact that the Commission has not yet produced a comprehensive, long-term projection to aid decision-making for the next MFF that fully complies with the Interinstitutional Agreement;

247.  Notes that the slow absorption of funds remains a problem in some countries; is therefore of the opinion that it is appropriate to leave the “Task Force for Better Implementation” in place; notes also that the Commission has created a “Catching-up Regions” initiative; in this context, points to the risk of accumulating a huge backlog of commitment appropriations by the end of the financial term;

Conflicts of interest, rule of law, fight against fraud and corruption

248.  Deplores any kind of risk of breaching the values stated in Article 2 of the TEU and non-compliance with Article 61(1) of the Financial Regulation regarding conflicts of interest that could compromise the implementation of the Union budget and undermine the trust of Union citizens in the proper management of Union taxpayers’ money; calls on the Commission to ensure that a zero tolerance policy with no double standards will apply regarding any breach of EU law, as well as conflicts of interest;

249.  Calls on the Commission to enforce the European Parliament´s resolution of 17 May 2017 on the situation in Hungary, the Commission Recommendation regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Commission Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374, (EU) 2017/146 and (EU) 2017/1520 and the Reasoned Proposal in Accordance with Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union regarding the Rule of Law in Poland of 20 December 2017;

250.  Recalls the investigations the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) conducted on the ELIOS and “Heart of Budapest” projects where serious irregularities were found; in the first case a small amount of funds was recovered, whereas in the second case the Hungarian authorities accepted the financial correction, but it has still not been implemented; notes that the facts surrounding Metro-line four are still “sub judice”; notes in addition, that in Slovakia there is an ongoing OLAF investigation on allegations of fraud, as well as that currently there are 6 conformity enquiries conducted by the Commission regarding direct payments;

251.  Recalls with concern the outcomes of the missions of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament (CONT) to Slovakia, which have revealed a series of shortcomings and risks for the management and control of EU funds and a risk of infiltration by organised crime, especially in the context of the murder of the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak; calls in this regard on the Commission and OLAF to take the conclusions and recommendations of the CONT Committee outlined in its mission report, as well as on the Commission to actively monitor the situation, to take the necessary measures and to keep the Parliament informed about the follow-up;

252.  Calls on the Commission to create a unified Europe-wide strategy for the active avoidance of conflicts of interest as one of its priorities with an adapted strategy of ex ante and ex-post control; calls on the commission, OLAF and the future EPPO to include in this strategy the protection both of whistleblowers and of investigative journalists;

253.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that action plans on conflicts of interest are prepared and implemented in each Member State, and to report back to Parliament on progress;

254.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission publishes meetings of Commissioners with interest representatives; regrets, however that the subject matter discussed during the meetings is not included in the Register, calls on the Commission to complete the register by including the content of the meetings;

255.  Notes that according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018, the situation in a large number of Member States has not improved or has even deteriorated; calls on the Commission to finally submit to Parliament a follow-up to its anti-corruption report of 2015, describing, preferably on an annual basis, the situation with respect to anti-corruption policies in the Member States as well as in the European Institutions;

256.  Underlines that former Commissioners must not lobby Commissioners or their staff on behalf of their own business, that of their employer client, or on matters for which they were responsible within their portfolio for a period of two years after ceasing to hold their office; calls on the Commission to bring this cooling off period in line with that for the President, i.e. three years;

257.  Stresses that the opinions of the Ethical Committee on conflicts of interest must be proactively produced by the Committee, especially for Commissioners who leave the service; furthermore, stresses that the composition of the Ethical Committee should be strengthened with members from international organisations, such as OECD, and NGOs with expertise in the field of integrity policies;

258.  Recalls that in its resolution of 18 April 2018 on the Integrity Policy of the Commission, the European Parliament expressed its concerns at the appointment procedures for its senior officials; urges the Commission to continue the discussion with Parliament on the implementation of the various recommendations contained in Parliament´s resolution;

23.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Foreign 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 2017, Section III - Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Neena Gill

SUGGESTIONS

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

1.  Notes that no estimate of the level of error rate for spending under Heading 4 has been calculated for 2017 by the European Court of Auditors; stresses that a representative sample size for the audit of ‘Global Europe’ is essential for a rigorous and independent evaluation of financial transactions and calls for swiftly addressing this issue in order to enable better oversight on the use of EU funds by the European Parliament;

2.  Welcomes the Court’s assessment of performance aspects in addition to checking regularity of transactions in its 2017 report; fully supports all recommendations formulated by the Court based on the 56 transactions sampled; welcomes the Commission's readiness to take on these recommendations and calls for their swift implementation;

3.   Welcomes the Court´s special report 22/2017 on EU election observation missions (EOM) and the efforts made to ensure the rapid and full implementation of its recommendations by the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS); stresses the importance of continuing to improve the rationalisation, transparency and sound financial management, together with a better budgeting of the expenditure for individual EOMs, notably regarding reoccurring procurement by service providers; encourages the Commission to foster more competition between service providers as a way to bring down costs; invites the Commission and the EEAS to engage in a reflection on how to further reinforce the efficiency and effectiveness of the approach taken; in line with the special report’s findings, points out the importance of necessary resources to ensure a central overview of EU EOMs’ recommendations, including a depository, and of systematically assessing their implementation status;

4.   Is concerned about lack of visibility of EU funding pooled for projects; urges the Commission to improve visibility and to strengthen enhanced complementarity of actions of different instruments;

5.   Believes that administrative capacities of accession countries need to be enhanced; calls for sustained efforts to address the weaknesses in the indirect management of EU funds in some beneficiary countries of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) combined with greater rigor on budget support to EU partner countries; notes with concern that IPA funds for Turkey barely addressed fundamental values including press freedom and impartiality of justice and that the Commission has made little use of conditionality to support reforms in the priority sectors in Turkey where progress in democracy and rule of law were unsatisfactory; stresses the importance of redirecting funds to civil society and making more use of the direct management mode; asks the Commission to implement all recommendations made by the ECA on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, notably improving monitoring and reporting on cash-assistance projects and improving with the Turkish authorities the operating environment for (I)NGOs and to ensure that funds are accurately targeting refugee projects and not used for any other purposes; calls on the Commission to report regularly to the budget authority on the compatibility of the actions financed with the underlying legal basis;

6.  Welcomes the Court's Special report No 3/2017 ‘EU Assistance to Tunisia’ and its finding that EU assistance contributed significantly to the country’s democratic transition and economic stability; calls on the Commission to continue improving the focus of EU support in line with the recommendations contained therein;

7.  Takes note of the publication of Court's Special report No 20 /2018 “The African Peace and Security Architecture: need to refocus EU support”; calls for swift action in order to address the shortcomings identified therein, including the need to refocus EU support away from supporting operational costs towards capacity-building measures, to make interventions consistently results-based, reduce delays in contracting and retroactive financing, improve monitoring and make coherent use of financing instruments.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

41

3

8

Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Francisco Assis, Petras Auštrevičius, Amjad Bashir, Bas Belder, Goffredo Maria Bettini, Klaus Buchner, James Carver, Aymeric Chauprade, Javier Couso Permuy, Arnaud Danjean, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, Sandra Kalniete, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Wajid Khan, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Barbara Lochbihler, Sabine Lösing, David McAllister, Clare Moody, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Demetris Papadakis, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Tonino Picula, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Alyn Smith, Jordi Solé, Dobromir Sośnierz, Dubravka Šuica, Charles Tannock, László Tőkés, Ivo Vajgl, Geoffrey Van Orden

Substitutes present for the final vote

Asim Ademov, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Elisabetta Gardini, Rebecca Harms, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Bodil Valero, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Janusz Zemke, Željana Zovko

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

Norbert Erdős, Martina Werner

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

41

+

ALDE

Petras Auštrevičius, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Jozo Radoš, Ivo Vajgl

EFDD

Aymeric Chauprade

PPE

Asim Ademov, Michèle Alliot-Marie, Arnaud Danjean, Norbert Erdős, Michael Gahler, Elisabetta Gardini, Sandra Kalniete, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Antonio López-Istúriz White, David McAllister, Cristian Dan Preda, Dubravka Šuica, László Tőkés, Željana Zovko

S&D

Francisco Assis, Goffredo Maria Bettini, Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Wajid Khan, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Clare Moody, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Demetris Papadakis, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Tonino Picula, Martina Werner, Janusz Zemke

VERTS/ALE

Klaus Buchner, Rebecca Harms, Barbara Lochbihler, Alyn Smith, Jordi Solé, Bodil Valero

3

-

EFDD

James Carver

NI

Georgios Epitideios, Dobromir Sośnierz

8

0

ECR

Amjad Bashir, Bas Belder, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Charles Tannock, Geoffrey Van Orden

GUE/NGL

Javier Couso Permuy, Sabine Lösing, Marie-Christine Vergiat

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

1. AMPR p. 81 - ‘Compared to 2016, the main change is the significant decrease in Cohesion, Migration and Fisheries. In this policy area, the current 2014-2020 programmes are coming up to speed, which have an inherent lower risk given the newly introduced annual clearance of accounts and the 10 % retention mechanism on interim payments until all controls and corrective measures are implemented (see under ‘progress made’ in Section 2.2)’.

