Procedure : 2012/2168(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0063/2013

Texts tabled :

A7-0063/2013

Debates :

PV 16/04/2013 - 13
CRE 16/04/2013 - 13

Votes :

PV 17/04/2013 - 4.3
CRE 17/04/2013 - 4.3

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0124

REPORT     
PDF 295kDOC 285k
21 March 2013
PE 497.942v02-00 A7-0063/2013

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011, Section I – European Parliament

(COM(2012)0436 – C7-0225/2012 – 2012/2168(DEC))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Eva Ortiz

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011, Section I – European Parliament

(COM(2012)0436 – C7-0225/2012 – 2012/2168(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011(1),

–   having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2011 (COM(2012)0436 – C7-0225/2012)(2),

–   having regard to the report on budgetary and financial management - Section I - European Parliament - Financial year 2011(3),

–   having regard to the Internal Auditor's annual report for the financial year 2011,

–   having regard to the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2011, together with the institutions' replies(4),

–   having regard to the statement of assurance(5) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2011 pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Article 314(10) and Article 318 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(6), and in particular Articles 145, 146 and 147 thereof,

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

–   having regard to Article 13 of the Internal Rules on the implementation of the European Parliament's budget(8),

–      having regard to Article 166(1) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012, which requires each Union institution to take all appropriate steps to act on the observations accompanying the European Parliament’s discharge decision,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 March 2010 on the guidelines for the 2011 budget procedure – Sections I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX(9),

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2010 on the estimates of revenue and expenditure of Parliament for the financial year 2011(10),

–   having regard to Rules 77 and 80(3) of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0063/2013),

A. whereas the audit of the Court of Auditors stated that, as regards administrative expenditure in 2011, all the institutions satisfactorily operated the supervisory and control systems required by Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002;

B.  whereas the Secretary-General certified, on 24 April 2012, his reasonable assurance that Parliament's budget has been implemented in accordance with the principles of sound financial management and that the control framework put in place provides the necessary guarantees as to the legality and regularity of the underlying operations;

1.  Grants its President discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Parliament budget for the financial year 2011;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this Decision and the resolution that forms an integral part thereof to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman and the European Data Protection Supervisor, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

with observations forming an integral part of its Decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011, Section I – European Parliament

(COM(2012)0436 – C7-0225/2012 – 2012/2168(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011(11),

–   having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2011 (COM(2012)0436 – C7-0225/2012)(12),

–   having regard to the report on budgetary and financial management - Section I - European Parliament - Financial year 2011(13),

–   having regard to the Internal Auditor's annual report for the financial year 2011,

–   having regard to the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2011, together with the institutions' replies(14),

–   having regard to the statement of assurance(15) 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 2011 pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Article 314(10) and Article 318 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(16), and in particular Articles 145, 146 and 147 thereof,

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

–   having regard to Article 13 of the Internal Rules on the implementation of the European Parliament's budget(18),

–    having regard to Article 166(1) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012, which requires each Union institution to take all appropriate steps to act on the observations accompanying the European Parliament’s discharge decision,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 March 2010 on the guidelines for the 2011 budget procedure – Sections I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX(19),

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2010 on the estimates of revenue and expenditure of Parliament for the financial year 2011(20),

–   having regard to Rules 77 and 80(3) of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0063/2013),

A. whereas the President adopted Parliament's accounts for the financial year 2011 on 11 July 2012,

B.  whereas in his certification of the final accounts, Parliament's accounting officer stated his reasonable assurance that the accounts present a true and fair view of the financial position of Parliament in all material respects and that no issues requiring a reservation have been brought to his attention,

C. whereas the Secretary-General certified on 24 April 2012 his reasonable assurance that Parliament's budget has been implemented in accordance with the principles of sound financial management and that the control framework put in place provides the necessary guarantees as to the legality and regularity of the underlying operations,

D. whereas, through its audit, the Court of Auditors concluded that, as regards administrative expenditure in 2011, all the institutions effectively operated the supervisory and control systems required by the Financial Regulation and 93 % of the 56 payments audited (3 advances and 53 final payments) were free from material error(21),

E.  whereas, in accordance with the usual procedure, a questionnaire was sent to the Parliament administration and replies were received and discussed by the Committee on Budgetary Control, in the presence of the Vice-President responsible for the Budget and the Secretary-General and the Internal Auditor,

Added value of Parliament's discharge procedure

1.  Highlights the added value of the parliamentary procedure leading up to the annual Parliament discharge; reiterates that the Parliament discharge is an additional possibility for exercising, in public, a critical scrutiny of the institution's financial management, thereby facilitating Union citizens' understanding of Parliament's particular governance structure, working methods and the costs of a democratic Europe; therefore reiterates its request to hold a separate plenary debate on Parliament's discharge with the President of the Parliament; requests that this first debate be held in April of this year;

2.  Calls on the Bureau to schedule as a specific agenda item a discussion of the discharge report in May or June, shortly after its adoption by plenary;

3.  Emphasises that scrutiny is necessary to ensure that Parliament's administration is held accountable and that given the great interest among citizens of the Union and public opinion in Parliament’s discharge procedure, it is essential for Parliament to avoid any risk of opaque management and therefore to operate in a completely transparent manner to ensure that citizens of the Union are provided with a true and accurate view of the way that Parliament uses the resources placed at its disposal;

4.  Recalls that since Parliament is the authority responsible for issuing the final decision on discharge, it is of the utmost importance that the procedure be conducted in an exemplary manner in the case of Parliament, and that it is therefore necessary to prevent even the most minor shortcomings which might tarnish the political achievements of Europe’s democratic institution and its efforts to achieve increased transparency and sounder financial management;

