Procedure : 2013/2220(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0219/2014

Texts tabled :

A7-0219/2014

Debates :

PV 02/04/2014 - 24
CRE 02/04/2014 - 24

Votes :

PV 03/04/2014 - 7.36

Texts adopted :


REPORT     
PDF 194kWORD 94k
21 March 2014
PE 521.664v02-00 A7-0219/2014

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012

(C7-0298/2013 – 2013/2220(DEC))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Petri Sarvamaa

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

1. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012

(C7-0298/2013 – 2013/2220(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012,

–   having regard to the Court of Auditors' report on the annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012, together with the Authority's replies(1),

–   having regard to the Council's recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 - C7-0054/2014),

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

–   having regard to the Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2), and in particular Article 185 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(3), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Food Safety Authority(4), and in particular Article 44 thereof,

–   having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5),

–   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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–   having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0219/2014),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority discharge in respect of the implementation of the Authority's budget for the financial year 2012;

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 of it to the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority, 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. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the closure of the accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012

(C7-0298/2013 – 2013/2220(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012,

–   having regard to the Court of Auditors' report on the annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012, together with the Authority's replies(7),

–   having regard to the Council's recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 - C7-0054/2014),

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

–   having regard to the Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(8), and in particular Article 185 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(9), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Food Safety Authority(10), and in particular Article 44 thereof,

–   having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(11),

–   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(12), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–   having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0219/2014),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this Decision to the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority, 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. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

with observations forming an integral part of its Decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012

(C7-0298/2013 – 2013/2220(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012,

–   having regard to the Court of Auditors' report on the annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012, together with the Authority's replies(13),

–   having regard to the Council's recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 - C7-0054/2014),

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

–   having regard to the Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(14) ("the Financial Regulation"), and in particular Article 185 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(15), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Food Safety Authority(16), and in particular Article 44 thereof,

–   having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(17),

–   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(18), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–   having regard to its previous discharge decisions and resolutions,

–   having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0219/2014),

A. whereas according to its financial statements, the final budget of the European Food Safety Authority (“the Authority”) for the financial year 2012 was EUR 78 279 000, representing an increase of 1,25 % compared to 2011; whereas that amount represents 0,056 % of the overall Union budget; whereas the Authority's entire budget derives from the Union budget,

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Authority’s annual accounts for the financial year 2012 are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular,

Follow-up of 2011 discharge

1.  Notes from the Court of Auditors’ report that corrective actions taken in response to the previous year's comments are marked as 'ongoing';

2.  Acknowledges from the Authority that:

- improvements in budgetary planning resulted in reduced transfers from chapter to chapter and from Title I to Title II, compared to the previous financial year (transfers were reduced from 6,81 % to 2,75 % of the total budget),

- in order to improve the management of conflicts of interest situations, the Authority adopted a new policy on independence and scientific decision-making process in December 2011, followed by the adoption of implementing rules in March 2012,

- in the interest of preventing the Authority's staff from moving directly from their position to work in a similar post in the industry or a related lobbying group or vice versa, the Authority has implemented a decision of its Executive Director under which staff members leaving the Authority are required to inform their employer of negotiations with prospective employers and of any change in circumstances linked to their post within two years after leaving service; notes that the Executive Director may approve, conditionally approve or forbid the activity;

Budget and financial management

3.  Notes that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2012 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 99,30 % and that the payment appropriations execution rate was 88,00 %; notes that in comparison with 2011, the amounts committed and paid out in 2012 increased by 2,1 % and 8,6 % respectively;

4. Acknowledges that the relocation of the Authority to its new premises generated savings amounting to EUR 3 940 000 and that that amount was reallocated to operational activities such as scientific cooperation and the recruitment of scientific staff;

Reliability of the accounts

5.  Notes that the Court of Auditors found, in its annual audit report for 2012, that the validation of the accounting systems by the Authority’s accounting officer covers the central ABAC and SAP systems, but not the local systems and the reliability of data exchanges between central and local systems, which represents a risk as to the reliability of accounting data; acknowledges that the risk did not materialise in the use of inaccurate data by the Authority's accounting officer; expects the Authority, however, to integrate its local systems in the validation process by its accounting officer;

Commitments and carryovers

6.  Notes that the Court of Auditors’ annual audit has found a high level of committed appropriations carried over for title II (EUR 2 300 000), which represents 22 % of title II appropriations, and for title III (EUR 5 600 000), which represents 30 % of title III appropriations; acknowledges that for title II, carry-overs made in conformity with the Authority’s management plan or related to payments suspended for reasons beyond the Authority’s control amounted to EUR 1 100 000; notes that for title III, carryovers made in conformity with the Authority’s management plan amounted to EUR 2 100 000 and that an amount of EUR 830 000 was carried-over for reasons beyond the Authority’s control; reminds the Authority that it should respect the principle of annuality;