(2)

The Agrofert Holding is the single biggest group in Czech agriculture and food industry, second largest in chemistry and plays a significant role also in forestry, is an owner of the MAFRA Publishing Company, publishing some of the most popular printed and online media, such as MF DNES, Lidové noviny, iDnes.

(3)

(a )list of all projects financed by the ERDF, CF, ESF and EAFRD which relate to the AGROFERT group since 2012 when the current Prime Minister entered as Minister of Finance the government, and whether the projects are still ongoing or have been completed; (b) the amounts granted, already paid and still to be paid (as well as the Fund concerned) to these companies or to other companies of the AGROFERT group; (c) periods when such amounts were granted and paid; (d) whether the projects were subject to verifications (administrative and/or on-the-spot) with respect to such funding and the outcome of such verifications;

(4)

  OJ C 88, 27.3.2014, p. 1.

(5)

Special report Nr 9/2018: Public Private Partnership in the EU. Widespread shortcomings and limited benefits

(6)

Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020 (OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44).

(7)

Not yet published in the Official Journal.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (7.2.2019)

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Nirj Deva

SUGGESTIONS

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

1.  Takes note of the Special Report of the European Court of Auditors (‘the Court’) on EU Assistance to Myanmar/ Burma and the response of the Commission; welcomes in this respect that the EU played a leading role in supporting development priorities in a difficult context and with limited staff resources while noting that EU assistance was found to be only partially effective; supports the Court in stressing the need to pay increased attention to domestic revenue mobilisation, in particular in emerging economies; in view of the documented atrocities committed by the army of Myanmar expresses great concern about continued sectoral budget support provided from the EU budget to Myanmar;

2.  Is very worried by an ongoing trend in Commission proposals to ignore legally binding provisions of Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council(1) when it comes to Official Development Assistance (‘ODA’) eligible expenditure and eligible countries for Development Cooperation Instrument (‘DCI’) spending; recalls that legality of EU spending is a key principle of sound financial management and that political considerations should not take precedence over clearly spelled out legal provisions; recalls that DCI is first and foremost an instrument designed to fight poverty;

3.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has responded to Parliament’s remarks on the External Assistance Management Reports (EAMR) and Key Performance Indicators contained in its resolution of 18 April 2018 on discharge for the financial year 2016(2), and has made changes in order to improve those; notes that the Commission has transmitted the 2017 EAMR to the Parliament without confidentiality constraints but regrets that the access to those reports de facto has become more cumbersome; looks forward to a facilitated access for Parliament to those reports in the future;

4.  Deplores the increasingly late publication of the Commission’s ‘Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union's instruments for financing external actions’, practically hampering Parliament’s oversight and public accountability, with the report on 2016 published only in March 2018 and the report on 2017 still outstanding; invites the Commission to publish the report on 2018 by the end of September 2019 at the latest and to maintain this calendar for subsequent years;

5.  Regrets that in every annual activity report since 2012, the Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development had to issue a reservation on the regularity of underlying transactions which points to serious internal management, deficiencies;

6.  Highlights the highly negative findings by the Court on Public-Private Partnerships(3) (‘PPPs’) and the Court’s recommendation “not to promote a more intensive and widespread use of PPPs” inside the Union; calls on the Commission to take this recommendation fully into account when dealing with PPPs in developing countries where the environment for successful implementation of PPPs is even more difficult than inside the EU;

7.  Notes that in 2017, the Commission has signed contracts with UN agencies with a value of nearly EUR 253.5 million of contributions from the EU budget, with United Nations Development Programme (EUR 119.21 million), UNICEF (EUR 29.34 million) and United Nations Office for Projects Services (EUR 20.05 million) being the biggest beneficiaries, and contracts with the World Bank worth EUR 174.11million;

8.  Believes that promoting peace, security and justice in developing countries is of paramount importance for the Union in order to address the root causes of migration; recognizes that expenditure relating to security is particularly relevant in the current efforts to comprehensively address the security-development nexus and deliver on Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

9.  Recalls that the EU is collectively committed to provide 0.7 % of Gross National Income as ODA; calls on the Commission and Member States to prepare and present a plausible timeline for such a gradual increase towards this level; regrets that the EU and its Member States, in 2017, have not made progress towards reaching this goal, with the overall EU ODA decreasing from 0.51% to 0.50% and several countries decreasing their ODA, affirms that Union development assistance should be spent more effectively and that ODA should be targeted to sectors where it is needed the most, namely capacity building, good governance, health, education, agriculture, water supply and sanitation, as well as energy; emphasises the need for maintenance support with the involvement of locally-trained technical experts; recalls the commitment to provide 0.15-0.20% ODA/GNI to Least Developed Countries in the short-term and to reach 0.20% until 2030;

10.  Given the shift in aid modalities from direct grants to trust funds and blended finance, including through the European Fund for Sustainable Development, invites the Council, Commission and European Investment Bank to adopt an inter-institutional agreement with the European Parliament on transparency, accountability and parliamentary scrutiny on the basis of the policy principles set out in the New European Consensus on Development;

11.  Calls for an enlargement of the “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” programme beyond Europe, in particular to developing countries, while providing the necessary financial means;

12.  Welcomes the Court’s recommendations for improving the transparency of EU funds implemented by NGOs published in the special report 2018/ 35, where it, amongst other things, recommends that the Commission improve the reliability of the information on NGOs in its accounting system, and that the Commission improve the information collected on funds implemented by NGOs; calls therefore on the Commission to implement these proposals before the end of the current mandate;

13.  Fully recognizes the complex nature of many challenges and the need for multifaceted and complementary response actions, but insists on the need for clarity in funding arrangements and respect for international commitments;

14.  Calls for an incentive-based approach to development by introducing the more-for-more principle, taking as an example the European Neighbourhood Policy; believes that the more and the faster a country progress in its internal reforms in relation to the building and consolidation of democratic institutions, the respect for human rights and the rule of law, the more support it should receive from the Union;

15.  Recognise that no country has ever developed without engaging in further trade relations with their neighbours and the rest of the world; further encourages the financing of aid for trade activities in order to allow developing countries to participate to a much greater degree in global value chains in the future; stresses in this context the increasing importance of digital connectivity in order to achieve a more balanced distribution of the globalisation benefits in favour of developing countries;

16.  Underlines the high importance of supporting micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises and calls in particular for the establishment of local solutions for a better access to finance with a further strengthening of micro-finance loans and guarantee system;

17.  Underlines the importance of increasing the attribution of funds aiming at supporting good governance, democracy and the rule of law in developing countries in order to promote accountable and transparent institutions, support capacity building and foster a participatory decision-making and public access to information;

18.  Emphasises the importance of the provision of clean water and of the building of additional wastewater disposal facilities;

19.  Draws attention to the scale and implication of energy poverty in developing countries and to the Union’s strong involvement in efforts to reduce such poverty; underlines the need for strong and concerted efforts by governments and stakeholders in affected countries to reduce energy poverty.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

1

4

Members present for the final vote

Mireille D’Ornano, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Maria Heubuch, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Linda McAvan, Norbert Neuser, Vincent Peillon, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Elly Schlein, Bogusław Sonik, Eleni Theocharous, Anna Záborská, Joachim Zeller, Željana Zovko

Substitutes present for the final vote

Marina Albiol Guzmán, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Frank Engel, Stefan Gehrold, Maria Noichl, Judith Sargentini

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

16

+

ECR

Eleni Theocharous

PPE

Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Frank Engel, Stefan Gehrold, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Bogusław Sonik, Anna Záborská, Joachim Zeller, Željana Zovko

S&D

Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Linda McAvan, Norbert Neuser, Maria Noichl, Vincent Peillon, Elly Schlein

1

-

EFDD

Mireille D'Ornano

4

0

GUE/NGL

Marina Albiol Guzmán, Lola Sánchez Caldentey

VERTS/ALE

Maria Heubuch, Judith Sargentini

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

25.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social 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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Marian Harkin

SUGGESTIONS

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

1.  Recalls that 2017 was the fourth year of implementation of the current Multiannual Financial Framework and that all the financial programmes are now fully operational;

2.  Notes the fact that there has been a sustained improvement in the overall estimated level of error in payments made from the Union budget in the past few years (4,4 % in 2014; 3,8 % in 2015; 3,1 % in 2016, 2.4% in 2017); welcomes that the Court issued a qualified opinion on the regularity of the transactions underlying the 2017 accounts;