5.  Points out that this resolution remains principally focussed on the budget implementation and discharge for the financial year 2011 and that its main goal is to ensure that taxpayers' public money is used in the best possible way while highlighting where improvements can be made; encourages the Parliament's responsible bodies to continue to improve, at all possible levels, efficiency in Parliament's daily work aiming always to deliver an enhanced service to the citizens of the Union;

6.  Notes with satisfaction the quality of the exchange of views between the Vice-President responsible for the Budget, the Secretary-General and the Committee on Budgetary Control on 22 January 2013 in the context of the 2011 Parliament discharge; reiterates that Parliament's administration is held accountable throughout this process and that the discharge reports on Parliament's implementation of its budget and the activities of its Committee on Budgetary Control over the last decade have played an important role and brought about very positive developments in Parliament's financial management, such as the Members' statute and the assistants' statute; is determined to continue this encouraging development towards excellence and transparency in public financial management;

7.  Reiterates its proposal that the Bureau should circulate more 'White Papers' on policy items of general interest to all Members so they can be thoroughly discussed within political groups prior to a final decision being taken;

Parliament's management during 2011

8.  Welcomes that, on 22 September 2011, the representatives of the Bureau and of the Committee on Budgets reached agreement on additional saving measures that were subsequently incorporated into Parliament's 2012 budget; firmly holds that those smart savings measures of almost EUR 40 000 000 do not affect either the efficiency of Parliament's activities or the resources made available to each Member; calls on the Secretary-General to keep the Council and the Commission informed on Parliament's achievements and, to this end, to obtain information on their actions and to request to be informed of the answers received; points out, however, that savings should be made by spending less money and not by advancing or delaying payments or shifts between budgets;

9.  Reminds its President and Secretary-General of it resolution of 6 February 2013(22) where it "recalls the decision adopted in plenary calling for the Council to present a roadmap by June 2013 on the multiple seats of the EP, and expects both the committees concerned, the Secretary-General and the Bureau to provide Members with up-to-date figures and information on the financial and environmental impact of the multiple seat arrangement; suggests that the EP's own impact assessment services examine this question, including with respect to the impact of the EP's presence or partial presence on the respective communities and regions, and present an assessment by June 2013 in order for their findings to be considered in the context of the next MFF"; points out that June 2013 is approaching rapidly;

10. Notes that the Parliament is bound by the Treaty to work from three working places and that this means added costs; notes also that a change to this situation is not in the hands of the Parliament but of the Member States ;

11. Notes that the new Financial Regulation (Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012) and its Rules of Application came into effect on 1 January 2013 and brought about major changes in financial management, in particular by ensuring enhanced sound financial management and the protection of the Union's financial interests, introducing financial mechanisms which enable the mobilisation of third-party funds as leverage on Union funds and cutting red tape, while shifting the focus from paperwork to performance; encourages the Parliament's services, as in the past revisions of the Financial Regulation, to implement those rules without delay and with the minimum possible negative impact on Parliament's administration; would like to be informed before the start of the 2012 discharge procedure if the new Financial Regulation has led to a decrease in staff needed for financial management;

12. Welcomes the new Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament with respect to financial interests and conflicts of interest adopted by its plenary on 1 December 2011; notes that Members are required to make full disclosure of any remunerated activities outside Parliament, of the remuneration they receive, and of any other functions that they perform which may give rise to conflicts of interest; further notes that the code expressly prohibits Members from accepting any sum of money or other gift in exchange for influencing Parliament decisions; notes with satisfaction that it lays down clear rules on accepting gifts and on former Members engaging in lobbying; expects that the implementing rules will be communicated in an adequate way to the Members, and that declarations will be checked on a sample basis;

13. Is concerned that, one year after the entry into force of the Code of Conduct, the implementing measures in respect of Article 5(3) - to ensure transparency with regard to Members’ travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses paid by third parties - have not yet been adopted; points out that it is imperative that the implementing measures be adopted quickly; firmly believes that all third-party-paid travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses of EUR 150 or more must be disclosed;

14. Calls on Parliament’s Administration to publish all declarations of MEPs’ financial interests, broken down by year, in machine-readable form in the MEP profile section of Parliament's website;

15. Notes the publication of the social report, which gives a valuable insight into Parliament's human resources; asks for the 2012 report to be published before the end of September 2013; further notes that Parliament's establishment plan increased between 2010 to 2011 by 4 % mainly as a result of the new responsibilities and extra workload under the Treaty of Lisbon and the anticipated accession of Croatia to the Union;

16. Calls for staff training courses, and especially intensive language courses, to be tailored more effectively to the work schedule of the various types of staff working at Parliament, including accredited parliamentary assistants;

17. Recommends to follow up the recommendation of the Court of Auditors to ensure that changes in the personal situation of staff are registered in due time and that it implements a system for the timely monitoring of that information;

18. Points out that 2011 was the second full year in which the new Statute for Members and the Statute for Assistants has been in force (both effective as of 14 July 2009); notes that the Implementing Measures for the Statute for Assistants have been amended four times in those two years for the application of Title VII of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities (CEOS) and the Implementing Measures on the basis of proposals from the Temporary Evaluation Group and the Secretary-General; recalls that the implementation of Title VII of the CEOS created a single scheme governing the status of accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) working in Parliament's three working places, which replaced twenty-seven different national systems of contractual relationships, taxation and social security and that currently there is no evidence that would suggest a need to adapt the rules applying to parliamentary assistants contained in Title VII of the CEOS; suggest a full evaluation of the Statute of Assistants including possible adaptations of the rules before the next European elections;

