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Procedure : 2016/2163(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0146/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0146/2017

Debates :

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

Votes :

PV 27/04/2017 - 5.54

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0185

Texts adopted
PDF 184kWORD 48k
Thursday, 27 April 2017 - Brussels Final edition
Discharge 2015: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
P8_TA(2017)0185A8-0146/2017
Decision
 Decision
 Resolution

1. European Parliament decision of 27 April 2017 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015 (2016/2163(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015, together with the Agency’s reply(1),

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

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8‑0050/2017),

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

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007 establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights(4), and in particular Article 21 thereof,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0146/2017),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2015;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, and the resolution forming an integral part of it, to the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 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 C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 203.
(2) OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 203.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 53, 22.2.2007, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.


2. European Parliament decision of 27 April 2017 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015 (2016/2163(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015, together with the Agency’s reply(1),

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

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8‑0050/2017),

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

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007 establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights(4), and in particular Article 21 thereof,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0146/2017),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015;

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

(1) OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 203.
(2) OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 203.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 53, 22.2.2007, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.


3. European Parliament resolution of 27 April 2017 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015 (2016/2163(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2015,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0146/2017),

A.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the final budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (“the Agency”) for the financial year 2015 was EUR 21 229 000 representing no change compared to 2014; whereas 98,23 % of the budget of the Agency derives from the Union budget,

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

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2015 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 100 %, the same as the previous year, and that the payment appropriations execution rate was 71,62 %, representing an increase of 2,17 % compared to the previous year; acknowledges the high overall level of committed appropriations, which indicates that commitments were made in a timely manner;

Commitments and carry-overs

2.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the level of committed appropriations carried over to 2016 for Title III (operating expenditure) was at EUR 5 723 282 (70 %), compared to EUR 5 848 956 (75 %) in the previous year; acknowledges that, according to the Court’s report, these carry-overs mainly reflect the nature of the Agency’s activities which involve procuring studies that span many months, often beyond year-end;

3.  Notes that the implementation rate of appropriations carried forward from 2014 to 2015 was at 98,32 % in 2015, with only EUR 104 366,35 having been cancelled, representing 1,61 % out of the total amount;

4.  Notes that carry-overs can often be partly or fully justified by the multiannual nature of the agencies’ operational programmes, do not necessarily indicate weaknesses in budget planning and implementation and are not always at odds with the budgetary principle of annuality, in particular if they are planned in advance and communicated to the Court;

Transfers

5.  Notes that in 2015 two budgetary transfers were submitted to the management board for approval and that the total amount transferred among Titles by these transfers was EUR 835 734; notes moreover that these transfers related mainly to the reallocation of the surplus under administrative expenditure, to operational projects or within operational expenditure; notes with satisfaction that the level and nature of transfers in 2015 remained within the limits of the financial rules;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

6.  Acknowledges that the Agency’s establishment plan was decreased by cancelling two temporary agent posts in 2015 (one AD and one AST post) in line with the overall principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary discipline(1); notes, in addition, that in November 2015 the budgetary authority authorised two new AD posts in the Agency’s establishment plan in relation to the ongoing asylum/migration situation;

Performance

7.  Notes that in recent years the Agency has undertaken a broad process of reform, which has led to the progressive redefinition of its planning, monitoring and evaluation functions, including a more comprehensive system for internal performance monitoring, a fully-fledged monitoring and evaluation policy and an annual monitoring and evaluation action plan; notes that five ex-ante and four ex-post evaluations are currently underway and the results of this exercise will be published in the Agency’s 2016 annual activity report;

8.  Regrets the fact that the Agency's mandate still limits its role as regards the support for fundamental rights; stresses that the Agency should be able to offer opinions on legislative proposals on its own initiative and that its remit should extend to all areas of rights protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including, for example, issues of police and judicial cooperation;

9.  Welcomes the solid output of the Agency; notes that it organised 60 events bringing together its key partners and stakeholders to discuss fundamental rights issues in various thematic areas; acknowledges that the Agency offered its expertise at 240 presentations and hearings and that it published its research in 32 reports and papers; recalls the fact that the Agency formulated 122 opinions in response to requests from Member States, Union institutions and other international organisations; further welcomes its pro-active approach towards Parliament;