3  Notes with satisfaction that the outputs and results described for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) are on track to be achieved and that the instrument compliments national efforts to eradicate poverty and promote social inclusion;

4.  Notes with concern the high estimated level of error in the policy area of ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ at 3,0%, which remains above the 2 % materiality threshold and the error level for the Union budget as a whole (2,4 %) and that the number and impact of detected errors indicate persisting weaknesses with the regularity of the expenditure declared by managing authorities; notes, however, that this represents a decrease from the previous year (4,8 %); acknowledges that this relatively high estimated level of error in this policy area is mainly due to ineligible costs in beneficiaries’ declarations, the selection of ineligible activities, projects or beneficiaries, and the infringement of public procurement legislation; stresses the need to take effective measures to reduce those sources of error while achieving a high performance;

5.  Notes with concern that the estimated error level in the area of ‘Competitiveness for growth and jobs’ is 4,2 % - which represents a slight increase compared to 2016 (4,1%) and that most of the errors were related to the reimbursement of ineligible personnel and other direct costs declared by beneficiaries of research projects, as well as ineligible projects/beneficiaries; stresses the need to take effective measures to reduce those sources of error while achieving a high performance; deplores the fact that, as it was the case in previous years, Member States had sufficient information available to prevent, or to detect and correct, a significant number of errors: had the Commission and the Member States made proper use of all information at their disposal, the estimated level of error for this chapter would have been 1,5% lower;

6  Notes that in the course of the Court of Auditor’s review of 113 completed projects under the ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ spending area, 65% had a performance measurement system with output and result indicators linked to the objectives of the operational programme - which represents an improvement compared to previous years; notes with concern that 30% of the projects had no result indicators or targets, making it impossible to assess the specific contribution of those projects to the overall objectives of the programme;

7.  Notes that according to the Commission, few evaluations were carried out by Member States relating to the European Social Fund beyond the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI); calls on Member States to systematically evaluate the European Social Fund in order to enable evident based policy making, and on the Commission to promote this;

8.  Recalls that in its special report 5/2017 “Youth unemployment”, the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) found that, while some progress had been made in implementing the Youth Guarantee (YG), and while some results had been achieved, the situation fell short of the initial expectations raised at the launch of the YG; stresses however that the YEI and the YG still represent one of the most innovative and ambitious policy responses to youth unemployment in the wake of the economic crisis, and should therefore have the continued financial and political support of Union, national and regional institutions in their delivery;

9.  Stresses that establishing whether the YEI budget is well spent, and whether the ultimate YEI goal of helping young unemployed people into sustainable employment is attained, can only be achieved if operations are closely and transparently monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, and if Member States that have made no progress are addressed in a more ambitious manner; insists therefore that the Member States improve monitoring, reporting and the quality of data as a matter of urgency and guarantee that reliable and comparable data and figures on current YEI implementation are gathered and made available in a timely manner and more frequently than is required under their annual reporting obligation, as defined in Article 19(2) of the ESF Regulation; calls on the Commission to revise its guidelines on data collection in line with the recommendation of the Court in order to minimise the risk of overstatement of results;

10.  Recalls that in its special report 22/2018 “Mobility under Erasmus+” the Court found that, while the inclusion of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Erasmus+ brings the Programme closer to a greater variety of citizens, the VET-strand in the programme could be further improved for example through better continuity in its annual Work Programmes, reduced administrative procedures and more support from the Commission to VET institutions in finding partners;

11.  Recalls that in its special report 06/2018 “Free Movement of Workers” the Court found that better identification and monitoring of EU funds for labour mobility would help in ensuring coordination and complementarity of funds;

12.  Welcomes the results achieved under the three axes of the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) in 2017; draws attention to the importance of EaSI support, and, in particular, of its Progress and European Employment Services network (EURES) axes, for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights; notes with concern however that the thematic section Social Entrepreneurship within the EaSI Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis continues to underperform; appreciates the fact that the Commission is working closely with the European Investment Fund (EIF) to ensure it commits to full utilisation of the resources under the Social Entrepreneurship thematic section.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

23.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

40

2

1

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Guillaume Balas, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Michael Detjen, Martina Dlabajová, Lampros Fountoulis, Marian Harkin, Czesław Hoc, Agnes Jongerius, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Emilian Pavel, João Pimenta Lopes, Georgi Pirinski, Marek Plura, Dennis Radtke, Terry Reintke, Robert Rochefort, Romana Tomc, Yana Toom, Marita Ulvskog, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Georges Bach, Amjad Bashir, Heinz K. Becker, Lynn Boylan, Mircea Diaconu, Eduard Kukan, Christelle Lechevalier, Paloma López Bermejo, António Marinho e Pinto, Alex Mayer, Csaba Sógor, Flavio Zanonato

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

Angélique Delahaye, Monika Smolková

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

40

+

ALDE

Mircea Diaconu, Martina Dlabajová, Marian Harkin, António Marinho e Pinto, Robert Rochefort, Yana Toom

ECR

Amjad Bashir, Czesław Hoc, Jana Žitňanská

GUE/NGL

Lynn Boylan, Paloma López Bermejo, João Pimenta Lopes

PPE

Georges Bach, Heinz K. Becker, David Casa, Angélique Delahaye, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Eduard Kukan, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Marek Plura, Dennis Radtke, Csaba Sógor, Romana Tomc

S&D

Guillaume Balas, Ole Christensen, Michael Detjen, Agnes Jongerius, Javi López, Alex Mayer, Emilian Pavel, Georgi Pirinski, Monika Smolková, Marita Ulvskog, Flavio Zanonato

VERTS/ALE

Jean Lambert, Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, Terry Reintke

2

-

ENF

Christelle Lechevalier

NI

Lampros Fountoulis

1

0

EFDD

Laura Agea

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

23.01.2018

OPINION of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Adina‑Ioana Vălean

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety calls on Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Is satisfied with the overall implementation by the Commission of the budgetary headings for environment, climate action, public health and food safety in 2017;

2.  Is satisfied with the work carried out by the five decentralised agencies which are under its remit and which carry out technical, scientific or managerial tasks that help the Union institutions elaborate and implement policies in the area of environment, climate, public health and food safety, as well as with the way those agencies’ budgets are implemented;

3.  Notes that this year, the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its Annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2017 (‘the Court’s report’), decided not to provide an assessment, or estimated level of error, for the area of ‘rural development, market measures, the environment, climate action and fisheries’, but provided insight on the type of errors that may occur in this area (mainly ineligible beneficiaries, activities, projects or expenditure); notes that only 6 out of the 230 transactions in the sample used to estimate the level of errors for ‘Natural resources’ (2,4 %) relate to the environment, climate action and fisheries; notes that no error rate was calculated for heading 3, which includes spending on health, and food and feed safety;

Environment and Climate Action

4.  Notes that in 2017 the LIFE Programme celebrated its 25th anniversary; highlights that the programme provided EUR 222 million to co-finance 139 new projects;

5.  Stresses that further efforts need to be made to lower payments delays under the LIFE Programme, as 5,8 % of payments exceeded legal deadlines in 2017 (3,9 % in 2016, 12 % in 2015);

6.  Points out that the mid-term evaluation of the LIFE Programme, covering the years 2014-2015, was released in 2017; notes that, as most projects had yet to start and few projects had ended, that evaluation focused mainly on the processes put in place to reach the LIFE Programme’s objectives, and concluded that the LIFE Programme provides Union added value, while pointing to possible improvements; stresses that grant management procedures, particularly application and reporting procedures, should not only be simplified but also significantly accelerated;

7.  Notes that the terms of the externalisation decision for cooperation with the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) regarding staff imply that the staffing situation is very tight in DG ENV as regards the activities related to the LIFE programme, which may require further review of the working methods and arrangements within the DG;

8.  Highlights that those of DG ENV’s and DG CLIMA’s internal control systems that were audited are only partially effective, as some very important recommendations still need to be addressed in line with the agreed action plans;

9.  Notes that DG CLIMA was reorganised as of 1 October 2017 to abolish the Shared Resources Directorate (SRD) ENV/CLIMA, including its budget and finance unit, and that the DG now fully integrates the financial activities, administrative support, internal communication and information technology activities of the SRD;

10.  Stresses that DG CLIMA and DG BUDG monitor the 20 % climate mainstreaming target in the Multiannual Financial Framework, and that DG CLIMA supports other DGs in integrating climate in their activities; regrets that in 2017, only 19,3 % of the Union budget was spent on climate-related activities, and that it is estimated that the average for the period 2014-2020 will only be 18,8 %;

11.  Is concerned with the fact that the reservation on reputational grounds concerning the remaining significant security weakness identified in the Union registry of the Emissions trading system (EU ETS) is repeated in DG CLIMA’s Annual Activity Report for 2017;