Report on budgetary and financial management(23)

19. Notes that in 2011 Parliament received revenue amounting to EUR 173 293 432 (EUR 243 094 204 in 2010) which included EUR 23 815 077 in assigned revenue;

Presentation of Parliament's accounts

20. Takes note of the figures on the basis of which Parliament's accounts for the financial year 2011 were closed, namely:

(a) Available appropriations (EUR)

appropriations for 2011:

1 685 829 393

non-automatic carry-overs from financial year 2010:

9 240 000

automatic carry-overs from financial year 2010:

231 028 630

appropriations corresponding to assigned revenue for 2011:

23 815 077

carry-overs corresponding to assigned revenue from 2010:

110 017 852

Total:

2 059 930 952

(b) Utilisation of appropriations in the financial year 2011 (EUR)

commitments:

1 843 611 385

payments made:

1 580 302 842

appropriations carried forward automatically including those arising from assigned revenue:

330 492 631

appropriations carried forward non-automatically:

21 700 000

appropriations cancelled:

126 481 634

(c) Budgetary receipts (EUR)

received in 2011:

173 293 432

(d) Total balance sheet at 31 December 2011 (EUR)

1 565 534 440

21. Notes that authorised appropriations in Parliament's initial budget for 2011 totalled EUR 1 685 829 393, representing a 5 % increase over the 2010 budget (EUR 1 607 363 235), and that no amending budget was introduced in 2011, contrary to 2010;

22. Notes that, in 2011, 93 % (96 % in 2010) of the final appropriations were committed, with a cancellation rate of 6 % (3 % in 2010), and that, as in previous years, a high level of budget implementation was achieved; further notes the rapid increase in the appropriations cancelled, originating, in large measure, from the non-payment, in 2011, of the staff annual salary adjustment of 1,7 %, following the relevant Council decision;

23. Is concerned about the significant increase of carry-overs into 2011 (EUR 240 268 630(24)) and calls for improved planning of expenditure; calls on the administration to reverse this trend in the run up to future European elections;

24. Notes that the Union's budget for 2011 totalled EUR 141,9 billion in commitment appropriations, of which Parliament's budget accounted for EUR 1 686 million; further notes that this figure represents just over 1 % of the Union's budget and amounts to 20% of the amount of EUR 8 454 million set aside for the 2011 administrative expenditure of the Union institutions as a whole, in line with the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management;

25. Welcomes the fact that no mopping-up transfers took place between 2011 and 2012; calls again on its administration to pursue the objective of better and clearer budget planning and discipline and that, in the interests of budgetary clarity, buildings expenditure, or any other expenditure of similar size, be entered individually in the budget rather than being financed through underspends;

26. Notes that, in 2011, the four chief headings of the Parliament's budget were "officials and temporary staff", "buildings and associated costs", "Members and expenditure relating to parliamentary assistance", accounting for 70 % of the total commitments;

27. Recalls that the amount of EUR 85,9 million repaid by Belgium to the Parliament at the beginning of 2010 and earmarked for building projects is to be considered as external assigned revenue under Article 21 of the Financial Regulation;

Parliament's accounts

28. Notes that, in his certification of the final accounts, Parliament's accounting officer has stated his reasonable assurance that the accounts present a true and fair view of the financial position of Parliament in all material respects; notes further his statement that no issues requiring a reservation have been brought to his attention;

29. Recalls the decision by its President concerning the adoption of the accounts for the financial year 2011 on 11 July 2012;

Statement of assurance by the Secretary-General

30. Welcomes the Secretary-General's statement, dated 24 April 2012, in his capacity as Principal Authorising Officer by Delegation, concerning the authorising officers' annual activity reports for 2011, in which he certifies that he has a reasonable assurance that Parliament's budget has been implemented in accordance with the principles of sound financial management and that the control framework put in place provides the necessary guarantees as to the legality and regularity of the underlying operations;

Court of Auditors Annual Reports concerning the financial year 2011

Court of Auditors' opinions

31. Welcomes the fact that the audit of the Court of Auditors found that the supervisory and control systems of administrative expenditure as a whole, that are required by the Financial Regulation, were effective and that the payments of administrative expenditure in 2011 were not affected by material errors;

Payment of social allowances and benefits to staff members

32. Takes note of the specific finding concerning Parliament contained in the annual reports of the Court of Auditors for 2011, as well as Parliament's replies, concerning the information available to the Parliament’s services on the personal and family situation of staff members was either not up-to-date or not properly processed and that in a single case, it led to overpayments; takes note that the recovery of overpayments began in that case in November 2011, and deductions were made from the pay of the staff member concerned;

Employment of accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) rules

33. Takes note, furthermore, that under the Internal Rules for the employment of APAs, the latter are allowed to submit the medical certificate and other documents required for the conclusion of contracts within three months after the date on which the contract for their initial recruitment takes effect, and that since this derogation contradicts the provisions set out in Articles 128 and 129 of the CEOS those articles should be brought into line with the rules applicable to accredited assistants; also notes that, as regards compliance with the requirement concerning the knowledge of languages, in none of the 10 cases audited were there documents on file proving that checks had been performed;

34. Endorses the responses given by Parliament in the contradictory procedure with the Court of Auditors;

Performance of the ex-ante verification of recruitment procedures

35. Notes the Court of Auditors' finding that, in those file procedures for the recruitment of APAs that were audited, there were no documents on file proving that the ex-ante checks of recruitment documents had been performed; notes the answer of Parliament's relevant services that, after revision of checklists and the introduction of cross- checking, the underlying documentation for those verifications is now being kept;

