Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 23 October 2019 - StrasbourgProvisional edition
General budget of the European Union for 2020 - all sections
 Discharge 2017: European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
 Discharge 2017: EU general budget - European Council and Council
 Objection to an implementing act: The impact of plant protection products on honeybees

General budget of the European Union for 2020 - all sections
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European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2019 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (11734/2019 – C9-0119/2019 – 2019/2028(BUD))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0038A9-0017/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 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 Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(1),

–  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(2),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(3) (the “MFF Regulation”),

–  having regard to the 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(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2019 on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2020 budget, Section III – Commission(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 March 2019 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2020(6),

–  having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, which the Commission adopted on 5 July 2019 (COM(2019)0400) (the “DB”),

–  having regard to the position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, which the Council adopted on 3 September 2019 and forwarded to Parliament on 13 September 2019 (11734/2019 – C9‑0119/2019),

–  having regard to Article 2.1c of the Paris Agreement, ratified by the European Union on 5 October 2016,

–  having regard to the Landscape review of the European Court of Auditors, entitled 'EU action on energy and climate change' (2017),

–  having regard to the Commission communication 'A Clean Planet for all - A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy' (COM(2018)0773),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinions of the other committees concerned,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A9-0017/2019),

Section III

General overview

1.  Recalls that, in its resolution of 14 March 2019 on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2020 budget, Parliament defined clear political priorities for the 2020 budget to be a bridge to the future Europe and provide European added value; reaffirms its strong commitment to those priorities and sets out the following position to ensure an appropriate level of financing to deliver on them;

2.  Reiterates Parliament’s view that the 2020 budget should pave the way for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and provide a solid starting point for the launch of the new generation of Union programmes and policies; recalls, moreover, that 2020 is the last year of the current MFF and, therefore, the last chance for the Union to come closer to meeting the political commitments set for that period, including towards reaching the EU climate target and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Union's target to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050; stresses, in that context, that the Union budget must evaluate and integrate the full impact of Union policies on gender equality (gender budgeting), thus promoting gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities;

3.  Takes note of Council’s position on the DB, cutting EUR 1,51 billion in commitment appropriations compared to the Commission’s proposal; considers that the Council’s cuts flatly contradict the Union’s priorities, are not justified by absorption capacity and are meant to revert all the specific increases requested and obtained by Parliament in previous budgetary years; decides therefore, as a general rule, to restore appropriations on all lines cut by the Council to the level of the DB, for both operational and administrative expenditure, and to take the DB as the starting point to build its position upon;

4.  Strongly believes that it is imperative to tackle the climate challenge and to protect the environment in a way that boosts employment, creates new jobs, strengthens competitiveness, promotes sustainable development and ensures social prosperity; underlines the key role of new and emerging technologies in achieving that objective; stresses the need for the Union to lead by example and inspire other countries around the globe to invest further in climate-related expenditure; welcomes the powerful calls for action made by Union leaders at the recent UN climate change summit and the commitments made recently by several Member States to ramp up spending in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable transport and energy infrastructure; believes that such declarations should be matched by concrete action by the Member States including when deliberating as Council;

5.  Recalls the Union’s obligations under the Paris Agreement and the Union’s commitment to reach a target of 20 % of climate-related Union expenditure for the period 2014-2020; notes that 21,0 % of the commitment appropriations proposed in the DB for 2020 are climate-related and that at least additional EUR 3,5 billion would have to be dedicated to climate-related expenditure in order to reach the 20 % target; regrets that, under the current MFF, the Union budget has limited means to address the climate challenge on its own and points to the much higher needs for investment in this area, estimated by the Commission in the range of EUR 175 to 290 billion a year; stresses that every effort should be made to come as close as possible to reaching the overall Union budget target by the end of 2020;

6.  Underlines that the 2020 budget should prepare the Union for an even more ambitious target for climate and biodiversity mainstreaming in the 2021-2027 MFF, in order to meet the expectations of European citizens; demands a more transparent, stringent and comprehensive methodology, set up in line with internationally established methodologies, including reformed performance indicators for defining and tracking climate- and biodiversity-relevant expenditure; looks forward to the concrete proposal on the European Green Deal, as outlined in the political guidelines of the incoming Commission president-elect; recalls, in this context, its strong commitment to the reform of the Union own resources systems, including the introduction of a basket of new own resources that are better aligned with major Union policy priorities, including the fight against climate change;

7.  Recalls the commitment set out in its March 2019 resolution to ask the Commission for a mandatory clause in all EU trade agreements with third countries demanding the ratification and implementation of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change;

8.  Proposes, therefore, a 2020 budget that makes an important contribution to tackling environmental challenges and climate change and offsets as much as possible the existing backlog towards reaching the target of 20 % of climate-related Union expenditure for the period 2014-2020; proposes a significant reinforcement by more than EUR 2 billion above DB levels for budget lines across different Headings, and predominantly in Subheading 1a, which make a high contribution towards the climate-expenditure target; carefully targets those reinforcements towards lines that have an excellent implementation rate and the operational capacity to absorb the additional appropriations in 2020;

9.  Emphasises that youth remains an overarching priority for the Union budget; highlights that despite the positive trends towards a decline in youth unemployment rates in the Union, the lack of future opportunities for young people is a real social emergency in certain parts of the Union, with significant disparities across the Member States and regions; decides therefore to reinforce the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) above the level proposed by the Commission, also in order to ensure a smooth transition towards the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) in the next MFF;

10.  Underlines that the Union must meet all its commitments in full with regards to aiding developing countries combat and adapt to climate change;

11.  Reinforces the financial resources to meet future demand for Erasmus+, the primary programme for education and training, including vocational education and training, youth and sport in Europe; stresses that Erasmus+ is a key flagship programme of the Union that is widely known among its citizens and has delivered tangible results with a clear European added value; recalls its commitment to triple the funding for this programme in the MFF 2021-2027; emphasises the need to continue and further reinforce the DiscoverEU preparatory action, in view of its programmed integration in the 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme; calls for special emphasis to be placed to mobility actions in adult education, particularly for the senior population in the Erasmus+ programme;

12.  Proposes further targeted reinforcements to other budget lines related to Parliament’s priorities, in areas such as SMEs, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, cancer research, security and justice cooperation, customs, migration and external policy including development and humanitarian aid;