Public Health

12  Welcomes the fact that both the commitments and the payments appropriations of the third Health Programme (the ‘Health Programme’) were fully implemented; notes that a large majority of the actions of the Health Programme is being implemented through the Consumer, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA);

13.  Stresses that in 2017, DG SANTE completed the mid-term evaluation of the Health Programme covering the years 2014-2016, which concluded that the Health Programme produced tangible results and was highly relevant to Member States' needs, and which recommended strengthening efforts to achieve Union added value, increase synergies, and ensure the upscale of results through cooperation with other Union financial instruments;

14  Welcomes the launch of 24 European reference networks serving patients with rare and complex diseases, involving 900 highly specialised health care units from over 300 hospitals in 26 countries, i.e. 25 Member States and Norway;

Food safety, animal health and welfare and plant health

15.  Welcomes the fact that both the commitments and the payments appropriations available for the food safety, animal health and welfare and plant health programmes were fully implemented;

16.  Regrets that DG SANTE's average residual error rate reached 2,5 % for the overall activity in the area of food and feed safety in 2017, exceeding the materiality threshold of 2 %; notes that this is due to overstatements in costs claims of Member States, in the context of structural changes made to management and controls of the claims in one Member State; asks DG SANTE to take all the necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again in the future by increasing for instance the use of simplification measures offered by the Financial Regulation;

17.  Highlights that in 2017 DG SANTE released the mid-term evaluation of the Common Financial Framework for the food chain 2014-2020, which concluded that the current framework functions well and contributed to achieving EU added value; notes that the Commission, as recommended by the Court, is working to develop a cost-effectiveness analysis methodology for the food chain area, in order to make future economic evaluations of the Union-funded interventions more robust;

18.  Is of the opinion, on the basis of the data available and the implementation report, that discharge can be granted to the Commission in respect of expenditure in the areas of environmental and climate policy, public health and food safety for the financial year 2017.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

50

7

0

Members present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, Pilar Ayuso, Catherine Bearder, Ivo Belet, Simona Bonafè, Biljana Borzan, Paul Brannen, Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Nessa Childers, Birgit Collin-Langen, Miriam Dalli, Seb Dance, Angélique Delahaye, Mark Demesmaeker, Stefan Eck, Bas Eickhout, José Inácio Faria, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Francesc Gambús, Elisabetta Gardini, Arne Gericke, Jens Gieseke, Julie Girling, Sylvie Goddyn, Françoise Grossetête, Jytte Guteland, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Jean-François Jalkh, Benedek Jávor, Kateřina Konečná, Urszula Krupa, Valentinas Mazuronis, Susanne Melior, Miroslav Mikolášik, Rory Palmer, Gilles Pargneaux, Bolesław G. Piecha, Pavel Poc, John Procter, Frédérique Ries, Daciana Octavia Sârbu, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Ivica Tolić, Nils Torvalds, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Damiano Zoffoli

Substitutes present for the final vote

Nikos Androulakis, Cristian-Silviu Buşoi, Christophe Hansen, Martin Häusling, Anja Hazekamp, Jan Huitema, Tilly Metz, Bart Staes, Tiemo Wölken

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

Olle Ludvigsson

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

50

+

ALDE

Catherine Bearder, Jan Huitema, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Valentinas Mazuronis, Frédérique Ries, Nils Torvalds

ENF

Jean‑François Jalkh

GUE/NGL 

Stefan Eck, Anja Hazekamp, Kateřina Konečná

PPE

Pilar Ayuso, Ivo Belet, Cristian Silviu Buşoi, Birgit Collin Langen, Angélique Delahaye, José Inácio Faria, Karl Heinz Florenz, Francesc Gambús, Elisabetta Gardini, Jens Gieseke, Julie Girling, Françoise Grossetête, Christophe Hansen, Miroslav Mikolášik, Annie Schreijer Pierik, Ivica Tolić, Adina Ioana Vălean

S&D

Nikos Androulakis, Simona Bonafè, Biljana Borzan, Paul Brannen, Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Nessa Childers, Miriam Dalli, Seb Dance, Jytte Guteland, Olle Ludvigsson, Susanne Melior, Rory Palmer, Gilles Pargneaux, Pavel Poc, Daciana Octavia Sârbu, Tiemo Wölken, Damiano Zoffoli

VERTS/ALE

Margrete Auken, Bas Eickhout, Martin Häusling, Benedek Jávor, Tilly Metz, Bart Staes

7

-

ECR

Mark Demesmaeker, Arne Gericke, Urszula Krupa, Bolesław G. Piecha, John Procter, Jadwiga Wiśniewska

EFDD

Sylvie Goddyn

0

0

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

22.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Transport and Tourism

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 2017, Section III - Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Franck Proust

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Transport and Tourism 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 finding of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) that the consolidated accounts of the Union for the year 2017 are reliable and that the transactions underlying the accounts of the Commission for the 2017 financial year are generally legal and regular in all material aspects, except for cost reimbursement payments, which are affected by errors; notes that the overall estimated level of error of 2,4% is still above the Court’s materiality threshold (2%), down from 3,1% in 2016 and 3,8% in 2015;

2.   Welcomes the fact that, for the second year in a row, the Court issued a qualified opinion on payments made from the Union budget, and expects the improvement of the management of the Union’s finances to continue;

3.  Regrets that for the area of "Competitiveness for growth and employment", to which transport belongs, the Court does not provide any comprehensive information regarding the audits performed for transport sector, in particular regarding Connecting Europe Facility (CEF);

4.  Notes that in 2017

–   EUR  3 964 million in commitment appropriations and EUR 2 176 million in payment appropriations was available for transport policies, including the CEF, transport security and passengers rights transport agencies and research and innovation related to transport (Horizon 2020),

–   EUR 3 452,9 million in commitment appropriations and EUR 1 643,7 million in payment appropriations authorised for CEF transport (Chapter 06 02) and Horizon 2020 (research and innovation related to transport - Chapter 06 03) were managed by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA),

–   EUR 72,5 million in commitment and payment appropriations was available for administrative expenditure of the mobility and transport policy area;

5.  Notes that in 2017 the Commission selected 152 projects for a total of CEF Transport funding of EUR 2,7 billion, with the total investment of EUR 4,7 billion, including other public and private financing; reiterates the importance of the CEF funding instrument for the completion of the TEN-T network, for achieving a Single European Transport Area, for developing the cross-border links and filling the missing links; regrets that the opportunity offered by the CEF has not been fully appreciated by all national stakeholders; recalls that the amount of money spent under a financial instrument is not its only performance criteria and invites the Commission to deepen its assessment of the achievements completed under EU funded transport projects and measure their added-value aspect and result oriented spending; 

6.  Invites the European TEN-T Coordinators to conduct a thorough assessment of the projects completed and the improvements achieved along the TEN-T corridors under the current programming period, and to present it to the Commission and the Parliament; furthermore asks the Commission to propose a mechanism, including technical assistance, to increase the added value of European Funds in completion of the TEN-T corridors and maximise progress;

7.  Calls upon the Commission to clearly present for the sector of transport an assessment of the impact of EFSI on other financial instruments, in particular with regard to the CEF as well as on the coherence of the CEF Debt Instrument with other Union initiatives in good time before the proposal for the next MFF; requests that this assessment presents a clear analysis on the geographical balance of investments in the transport sector; recalls, however, that the amount of money spent under a financial instrument should not be considered to be the only pertinent criteria to be used when assessing its performance; invites, therefore, the Commission to deepen its assessment of the achievements completed under Union funded transport projects and measure their added-value;

8.   Welcomes the results of the 2017 blending call for CEF funding and the decision to increase its budget to EUR 1,35 billion, which confirms the relevance and added value of using Union grants for blending with financing from the European Investment Bank or National Promotional Banks or other development and public financial institutions as well as from private-sector finance institutions and private-sector investors, including through public private partnerships; takes the view that CEF should therefore continue to support actions enabling combination between EU grants and other sources of financing, while maintaining grants as the main funding instrument;

9.  Welcomes the conclusion of mid-term review of the CEF Programme and the H2020 Interim Evaluation and calls on the Commission to take appropriate follow-up measures to ensure the successful completion of both programmes;

10.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service, as part of its audit on the Commission’s supervision of the implementation of CEF financial instruments, found that there was a very low rate of implementation of financial instruments under CEF and the majority of the budget originally allocated to CEF financial instruments (EUR 2,43 billion) was re-allocated to CEF grants budget lines, leaving only EUR 296 million available for CEF financial instruments until 2020; also notes that one of the reasons given was that the eligibility criteria of the CEF financial instruments and of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) largely overlap and potential CEF eligible projects have in fact been financed by EFSI, as it has greater political priority and a larger remit; calls on the Commission, as regards the CEF, to improve the level of awareness among beneficiaries of the eligibility rules, in particular by drawing a clear distinction between an implementation contract and subcontract - which was the main source of confusion among beneficiaries; calls on the Commission to ensure that financial instruments complement rather that substitute each other;