Procurement

36. Regrets that the Court of Auditors found weaknesses in the application of selection and award criteria for 2 out of 10 procurement procedures of Parliament that it audited relating to the maintenance of buildings and to printing services; calls again on the Bureau to reconsider all control mechanisms for public procurement in order to guarantee the most competitive prices for the goods and services that are offered;

37. Regrets that, due to a reduction in administrative burden for low value contracts, aimed at increasing SME participation in tenders for these contracts, the administration does not dispose of the number of SMEs that secured low value contracts; therefore the Secretariat General is not able to show whether or not the reduction in administrative burden actually led to an increased SME participation and thus the effectiveness of the measures taken; requests to monitor the number of SMEs that secured low value contracts;

Hearing of the Internal Auditor and the Internal Auditor's annual report

38. Notes that, at the competent committee's meeting with the Internal Auditor held on 22 January 2013, the Internal Auditor presented his annual report signed 26 July 2012, stating that, in 2011, he performed the following audit work on Parliament's administration:

-    a specific review of the internal control framework;

-     a follow-up to the audit of the public procurement process in Directorate-General for the Presidency (DG Presidency);

-    a follow-up to the audit of the parliamentary assistance allowance;

-    a follow-up to the audit of the processing of payment requests;

-    an audit of the public procurement process and of contract implementation in Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support (DG ITEC);

-    an audit of the Establishment of the Payroll;

-    a follow-up to the audit of building policy: planning, assessment & management of accommodation needs;

-    an audit of the public procurement process in Directorate-General for Communication (DG Communication);

39. Points out that among the more significant conclusions set out in the Internal Auditor's annual report were the following:

–   that the audit of Parliamentary Assistance Allowance revealed the need to strengthen the framework for the remuneration of privately employed local assistants, the number of which vary widely from Member to Member, and to obtain more assurance concerning the services rendered by service providers;

-    that for certain Directorates-Generals' procurement processes there is a need to better substantiate recourse to exceptional negotiated procedures and to ensure that the outcome of negotiation is based on documented analyses that are measurable against relevant value-for-money benchmarks;

-    that in several occurrences the evaluation methodology applied for public procurement process was not sufficiently documented in the evaluation reports and minutes or it differed from that announced in the tender specifications and that the evaluation method defined in the specifications must give sufficient weighting to the price criterion in relation to other criteria and must ensure the use of the best 'price-quality' ratio;

40. Notes and supports the views expressed by the Internal Auditor as to:

-    the importance, for certain departments, of implementing the new central guidelines on sensitive posts and risk management, of developing performance indicators, of completing the documentation of internal control and management procedures and of reducing delays in the regularisation of budgetary expenditure;

-    the importance of ensuring that, during a public procurement process, the evaluation committee fully, clearly and comprehensively substantiates its conclusions in its report and that the evaluation process is free from any indication of unequal treatment of the tenderers;

Audit of the Internal Control Framework

41. Recalls that the original review of the Internal Control Framework in 2003 and 2004 resulted in 14 audit reports covering all departments and the central services and containing 452 agreed actions aimed to improve the overall levels of:

-    compliance with the institution's minimum standards of internal control

-    the achievement of the institution's key control objectives (compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies; reliability of management information and recording; and the economy, effectiveness and efficiency of operations);

Remaining "open actions"

42. Recalls that successive follow-up audits of the implementation of 452 actions took place in 2005/2006 and 2007/2008 and, in one department with a high proportion of open actions, also in 2009; emphasises that the outcome of this series of audits was that 68 actions of the original review of the Internal Control Framework remained open at the end of 2010;

43. Notes with satisfaction that the Internal Audit Service continues to give priority to the review of the Internal Control Framework initiated in 2003; takes note of the fact that, as of 30 September 2011, after successive follow-up audits, 38 actions remained uncompleted out of the 452 actions initially agreed; welcomes that fact that none of those actions is classified as critical by Internal Audit service; calls on the departmental and central management to implement the remaining 38 overdue "open actions" before the end of the current legislative term;

44. Welcomes the fact that, in June 2011, a firm of external assessors certified that the Internal Audit Service of the Parliament complies with the definition of Internal Auditing, with the Code of Ethics and with the Standards and that this represents the highest level of compliance; encourages the Internal Audit Service to build on the good foundation already in place and align the Internal Audit Service further with leading practices; acknowledges that during the second half of 2011, the Internal Audit Service already implemented several important elements of the suggestions for improvement received and that the remaining action plan will be executed over the period through to the end of 2012;

45. Stresses that in line with transparency policies towards the citizens of the Union a summary of the number and type of internal audits carried out, the recommendations made and the action taken on those recommendations, should be made available after some time on the website of the Parliament; would like to be informed which of those documents are not yet available to the public and the reasons why;

Follow-up by the Secretary-General to the 2010 discharge resolution

46. Welcomes the written answers to the 2010 discharge resolution provided to the Committee on Budgetary Control on 16 November 2012; regrets however that it was not possible to receive those answers before the start of the 2011 discharge exercise; expects that, for the 2012 discharge exercise, it will be possible for an exchange of views between the Secretary-General and the Committee on Budgetary Control to take place before the end of October 2013;

47. Welcomes the formal decision to discontinue the Prize for Journalism that in 2011 represented an expenditure of EUR 154 205 as proposed by the Committee on Budgetary Control and voted in Plenary in the 2010 discharge report; acknowledges that contacts with journalists were reinforced in the Member States by organising thematic seminars in the capital cities, thereby using the Parliament's existing administrative capacity, while providing journalists with an opportunity to exchange views with Members and to acquire a complete understanding of Parliament's structure and role in the legislative process;