13.  Endorses, as a general rule, the Commission's estimates of the budgetary needs of decentralised agencies; considers, therefore, that any cuts proposed by the Council would endanger the proper functioning of the agencies and would not allow them to fulfil their tasks; proposes targeted increases to the level of appropriations of agencies which will be dealing with additional tasks or which are confronted with increased workload due to emerging challenges;

14.  Concludes that, for the purpose of adequately financing the pressing priorities expressed above, and considering the very tight or inexistent margins under certain Headings in 2020, the Flexibility Instrument and the Global Margin for Commitments need to be fully mobilised, the Contingency Margin needs to be mobilised, while part of it also remains available for the financing of unforeseen events that may occur in the course of next year; also recalls that flexibilities set out in the MFF Regulation will lapse at the end of that period;

15.  Stresses the need to fully re-use de-commitments for research as laid down in Article 15(3) of the Financial Regulation; strongly regrets that the Council rejects again the application of that legislative provision that the Commission proposed to partly activate in the DB; declares its intention to insist on its position that reflects both the letter and the spirit of the Financial Regulation; intends to resolve this issue in this year’s budgetary conciliation; proposes to fully reuse these de-commitments to reinforce the four budget lines of the Horizon 2020 programme with the highest level of climate-related research activity;

16.  Sets the overall level of appropriations for the 2020 budget (all sections) at EUR 170 971 519 973 in commitment appropriations, representing an increase of EUR 2 699 813 994 compared to the DB; decides in addition to make available an amount of EUR 280 700 000 in commitment appropriations further to de-commitments under Article 15(3) of the Financial Regulation; sets the overall level of appropriations for the 2020 budget (all sections) at EUR 159 146 168 195 in payment appropriations;

Subheading 1a – Competitiveness for growth and jobs

17.  Points out that Horizon 2020 provides very strong European added value and makes a vital contribution to the development of green technology and climate- and environment-friendly innovation, so as to lay the foundations for a decarbonised future and support the shift towards a more circular economy; stresses, moreover, the importance of the programme for other significant areas of European research such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence and cancer research; significantly increases, therefore, the allocation of Horizon 2020 over the level of the DB by EUR 737,8 million in commitment appropriations; furthermore, in accordance with Article 15(3) of the Financial Regulation, makes available the entire amount of EUR 280,7 million in commitment appropriations de-committed in 2018 as a result of non-implementation of research projects, for the budget lines of Horizon 2020 that are most relevant to climate-related research projects, and calls on the Commission to pay special attention to the fair geographical distribution of those funds;

18.  Is convinced that the fight against cancer should be an absolute priority for the Union, and that significant efforts need to be stepped up in this direction; underlines the fact that cancer research is an important pillar in this process; adopts, therefore, an increase of financial resources to be earmarked for cancer research under the relevant budget lines of Horizon 2020 that also demonstrate a very high budgetary execution; stresses that research intensifies in this field without any delay, also in view of more substantial investments anticipated in the next MFF;

19.  Recalls that Europe's position as a leading provider for information and communication technologies (ICT) depends on the resources for developing and testing new ICT technologies as well as providing assistance to start-ups and technology enterprises in order to augment market relevant capacity; in this regard reiterates the need to provide additional funding to European research facilities and SME businesses with a focus on developing and advancing technologies such as search engines, translation services and similar ground-breaking technologies;

20.  Highlights the crucial role of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in fostering the strategic development of a high-performance trans-European network that is sustainable and interconnected across the areas of transport,with a special focus on the rail network including night trains, energy and ICT infrastructure and significantly contributes to the transition towards a climate-neutral society; proposes therefore to increase the funding for CEF-Transport and CEF- Energy by a total amount of EUR 545 million in commitment appropriations above DB levels;

21.  Considers that it is also necessary to strengthen further important priorities in this Subheading; points in that regard to SMEs, which are an essential part of the Union economy and play a crucial role in delivering excellent quality investment and job creation in all Member States; adopts, in this context, an increase to the COSME programme, in order to further boost the programme’s potential in promoting entrepreneurship, including women’s entrepreneurship, improving the competitiveness and access to markets of Union enterprises, and calls for emphasis to be placed on the digital transformation of SMEs; recalls that the proposed allocation in the DB for COSME was even below what was foreseen in the financial programming and adopts an increase of EUR 50 million in commitment appropriations above DB levels;

22.  Emphasises that Erasmus+ remains a highly valued and hugely popular programme, with a volume of applications that far exceeds the funding available, and that it helps foster a strong sense of shared European identity; adopts, therefore, an increase of EUR 123,4 million in commitment appropriations above DB levels, in order to fight the low success rates and allow for more people to benefit from this programme;

23.  Proposes targeted increases to the level of appropriations for the European Labour Authority (ELA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the European Union Agency for Railways, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), and to the level of appropriations and the staff for the European GNSS Agency, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) Office and the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER);

24.  Increases therefore the level of commitment appropriations for Subheading 1a by EUR 1 503 766 221 above the DB (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed by using the available margin and mobilising the special instruments; in addition, makes available to this Subheading an amount of EUR 280 700 000 in commitment appropriations further to de-commitments under Article 15(3) of the Financial Regulation;

Subheading 1b – Economic, social and territorial cohesion

25.  Recalls that sustainable growth and well-targeted investment are the key to creation of quality jobs and increased prosperity for all and that it is therefore necessary to direct the structural funds and investments more effectively towards promoting inclusive growth, reducing inequalities and boosting upward social convergence;

26.  Regrets that the level of youth unemployment, estimated at 14,2 % in April 2019, remains unacceptably high and remains particularly acute in some Member States and regions of the Union; underlines the importance of reinforcing the employability and entrepreneurial capacity of young people while tackling inequalities; is convinced that the fight against unemployment requires substantial financial efforts; is determined to ensure additional funding for the YEI programme in the last year of the current MFF; underlines the need to accelerate the implementation of that programme and to further improve its efficiency, so as to ensure that it brings more European added value to national employment policies; proposes therefore an increase of EUR 363,3 million above DB levels in commitment appropriations for the YEI;

27.  Steps up funding for technical assistance, to address the complexity of project management procedures, from the preparation of applications to financial management and impact monitoring, which is a major obstacle to a better absorption of 'Structural Funds';