Transfers

7.  Notes with satisfaction that according to the annual activity report, as well as the Court of Auditors’ audit findings, the level and nature of transfers in 2012 have remained within the limits of the financial rules; commends the Authority for its good budgetary planning;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

8.  Notes that for the year 2012, neither sampled transactions nor other audit findings have led to any comments on the Authority’s procurement procedures in the Court of Auditors’ annual audit report;

9.  Notes that the Court of Auditors made no comments in its annual audit report for 2012 as regards the Authority’s recruitment procedures;

10. Takes note that 342 posts out of 355 had been filled and that 124 contract agents and seconded national experts were employed by the Authority by the end of 2012; acknowledges the Authority's improved occupation rate compared to 2011;

11. Appreciates the public interest in the decision-making process within the Authority, which is done within its legal role and responsibilities; notes that it currently dedicates 70 % of its human resources to scientific activities, evaluation and data collection; encourages the Authority to progress further on this path;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

12. Believes that the procedure for assessing possible conflicts of interest at the Authority, where declarations of interest are screened by Heads of Unit and are generally assessed on a case by case basis, is burdensome and is subject to criticism, raising questions about its credibility and effectiveness; notes with concern that even a revised procedure has not helped dispel fears about the Authority’s expert impartiality; calls on the Authority to come up with a simplified procedure with less uncertainty which would validate and streamline the process and save both human resources and money without, however, jeopardising the newly set standards for the detection and prevention of conflicts of interests;

13. Welcomes the progress made by the Authority on its conflicts of interests policy; calls on the Authority to continue its work and to dedicate sufficient resources and staff to this matter, and to consider appointing specialised staff for the screening work on conflicts of interests;

14. Notes with concern that the Authority applies a less stringent conflicts of interest policy to experts from food safety organisations (FSOs), as the list which the Authority uses to indicate these FSOs includes institutes that are nominated by Member States and co-financed by private or undisclosed partners, creating a possible loophole;

15. Believes that the Authority should apply a two-year cooling-off period to all material interests related to the commercial agrifood sector, including research funding, consultancy contracts and decision-making positions in industry-captured organisations;

16. Believes that financial interests in particular should be dealt with the utmost care and that experts should be asked to declare whether their interests were remunerated or not; believes that if this is the case, the amount should be specified; is of the opinion that the current practice of experts anonymising their interests, for instance by using the expression “private company”, should not be accepted by the Authority;

17. Believes that that list should be revised by excluding organisations which receive more than 50 % of their funding from sources other than public sources, in order to avoid undue influence; notes that this currently appears to be the case only for the entries nominated by the Commission, while Member States use their own criteria; is of the opinion that experts should be allowed to cooperate with the Authority on the condition that they meet previously established criteria; expresses the opinion, however, that the status of FSO should not be extended to organisations and institutions which receive more than 50 % of their funding from private sources;

18. Acknowledges that the Authority has initiated a review of the implementation of its independence policy in the last quarter of 2013 and that the results will be available by October 2014; believes that the current declarations of interests forms could be further improved and should include information, inter alia, on: (i) whether the interest declared was remunerated, (ii) the amount of the remuneration, (iii) the participation in industry-linked conferences and the institution/person covering the expenses;

19. Regrets that the Management Board refused to elect its Chair and Vice-Chairs by open ballot, despite the recommendation of the discharge authority, and expects further transparency in this respect in the future electing procedure;

20. Observes that the Authority engaged in a structured dialogue with civil society on matters relating to conflicts of interests; views this development in a positive manner and calls on the Authority to hold structured dialogue regularly in the future;

21. Believes that the Authority should pay further attention to public opinion and to commit itself as much as possible to an open and transparent dialogue; welcomes the implementing rules for its Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes as adopted by the Authority's Management Board in December 2011; welcomes in this context the improved presentation and accessibility of information and documents on the Authority's homepage;

Internal audit

22. Acknowledges from the Authority that a number of potential critical risks were identified in the operation of the Authority’s internal controls, particularly in the areas of data management, business continuity and IT security, by a high level risk assessment carried out by an external consultant in 2012 and by the assessment performed by the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) in February 2013; notes that the Authority started a comprehensive self-assessment of its internal control system in 2012 and that the process of the implementation of corrective actions is on-going; expects the Authority to inform the discharge authority of the results of implementation of corrective actions;

Performance

23. Requests that the Authority communicate the results and impact its work has on European citizens in an accessible way, mainly through its website;

o

o         o

24. Refers, in respect of the other observations accompanying its Decision on discharge, which are of a horizontal nature, to its resolution of … 2014(19) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