11.  Reiterates its request that the Commission, in view of the multiple sources of funding, provides an easy access to projects, in form of a one-stop-shop to allow citizens to clearly follow the developments and funding of infrastructures co-financed by Union funds and by the EFSI; encourages the Commission therefore to publish, in cooperation with the Member States, an annual overview of transport and tourism projects that have been co-financed through the ERDF and cohesion funds as it is practised for the CEF;

12.  Notes that the number of financial instruments has increased considerably which allows for new blending opportunities in the transport sector, while at the same time creating a complex web of arrangements around the Union budget; is concerned that these instruments alongside the Union budget could risk undermining the level of accountability and transparency, as reporting, audit and public scrutiny are not aligned; calls upon the Commission to find how the Union budgetary system could be reformed, in particular as how best to ensure that overall funding arrangements are not more complex than necessary to meet Union policy objectives and guarantee accountability, transparency and auditability;

13.  Notes that 2017 was the first year of the audit campaign for the CEF programme and that it will require 2-3 further years of CEF auditing to deduce a meaningful error rate calculation for all CEF sectors; nevertheless welcomes the fact that detected errors for CEF and TEN-T audits closed in 2017 were very low;

14.   Notes that 2017 was a transition year for the implementation of the new internal control framework, as the Commission moves from a compliance-based system to a principle-based system from 2018, with one third of the Commission departments reporting according to the new framework already for the 2017 reporting year;

15.  Is concerned that Commission’s Internal Audit Service found significant weaknesses in DG MOVE's current system of monitoring both aviation and maritime security policy and made three very important recommendations; calls on DG MOVE to fully implement the action plan that it prepared for addressing the identified risks;

16.  Notes with concern that DG MOVE, as the key service of the Commission dealing with transport policy, is facing difficulties in recruiting highly specialised profiles needed to ensure technical expertise and to deliver on the key legislative proposals in the priority areas and various sectors and markets such as decarbonisation, financing infrastructure or digital transport; calls on the Commission to ensure that, following the restructuring of DG MOVE, this key service can recruit the specialists needed to perform its demanding role; in this context, also underlines that INEA is also facing an ongoing challenge of fulfilling its establishment plan - at the end of 2017 it had 249 out of 272 foreseen staff and had to carry over 23 posts to be filled to the following year;

17.   Reiterates its request to add a budget line in future budgets of the Union dedicated to tourism in order to ensure transparency regarding the Union funds used to support actions for tourism;

18.  Proposes that in relation to the sectors for which the Committee on Transport and Tourism is responsible, the Parliament grants to the Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the Union general budget for the financial year 2017.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

35

6

0

Members present for the final vote

Daniela Aiuto, Lucy Anderson, Georges Bach, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Deirdre Clune, Michael Cramer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Andor Deli, Isabella De Monte, Ismail Ertug, Jacqueline Foster, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Innocenzo Leontini, Bogusław Liberadzki, Peter Lundgren, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Georg Mayer, Gesine Meissner, Gabriele Preuß, Dominique Riquet, Massimiliano Salini, Claudia Țapardel, Keith Taylor, Pavel Telička, Marita Ulvskog, Wim van de Camp, Marie-Pierre Vieu, Janusz Zemke, Roberts Zīle, Kosma Złotowski

Substitutes present for the final vote

Francisco Assis, Jakop Dalunde, Markus Ferber, Karoline Graswander-Hainz, Peter Kouroumbashev, João Pimenta Lopes

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

Jude Kirton-Darling, Christelle Lechevalier, Francisco José Millán Mon, Julie Ward

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

35

+

ALDE

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Gesine Meissner, Dominique Riquet, Pavel Telička

ECR

Innocenzo Leontini, Roberts Zīle, Kosma Złotowski

GUE/NGL

Marie‑Pierre Vieu

PPE

Georges Bach, Deirdre Clune, Andor Deli, Markus Ferber, Dieter‑Lebrecht Koch, Marian‑Jean Marinescu, Francisco José Millán Mon, Massimiliano Salini, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Wim van de Camp, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska

S&D

Lucy Anderson, Francisco Assis, Isabella De Monte, Ismail Ertug, Karoline Graswander‑Hainz, Jude Kirton‑Darling, Peter Kouroumbashev, Bogusław Liberadzki, Gabriele Preuß, Marita Ulvskog, Julie Ward, Janusz Zemke, Claudia Țapardel

VERTS/ALE

Michael Cramer, Jakop Dalunde, Keith Taylor

6

-

ECR

Jacqueline Foster, Peter Lundgren

EFDD

Daniela Aiuto

ENF

Christelle Lechevalier, Georg Mayer

GUE/NGL

João Pimenta Lopes

0

0

0

0

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

23.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

2018/2166(DEC)

Rapporteur for opinion: Iskra Mihaylova

SUGGESTIONS

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

1.  notes that, as indicated in the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), the estimated level of error in spending on ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ decreased from 4,8 % in 2016 to 3 % in 2017; notes with satisfaction the sustained improvement over the past four years;

2.  notes that this is the first year under the revised control and assurance framework for the period 2014-2020, and that only a low number of assurance packages were submitted; highlights that Annual Report 2017 covers both 2014-2020 cleared expenditure and closure related to the 2007-2013 period;

3.  notes that errors in financial instruments, ineligible costs and claims of ineligible VAT contributed most to the estimated level of error in cohesion policy; notes that some of the errors identified by the Court were linked to specific cases for which mitigating actions have already been taken; calls on the Commission to take further preventive and corrective actions, where necessary;

4.  stresses that the Court detected a number of weaknesses of varying importance in the work of some audit authorities with respect to the regularity of the expenditure, which may limit the reliability of the reported residual error rates; urges the Commission and the audit authorities to continue to work closely to address those shortcomings;

5.  considers that, after a very slow start, the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes has now reached cruising speed, with the payments executed in 2017 amounting to EUR 41 billion, 1.5 times the 2016 amount, notes, however, that the level of payment, amounts to 124,7 billion EUR, and is considerably lower than budgeted;

6.  calls on the Member States to improve the accuracy of their payment forecasts, which are crucial to prevent abnormal backlogs; notes that the average implementation rate of payment forecasts improved from 52% in 2016 to a level of 80% in 2017; notes that in parallel significant progress was made in the rate of project selection on the ground (55% end of 2017, compared to 20% in 2016);

7.  is concerned by the fact that the overall average absorption rate for the current MFF was even lower than in the corresponding year of the previous MFF (16% to 22%), which was mainly due to the late closure of the previous MFF, delayed adoption of legal acts, difficulties in implementing the new requirements for the current MFF and the change of de-commitment rules from n+2 to n+3, and the administrative burden linked to the overlaps between MFF periods;

8.  reiterates its call for the Commission and Member States to step up the efforts to allow the timely and swift adoption and implementation of the new operational programmes for the years 2021-2027, in order to avoid problems with absorption of the funds in the future;

9.  welcomes an increased budget flexibility introduced by the MFF mid-term review, notes, however, that further flexibility and simplification measures may prove to be necessary to adequately accommodate future needs;

10.  notes that a number of weaknesses were found in the performance measurement systems of Member State authorities, for a large part related to projects completed under the 2007-2013 period; invites the Commission to improve the overall performance measurement system, including the presence of result indicators at project level to allow the assessment of the contribution of a given project to specific operational programmes objectives; notes that the legislation covering the 2014-2020 programming period has strengthened the intervention logic and focus on results.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

36

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Franc Bogovič, Mercedes Bresso, Rosa D’Amato, John Flack, Aleksander Gabelic, Iratxe García Pérez, Michela Giuffrida, Ivan Jakovčić, Marc Joulaud, Sławomir Kłosowski, Constanze Krehl, Louis-Joseph Manscour, Martina Michels, Iskra Mihaylova, Andrey Novakov, Younous Omarjee, Stanislav Polčák, Liliana Rodrigues, Fernando Ruas, Monika Smolková, Ruža Tomašić, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, Monika Vana, Matthijs van Miltenburg, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Derek Vaughan, Kerstin Westphal

Substitutes present for the final vote

Martina Anderson, Daniel Buda, John Howarth, Elsi Katainen, Jan Olbrycht, Bronis Ropė

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

Marian-Jean Marinescu, Dario Tamburrano, Vladimir Urutchev

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

36

+

ALDE

Ivan Jakovčić, Elsi Katainen, Iskra Mihaylova, Matthijs van Miltenburg

ECR

John Flack, Sławomir Kłosowski, Ruža Tomašić

EFDD

Rosa D'Amato, Dario Tamburrano

GUE/NGL

Martina Anderson, Martina Michels, Younous Omarjee

PPE

Franc Bogovič, Daniel Buda, Marc Joulaud, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Stanislav Polčák, Fernando Ruas, Vladimir Urutchev, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso

S&D

Mercedes Bresso, Aleksander Gabelic, Iratxe García Pérez, Michela Giuffrida, John Howarth, Constanze Krehl, Louis-Joseph Manscour, Liliana Rodrigues, Monika Smolková, Derek Vaughan, Kerstin Westphal

VERTS/ALE

Bronis Ropė, Monika Vana

0

-

 

 

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

24.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development 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 findings of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) confirming that the level of error has continued to decrease, given that the error rate fell from 2,5 % in 2016 to 2,4 % in 2017 in the ‘Natural resources’ area and its financial impact is reduced further by financial corrections and recoveries, since amounts wrongly paid come back to the budget; notes that agricultural and rural development policies account for 98 % of spending in that area and that, in its report, the Court used a sample totalling 230 transactions in 21 Member States; expects the error rate to keep decreasing further as beneficiaries complete their adjustment to the new rules of the ongoing common agricultural policy (CAP) period;

2.  Notes the Court’s recommendations concerning the measures seeking to lower the age of the farming community and the need for more targeted programmes for this purpose;

3.  Reminds the Commission that the risk of unintentional errors owing to complex regulation is ultimately to the detriment of the beneficiary; recalls that there is a significant difference in types and scale of errors, i.e. between unintentional omissions which are administrative in nature and cases of fraud, and that omissions do not as a rule cause any financial damage to the taxpayer, which should also be taken into account while estimating the actual error rate; stresses that further rationalisation in the error calculation method is desirable; calls also for a clearer distinction to be made between different types of errors, as some errors detected do not have any negative financial implications; suggests the classification of those errors under four categories: 1. errors with no negative financial implications, 2. negligence, 3. gross negligence, 4. fraud;

4.  Encourages the Commission to keep moving towards a single audit scheme that would allow for a reduction in administrative burden at all levels brought by controls, while maintaining efficient control on the legality and regularity of payments;

5.  Takes the view that the Commission should require Member State action plans to include remedial action to deal with the most frequent causes of error;

6.  Points out that the corrective capacity of financial corrections and recoveries increased to 2,10 %, compared with 2,04 % in 2016, thus further lowering the amount at risk for the CAP in 2017;

7.  Welcomes the fact that the overall level of error established by the Court tallies very closely with the overall error rate for the CAP given in DG AGRIʼs 2017 annual activity report, demonstrating the effectiveness of the remedial action plans that Member States have implemented in previous years;

8.  Notes that direct payments from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund account for around three-quarters of expenditure and are free from material error; points out that direct payments to farmers are entitlement-based and have benefited from simplified land eligibility rules and an effective ex-ante control system (IACS) that allows automated cross-checks between databases; is concerned that a persistently high level of error remains in the other spending areas on rural development, the environment, climate action and fisheries; notes, furthermore, that rural development projects are inherently more complex due to the wider goals pursued, and expenditure in the three other areas is co-financed or disbursed through reimbursement of costs and ineligible beneficiaries, activities, projects or expenditure contribute around two-thirds of the estimated level of error for that MFF heading;

9.  Welcomes the findings in which the Court, having examined a total of 29 rural development investment projects, established that 26 were in line with the priorities and focus areas set out in the rural development programmes and that Member States had applied appropriate selection procedures; also welcomes the fact that, in most cases, the beneficiaries of the projects examined carried them out as planned and the Member States made checks to ascertain whether the costs were reasonable; believes therefore that the rural development approach must remain a fully supported, significant and core element in the CAP Strategic Plans, moving forward;

10.  Takes into account that in the agricultural sector the amounts received by the beneficiaries are relatively small compared to other Union projects and therefore the administrative burden to prove correct use of money is proportionately higher;

11.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to continue the successful implementation of the GSAA and to monitor the progress made by paying agencies in helping farmers who are not yet using the GSAA;

12.  Welcomes that the implementation of new instruments and processes for using performance data, such as IT applications as the LPIS data on land parcels, has facilitated the checking and updating of declared agricultural area for both Member States’ paying agencies and farmers; this will help to carry out cross-checks on direct aid applications, as well as reducing levels of errors;

13.  Stresses that simplifying Union legislation and reducing the administrative burden on farmers and other beneficiaries must continue in the future;

14.  Notes that access to data and good monitoring especially of environmental aspects is essential for the future, considering that certain natural resources underpin long term agricultural productivity, such as soil and biodiversity;

15.  Calls on the Member States and the regions to ensure that applications for support can be filled in and submitted electronically and to help the Member States in achieving this objective;

16.  Welcomes the publication of DG AGRI’s annual activity report 2016, which clearly shows the contribution made by the CAP to the increase of employment rates in rural areas; is in this context concerned that the proposals for the CAP post-2020 and the ongoing negotiations on the MFF envisage reductions to the CAP budget in particular for Pillar II EAFRD, co-financed by Member States, covering rural development measures and strongly linked to environmental and climate commitments, farm investments and certain other rural projects;

17.  Is of the opinion that on-the-spot checks of farmers should be reduced as much as possible and that satellite and administrative checks should be imposed;

18.  Calls on the Member States and the regions to ensure that the authorities obtain as much data and as many documents as possible from national and Union registration systems and that they oblige particular farmers to provide information only as a last resort; also calls on the Commission to help the Member States to achieve that objective.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

23.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

34

3

5

Members present for the final vote

John Stuart Agnew, Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Daniel Buda, Nicola Caputo, Matt Carthy, Jacques Colombier, Michel Dantin, Paolo De Castro, Albert Deß, Diane Dodds, Jørn Dohrmann, Herbert Dorfmann, Norbert Erdős, Luke Ming Flanagan, Karine Gloanec Maurin, Martin Häusling, Anja Hazekamp, Esther Herranz García, Jan Huitema, Ivan Jakovčić, Jarosław Kalinowski, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Norbert Lins, Philippe Loiseau, Mairead McGuinness, Giulia Moi, James Nicholson, Maria Noichl, Marijana Petir, Jens Rohde, Bronis Ropė, Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Tibor Szanyi, Marc Tarabella, Marco Zullo

Substitutes present for the final vote

Paul Brannen, Elsi Katainen, Momchil Nekov, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Thomas Waitz

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

Stanisław Ożóg, Michaela Šojdrová

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

34

+

ALDE

Jan Huitema, Ivan Jakovčić, Elsi Katainen, Jens Rohde

ECR

Jørn Dohrmann, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, James Nicholson, Stanisław Ożóg

EFDD

Marco Zullo

NI

Diane Dodds

PPE

Daniel Buda, Michel Dantin, Albert Deß, Herbert Dorfmann, Norbert Erdős, Esther Herranz García, Jarosław Kalinowski, Norbert Lins, Mairead McGuinness, Marijana Petir, Annie Schreijer‑Pierik, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Michaela Šojdrová

S&D

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Paul Brannen, Nicola Caputo, Karine Gloanec Maurin, Momchil Nekov, Maria Noichl, Tibor Szanyi, Marc Tarabella

Verts/ALE

Martin Häusling, Bronis Ropė, Thomas Waitz

3

-

ENF

John Stuart Agnew, Jacques Colombier, Philippe Loiseau

5

0

EFDD

Giulia Moi

GUE/NGL

Matt Carthy, Luke Ming Flanagan, Anja Hazekamp, Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

10.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Fisheries

for the Committee on Budgets

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Alain Cadec

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Fisheries calls on the Committee on Budgets, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Takes note of the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2017; takes note, further, of the annual report of the Court concerning the financial year 2017;

2.  Welcomes the fact that outturn for Title 11 of the budget was satisfactory, with an implementation rate of 99.7 % for commitment appropriations and 99.9 % for payment appropriations; notes the implementation rate in DG MARE’s 2016 annual activity report, which was in need of improvement;

3.  Urges the Court, in its future reports, to present the error rate for fisheries separately from those for the environment, rural development and health, and not on an aggregate basis. Combining them makes it impossible to work out the error rate for fisheries policy. Notes that maritime affairs and fisheries are not covered in sufficient detail in the Court’s annual report and that a proper evaluation of financial management in those areas is therefore difficult. Considers that, to increase transparency, in future, the annual report of the Court should include a separate breakdown for the figures relating to DG MARE;

4.  Notes that Court’s Special Report No 8/2017 on EU fisheries controls found shortcomings in the design and implementation of projects and the deployment of management and control systems;

5.  Notes the Court’s observations on fishing activities data gathered under the Control Regulation, which were not comprehensive or reliable enough, particularly for vessels less than 12 metres long. The data on catches were incomplete and often incorrectly recorded in Member States’ databases. There were significant discrepancies between declared landings and subsequent records of first sale;