28.  Increases the level of commitment appropriations for Subheading 1b by EUR 373 278 264 above the DB (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed by mobilising the special instruments;

Heading 2 – Sustainable growth: natural resources

29.  Notes with concern that only 8,3 % of total commitments are related to reversing the decline in biodiversity again, which is the lowest ratio since 2015, despite the unprecedented and accelerating species extinction rate observed; calls for sufficient increases and traceable resources to be allocated to ensure the long-term and coherent protection of biodiversity across the Union; in line with the overall priority of tackling climate change, focuses substantial increases worth EUR 233 million in commitment appropriations on budget lines pertaining to the LIFE+ programme in Titles 7 and 34; expects the Commission to warrant the necessary absorption capacity for an effective use of those additional means and ensure a fairer geographical distribution of such environment-friendly funds as will be the case in the programmes of the next MFF;

30.  Proposes necessary increases for selected budget lines, in particular for the financing of measures to address the impact of African swine fever in several Member States; notes a severe impact and a big number of outbreaks registered since the beginning of 2019, with tens of thousands of animals being culled; notes that third countries have invested in research for developing a vaccine against ASF and the Union should be investing in research and development of a vaccine, which would help eradicate the spread and occurrence of ASF in the shortest possible time;

31.  Recalls that the level of appropriations of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) will still need to be adjusted by taking into account of the assigned revenue expected to be available in 2020 as communicated in the Commission’s Amending Letter;

32.  Proposes a targeted increase to the level of appropriations and the staff for the European Environment Agency;

33.  In summary, increases commitment appropriations by EUR 267,3 million in Heading 2 (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed using the available margin under the ceiling; stresses that there should be no further cuts to the agricultural budget, since the agricultural sector is frequently affected by crises that require a budgetary response;

Heading 3 - Security and Citizenship

34.  Reinforces, against the background of an unrealistically low ceiling since the beginning of the current MFF, funding for Parliament’s priorities in the fields of internal security, migration, fundamental rights and respect for the rule of law and to promote non-discrimination and equality and fight gender-based violence; strongly objects to Council’s cuts to the Internal Security Fund (ISF) and Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and rejects the Council’s proposal to move EUR 400 million in AMIF commitment appropriations into a reserve awaiting a break-through on the reform of the Dublin III Regulation(7) as this would prevent frontline Member States receiving support to manage the migratory pressure in a humane manner;

35.  Underlines that it is of paramount importance to invest in adequate funding and staffing levels for all agencies operating in the fields of migration, security, border control and fundamental rights, in particular Europol, Eurojust, EPPO, Frontex and the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA); stresses that EPPO must be equipped with the necessary means in order to be able to thoroughly investigate and prosecute cross-border criminal activities;

36.  Calls on the Commission to urgently create a fund aimed at supporting search and rescue operations in order to guarantee a strong SAR presence in the Mediterranean;

37.  Reaffirms its willingness to use the Union budget as a tool for effectively combatting existing inequalities and promoting gender equality, in particular through increased resources for the Daphne-specific objective of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme and for human development under the Development Cooperation Instrument; emphasises the need for sufficient funding to fight gender-based violence and violence against refugee women and girls and other vulnerable groups such as LGBTQI+ people;

38.  Proposes a 10 % increase in commitment appropriations for the MEDIA and Culture sub-programmes of the Creative Europe programme, in order to remedy their chronic underfunding and low application success rates; also increases appropriations for multimedia actions, which are crucial in tackling disinformation and promoting independent journalism;

39.  Also proposes a targeted increase to the Union contribution to the European Medicines Agency;

40.  Reinforces therefore Heading 3 by EUR 121 799 746 in commitment appropriations above DB levels (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed by a further mobilisation of special instruments;

Heading 4 – Global Europe

41.  Underlines the need for the Union budget to contribute more to climate change mitigation and adaptation measures as well as climate diplomacy in the countries covered by the Development Cooperation Instrument and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism; points out the possibility for the Union budget to provide financial assistance for disaster risk reduction and to mobilise innovative financial instruments, including the EU external investment plan, to support the preparation and the financing of climate-related development projects in Africa;

42.  Proposes a substantial increase in funding for the Western Balkans countries under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, especially in the areas of functioning democratic institutions, rule of law, good governance and public administration; underlines the importance of a meaningful financing in view of the numerous challenges that the Union together with Member States will need to face in the European Neighbourhood for supporting political reforms and to align with the acquis in the Western Balkans;

43.  Recalls that, given the persisting security threats and the deterioration of the security environment at the Union’s Eastern borders as well as the challenging reforms Eastern European partners are confronted with, it is important to provide sufficient funding in support of crisis and conflict prevention, stability, democracy and confidence-building and to step up efforts to support poverty reduction and economic development in the region; further recalls that the countries of the Southern neighbourhood need additional financial support, since they are facing enormous pressure, including the conflicts in Syria and Libya, the rise of extremism and the related refugee and migrant movements;

44.  Is strongly concerned by the US decision to withdraw its annual financial contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and believes that the Union should contribute to compensating the resulting gap; recognises the effective role performed by UNRWA in preserving uninterrupted basic services to millions of Palestinian refugees, contributing to regional stability and countering radicalisation, in line with the EU Global Strategy in the Middle East.

45.  Is deeply concerned by the decision of the US Administration to impose tariffs on several EU products as a consequence of the World Trade Organization’s arbitration panel ruling in the Airbus case; is committed to addressing that issue in the upcoming conciliation period of the 2020 budgetary procedure, by providing necessary increases for selected budget lines, in particular for the financing of measures to address and mitigate the impact of US trade barriers on Union businesses.

