– having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0343/2011),
– having regard to the fact that at its meeting of 23 November 2011 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors,
– having regard to Rule 108 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0422/2011),
A. whereas Juan-Francisco Corona Ramón fulfils the conditions laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU;
1. Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council's nomination of Juan-Francisco Corona Ramón as a Member of the Court of Auditors;
2. Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.
ANNEX 1: CURRICULUM VITÆ OF Juan-Francisco Corona Ramón
Born in Barcelona (Spain) on 2 July 1959.
Degree in economics and business studies from the University of Barcelona, 1982.
Doctorate in economics and business studies from the University of Barcelona, 1984.
Economist, Colegio de Economistas de Catalunya, 1985.
Financial analyst, Instituto Español de Analistas Financieros, 1986.
Tax consultant, Registro de Economistas y Asesores Fiscales, 1987.
Chartered accountant, Registro Oficial de Auditores de Cuentas, 1988.
Titles and awards
Special prize on graduation, University of Barcelona, 1982.
Special prize for doctorate, University of Barcelona, 1984.
Tenured university lecturer, 1988.
University professor (applied economics), 1993.
Permanent academician of the Real Academia de Doctores, 2003.
Head, Department of Applied Economics, Universidad de las Islas Baleares, 1993-1997.
Dean, Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 1997-2001.
Director of the family-owned business chair at Barcelona University, 2001-2005
Vice-chancellor of Abat Oliba University-CEU, 2001-2005. Honorary vice-chancellor, 2005-
Teaching and research activity
Carried out since 1982 in 50 universities in Spain and 22 in other countries, including Harvard, the Sorbonne, Heidelberg, Kiel, Berlin Technical University, Brussels Free University, Cologne, Rome and Lumière University, Lyon.
Author of 42 books and over 300 publications, which have appeared in the most prestigious technical and professional publications.
Academic director of the Instituto de la Empresa Familiar.
Board of management of the Asociación Española de Economía Pública.
Board of management of the Sociedad de Estudios Económicos.
Board of management of the Fundación de la Asociación Española de Directivos.
Board of management of the Instituto Español de Analistas Financieros.
Various other councils and boards.
European Public Choice Society.
European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management.
International Institute of Public Finance.
European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies.
Confederation of European Economic Associations
Consultancies for international organisations
European Union (ERASMUS, MINERVA and Leonardo Da Vinci programmes).
World Bank. Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Inter-American Development Bank and Inter-American Finance Corporation.
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Governments of Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Andorra, Albania, Kosovo, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Vanuatu and Uruguay.
ANNEX 2: ANSWERS BY Juan-Francisco Corona Ramón TO THE QUESTIONNAIRE
1.Please highlight the main aspects of your professional experience in public finance, management or management auditing
In public finance: University lecturer in public finance since 1981 at four Spanish universities, tenured lecturer since 1988 and professor of public finance since 1993. I have published over 50 books and almost 400 other publications, including the University Manual of public finance, which is used as a reference text in law and political science faculties throughout Spain. Member of the International Institute of Public Finance since 1987. Appointed permanent academician of the Real Instituto de Doctores in 2003 for achievements in the field of public finance.
In the field of management I have held many posts in both the public and private sectors and have been a founder and member of the managing board of numerous bodies, among them the Spanish Institute of Financial Analysts, Official Register of Chartered Accountants, Federation of Accountants and Auditors, Spanish Public Accounting Association, etc. In the academic sphere I have been a member of the governing board of the Economics Faculty of Barcelona University, director of the Economics Department of the University of the Balearic Islands, Dean of the Economic Science Faculty at the International University of Catalunya and rector of Abat Oliba University.
In management auditing I have worked with Uniaudit S.A. (Grant Thornton International) as a junior auditor from 1979 to1981 and as a senior auditor from 1981 to 1988. In 1987 I became a member of the Federation of Accountants and Auditors of the Spanish General Council of Economists Associations and was one of the founding members of the Official Registry of Accounting Auditors, associated with the Institute of Accounting and Auditing, in 1988. Head of auditing on the managing board of the Spanish Institute of Financial Analysts, 1998 to 2004.