27.1.2014

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

for the Committee on Budgetary Control

on the discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012

(2013/2220(DEC))

Rapporteur: Jutta Haug

SUGGESTIONS

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

1.        Notes that in 2012 an amount of EUR 78.3 million have been made available to the European Food Safety Authority through the General EU budget; likes to stress that this amount represents 0.056% of the overall EU budget; takes note that 342 posts out of 355 had been filled by the end of 2012 and that 124 contract agents and seconded national experts were employed by the Authority; acknowledges the improved occupation rate compared to 2011;

2.        Welcomes that the Court of Auditors announces the transactions underlying the annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2012 as legal and regular in all material respects;

3.        Recognises the three comments made by the Court of Auditors which focus on the reliability of accounting data, on internal controls and on budgetary management; is at the same time also aware of the Authority's reply; welcomes the Authority's comprehensive self-assessment of its internal control system in 2012, a process which is still on-going; notes further that carry-overs amounting to EUR 4.03 have been in conformity with the management plan or were related to payments suspended for reasons beyond the Authority's control; draws attention to additional carry-overs amounting to EUR 3.87 million for which a better budgetary management is required to be in conformity with the annuality principle;

4.        Advises to explore if the discharge decision should be based upon OECD guidelines to ensure high quality internationally recognised accounting, audit and financial disclosure standards; invites the European institutions to incorporate and commit to introducing OECD guidelines within a common framework for all European institutions and bodies if the assessment recommends so;

5.        4. Is especially aware of the public interest in the decision-making process within the Authority, which is done within its legal role and responsibilities; notes that the Authority is dedicating 70% of its human resources to scientific activities, evaluation and data collection; encourages the Authority to further progress on this path;

6.        Believes that the Authority shall further pay special attention to the public opinion and to commit itself as much as possible to an open and transparent dialogue; welcomes the implementing rules for its Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes as adopted by the Authority's Management Board in December 2011; welcomes in this context the improved presentation and accessibility of information and documents on the Authority's homepage;

7.        Recommends on the facts available that discharge can be granted to the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority in respect of the implementation of the Authority’s budget for the financial year 2012.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

22.1.2014

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

50

13

0

Members present for the final vote

Elena Oana Antonescu, Sophie Auconie, Pilar Ayuso, Paolo Bartolozzi, Sandrine Bélier, Lajos Bokros, Franco Bonanini, Biljana Borzan, Milan Cabrnoch, Martin Callanan, Yves Cochet, Spyros Danellis, Anne Delvaux, Bas Eickhout, Edite Estrela, Jill Evans, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Elisabetta Gardini, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Matthias Groote, Françoise Grossetête, Satu Hassi, Jolanta Emilia Hibner, Karin Kadenbach, Martin Kastler, Christa Klaß, Claus Larsen-Jensen, Jo Leinen, Peter Liese, Kartika Tamara Liotard, Zofija Mazej Kukovič, Linda McAvan, Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, Miroslav Ouzký, Vladko Todorov Panayotov, Gilles Pargneaux, Antonyia Parvanova, Andrés Perelló Rodríguez, Pavel Poc, Anna Rosbach, Oreste Rossi, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, Kārlis Šadurskis, Daciana Octavia Sârbu, Carl Schlyter, Horst Schnellhardt, Richard Seeber, Dubravka Šuica, Salvatore Tatarella, Thomas Ulmer, Glenis Willmott, Sabine Wils, Marina Yannakoudakis

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Gaston Franco, Jutta Haug, Filip Kaczmarek, Marusya Lyubcheva, Miroslav Mikolášik, Vittorio Prodi, Giancarlo Scottà, Alda Sousa, Vladimir Urutchev, Andrea Zanoni

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.3.2014

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

13

4

1

Members present for the final vote

Marta Andreasen, Jean-Pierre Audy, Zuzana Brzobohatá, Martin Ehrenhauser, Jens Geier, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Ingeborg Gräßle, Rina Ronja Kari, Monica Luisa Macovei, Jan Mulder, Eva Ortiz Vilella, Paul Rübig, Petri Sarvamaa, Bart Staes, Georgios Stavrakakis, Derek Vaughan

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Amelia Andersdotter, Markus Pieper

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

Thomas Ulmer

(1)

     OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 120.

(2)

     OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(3)

     OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(4)

     OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.

(5)

     OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.

(6)

     OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(7)

     OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 120.

(8)

     OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(9)

     OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(10)

   OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.

(11)

   OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.

(12)

   OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(13)

   OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 120.

(14)

   OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(15)

   OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(16)

   OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.

(17)

   OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.

(18)

   OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(19)

   Texts adopted, P7_TA-PROV(2014)…

Last updated: 24 March 2014Legal notice