Internal audit

10.  Notes with satisfaction that at the end of the reporting period the results of ex-post controls did not reveal any amounts to be recovered;

11.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) performed a follow-up audit in 2015 on two engagements performed at the end of 2013 related to the management of human resources and contract management; notes that as a result all the recommendations were closed with the exception of one marked as “Very Important” and one which was downgraded from “Very Important” to “Important”; notes with satisfaction that all the recommendations issued by the IAS prior to 2015 were addressed and closed;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

12.  Notes that, with regard to the legal proceedings brought against the Agency before the Civil Service Tribunal in 2015, the judgement was in favour of the Agency in Case T-107/13 P and that it is in the process of recovering the legal costs from the appellant, while in Case T-658/13 P, the Agency complied with the ruling; notes moreover that in Joined Cases F-25/14 and F-106/13, the implementation of the ruling is in progress and the Agency has reintegrated the appellant and paid his legal costs, while an appeal is pending; acknowledges that Case 178/2013/LP of the Ombudsman is not related to any of the court cases to which the Agency was or is a party;

13.  Notes that, in addition to the Staff Regulations, the Agency has introduced for its staff a practical guide on the management and prevention of conflicts of interest, which offers wide-ranging information and advice on a variety of issues; notes moreover that the Agency regularly provides compulsory training for staff on ethics and integrity, as well as publishes the curricula vitae and declarations of interests of all active members of its management board, scientific committee and management team;

14.  Notes with satisfaction that since 2012 the Agency has applied the Commission’s whistleblowing guidelines in accordance with Executive Board Decision No. 2012/04(2);

15.  Notes that the Agency applies the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, as well as that the checks on financial interests declared by management, management board members and scientific committee members are assessed and declarations are published on the Agency’s website as part of its policy on the prevention and management of conflicts of interest;

16.  Notes that, further to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council(3), the Agency is to consider how to transpose the Directive internally; encourages the Agency to implement the relevant provisions of the Directive and to report to the discharge authority upon implementation; acknowledges that the Agency currently applies by analogy the Commission’s whistleblowing guidelines in accordance with Executive Board Decision No. 2012/04; asks the Agency to evaluate whether specific measures on the protection of whistleblowers in the same line as other agencies might be more appropriate;

17.  Notes that the Agency developed an anti-fraud strategy, evaluating the introduction of new controls, where necessary, after a dedicated risk assessment; notes moreover that the strategy was adopted by the Agency’s management board during its December 2014 meeting, together with a related action plan, which was implemented during the course of 2015;

18.  Notes that the Agency is planning to include a standard chapter on transparency, accountability and integrity in its annual report;

Other comments

19.  Notes with concern a significant gender imbalance in the six senior management positions of the Agency, five of which are of the same gender; urges the Agency to correct this imbalance and to communicate the results to the discharge authority as soon as possible;

20.  Notes that 199 members of staff participated in 2015 in four away days for which the total cost was EUR 13 860,62 (EUR 70 per person);

21.  Welcomes the fact that in the course of 2015 the Agency strongly focused on fundamental rights issues related to the situation of refugees and migrants coming to the Union as demonstrated, in particular, by the Agency’s opinion on fundamental rights in the 'hotspots' set up in Greece and Italy; notes, in particular, that the Agency considerably stepped up its activities in the area of immigration and integration of migrants, and visa, border control and asylum procedures;

22.  Welcomes the fact that in 2015 the Agency continued with its research on the situation of Roma in the Union and thus contributed to monitoring the efficiency and shortcomings of the integration policies of the Union and those of its Member States; especially welcomes the research-based policy recommendations of the Agency concerning the successful fight against anti-Gypsyism and the fight for the social inclusion of Roma;

23.  Welcomes the continued efforts of the Agency to present its findings in an accessible manner via social media platforms, reaching a wide audience; strongly encourages further dissemination of the works of the Agency via online platforms;

24.  Recommends the inclusion of the proposed new thematic areas of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the new Multiannual Framework, currently under negotiation; highlights the fact that, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters have become part of the law of the Union and are therefore covered by the scope of the tasks of the Agency;

o
o   o

25.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 27 April 2017(4) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1)
(2) http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/eb_decision_2012_04-whistleblowing_rules.pdf
(3) Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (OJ L 157, 15.6.2016, p. 1).
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0155.

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