48. Requests for the second time, after the first request relating to the discharge procedure was made in 2010, a full report on how Parliament's Free Software projects have developed with regards to use and users in Parliament, citizen interaction and procurement activities; invites for the second time to investigate, in a full study, Parliament's obligations under Rule 103 of its Rules of Procedure with regard to Free Software and Open Standards; regrets that Free Software and Open Source solutions are not more widely used in the Parliament's IT infrastructure;

49. Notes the Secretary-General’s reply indicating that European Parliament allowances covered 1 599 accredited assistants’ contracts and 2 868 local assistants’ contracts in 2011;

Management of Parliament's administration

50. Points to the excellent quality of the Parliament's Interpretation and Translation services; notes that they continue to constitute a considerable part of the Parliament's budget; notes that the decision on the 'Resource efficient full multilingualism in interpretation' taken by the Bureau in 2011 increases the efficiency of interpretation services and reduces their structural costs; calls on Parliament to bring forward a detailed document on the structure of translation and interpretation costs and measures to decrease further these costs and improve the efficiency of the services, without compromising overall quality;

51. Notes that 192 members of staff report to the Directors-General without going through a Director; asks the Secretary-General to review this situation to ensure that 'cabinets' for Directors-General are not being created unofficially; asks the Secretary-General to include in the review an assessment of the grades, powers and responsibilities of those members of staff;

Activity reports by the Directors-General

52. Notes that Directors-General report annually on the performance of their duties in activity reports that constitute an internal management tool the primary purpose of which is to give the Secretary-General a clear overview of the workings of the administration, and in particular of any weaknesses; observes that, for the annual activity reports in respect of the financial year 2011, no authorising officer has included reservations in their declarations concerning the identification, by directors-general, of significant problems in the way resources have been used or the failure of control procedures to ensure the legality and regularity of transactions;

53. Points out that each Directorate-General's activity report includes, as an annex, a list of exceptions, itemising derogations from applicable regulations and standard procedures; expresses concern that, for some Directorates, the number of such exceptions remains elevated and suggests that further effort should be made to avoid recourse to this expedient in order to correct anomalous situations;

DG Presidency

54. Welcomes DG Presidency's commitment to continuing improvements in financial management through the in-depth examination of the various aspects of budget implementation and associated procedures; notices in particular the efforts undertaken in the field of cultivating staff awareness of procurement procedures and budgetary operations;

55. Reiterates that the area of security is a very sensitive sector in any parliament, but even more so in a multinational one, with high visibility and constant visits from Heads of State and government; notes that the average daily presence in the Parliament's premises in Brussels is 12 000;

56. Takes note of the Bureau's adoption, by unanimity, of the "New global security concept" on 6 July 2011 which includes the idea of reserving the various entrances to Parliament for different categories of users; requests to be informed of the implementation of the "New global security concept" by the end of 2013;

57. Notes that Parliament expects that the internalisation of security services will reduce costs in Brussels and Strasbourg by EUR 11 250 000 in the period 2013 to 2016 and by EUR 5 640 000 for each year thereafter; seeks assurances that the highest standards will be established and maintained for targeted security through a continuous training programme; demands a yearly report with detailed information on the development of the costs of the security service, including the accrued costs for pensions of staff employed in these services, and the measures taken to ensure the scope and quality of the service;

58. Reiterates its wish that Members will be subject of electronic control when entering or leaving the Parliament's premises to increase security;

59. Requests to receive information from the Secretariat General on the procedure to be followed on the evaluation of the joint transparency register, which is due to take place in 2013, according to the inter-institutional agreement reached in 2011;

60. Notes that more than a 1500 staff have their children enrolled in the European Schools, and is therefore surprised to learn that the Parliament does not play any role in the Governance of the European School system;

61. Calls on the Secretary-General to investigate which role the Parliament could play in the governance of the European School system, given the high number of staff who rely on them for educating their children, and report back to the competent committee before the end of the year;

Directorate-General for Finance (DG Finance)

Travel Agency

62. Takes note of the fact that the contract with the current travel agency expires on 31 December 2013 and that the preparations of a new call for tenders have started; regrets that, while the possibility of a financial audit was provided for in the contract, this is not the case for an audit of the structure and performance of the travel agency; insists that a future contract should include the possibility of intermediary and final financial and performance audits; as requested by the Committee on Budgetary Control, welcomes the fact that the administration will also have recourse to external expertise when establishing tender documentation and throughout the selection procedure, thereby ensuring that Parliament chooses the best solution, resulting in major simplifications and cost-savings; stresses that the new contract should take into account the best quality/price ratio and the best value for money with competitive prices;

DG Communication

Parliaments' Communication Policy

63. Welcomes the finalisation by the Bureau on 23 March 2011 of an Action Plan for the period 2011-2014 which aims at implementing the Parliament's updated Communication Strategy; notes that the Action Plan focuses on the 2014 parliamentary elections and that it defines a set of 21 specific activities in order to raise the citizens' awareness of and encourage their participation in the Parliament's legislative work;

64. Welcomes the fact that the new visitors’ centre has been a success judged in terms of the number of visitors (253.000) it received in its first year of activity;

65. Insists that the communication budget must be used only to provide citizens with factual information on Union policies; stresses that this also applies to social media activities;