46.  Deems it necessary to increase appropriations for the Turkish Cypriot Community budget line for the purpose of contributing decisively to the continuation and intensification of the mission of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, the wellbeing of Maronites wishing to resettle and that of all enclaved persons as agreed in the 3rd Vienna Agreement, and of supporting the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, thereby promoting trust and reconciliation between the two communities;

47.  Stresses the responsibility of the Union to support the protection of the Arctic; underlines the importance of investing into a more coherent EU Arctic policy;

48.  Calls for increased funding for projects focussed on supporting refugees from Venezuela who have fled to the neighbouring countries including Member State territories in the Caribbean;

49.  Believes that given the serious and persistent effort of Turkey to compromise regional stability with aggressive behaviour against Member States, as well as its recent unilateral military action in North East Syria targeting the Kurdish population, further displacing Syrian refugees and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance, resulting in severe civilian suffering, undermining the stability of the whole region as well as its deficits in the areas of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, it is justified to cut the allocations for Turkey under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and to freeze EUR 100 million (amount to be put in reserve); underlines however that the freeze and cut should not target civil society, Syrian refugees or students in Turkey;

50.  Condemns the Turkish invasion of North-eastern Syria, which is causing a high number of casualties among the civilian population, increasing the number of refugees and further destabilising the region; therefore, in light of the ongoing developments, plans to intervene accordingly by adjusting its position on the budget lines dedicated to Turkey, while at the same time preserving financial support to civil society actors, during the conciliation for the 2020 annual budget.

51.  Deplores the limited role the Parliament has in the supervision and governance of the EUTF; considers it fundamental that the Parliament is able to monitor the activities of the Operational Committee and calls on the Commission to provide detailed information on the decisions taken in that Committee and ensure that the Parliament is represented at its meetings;

52.  Reinforces Heading 4 overall by EUR 257 217 394 above DB (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed by further mobilisation of special instruments;

Heading 5 - Administration; Other Headings - administrative and research support expenditure

53.  Restores DB levels for administrative expenditure lines, including administrative and research support expenditure in Headings 1 to 4; proposes an increase of EUR 5,5 million in commitment appropriations above the DB for a Conference on European Democracy/Future of Europe; points out that the Conference should be able to function with the necessary degree of autonomy and the involvement of the Parliament on equal footing with the other European institutions; underlines furthermore that the Conference should allow for the participation and engagement of a broad range of citizens including young people;

Pilot projects and preparatory actions (PP-PAs)

54.  Recalls the importance of pilot projects and preparatory actions (PP-PAs) as tools for the formulation of political priorities and the introduction of new initiatives that have the potential to turn into standing Union activities and programmes; stresses, in this regard, for those paving the way for new programmes supported by the current Commission President and the Parliament such as the Just Transition Fund, that the Commission should pay particular attention to implement them in the form that would gather the widest support from the Parliament; having carried out a careful analysis of all the proposals submitted and taking fully into account the Commission's assessment of their respect of legal requirements and implementability, adopts a balanced package of PP-PAs that reflects Parliament’s political priorities; calls on the Commission to swiftly implement PP-PAs and provide feedback on their performance and results delivered on the ground;

Payments

55.  Points to the unprecedented margin of EUR 20 067,6 million left under the payment ceiling in the DB, as a result of the very late take-off of the 2014-2020 programmes and a corresponding accumulation of unused payments, notably in Subheading 1b; stresses the necessity to prevent a substantial accumulation of payment claims in the beginning of the next MFF that may lead to another payment crisis in the Union budget, as was the case in the current period, and may prevent an orderly start of the next generation of programmes for 2021-2027;

56.  Increases, therefore, payments for European Structural and Investment Funds by an overall EUR 3 billion based on the expectation that Member States will further accelerate the implementation of their operational programmes in the last year of the current MFF, and better adhere to their own forecasts; increases the provisioning of the EFSI guarantee fund by EUR 948 million in order to bring forward to 2020, in a budget-neutral manner, those annual instalments which were so far planned for the years 2021 to 2023, i.e. when the pressure on payments is expected to be higher; finally, reinforces payment appropriations on those lines where commitment appropriations are increased;

Other Sections

Section I – European Parliament

57.  Restores the appropriations established in the estimates on the basis of a careful and responsible analysis of the needs of Parliament for 2020 and adopted by Plenary in its abovementioned resolution of 28 March 2019 with a large majority; is aware that Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union allows the Commission to adjust the draft estimates of the other Institutions; expresses nonetheless its surprise and deep concern at the Commission’s cuts in Parliament’s budget, which breaks the tradition of good cooperation between the two institutions.

58.  Increases two lines above the DB, due to new elements impacting the transitional allowances for 2020 budget, which it was not possible to prevent, namely: the higher non re-election rate following the European elections (63 %, whilst an average of 50 % served as the calculation base) and the postponement of Brexit until 31 October 2019; increases also the line on European political foundations, since their work is crucial in promoting democracy and fighting fake news and disinformation;

59.  In line with the estimates adopted by the Parliament:

   a) asks the Bureau to work on a technical solution to allow Members to exercise their right to vote while benefitting from their maternity, paternity or long term sickness leave;
   b) reiterates its calls for a transparent decision-making process in the field of buildings policy; disagrees therefore, with the on-going practice of the year-end 'mopping-up transfer' to contribute to current building projects, which takes place systematically on the same chapters, titles and, often, exactly on the same budgetary lines; considers that the building policy should be financed in a transparent manner from budgetary lines dedicated to it;
   c) recalls its request to the Bureau to take action for the full alignment of the allowances rates incurred in respect of duty travel between Parliament’s three places of work between officials, others servants and Accredited Parliamentary Assistants as from 1 January 2020;
   d) reiterates its call on the Conference of Presidents and the Bureau to revise the implementing provisions governing the work of delegations and missions outside the European Union; underlines the fact that such a revision should consider the possibility for APAs, subject to certain conditions, to accompany Members on official Parliament delegations and missions;
   e) asks the Secretary General to swiftly present the implementation rules to ensure the statutory rights of APAs in order to avoid discretional interpretation and the current inequalities that prevent from the full exercise of their work as stated under the Members’ and Assistants’ Statutes;
   f) asks for the full implementation of the measures recommended in Parliament’s resolution of 26 October 2017 on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the European Union(8), namely the implementation of the anti-harassment training for all staff and Members, the external audit of the two existing anti-harassment committees as well as the re-structuring of the two existing committees into one independent committee, with doctors and lawyers as standing members; requests further support to cover the cost of additional staff that are competent to manage harassment cases within Parliament, bringing together in a dedicated service staff with expert medical, psychological, legal, and human resources management background and to cover the judicial and medical expenses of victims of harassment in accordance with Article 24 of the Staff Regulations;
   g) reiterates its request to the Secretary General for detailed estimations and coast breakdown of the preparatory technical works in the SPAAK building in view of renovation, projected at EUR 12,4 million;
   h) reiterates its call on a greater use of videoconferences and other technologies in order to protect the environment and to save resources, in particular to reduce staff duty travel between the three places of works;

