Go back to the Europarl portal

Choisissez la langue de votre document :

  • bg - български
  • es - español
  • cs - čeština
  • da - dansk
  • de - Deutsch
  • et - eesti keel
  • el - ελληνικά
  • en - English (Selected)
  • fr - français
  • ga - Gaeilge
  • hr - hrvatski
  • it - italiano
  • lv - latviešu valoda
  • lt - lietuvių kalba
  • hu - magyar
  • mt - Malti
  • nl - Nederlands
  • pl - polski
  • pt - português
  • ro - română
  • sk - slovenčina
  • sl - slovenščina
  • fi - suomi
  • sv - svenska
<Date>{05/03/2020}5.3.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>A9-0079/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 221kWORD 84k

<TitreType>REPORT</TitreType>

<Titre>on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2018: performance, financial management and control</Titre>

<DocRef>(2019/2098(DEC))</DocRef>


<Commission>{CONT}Committee on Budgetary Control</Commission>

Rapporteur: <Depute>Ryszard Czarnecki</Depute>

1. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

1. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2018: performance, financial management and control

(2019/2098(DEC))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2018,

 having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2017 financial year (COM(2019)0334),

 having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the annual accounts of the agencies for the financial year 2018, together with the agencies’ replies[1],

 having regard to the European Court of Auditors Rapid case review “Reporting on sustainability: A stocktake of EU Institutions and Agencies”,

 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[2], and in particular Article 1(2) and Article 208 thereof,

 having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU, and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012[3] and in particular Articles 68 and 70 thereof,

 having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council[4], and in particular Article 110 thereof,

 having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the TFEU and Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council[5], and in particular Article 105 thereof,

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

 having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0079/2020),

 

A. whereas this resolution contains, for each body within the meaning of Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 2018/1046, cross-cutting observations accompanying the discharge decisions in accordance with Article 110 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 and Article 3 of Annex V to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure;

B. whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority stresses the importance of further strengthening the concept of performance-based budgeting, accountability of Union institutions and good governance of human resources;

1. Emphasises that the agencies have significant influence on policy, decision making and programme implementation in areas of vital importance to European citizens, such as security, safety, health, research, economic affairs, freedom and justice; reiterates the importance of the tasks performed by the agencies and their direct impact on the daily lives of Union citizens; reiterates also the importance of the autonomy of the agencies, in particular the autonomy of the regulatory agencies and those agencies which have the function of independent collection of information; recalls that the main reasons for establishing the agencies were for operating Union systems, facilitating the implementation of the European Single Market and making independent technical or scientific assessments; welcomes in this regard the effective overall performance of the agencies;

2. Welcomes the visible progress made by the agencies in their efforts to respond to the demands and recommendations expressed within the annual discharge procedures; notes with satisfaction that, according to the annual report of the European Court of Auditors’ (the 'Court') on Union agencies for the financial year 2018 (the 'Court’s report'), the Court issued an unqualified audit opinion on the reliability of the accounts of all agencies; notes in addition that the Court issued an unqualified opinion on the legality and regularity of the revenue underlying the accounts for all agencies; observes that the Court issued an unqualified opinion on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts for all agencies, except in the case of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO); notes that for EASO the Court issued a basis for a qualified opinion in relation to its findings for the financial years 2016 and 2017 in respect of the legality and regularity of the payments, but that except for the effects of the financial years 2016 and 2017, the Court is of the opinion that the EASO payments underlying the annual accounts for the year ended 31 December 2018 are legal and regular in all material aspects; acknowledges the continued progress made by EASO in delivering reforms and corrective action plans;

3. Notes that for the 32 decentralised Union agencies, the 2018 budgets amounted to around EUR 2 590 000 000 in commitment appropriations, representing an increase of approximately 10,22 % compared to 2017, and to EUR 2 360 000 000 in payment appropriations, showing an increase of 5,13 % in comparison to 2017; notes moreover that of the EUR 2 360 000 000, some EUR 1 700 000 000 were financed from the general budget of the Union, representing 72,16 % of the agencies’ total financing in 2018 (72,08 % in 2017); acknowledges furthermore that some EUR 657 000 000 were financed by fees and charges and by direct contributions from participating countries;

4. Recalls its request to streamline and accelerate the discharge procedure with a view to deciding on granting discharge in the year immediately following the year for which the discharge is granted and closing the procedure within the year following the accounting year in question; welcomes in this regard the positive efforts made and the good cooperation with the European Union Agencies Network (the 'Network') and the individual agencies, and in particular with the Court, showing clear potential for streamlining and accelerating the procedure on their part; appreciates the progress made so far and invites all relevant actors to continue their efforts towards further advancing the procedure;