6.  Notes that DG MARE is exercising its supervisory role under shared management arrangements. Stresses that the Commission is responsible for assessing the impact of the Control Regulation on the CFP and to monitor the Member States’ implementation of the rules. The success of that monitoring policy depends on the Member States’ collaboration and management;

7.  Stresses that four years after its adoption on 15 May 2014, the implementation rate for the 2014-2020 EMFF remains unsatisfactory, as by October 2018 only 6.8 % of the EUR 5,7 billion made available under the shared management system had been used;

8.  Proposes to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of maritime affairs and fisheries expenditure for the financial year 2017.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

10.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

3

0

Members present for the final vote

Marco Affronte, Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Renata Briano, David Coburn, Diane Dodds, Sylvie Goddyn, Carlos Iturgaiz, Werner Kuhn, António Marinho e Pinto, Gabriel Mato, Norica Nicolai, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Isabelle Thomas, Peter van Dalen, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes present for the final vote

José Blanco López, Ole Christensen, Norbert Erdős, Jens Gieseke, Czesław Hoc, Nosheena Mobarik

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

Tilly Metz

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

20

+

ALDE

ECR

NI

PPE

 

S&D

VERTS/ALE

António Marinho e Pinto, Norica Nicolai

Peter van Dalen, Czesław Hoc

Diane Dodds

Norbert Erdős, Carlos Iturgaiz, Werner Kuhn, Gabriel Mato, Annie Schreijer‑Pierik, Jarosław Wałęsa

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, José Blanco López, Renata Briano, Ole Christensen, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Isabelle Thomas

Marco Affronte, Tilly Metz

3

-

EFDD

PPE

David Coburn, Sylvie Goddyn

Jens Gieseke

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

23.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Culture and Education 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 achievements of 30 years of the Erasmus, programme, engaging 9 million people, including young people, students and, recently, members of staff in mobility activity since 1987; stresses the strong European added value of the program and its role in delivering as a strategic investment in Europe’s young people;

2.  Notes the Erasmus programme needs to do more to be accessible to marginalised groups, in particular, persons with disabilities and special education requirements, persons who are geographically disadvantaged, early school leavers, persons belonging to a minority, those at a socio-economic disadvantage etc.;

3.  Notes the start of the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) though without legal basis; regrets that the initial decision to allocate Erasmus+ EVS budget to the ESC was taken through an implementing act;

4.  Insists that any internship or apprenticeship programme shall provide paid placements that never lead to job substitution and are based on a written internship or apprenticeship agreement in accordance with the applicable regulatory framework or applicable collective agreements, or both, of the country where it takes place and that it should follow the principles outlined in the Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships(4).

5.  Is alarmed by the low take-up of the Erasmus+ Student Loan Guarantee Facility as well as its insufficient geographical coverage, limited to banks in three countries and universities in another two; urges the Commission and European Investment Fund to put in place an implementation strategy to maximise the Facility’s effectiveness till 2020; or alternatively, to facilitate the redistribution of the unused funds in the programme itself and allow for abetter funding coverage of actions within the different strands;

6.  Notes with disappointment that students may have to take out bank loans in order to take part in Erasmus+ programmes;

7.  Highlights that indebtedness has a negative impact on personal development and on sound integration in the labour market and that inclusive and widely available grants must be provided so that no student is excluded on account of insufficient income;

8.  Is worried by the still low project success rates under the Europe for Citizens programme and the Creative Europe Culture sub-programme (21% and 22% respectively in 2017); stresses that a more adequate level of financing is decisive to tackle these unsatisfactory results which are counterproductive to the objectives of the programme itself in discouraging citizens from participating;

9.  Highlights the role of the Education Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) in implementing the three culture and education programmes: expresses however its concern about the EACEA internal control weakness identified by an audit on the Erasmus+ and Creative Europe grant management; notes that the Commission's Internal Audit Service itself has found weaknesses in EACEA's Erasmus+ grant management process; takes the view, therefore, that the Commission and EACEA should have no difficulty in putting in place the necessary corrective actions in order to ensure full transparency, and guarantee the highest quality of their implementation of the culture and education programmes;

10.  Notes the first results of the implementation stage of the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility, with the initial signing of 280 contracts with the financial intermediaries; looks forward for a steady progress of the Facility operational phase, thereby giving solid tools to be included within the implementation of the follow-up of the Facility within InvestEU programme;

11.  Acknowledges that the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) review did not reveal material errors in the final consolidated financial statements of the European Schools for 2017 and that the European Schools and the Central Office prepared their annual accounts within the legal deadline; notes however that the internal control system of the European Schools still needs further improvements to meet the recommendation made by the Court and the European Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS);

12.   Remains concerned by the significant weakness in the internal control systems of the Central Office and selected Schools, in particular in payment systems, control environment and recruitment process;

13.   Notes that the Court has been unable to confirm that the Schools' financial management in 2017 was compliant with the Financial Regulation and its implementing rules: demands, therefore, further efforts in closing the remaining recommendations related to the management of extra-budgetary accounts, improvement of the accounting and internal control systems, as well as recruitment and payment procedures and the development of the guidelines to improve budgetary management;

14.   Notes that the gradual entry into force of the new Financial Regulation of the European Schools will implicate major challenges for the governance of the European Schools as the functions of Authorising Officer and Accounting Officer will be centralised and Financial control will become an internal control unit, at the service of the Authorising Officer; considers, in this regard, that the restructuring of the different accounting and control functions must be supported by an adequate administrative system;

15.   Draws attention to the several challenges that lie ahead of the European Schools, such as the Brexit transition and the worsening of the Schools’ overcrowding situation in Brussels; calls on the European Commission and the European Schools to report to the Committee on UK’s withdrawal and how it intends to continue to offer first class English-language teaching within the European Schools after UK withdrawal;

16.   Takes note with concern of the findings by Human Rights Watch and the European Disability Forum in December 2018, in their report analysing the “Barriers for Children with Disabilities in the European School System”, including alleged cases of harassment against children with disabilities and their families; calls on the European Schools System to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD); urges the European Commission to launch a formal enquiry into the findings of said report, in conjunction with the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Schools; asks the European Commission and the Member States to consider, at a minimum:

(i)   amending the Policy on the Provision of Educational Support in European Schools to ensure full compliance with the UN CRPD;

(ii)   accommodating the needs of children with disabilities, including through the use of assistive technologies;

(iii)   developing system-wide teachers’ trainings on disability and inclusive education, including trainings of support teachers and support assistants on the personalised needs of children with disabilities;

17.  Recognises that the Court has a heavy workload; asks the Court, nonetheless, to publish its own reports on time, and in particular the one on the European Schools, so that Parliament may have sufficient time to perform properly its own duties of budgetary and political control.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

18

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Dominique Bilde, Andrea Bocskor, Silvia Costa, Mircea Diaconu, Damian Drăghici, Jill Evans, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Petra Kammerevert, Krystyna Łybacka, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Michaela Šojdrová, Bogusław Sonik, Helga Trüpel, Julie Ward, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver

Substitutes present for the final vote

Liadh Ní Riada

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

18

+

ALDE

Mircea Diaconu, María Teresa Giménez Barbat

GUE/NGL

Liadh Ní Riada

PPE

Andrea Bocskor, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Michaela Šojdrová, Bogusław Sonik, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver

S&D

Silvia Costa, Damian Drăghici, Petra Kammerevert, Krystyna Łybacka, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Julie Ward

VERTS/ALE

Jill Evans, Helga Trüpel

1

-

ENF

Dominique Bilde

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

17.1.2019

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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section III - Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Romeo Franz

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 opinion of the European Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the 2017 accounts of the Union; highlights especially the further reduction of the aggregated payment errors in 2017 at the EU level, reaching an all-time low of 2,4 %; Stresses the importance of reaching below the target of 2 % in payment errors;

2.  Regrets, however, that for 2017, as for 2016, the Court chose to ignore the request of the LIBE Committee to calculate the specific payment error rate of Heading III (Security and Citizenship); notes the Court's justification for not doing so, in particular the fact that Heading III accounted for only 2 % of payments in the 2017 budget; notes that DG HOME self-assessed its payment error rate below the materiality threshold of 2 %; regrets that the limited sample of 15 transactions audited for 2017 was not sufficient for the Court to confirm this positive result; calls for a larger sample of transactions that are audited to provide the Court with the necessary information to properly assess the results achieved in this policy area;

3.  Stresses nevertheless the importance for the EU that the Court systematically and independently assesses payment error rates of all areas of the EU budget;

4.  Welcomes that the Court did not find any major flaws in the Commission’s AMIF and ISF clearance procedures and that it agrees with the Commission's clearance decisions; regrets however that of the 15 transactions examined by the Court, three (20 %) contained errors, of which two were above the target materiality threshold of 2 %; specifically one transaction relating to relocation under the AMIF fund (error rate of 10 %) and one relating to an operational subsidy to EASO (error rate of 2,9 %);

5.  Highlights the key finding of the Court that AMIF and ISF accounts cleared by the Commission in 2017 did not distinguish between pre-financing payments (advances) made by Member States to final beneficiaries, and payments made to reimburse expenditure actually incurred; agrees with the Court that even if such practice is in line with the current reporting requirements for AMIF and ISF, as agreed by both co-legislators, it nevertheless affects the Commission’s supervisory role; calls on the co-legislators to change the reporting requirements of JHA funds in the upcoming multiannual financial framework; supports the recommendation of the Court to require Member States, in the annual accounts of their AMIF and ISF national programmes, to break down the nature of the amounts they report into recoveries, pre-financing, and expenditure actually incurred, so the Commission can report this information adequately in its Annual Activity report as from 2018. In addition, with the aim of enhancing the overall transparency of the AMIF fund, recalls the importance of breaking down the budget lines according to the four general objectives of the fund (Asylum, Legal Migration and Integration, Return and Solidarity).