2.What are the three most important decisions to which you have been party in your professional life?
It is very hard to make a choice in this respect, but on a field by field basis I would say that in terms of auditing and financial matters, the creation in 1988 of the Official Registry of Accounting Auditors (Registro Oficial de Auditores de Cuentas), since this involved the regulation of the profession and of auditing activity in Spain, placing its rules and practices on the highest international footing, and the creation in 1998 of the Catalan Foundation for Financial Analysis (Fundación Catalana de Análisis Financiero), since this made it possible to bring all financial analysts together in a single independent organisation, promoting their ongoing professional development and improvement and ensuring the application of ethical principles and rules governing the proper exercise of the profession.
From an academic viewpoint, my participation in the multi-level political negotiation resulting in laws being passed authorising the creation of the Universidad Internacional de Catalunya in 1997 and the Universidad Abat Oliba in 2003, in the latter case as project commissioner. In connection with this, I would also highlight the drafting of several university regulations while I was a member of the Universities Council and its plenary committee, from 2003 to 2007.
In terms of public management, the agreements reforming the funding system for Spain's autonomous communities in 1996, 2000 and 2004, in which I participated as a member of the Spanish State and Catalan Government's Joint Committee on Valuations (Comisión Mixta de Valoraciones) between 1996 and 2007 under several different national and autonomous governments. In the same field, I would include the allocation of budget funds as well as monitoring and inspecting them, as a member of the management committee of the national scientific research and technological development plan (National R + D Plan) of the Spanish inter-ministerial committee on science and technology, between 1997 and 2001.
3.The Treaty stipulates that the Members of the Court of Auditors shall be 'completely independent' in the performance of their duties. How would you act on this obligation in the discharge of your prospective duties?
I understand that members of the Court of Auditors are required to show complete objectivity and professionalism in the performance of their duties. In particular, I consider it essential that they should in no way accept any form of instruction from any national government or any other agency, body or person. I know that the Court of Auditors has adopted a series of rules and internal procedures to ensure that the independence required of its members is strictly observed. I am committed to scrupulously abiding by these procedures. Finally, as a member of the 'auditing profession', I am aware that the codes of ethics of INTOSAI and IFAC include highly specific and binding requirements concerning independence which all auditors at the Court of Auditors, including its members, must abide by.
4.Have you been granted discharge for the management duties you carried out previously, if such a procedure applies?
During the course of a range of management duties previously carried out in both the public and private spheres, I have received full approval for my work from the bodies for which I have worked. In the specific sphere of university activity, this has been confirmed through the acceptance by the public universities by which I have been employed of my continuation in the posts held. In the case of my position as vice-chancellor of Abat Oliba University-CEU, the university's governing board and trustees were satisfied with my management and showed their recognition by appointing me honorary vice-chancellor.
5.Do you have any business or financial holdings, or any other commitments, which might conflict with your prospective duties? Are you prepared to disclose all your financial interests and other commitments to the President of the Court and make them public? If you are involved in any current legal proceedings, would you please give details?
According to my understanding of the official rules governing the Court of Auditors of the EU, my current business and financial activities do not pose any conflict of interest with the duties required of a member of the Court. Should it in any event be considered that such a conflict might exist, I would be prepared to abandon such activities, in compliance with the procedures laid down by the Court.
I have no objection to making my economic interests and commitments known to the President of the Court or to their being made public.
6.Are you prepared to step down from any elected office or give up any active function with responsibilities in a political party after your appointment as Court Member?
Yes. I do not in fact hold, nor have I ever held, any type of position in any political party.
7.How would you deal with a major irregularity or even fraud and/or corruption case involving persons in your MemberState of origin?
I would approach the case with complete independence and objectivity, exactly the same as if the persons or institutions involved were from any other EU country. I would immediately inform the President of the Court and notify the Anti-Fraud Office, and would focus particular attention on the case to prevent my independence from being called into question.