66. Regrets that the audience of Europarl TV, although greater in 2011 as compared with 2010(25), continues to be very low in the case of direct individual users (excluding viewers through partnership agreements with regional TVs) despite the considerable financing that it still received in 2011, amounting to some EUR 8 000 000 (item 3 2 4 6); regrets further that no cost-benefit evaluation of Europarl TV has been made, despite the fact that this was requested by plenary in its resolution on the discharge 2010; notes the decision of the Bureau of 12 December 2012 to implement a set of reforms in order to achieve significant savings; expects that such a cost- benefit evaluation is presented before the 2012 discharge procedure;

67. Expresses concern over the increased cost of the Lux Prize in 2011(26); calls for a more cost-efficient management of this prize and therefore suggests the Internal Auditor might consider reviewing its administration to achieve this goal;

68. Notes that a business plan for the House of European History in Brussels was approved by the Bureau on 26 September 2011 and that the Commission has declared its willingness to make an unspecified contribution to the running costs of the project and will communicate to Parliament before the end of the summer 2013 the terms of such contribution; regrets that no contribution is expected from the Commission towards the set-up costs of the project;

69. Welcomes the new procedure enabling the recovery of overpayments following payments for hosting visitor groups; considers it a pity that the option of payment by bank transfer should be available only for transfers to personal accounts, with no provision for transfers to the accounts of organisations; is concerned about the significant security risk entailed in making cash payments to visitor groups, the sums in question being as much as EUR 30 000 plus, with Parliament distributing up to EUR 388 000 in a day; points out that Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing(27) requires particular care to be taken with transactions involving sums of more than EUR 15 000, an amount that is regular exceeded in Parliament’s payments to visitors;

Directorate-General for Internal Policies (DG IPOL)

70. Points out that a new Directorate for Impact Assessment has been set up within DG IPOL in July 2011 by decision of the Bureau; notes that the Directorate's main objective is to provide the Parliament with independent impact assessments in order to support its legislative work; welcomes that the Directorate's creation has been budgetary neutral;

DG ITEC

Parliament's Information technology policy

71. Calls for an overall analysis by an independent body of the sound financial management, effectiveness and efficiency of contracts with external service providers in the IT area with particular regard to:

-    needs assessment;

-    the method of selection;

-    the most suitable type of contract;

-    the possible loss of management control through excessive externalisation; and

-    transparency of fee/billing mechanisms;

72. Regrets the overdependence on external (technical) expertise, especially in IT sectors, resulting from structural imbalances between internal and external resources; points out that externalisation of IT activities should always ensure that the management and control of that function remains within Parliament and that threats to the security and confidentiality of data are properly assessed and mitigated;

Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics (DG INLO)

73. Calls on the Secretary-General to present a plan to the Bureau to address and improve the catering service due to the increased numbers of customers in the Parliament's canteens, restaurants and bars (overall activities increased by around 150 % from 2002 to 2011, from 1,472 million customers in 2002 compared to 3,711 million customers in 2011);

Parliaments' Buildings policy

74. Notes the following decisions taken by Bureau in 2011, in the context of the medium-term buildings strategy adopted in 2010, to carry out a number of important projects with a view to bringing the buildings into use from the start of the next parliamentary term,

-    in Brussels: the purchase of the Trebel Building and the signing of a long-term rental contract with an option to purchase in respect of Montoyer 70,

-    in Strasbourg: the purchase of the Vaclav Havel Building so that it can house the Ombudsman and his staff, freeing up office space for Members in the central buildings,

-    in Luxembourg: continuing renovation and extension of the Konrad Adenauer Building in accordance with the terms of the Bureau decision of 12 January 2012, with enhanced partnership arrangements involving the Luxembourg Government,

-    in Sofia: the preliminary agreement for purchase of the new building for the Europe House, Sofia, for EUR 9 million, was signed on 7 July 2011,

-    the implementation of an enhanced maintenance policy in Brussels and Strasbourg so as to guarantee maximum safety and optimum use of facilities,

-    the launching of a systematic renovation policy, based on a set timetable, given the age of Parliament’s oldest buildings;

75. Acknowledges that a new methodology, similar to provisions adopted by the Commission, was established in 2011 for the survey and procurement of property; notes that under the new methodology transparency and competition will be further strengthened through the publication of procurement-related documents in the Official Journal; observes that the new methodology has already been implemented by the Buildings Committee to examine the applications and bids received for the property market survey in Brussels, i.e. the replacement of the Eastman and Montoyer 63 buildings and the search for new premises;

76. Points out that any property and buildings strategy must also take account of the rising costs of maintaining the buildings purchased;

77. Notes the failure to select candidates in connection with the invitation to tender for the Konrad Adenauer Building project because the proposed prices submitted in response to the invitation to tender were very much higher than the estimates; supports the decision by the authorising officer by delegation not to award the contract; expects the global price of the project not to exceed the EUR 482,7 million foreseen in October 2011;

78. Notes in this respect that all contracts promoted by the Parliament related to construction of buildings and fitting out works should be put to tender on the broadest possible base, and always at European level; recommends that, if, by way of exception, the negotiated procedure is used, prices should be based on construction costs, including strict reasonable margins for the economic operators;

79. Regrets that, for the second time, structural defects have been discovered in Parliament's buildings, this time in the wooden ceiling beams of Parliament's Brussels Chamber; calls on DG INLO to make a full review of the structural situation of all of Parliament's buildings starting with those ones which still are guaranteed by the project developer against hidden faults, if possible with the support of a few selected experts from the national building offices of different Members States, making full use of in-house accumulated knowledge; calls on the Secretary-General to present a plan to the Bureau soon with all the technical details for these works plus the costs involved;