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

10.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

44

3

0

Members present for the final vote

Asim Ademov, Martina Anderson, Heinz K. Becker, Monika Beňová, Michał Boni, Caterina Chinnici, Rachida Dati, Frank Engel, Laura Ferrara, Romeo Franz, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Nathalie Griesbeck, Sylvie Guillaume, Monika Hohlmeier, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Monica Macovei, Roberta Metsola, Claude Moraes, Ivari Padar, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Csaba Sógor, Helga Stevens, Traian Ungureanu, Bodil Valero, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Udo Voigt, Josef Weidenholzer, Cecilia Wikström, Kristina Winberg, Tomáš Zdechovský, Auke Zijlstra

Substitutes present for the final vote

Dennis de Jong, Anna Hedh, Lívia Járóka, Marek Jurek, Jean Lambert, Jeroen Lenaers, Andrejs Mamikins, Angelika Mlinar, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Christine Revault d’Allonnes Bonnefoy

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

Norbert Erdős, Fernando Ruas, Adam Szejnfeld

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

44

+

ALDE

Nathalie Griesbeck, Sophia in 't Veld, Angelika Mlinar, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Cecilia Wikström

ECR

Marek Jurek, Monica Macovei, Helga Stevens

EFDD

Laura Ferrara

GUE/NGL

Martina Anderson, Dennis de Jong, Marie-Christine Vergiat

PPE

Asim Ademov, Heinz K. Becker, Michał Boni, Rachida Dati, Frank Engel, Norbert Erdős, Kinga Gál, Monika Hohlmeier, Lívia Járóka, Jeroen Lenaers, Roberta Metsola, Fernando Ruas, Csaba Sógor, Adam Szejnfeld, Traian Ungureanu, Tomáš Zdechovský

S&D

Monika Beňová, Caterina Chinnici, Ana Gomes, Sylvie Guillaume, Anna Hedh, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Andrejs Mamikins, Claude Moraes, Ivari Padar, Christine Revault d'Allonnes Bonnefoy, Birgit Sippel, Josef Weidenholzer

VERTS/ALE

Romeo Franz, Jean Lambert, Judith Sargentini, Bodil Valero

3

-

ECR

Kristina Winberg

ENF

Auke Zijlstra

NI

Udo Voigt

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

24.1.2019

OPINION of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality

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 2017, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

(2018/2166(DEC))

Rapporteur for opinion: Malin Björk

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas gender equality is one of the values on which the European Union is founded and the Union is committed to promote gender mainstreaming in all of its actions as enshrined in Article 8 TFEU;

B.  whereas the European Parliament has repeatedly asked the Commission to promote and implement the use of gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and gender impact assessment in the relevant Union policy areas and the Court of Auditors to incorporate a gender perspective, including gender-disaggregated data, into its reports on the implementation of the Union budget;

1.  Stresses that women’s rights and gender equality should be integrated and ensured into all policy areas; reiterates therefore its call for the implementation of gender budgeting at all stages of the budgetary process, including the implementation of the budget and assessment of its implementation;

2.  Reiterates its demand to include in the common set of result indicators for the implementation of the Union budget also gender-specific indicators, with due regard to the principle of sound financial management, namely in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness;

3.  Repeats its demand that the budget lines under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) 2014 - 2020 should specify the resources allocated to each of the objectives of the programme devoted to gender equality ensuring a proper accountability of the funds devoted to this aim;

4.  Reiterates its call to have a separate budget line for the Daphne specific objective in order to show the commitment of the Union with the combat of violence against women and girls; calls for increased resources in this budget line and to reverse the decrease of funds dedicated to Daphne during the 2014-2020 period; calls on an steady effort to raise the awareness of the grants included in the Daphne specific objective along with measures to make its related administrative procedures more user-friendly;

5.  Calls for gender equality to be explicitly mentioned in heading 3, ‘Security and citizenship’ as a fundamental right of citizens;

6.  Repeats its calls on the Commission to consider gender budgeting at all stages of the budgetary process, including, inter alia, in the implementation of the budget and the assessment of its execution, including EFSI, ESF, ERDF, Horizon 2020, in order to combat the discrimination taking place in Member States; stresses that a common set of quantifiable result and impact indicators, which would allow for better assessment of the implementation of the budget from the gender perspective, should be incorporated in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the budget, in line with the Budget Focused on Results initiative and the focus on performance;

7.  Calls for increased transparency, targeted actions in order to meeting the goals of gender equality and women’s rights in EU external action, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights;

8.  Highlights that gender mainstreaming is also among the founding principles of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and calls for the inclusion of targeted actions on women’s rights and gender equality with specific budget lines in order to take into account the gender dimension within migration and asylum policies;

9.  Deplores the fact that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) does not include a gender perspective; emphasizes that a gender perspective should be included in the EFSI because the European Union will never fully and satisfactorily recover from the recent economic crises unless their impact on the women who have in majority of cases been most affected, are addressed;

10.  Calls for gender impact assessment as part of general ex-ante conditionality for EU funds, and for the collection of data disaggregated by gender on beneficiaries and participants;

11.  Highlights the need to integrate the gender perspective in European justice systems and regrets that the support of victim-friendly and gender sensitive procedures in judicial systems are not considered a specific goal in the Justice programme;

12.  Regrets the low percentage of women who took part in the women’s entrepreneurship actions, and asks major efforts in the implementation of the budget in terms of support to female entrepreneurship and employment;

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

23.1.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

21

7

0

Members present for the final vote

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Heinz K. Becker, Malin Björk, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Iratxe García Pérez, Arne Gericke, Anna Hedh, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Angelika Niebler, Maria Noichl, Marijana Petir, Pina Picierno, João Pimenta Lopes, Terry Reintke, Liliana Rodrigues, Michaela Šojdrová, Ernest Urtasun, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Anna Záborská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Eleonora Forenza, Julie Girling, Lívia Járóka, Dubravka Šuica, Mylène Troszczynski, Julie Ward

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

Jean Lambert

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

21

+

ALDE

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea

GUE/NGL

Malin Björk, Eleonora Forenza, João Pimenta Lopes

PPE

Heinz K. Becker, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Julie Girling, Teresa Jiménez‑Becerril Barrio, Lívia Járóka, Agnieszka Kozłowska‑Rajewicz, Dubravka Šuica

S&D

Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Iratxe García Pérez, Anna Hedh, Maria Noichl, Pina Picierno, Liliana Rodrigues, Julie Ward

Verts/ALE

Jean Lambert, Terry Reintke, Ernest Urtasun

7

-

ECR

Arne Gericke, Jadwiga Wiśniewska

ENF

Mylène Troszczynski

PPE

Angelika Niebler, Marijana Petir, Michaela Šojdrová, Anna Záborská

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

20.2.2019

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Inés Ayala Sender, Zigmantas Balčytis, Dennis de Jong, Tamás Deutsch, Martina Dlabajová, Ingeborg Gräßle, Jean-François Jalkh, Wolf Klinz, Georgi Pirinski, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Bart Staes, Derek Vaughan, Tomáš Zdechovský, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

José Blanco López, Julia Pitera

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

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, John Flack, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

20

+

ALDE

Nedzhmi Ali, Martina Dlabajová, Wolf Klinz

GUE/NGL

Dennis de Jong

PPE

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

S&D

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Inés Ayala Sender, Zigmantas Balčytis, José Blanco López, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Georgi Pirinski, Derek Vaughan

VERTS/ALE

Bart Staes

2

-

ECR

John Flack

ENF

Jean-François Jalkh

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020 (OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44).

(2)

Not yet published in the Official Journal.

(3)

  Special report Nr 9/2018: Public Private Partnership in the EU. Widespread shortcomings and limited benefits

(4)

  OJ C 88, 27.3.2014, p. 1.

Last updated: 12 March 2019Legal notice