Performance of duties
8.What should be the main features of a sound financial management culture in any public service?
I understand that good public service financial management calls for respect for and compliance with the basic principles of public budgeting, particularly with reference to the principles of regularity, legality, transparency, effectiveness, economy and efficiency in optimising public resources. The current economic climate makes it all the more necessary to apply these principles. In this sense, the economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to make improvements to public service financial management, to ensure that all spending or investment meets the legal requirements, achieves the political authorities' intended objectives and has a positive impact on the general public. Reduction of costs while maintaining the quality of public service should also be seen as one of the guiding principles of a culture of good public financial management.
9.Under the Treaty, the Court is required to assist Parliament in exercising its powers of control over the implementation of the budget. How would you describe your duties with regard to reporting to the European Parliament and, in particular, its Committee on Budgetary Control?
Given the technical nature of the Court, I see its fundamental mission as being to provide the necessary information for Parliament to be able to carry out its monitoring duties, as expressed in the tasks assigned to it under current rules. As a member of the Court, it will be my duty to ensure that the reports submitted by the Court of Auditors are truthful, objective, pertinent, punctual and of use to Parliament.
It is essential to maintain good communication, both quantitatively and qualitatively, so that the Court is able to work in fields which are of interest to Parliament. It is important to ensure the fluidity of such communication and for it to extend to the relationship (as applicable) with the rapporteur or rapporteurs of the Committee on Budgetary Control.
It is essential to be at Parliament's disposal when it comes to providing any necessary information or meeting any form of request.
10.What added value do you think performance auditing brings and how should the findings be incorporated in management procedures?
I think that the added value of performance auditing basically lies in facilitating Parliament's monitoring role and providing recommendations for improving management by the Commission. Performance audits should therefore be guided by the principles of effectiveness, efficiency and economy, focusing in practical terms on providing their users with precise information on the impact and results of public resources invested in European programmes. It is important to adequately take into account the degree of compliance with the agreed objectives and the necessity of the costs incurred.
The inclusion of audit results in management procedures should be accompanied by the development of recommendations designed to improve programme management.
11.How could cooperation between the Court of Auditors, the national audit institutions and the European Parliament (Committee on Budgetary Control) on auditing of the EU budget be improved?
We need to take as our starting point the fact that the EU's budget resources come from the Member States, which means that national parliaments and national auditing bodies (usually the national courts of auditors) are automatically implicated in any auditing process.
It should also be borne in mind that a substantial part of spending on European programmes (over 80%) is carried out by national authorities. This makes it extremely important to gather as much information as possible about the activities of the national courts.
One measure which could be useful in promoting cooperation between these bodies would be to strengthen the role of the Contact Committee of the presidents of all the European courts of auditors.
I believe that the Lisbon Treaty provides us with very useful instruments for collaboration in this sphere, particularly where the role of national parliaments is concerned. It should be a priority task to improve information and give specific content to national parliamentary control
A basic requirement will be to encourage the development and use of declarations by national bodies on the use of European funds and audits of their implementation in each State, properly coordinated and using standardised performance models as a means of improving the level of cooperation amongst all the agencies involved.
Would you withdraw your candidacy if Parliament's opinion on your appointment as Member of the Court were unfavourable?
Yes, since without Parliament's support I would be unable to carry out my duties as a Member of the Court.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Jean-Pierre Audy, Inés Ayala Sender, Andrea Cozzolino, Tamás Deutsch, Jens Geier, Ingeborg Gräßle, Iliana Ivanova, Monica Luisa Macovei, Jan Mulder, Jan Olbrycht, Crescenzio Rivellini, Georgios Stavrakakis, Søren Bo Søndergaard
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
Zuzana Brzobohatá, Edit Herczog, Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Derek Vaughan
Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote
George Sabin Cutaş, Leonidas Donskis, Pat the Cope Gallagher, Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, Marian Harkin, Sampo Terho