Main risks and recommendations identified by the Court

5. Notes with satisfaction that according to its report, the Court considers the overall risk to the reliability of agencies’ accounts, based on international accounting standards, to be low, and that only a few material errors arose in the past; notes, however, that the increasing number of delegation agreements, whereby the Commission assigns specific additional tasks and revenue to agencies, represent a challenge in terms of the consistency and transparency of the treatment of agencies’ accounts;

6. Notes that according to its report, the Court considers the overall risk to the legality and regularity of revenue underlying the agencies’ accounts to be low for the majority of agencies, and to be medium for the partly self-financed agencies where specific regulations are applicable to the charging and collecting of fees and contributions from economic operators or cooperating countries; notes that the Court considers the overall risk to the legality and regularity of transactions underlying the agencies’ accounts to be medium, varying from low to high for specific budget titles; notes that the risk for Title I (staff expenditure) is generally low, for Title II (administrative expenditure) the risk is considered to be medium, and for Title III (operational expenditure) the risk is considered to be low to high, depending on the agency in question and the nature of its operational expenditure; points out that high risk sources usually derive from procurement and grant payments which should be taken into account when the Court decides on a sample of future checks and audits;

7. Observes that, according to the Court’s report, the risk to sound financial management is medium and is identified mainly in the areas of information technology (IT) and public procurement; regrets that IT and public procurement remain areas prone to error; reiterates its call on the Commission to provide for additional training and exchange of good practices for Agencies' procurement teams;

8. Stresses that the necessity to have separate administrative structures and procedures for each agency constitutes an inherent risk to administrative inefficiency and urges agencies to strengthen thematic bundling and cooperation in accordance with their fields of policy to ensure harmonisation and efficient sharing of resources; calls on the agencies to make additional efforts towards widening the scope of their shared services thereby improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their procedures;

9. Highlights the problem whereby dual operational and administrative headquarters do not offer operational added value for the agencies and encourages further action to limit the inefficiencies; encourages agencies to co-locate while concentrating on their specific policy fields; notes that the Commission is responsible for providing proposals regarding possible mergers, closures and/or transfers of tasks;

10. Notes, according to the Court’s report, that, following observations raised in previous years and due to known Union policy developments in certain areas, the risk identified in relation to the level of cooperation of Member States is high for some agencies, namely the European Borders and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), EASO, and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA); reiterates its call on the Commission to put these issues on the agenda of Council with a view to strengthening Member States' cooperation;

11. Acknowledges that the effective, efficient and error-free work of the agencies is closely linked to an adequate level of funding to cover their operational and administrative activities;

Budget and financial management

12. Notes the Network’s reply in support of Parliament’s invitation to provide the Union institutions with constructive feedback in the framework of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations and that each agency was invited to perform an analysis of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 proposal by the Commission;

13. Notes that the level of detail provided in the audited budgetary implementation reports of certain agencies differs from that of the majority of agencies, which demonstrates the need for clear guidelines on agencies’ budget reporting; acknowledges the efforts made to ensure consistency in the presentation and reporting of accounts; observes, again this year, discrepancies in information and documents disclosed by the agencies, especially regarding staff-related figures, including in reports on the establishment plan (posts filled, or maximum posts authorised, under the Union budget); notes the reply from the Network that it is following the guidelines from the Commission, which are currently being revised following the new Financial Framework Regulation and are expected before the end of 2019; furthermore, reiterates its calls on the Commission in the coming years to automatically provide the discharge authority with the official budget (in commitment appropriations and in payment appropriations) and staff figures (establishment plan, contract agents and seconded national experts as of 31 December of the year in question) in respect of the 32 decentralised agencies;

Performance

14. Encourages the agencies and the Commission to further develop and implement the principle of performance-based budgeting, to consistently seek the most effective ways to provide added value, and to explore possible improvements in efficiency in relation to resources management; notes the Court’s suggestion that the publication of agency budgets by activity would allow the linking of resources to the activities for which they are used, and would facilitate easier budget allocation, efficacy and would limit unnecessary expenses;

15. Notes with satisfaction that the Network was set up by the agencies as an inter-agency cooperative platform to enhance the agencies’ visibility, to identify and promote improvements in efficiency and to add value; recognises the added value of the Network in its cooperation with Parliament and welcomes its efforts in coordinating, collecting and consolidating actions and information for the benefit of Union institutions; furthermore appreciates the guidance provided by the Network to the agencies in their efforts to optimise their capacity to plan, monitor and report on results, budget and resources used;