Other sections (Sections IV-X)

60.  Notes that, in the main, the DB reflects the estimates of the various institutions falling within the other sections of the budget and therefore matches, with some exceptions, their financial requirements; considers that the cuts proposed by the Council would therefore have a deleterious effect on the working of the institutions concerned and consequently on the vital contribution they make to the functioning of the Union; on that account, proposes to restore the levels of the DB in almost all cases, including with regard to the establishment plans of the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service; in line with the gentlemen’s agreement, does not modify the Council’s reading concerning the Council and the European Council;

61.  Considers that, in a limited number of cases and taking into account the institutions’ estimates, it is necessary to increase lines above the DB and to suggest additional posts; proposes therefore:

   a) in relation to the Court of Justice and on account of its increasing workload, to restore the 11 posts proposed by the Court in its estimates (7 AD posts and 4 AST), which the Commission did not include in the DB,  and to provide the necessary appropriations for remunerations and allowances;
   b) in relation to the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, to increase the appropriations above the DB for a few lines, so as to maintain a level of appropriations similar to last year’s;
   c) in relation to the European Ombudsman, to add two AD posts above the DB, combined with minor cuts to three budget lines, in order to balance the amounts restored to two other lines;

o
o   o

62.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, together with the amendments to the draft general budget, to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(2) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0210.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0326.
(7) Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 31).
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0417.


Discharge 2017: European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
PDF 157kWORD 49k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 23 October 2019 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017 (2018/2208(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0039A9-0011/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017, together with the Office’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 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 Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05825/2019 – C8‑0098/2019),

–  having regard to its decision of 26 March 2019(3) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2017, and the replies from the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office,

–  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(4), and in particular Article 208 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(5), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(6), in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the TFEU and Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(8), and in particular Article 105 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0011/2019).

1.  Refuses to grant the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office discharge in respect of the implementation of the Office’s budget for the financial year 2017;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

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

2. European Parliament decision of 23 October 2019 on the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017 (2018/2208(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017, together with the Office’s reply(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2017 (05825/2019 – C8‑0098/2019),

–  having regard to its decision of 26 March 2019(11) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2017, and the replies from the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office,

–  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(12), and in particular Article 208 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(13), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(14), in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(15), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the TFEU and Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(16), and in particular Article 105 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0011/2019).

1.  Points out that a proposal to close the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017 shall be submitted at a subsequent part-session;

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

3. European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2019 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017 (2018/2208(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0011/2019).

A.  whereas all Union decentralised agencies ought to be transparent and fully accountable to the citizens of the Union for the funds entrusted to them as Union bodies;

B.  whereas Parliament's role in respect of the budget discharge is specified in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in the Financial Regulation and in the Framework Financial Regulation;

1.  Underlines the importance of acting responsibly and transparently in the implementation of the Union budget;

2.  Recalls the role of Parliament within the discharge procedure, as governed by the TFEU, the Financial Regulation and its rules of procedure;

Basis for an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts for the financial year 2017

3.  Recalls that, according to the report of the Court of Auditors (the “Court”), the material and systematic instances of non-compliance of payments with the EASO Financial Regulation and other applicable rules and provisions mainly relate to public procurement and recruitment procedures underlying payments; regrets, furthermore, that the systematic nature of non-compliances demonstrates an inadequate internal control system; deeply regrets that the combined error from non-compliant payments amounts to at least EUR 7,7 million or 10,3 % of the total payments made by the European Asylum Support Office (the “Office”) in 2017;

The outcome of the investigation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

4.  Deplores the findings of OLAF as regards irregularities surrounding the breach of procurement procedures, misappropriation of Union funds, mismanagement, abuse of position in human resources issues, breaches of data protection rules, harassment and inappropriate behaviour towards staff in 2017; reiterates its call on the Office to report to the discharge authority on the follow-up of the measures proposed by OLAF; understands the Office’s request to report in more detail in the appropriate setting due to confidentiality and data protection issues;

5.  Welcomes the decision of the Office’s Management Board of 6 June 2018 to release the Executive Director from his duties with immediate effect; emphasises, however, that the budget for the 2017 financial year was implemented under the supervision of the Office’s previous management; highlights that this report concerns the discharge procedure for the 2017 financial year; welcomes the designation of an ad interim Executive Director on 6 June 2018 and the appointment of a new Executive Director on 16 June 2019; recognises the commitment of the new Executive Director to deliver significant reforms ensuring solid governance; appreciates the positive message and intention for future close cooperation expressed by the new Executive Director in the public hearing of 4 September 2019 ;

Follow-up to the 2016 discharge and to the 2017 first discharge report

6.  Recalls European Parliament reasoned decision of 24 October 2018(17), refusing to grant the Office’s Executive Director discharge for the 2016 financial year; recalls that on 26 March 2019 Parliament decided to postpone the decision on the 2017 discharge of the Office;

7.  Welcomes the follow-up report by the Office on the observations of Parliament for the 2017 financial year, in particular corrective measures taken by the Office’s Management Board, the ad interim Executive Director and the new Executive Director in order to improve the governance structure and efficiency of the Office, restore transparency and build trust; supports and appreciates the measures outlined by the 2019 EASO Governance Action Plan; urges the Office to regularly and publicly  report to the discharge authority on the implementation of that Action Plan;

8.  Acknowledges the efforts and appreciates the progress made on the implementation of internal control systems, including controls on procurement and expenditure operations; supports the decision to reduce and rapidly end outsourcing legal counselling by the establishment of an internal legal service; supports the Court’s observations on the need for further corrective actions;

9.  Notes with satisfaction the implementation of two thirds of the corrective actions by the Office regarding procurement procedures, in particular regarding the payments under irregular procurement processes, and the completion of new open procedures, which were audited by the Court without raising any comments;