Public procurement

80. Underlines that it is essential that public procurement processes are consistent with and help to meet Parliament's needs; stresses that they should comply with the regulatory requirements and the fundamental principles governing public procurement, with the contract provisions and with the criteria used in the tender evaluation procedure, and be subject to adequate control systems to monitor the execution of orders issued using the framework contracts;

81. Draws attention to the fact that, during public procurement procedures, different interest are involved, but not always aligned between the public and the private sector and that public procurement is a high-risk area which requires continuous close attention and where constant advanced planning of the needs is critical;

82. Underlines that, as a result of a complex legal environment and highly complex factual necessities, there are, at each stage of the procurement process (initially assessing needs, preparing the call for tender, drawing up the calls for tender and the specifications, contacting tenderers, opening of tenders, evaluating tenders, taking the award decision, concluding contracts) significant risks to the achievement of objectives;

83. Recalls that during public procurement the likelihood of potential conflicts of interest should not be dismissed but addressed properly and that Parliament should reinforce and maintain in place its verification mechanisms to enable a proper management and prevention of potential conflicts of interest;

84. Notes that, in 2011 and 2012, the Internal Audit Service carried out a comprehensive audit of the public procurement process and of contract implementation in DG ITEC and that the final report adopted on June 2012 comprised a six-point action plan to address the issues raised, notes further that it was agreed with DG ITEC's management that that action plan would be implemented by 31 December 2012; points out that that tender specification are by nature highly complex in that they combined multiple lots, technical profiles and contract implementation methods;

85. Welcomes the fact that the audit referred to concluded that DG ITEC has succeeded in remedying many of the procedural deficiencies observed during the first transversal audit of procurement in 2005 and 2006; notes with regret, however, that the following shortcomings were identified:

-    that there were inefficiencies in the complex approach to the ITS 08 procurement procedure;

-    that there is significant scope for increasing the proportion of IT services provided off-site; and

-    that the recourse to exceptional negotiated procedures needs to be better substantiated and that the outcome of negotiation is based on documented analyses that are measurable against relevant value-for-money benchmarks ;

Annual report on contracts awarded

86. Notes that central services established, on the basis of information provided by authorising departments, the annual report(28) to the budgetary authority on contracts awarded in 2011 and further notes the following breakdown of all contracts awarded in 2011 and 2010:

Type of contract

2011

2010

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Services

Supplies

Works

Building

162

42

29

5

68 %

18 %

12 %

2 %

145

40

27

4

67 %

19 %

12 %

2 %

Total

238

100 %

216

100 %

Type of contract

2011

2010

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Services

Supplies

Works

Building

367 969 100

158 467 814

33 142 238

15 881 213

64 %

27 %

6%

3 %

171 589 038

45 467 211

22 128 146

22 269 303

67 %

17 %

8%

9 %

Total

575 460 365

100 %

261 453 698

100 %

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2011, p. 5)

87. Notes the breakdown of contracts awarded in 2011 and 2010 by type of procedure used as follows:

Type of procedure

2011

2010

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exception

89

11

133

2

3

37 %

5 %

56 %

1 %

1 %

72

6

138

33 %

3 %

64 %

Total

238

100 %

216

100 %

Type of procedure

2011

2010

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exception

408 913 061

126 310 563

30 974 647

4 668 600

4 593 494

71 %

22 %

5 %

1 %

1 %

143 603 024

10 456 576

107 394 098

55 %

4 %

41 %

Total

575 460 365

100 %

261 453 698

100 %

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2011, pp. 6-7)

88. Notes that, of a total of 238 contracts awarded in 2011, 100, with a value of EUR 535 million, were based on open or restricted procedures, and 133, with a value of EUR 31 million, were based on negotiated procedures;

Political Groups (budget item 4 0 0 )

89. Notes that, in 2011, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 0 were used as follows:

Group

2011

2010

Annual appropriations*

Own resources and carried-over appropriations

Expenditure

Rate of use of annual appropriations

Amounts carried over to next period

Annual appropriations

Own resources and carried-over appropriations

Expenditure

Rate of use of annual appropriations

Amounts carried over to next period (2011)

EPP (formerly EPP-ED)

20 336

1 918

20 442

100,42 %

1 832

19 990

2 392

20 662

103,36 %

1 720

S&D (formerly PSE)

14 302

5 499

13 696

95,76 %

6 105

14 011

4 629

13 359

95,35 %

5 281

ALDE

6 477

2 416

6 676

103,07 %

2 217

6 262

2 240

6 160

98,37 %

2 342

Greens/EFA

4 025

1 242

3 820

94,91 %

1 447

3 896

1 188

3 893

99,92 %

1 191

GUE/NGL

2 535

1 088

2 553

100,71 %

1 070

2 531

1 065

2 525

99,76 %

1 071

UEN

-

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

IND/DEM

-

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

ECR

3 831

720

3 375

88,09 %

1 176

3 648

398

3362

92,16 %

684

EFD

2 088

835

2 046

98,03 %

876

2 201

419

1799

81,74 %

821

Non-attached Members

1 270

409

924

72,72 %

413

1 234

248

828

67,10 %

409

Total

54 866

14 126

53 514

97,53 %

15 137

53 773

12 579

52 588

97,80 %

13 519

*          all amounts in thousand EUR

After the European elections in 2009 the UEN and IND/DEM groups ceased to exist and two new groups ECR and EFD were created.