10.  Welcomes the ambitious recruitment plan put in place and its positive impact on the filling of vacant managerial and other positions; notes with satisfaction the implementation of new measures aimed at preventing harassment, increasing staff well-being and reducing turnover; urges the Office to quickly finalise the recruitments in full compliance with the relevant legal procedures and to provide a regular follow up on the results achieved;

11.   Notes with satisfaction that most members of the Management Board have published their declarations of interest and CVs on the Office’s website; calls on those outstanding members to publish their CVs as quickly as possible; welcomes the commitment of the new leadership to raise awareness, prevent, identify and address any potential situations of conflict of interest; calls on the office to develop and implement in this sense a comprehensive strategy outlining it in their next Governance Action Plan and to report to the discharge authority on the results achieved;

12.   Notes with satisfaction the measures intended by the new Office leadership to encourage and protect whistleblowers; recalls that a safe environment for whistleblowers is a key element for preventing, exposing and addressing irregular and unlawful practices; expects a rapid adoption of internal rules and guidelines concerning whistleblowing and revolving doors and calls on the Office to further report on the results achieved;

o
o   o

13.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 26 March 2019(18) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 116.
(2) OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 116.
(3) OJ L 249, 27.9.2019, p. 182 .
(4) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, p. 116.
(10) OJ C 434, 30.11.2018, 30.11.2018, p. 116.
(11) OJ L 249, 27.9.2019, p. 182.
(12) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.
(15) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(16) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(17) OJ L 331, 28.12.2018, p. 213.
(18) OJ L 249, 27.9.2019, p. 361.


Discharge 2017: EU general budget - European Council and Council
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 23 October 2019 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section II – European Council and Council (2018/2168(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0040A9-0010/2019

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 – C8‑0320/2018)(2),

–  having regard to the Council’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2017,

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

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(4) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2017, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to its decision of 26 March 2019(5) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2017, and the accompanying resolution,

–  having regard to Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(6), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 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 59, 118, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0010/2019),

1.  Refuses to grant the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Council and of the Council for the financial year 2017;

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 European Council, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2019 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, Section II – European Council and Council (2018/2168(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 II – European Council and Council,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0010/2019),

A.  whereas all Union institutions must be transparent and fully accountable to all the citizens of the Union for the funds entrusted to them to perform their duties;

B.  whereas Parliament is the sole directly elected body among the Union institutions, with the responsibility to grant discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union;

C.  whereas the procedure of giving discharge separately to the individual Union institutions and bodies is a long-standing practice accepted by all the other institutions except the Council, and whereas this procedure has been developed to guarantee transparency and democratic accountability towards Union citizens and to pursue the necessary fight against fraud;

1.  Recalls that the Union institutions have administrative autonomy in matters relating to their respective operations; underlines the importance of them acting responsibly and professionally in the implementation of their budgets;

2.  Underlines the role of Parliament within the discharge procedure, as governed by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Financial Regulation and that, in full acknowledgment of the Council’s role as an institution giving recommendations in the discharge procedure, a distinction must be maintained in respect of the different roles of Parliament and the Council in order to comply with the institutional framework laid down in the Treaties and in the Financial Regulation;

3.  Recalls that Parliament grants discharge to the other institutions after considering the documents provided, the replies given to the questions and after hearing the secretaries-general of the other institutions; reiterates that the Council must take part fully and in good faith in the annual discharge procedure, just as the other institutions do; regrets the difficulties encountered in the Council discharge procedures to date;

4.  Regrets that the Council again failed to provide answers to the written questions sent by Parliament and that the Secretary-General of the Council did not attend the hearing organised on 27 November 2018 in the context of the annual discharge procedure; further regrets that the Council also did not reply to the observations made by Parliament in its discharge resolution of 26 March 2019, thereby disregarding the role of the Parliament;

5.  Recalls the difficulties repeatedly encountered in the Council discharge procedures to date due to the lack of cooperation from the Council which led Parliament to refuse to grant discharge to the Secretary-General of the Council in relation to the financial years 2009 to 2016 and to postpone its decision on discharge in March 2019 for the financial year 2017;

6.  Notes that the Council replied to the proposal of Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control on the Council discharge procedure on 2 May 2018 with an amended proposal, and that Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control sent its reaction to the Council’s amended proposal on 16 July 2018; urges the Council to react to the latest proposal swiftly so that the new arrangements for the discharge procedure can be applied as soon as possible;

7.  Regrets that the request to separate the budget of the European Council and the Council into one budget for each institution, made by Parliament in previous discharge resolutions, has not been considered; insists on this separation that will contribute to increased transparency in the financial management of both institutions and improve their accountability and expenditure efficiency;

8.  Reiterates its concern at the very high amount of appropriations being carried over from 2017 to 2018, particularly those in respect of furniture, technical equipment, transport and computer systems; reminds the Council that carry-overs are exceptions to the principle of annuality and should reflect actual needs; deplores, further, the Council's failure to give sufficient information on real estate policy;

9.  Welcomes efforts to further improve its financial management and performance such as the harmonisation of budget planning at a central level by integrating Multiannual Activity and Budget Planning (MABP);

10.  Acknowledges improvements in the Council's process of administrative modernisation, for example that internal rules for reporting serious irregularities are published on the Council’s website along with a guide to ethics and conduct for members of staff of the Council; calls on the Council to raise awareness about these rules and to ensure that all members of staff are properly informed of their rights;

11.  Recalls that the Council agreed on the Commission proposal for a mandatory transparency register on 6 December 2017, but has still not implemented it; strongly deplores the Council's failure to participate in the transparency register scheme; strongly calls on the Council to continue discussions on the technical aspects of the package of instruments regarding the Transparency Register in order to achieve a political agreement between the three institutions as soon as possible, given that enhanced transparency within in the Union institutions will increase public confidence in the Union;

12.  Emphasises that Parliament in a plenary vote backed the European Ombudsman’s proposals related to the European Ombudsman's recommendations and suggestions to the Council to allow citizens to follow the legislative process of the Union more easily (transparency of the Council legislative process, OI/2/2017/TE); recalls that the Council should, among other things, systematically record the position of each Member State in the Council preparatory bodies, develop clear and publicly available criteria for the designation of documents as ‘LIMITE’, in line with Union law, and develop a dedicated webpage for each legislative proposal and improve the user-friendliness of the public register of documents;

13.  Reiterates that the Council ought to be transparent and fully accountable to Union citizens for the funds entrusted to it as a Union institution;

14.  Insists that an effective budgetary control exercise requires cooperation between Parliament and the Council with due respect for their respective roles; considers that satisfactory cooperation between both institutions in the form of an open and formal dialogue procedure would be a positive sign to send to the citizens of the Union;

15.  Expresses its concerns about the information reported by the European media regarding the corporate sponsorship of Member States hosting the Union Presidency and echoes the concerns expressed by Union citizens and Members of Parliament; acknowledges that the Member States are expected to finance their own Presidencies and regrets that resorting to corporate sponsorship to cover some of their expenses in this regards has become common practice in recent years; is highly concerned about the possible reputational damage and the risk of loss of trust that this practice may incur on the Union, its institutions and especially to the Council in the eyes of the citizens of the Union; suggests that the Council adopt guidelines in order to promote the financial transparency and independency of the Presidencies; strongly recommends the Council to envisage budgetisation of the Presidencies; will closely monitor the conclusions of the enquiry of the European Ombudsman related to this matter; requests the Council to forward this concern to the Member States, in particular to the current trio Presidency;

16.  Is encouraged by the fact that the Council considers it necessary to address the discharge procedure and is open to arriving at an agreement with Parliament on how to cooperate in this regard as rapidly as possible.

(1) OJ L 51, 28.2.2017.
(2) OJ C 348, 28.9.2018, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 357, 04.10.2018, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 357, 04.10.2018, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 249, 27.9.2019, p. 25.
(6) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.


Objection to an implementing act: The impact of plant protection products on honeybees
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European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2019 on the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 546/2011 as regards the assessment of the impact of plant protection products on honeybees (D045385/06 – 2019/2776(RPS))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0041B9-0149/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 546/2011 as regards the assessment of the impact of plant protection products on honeybees (D045385/06),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC(1), and in particular Article 4 and Article 78(1)(c) thereof and point 3.8.3 of Annex II thereto,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 546/2011 of 10 June 2011 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards uniform principles for evaluation and authorisation of plant protection products(2),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 283/2013 of 1 March 2013 setting out the data requirements for active substances, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market(3) and to Commission Regulation (EU) No 284/2013 of 1 March 2013 setting out the data requirements for plant protection products, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market(4),

–  having regard to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Guidance Document on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp. and solitary bees) approved on 27 June 2013 and last updated on 4 July 2014(5) (‘2013 EFSA bee guidance’),

–  having regard to Article 5a(3)(b) of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2019 on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides(7),

–  having regard to Rule 112(2) and (3), and (4)(c) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

A.  whereas according to the Commission, there has been a ‘dramatic decline in the occurrence and diversity of all kinds of European wild insect pollinators, including wild bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths. Numerous pollinator species are extinct or threatened with extinction’(8);

B.  whereas the EFSA external scientific report of 29 February 2016 on the toxicity of pesticides showed that ‘long-term toxicity may exceed predictions based on short-term tests by an order of magnitude’(9);

C.  whereas pursuant to Article 1(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, the purpose of that Regulation is ‘to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment and to improve the functioning of the internal market through the harmonisation of the rules on the placing on the market of plant protection products, while improving agricultural production’;

D.  whereas Article 4(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 provides that ‘an active substance shall be approved in accordance with Annex II if it may be expected, in the light of current scientific and technical knowledge, that, taking into account the approval criteria set out in points 2 and 3 of that Annex, plant protection products containing that active substance meet the requirements provided for in paragraphs 2 and 3’;

E.  whereas under Article 4(3)(e) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, a plant protection product ‘shall have no unacceptable effects on the environment’, having particular regard to certain considerations where the scientific methods accepted by the Authority to assess such effects are available, in particular the consideration of ‘its impact on non-target species, including on the ongoing behaviour of those species’;

F.  whereas under the second indent of point 3.8.3 of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, an active substance, safener or synergist is to be approved only if it is established following an appropriate risk assessment on the basis of Community or internationally agreed test guidelines, that the use under the proposed conditions of use of plant protection products containing this active substance, safener or synergist ‘has no unacceptable acute or chronic effects on colony survival and development, taking into account effects on honeybee larvae and honeybee behaviour’;

G.  whereas Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 thus went beyond the old Council Directive 91/414/EEC(10) by inter alia explicitly introducing express requirements with regard to the chronic effects of the use of an active substance, safener or synergist on colony survival and development;

H.  whereas the data requirements for active substances as well as for plant protection products were modified in 2013 to include studies on the chronic effects of such substances and products on bees, as well as a study on the effects of such substances and products on honeybee development and other honeybee life stages(11);

I.  whereas in 2013, EFSA updated the risk assessment methodology accordingly, inter alia taking into account chronic effects on bees as well as adverse effects on bumblebees and solitary bees;

J.  whereas the updated risk assessment methodology was applied in the EFSA assessments of confirmatory data pursuant to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013(12) with regard to three neonicotinoids, leading to near-complete restrictions in 2018(13);

K.  whereas the 2013 EFSA bee guidance has, however, still not been formally endorsed by the Standing Committee established by Article 58 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 (‘the Standing Committee’);

L.  whereas the Commission considers that it can only rely on the 2013 EFSA bee guidance for decisions in the context of ad hoc reviews of approval pursuant to Article 21 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, but not for standard decisions on applications for approval or renewal, if the guidance is not endorsed by Member States;

M.  whereas the Commission tried to have the 2013 EFSA bee guidance implemented so that it could be applicable also for standard decisions on approval or renewal of active substances and (re-)authorisations of plant protection products;

N.  whereas implementation of the 2013 EFSA bee guidance can be achieved in part by amending the uniform principles laid down in Regulation (EU) No 546/2011;

O.  whereas the Commission refrained from doing so, however, when in 2018, 16 Member States objected to implementing the 2013 EFSA bee guidance in the absence of a further review(14), in particular of the parts related to the assessment methodology for chronic risks;

P.  whereas under Article 78(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, amendments to Regulation (EU) No 546/2011 are to take account of current scientific and technical knowledge;

Q.  whereas recital 2 of the draft Commission regulation states that ‘it is necessary to modify those uniform principles for evaluation and authorisation of plant protection products in the light of the most recent developments in scientific and technical knowledge’;