 

European Political Parties and European Political Foundations

90. Notes that, in 2011, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 2 were used as follows(29):

Party

Abbreviation

Own resources*

EP grant

Total revenue

EP grant as % of eligible expenditure (max. 85 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserves) or loss

European People's Party

EPP

1 801

6 184

7 985

85 %

269

Party of European Socialists

PES

939

4 118

5 057

85 %

51

European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party

ELDR

672

1 816

2 488

85 %

52

European Green Party

EGP

686

1 299

1 985

84 %

204

Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists

AECR

204

633

837

85 %

0

Party of the European Left

EL

241

847

1 088

85 %

64

European Democratic Party

EDP/PDE

73

371

444

85 %

0

European Free Alliance

EFA

128

392

520

85 %

8

EUDemocrats

EUD

20

167

187

85 %

-19

European Christian Political Movement

ECPM

72

260

332

84 %

4

European Alliance for Freedom

EAF

71

368

439

85 %

6

Total

 

4 907

16 455

21 362

85 %

639

(*)          all amounts in thousand EUR

91. Notes that, in 2011, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 3 were used as follows(30):

Foundation

Abbreviation

Affiliated to party

Own resources*

EP grant

Total revenue

EP grant as % of eligible expenditure (max. 85 %)

Centre for European Studies

CES

EPP

711

3 865

4 575

85 %

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

FEPS

PES

514

2 709

3 223

85 %

European Liberal Forum

ELF

ELDR

146

805

951

85 %

Green European Foundation

GEF

EGP

152

851

1 002

85 %

Transform Europe

TE

EL

134

549

683

85 %

Institute of European Democrats

IED

PDE

35

191

226

85 %

Organisation For European Interstate Cooperation

OEIC

EUD

7

108

116

85 %

Centre Maurits Coppieters

CMC

EFA

44

250

294

85 %

New Direction

ND

AECR

114

566

680

85 %

European Christian Political Foundation

ECPF

ECPM

25

115

140

82 %

European Foundation for Freedom

EFF

EAF

51

236

287

82 %

Total

 

 

1 933

10 244

12 177

85 %

(*)          all amounts in thousand EUR

Environment-friendly Parliament

92. Takes note that that the Parliament has 10 EP service bicycles available for Members and staff during the Strasbourg sessions, in addition to the 40 bicycles made available by the city of Strasbourg; reiterates it's request that these figures should experience a reasonable increase in view of the limited costs involved and strong demand;

93. Takes the view that the possibility should be considered of making both environmental improvements and smart savings in Parliament’s budget by means of different working methods and modern technologies which are greener and cheaper but which do not detract from Parliament’s work, including the use of teleconferences;

94. Would like to be informed about the total kWh produced by Parliament's solar panels;

95. Reiterates its support for the pilot project on E-committee; strongly suggests that Members should be given the option in this context to choose whether or not to receive paper documentation in Committee meetings in order to significantly reduce the use of paper in Parliament.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

18.3.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

25

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Marta Andreasen, Jean-Pierre Audy, Inés Ayala Sender, Zuzana Brzobohatá, Andrea Češková, Ryszard Czarnecki, Tamás Deutsch, Martin Ehrenhauser, Jens Geier, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Ingeborg Gräßle, Jan Mulder, Eva Ortiz Vilella, Monika Panayotova, Aldo Patriciello, Paul Rübig, Petri Sarvamaa, Bart Staes, Georgios Stavrakakis, Søren Bo Søndergaard

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Edit Herczog, Ivailo Kalfin, Markus Pieper, Olle Schmidt, Derek Vaughan

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Birgit Collin-Langen, Peter Jahr

(1)

              OJ L 68, 15.3.2011.

(2)

              OJ C 348, 14.11.2012, p. 1.

(3)

              OJ C 164, 9.6.2012, p. 1.

(4)

              OJ C 344, 12.11.2012, p. 1.

(5)

              OJ C 348, 14.11.2012, p. 130.

(6)

         OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(7)

              JO L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(8)

              PE 349.540/Bur/ann/def.

(9)

              OJ C 4 E, 7.1.2011, p. 20.

(10)

         OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 258.

(11)

            OJ L 68, 15.3.2011.

(12)

            OJ C 348, 14.11.2012, p. 1.

(13)

            OJ C 164, 9.6.2012, p. 1.

(14)

            OJ C 344, 12.11.2012, p. 1.

(15)

            OJ C 348, 14.11.2012, p. 130.

(16)

        OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(17)

            JO L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(18)

            PE 349.540/Bur/ann/def.

(19)

            OJ C 4 E , 7.1.2011, p. 20.

(20)

            OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 258.

(21)

          OJ C 344, 12.11.2012, p. 215.

(22)

           Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0048.

(23)

         Report on budgetary and financial management - Section I - European Parliament - Financial year 2011 (OJ C 164, 9.6. 2012, p. 1).

(24)

Automatic carry-overs: EUR 231 028 630, non-automatic carry-overs: EUR 9 240 000.

(25)

            Direct visits per month on the website: 2010: 30 000; 2011: 39 559.

(26)

            The figures in 2011: EUR 573 722; the figures in 2010: EUR 380 666

(27)

           OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15.

(28)

         Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201109/20110913ATT26546/20110913ATT26546EN.pdf

(29)

         Source: Bureau minutes i) of 26 June 2012, point 34 (SG note D(2012)31558, PE469.487/BUR) and ii) of 30 August 2012, point 26 (SG noteD(2012)42643.

(30)

         Source: Bureau minutes i) of 26 June 2012, point 34 (SG note D(2012)31558, PE469.487/BUR) and ii) of 30 August 2012, point 26 (SG noteD(2012)42643.

Last updated: 25 March 2013Legal notice