R.  whereas the draft Commission regulation only introduces modifications indicated in the 2013 EFSA bee guidance with regard to acute toxicity to honeybees, but remains silent on chronic toxicity to honeybees, as well as on toxicity to bumblebees and solitary bees;

S.  whereas the draft Commission regulation thus does not represent the most recent developments in scientific and technical knowledge, contrary to what is stated in recital 2 thereof and contrary to the requirements set out in Article 78(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, in turn undermining the requirement set out in Article 4(1) of that Regulation to approve substances in the light of current scientific and technical knowledge, which, thereby, also undermines the purpose provided for in Article 1(3) of that Regulation, namely to achieve a high level of protection of animal health and the environment;

T.  whereas according to EFSA, for a proper risk assessment of bees, it is important to consider acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and toxicity to larvae(15);

U.  whereas it is of paramount importance that chronic toxicity and toxicity to larvae be assessed, in order to be able to address the risks posed by the new generation of systemic plant protection products, which lead to long-term chronic exposure, rather than short-term acute exposure;

V.  whereas the changes proposed by the Commission in the draft regulation would only result in a refinement of the tests with regard to acute toxicity(16), which, according to an impact assessment by the pesticide industry, would not change the level of protection(17);

W.  whereas it is neither sufficient nor appropriate nor in line with the approval criteria of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 to integrate the changes proposed by EFSA only with regard to acute toxicity in the draft Commission regulation;

X.  whereas applicants have to submit relevant data on chronic toxicity pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 283/2013 and Regulation (EU) No 284/2013;

Y.  whereas in the absence of provisions with regard to chronic toxicity in Regulation (EU) No 546/2011, the Commission and the Member States face difficulties in taking into account chronic effects of such substances and products on bees in their decisions on approval or authorisation;

Z.  whereas this situation undermines the proper application of the approval criteria in Article 4 of and Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 with regard to bees, which in turn undermines the purpose of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, namely to achieve a high level of protection of animal health and the environment;

AA.  whereas it is unacceptable that Member States oppose the full implementation of the 2013 EFSA bee guidance and thereby impede the proper application of the approval criteria with regard to bees;

AB.  whereas such opposition is even more unacceptable in the light of the fact that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) test guidelines are available with regard to chronic toxicity tests for honeybees and effects on honeybee larvae (OECD test guidelines 245 and 239), and for acute toxicity tests for bumblebees (OECD test guidelines 246 and 247);

AC.  whereas the Commission did not even submit a draft that would have corresponded to the 2013 EFSA bee guidance to the Standing Committee; whereas it thereby circumvented the obligation laid down in Article 5a(4) of Decision 1999/468/EC to submit a proposal to the Council, following which it could have adopted the measure as long as the Council did not oppose it by qualified majority;

AD.  whereas it is highly regrettable that the Commission did not make use of its powers pursuant to Article 5a(2) of Decision 1999/468/EC, thereby effectively leading to 16 Member States, which nonetheless did not form a qualified majority, being successful in impeding the proper application of the approval criteria with regard to bees;

AE.  whereas the European Parliament in its resolution of 16 January 2019 considered that Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 as such, and its implementation, needed to be improved in order for it to achieve its purpose, and explicitly called on the Commission and the Member States to adopt without delay the updated bee guidance used by EFSA;

1.  Opposes adoption of the draft Commission regulation;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission regulation is not compatible with the aim and the content of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw the draft regulation and submit a new one to the Standing Committee without delay;

4.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the new draft is based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge, and thus proposes modifying the uniform principles not only with regard to acute toxicity for honeybees, as in the current draft, but at least also with regard to chronic toxicity and larval toxicity for honeybees and acute toxicity for bumblebees, in particular given that OECD test guidelines are available for all of those parameters;

5.  Calls on the Commission, if necessary, to make full use of its powers under Decision 1999/468/EC to obtain the submission of a proper proposal for scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 155, 11.6.2011, p. 127.
(3) OJ L 93, 3.4.2013, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 93, 3.4.2013, p. 85.
(5) EFSA Guidance Document on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp. and solitary bees), EFSA Journal 2013;11(7):3295, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3295
(6) OJ L 184, 17.07.1999, p. 23.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0023.
(8) Communication of 1 June 2018 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the EU Pollinators Initiative (COM(2018)0395).
(9) EFSA External Scientific Report on chronic oral lethal and sub-lethal toxicities of different binary mixtures of pesticides and contaminants in bees (Apis mellifera, Osmia bicornis and Bombus terrestris), DOI: 10.2903/sp.efsa.2016.EN-1076, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/en-1076.
(10) Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (OJ L 230, 19.8.1991, p. 1).
(11) Regulation (EU) No 283/2013 and Regulation (EU) No 284/2013.
(12) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013 of 24 May 2013 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011, as regards the conditions of approval of the active substances clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid, and prohibiting the use and sale of seeds treated with plant protection products containing those active substances (OJ L 139, 25.5.2013, p. 12).
(13) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/783 of 29 May 2018 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the conditions of approval of the active substance imidacloprid (OJ L 132, 30.5.2018, p. 31), Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/784 of 29 May 2018 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the conditions of approval of the active substance clothianidin (OJ L 132, 30.5.2018, p. 35), and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/785 of 29 May 2018 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the conditions of approval of the active substance thiamethoxam (OJ L 132, 30.5.2018, p. 40).
(14) See the summary record of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Feed and Food (PAFF) meeting of 23-24 October 2018 on https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/plant/docs/sc_phyto_20181023_ppl_sum.pdf
(15) See 2013 EFSA bee guidance, p. 14.
(16) EFSA Technical Report of 18 December 2015 on the outcome of the pesticides peer review meeting on general recurring issues in ecotoxicology, DOI: 10.2903/sp.efsa.2015.EN-924, https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/sp.efsa.2015.EN-924, p. 44.
(17) ‘Possibly there will be no overall significant changes in the risk assessment outcome for acute risk assessment for foliar applied products, i.e. the overall protection level is similar’: Miles et al, 2018, ‘Improving pesticide regulation by use of impact analyses: A case study for bees’, pp. 87-88, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326711149_Improving_pesticide_regulation_by_use_of_impact_analyses_A_case_study_for_bees.

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