16. Notes with satisfaction that some agencies cooperate effectively according to their thematic grouping  (for example the Justice and Home Affairsagencies[6] and the European Supervisory Authorities[7]); encourages other agencies to increase cooperation with each other wherever possible, not only in establishing shared services and synergies, but in their common policy areas as well; notes that the majority of agencies focus and strive on enhancing synergies and sharing resources; notes that the Network has established an online catalogue of shared services (mainly IT services) and that in 2018, a pilot programme was developed to monitor the use and benefit of shared services and that this has been extended in 2019 to all shared services;

17. Notes that, according to the Court’s report, in 2018, some progress was made in relation to the introduction of SYSPER II (the human resources management tool developed by the Commission), with five additional agencies signed up to it in 2018; notes, however, that progress in its implementation varies, due to the project being complex and each agency having its own specificities; invites the Commission therefore to assist in ensuring that good use is made of the tool; notes furthermore that satisfactory progress was made in the introduction of e-procurement; notes however that a number of agencies are still in the process of introducing the tools for electronic invoicing developed by the Commission;

18. Expresses its concern that only one Union agency, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, publishes a sustainability report; calls on all agencies to fully integrate sustainability in their reporting information, to publish sustainability reports covering both the running of the organisation and the operations carried out, and to ensure the reliability of sustainability reporting through auditing;

19. Underlines that Union agencies, when carrying out their activities, needs to pay particular attention to ensuring compatibility with Union law, respecting the principle of proportionality and complying with the fundamental principles of the internal market;

20. Encourages the agencies to pursue the development of a coherent  policy for the digitalisation of its services;

Staff policy

21. Notes that the 32 decentralised agencies employed a total of 7 626 officials, temporary agents, contract agents and seconded national experts in 2018 (7 324 in 2017), representing an increase of 3,74 % compared with the previous year;

22. Notes that in 2018, at the level of senior management, an even gender balance was achieved by 6 agencies, a good balance was achieved by 4 agencies, but that unbalanced representation existed in 14 agencies (one of them featured only male representation); calls on the agencies to increase their efforts towards better gender balance among management staff;

23. Notes further that in 2018, within management boards, an even gender balance existed for 3 agencies, a good balance existed for 6 agencies, but that unbalanced representation existed for 21 agencies (one of them featuring only male representation); asks the member states and the relevant organisations which participate in management boards to bear in mind the necessity for a better gender balance when nominating their representatives to these bodies;

24. Observes that only one agency, ESMA, has reported an even gender balance for both senior management staff and the management board; welcomes this achievement and encourages the other agencies to follow this good example;

25. Notes the information provided by the agencies concerning the gender balance among senior management and within management boards, and the remarks by some agencies that they have no senior management apart from the executive director; asks in this regard that the agencies in future present data for all categories of management staff;

26. Encourages the agencies to develop a long term human resources policy framework which addresses the work-life balance of its staff, lifelong guidance and career development, gender balance, teleworking, non-discrimination, geographical balance and the recruitment and integration of disabled people;

27. Notes the conclusion in the Court’s report that, following its rapid case review in 2017 on how agencies implemented the commitment made to cut 5 % of staff in their establishment plans for the period 2014-2018, that the 5 % reduction had been implemented, albeit with some delays;

28. Notes that some of the agencies are facing the challenge of insufficient staff, especially when new tasks are allocated without additional personnel envisaged for their implementation. The discharge authority is concerned specifically with the difficulties that some agencies experience in hiring qualified staff at specific grades, which hinders the overall performance of the agencies and necessitates the employment of external actors;

29. Recognises the steps towards establishing a harassment-free environment taken by the agencies, such as the additional training for staff and management as well as the introduction of confidential counsellors; encourages agencies which have not yet introduced such steps to do so; and encourages agencies which have received harassment-related complains to treat these as a priority;

30. Notes that the agencies continuously monitor and assess their staffing levels and their needs in terms of additional human and financial resources, and that they make relevant requests where necessary; acknowledges that such requests should be subject to a wider inter-institutional process, so that the level of resources corresponds to the tasks and responsibilities of the agencies;

31. Stresses the importance of a staff well-being policy; stresses that agencies should provide for decent, high quality working conditions for all staff;

32. Notes that, according to the Court’s report, payments in its audit samples indicate a trend towards compensating for shortages in its own statutory staff by external staff (particularly IT consultants) working in the premises of the agencies at times, and involves the use of contract and interim staff; notes that five agencies engaged in the use of interim workers provided by registered temporary work agencies, but did not respect all the rules laid down in both the Directive 2008/104/EC[8] and in the respective national law (for instance as regards working conditions for interim workers); notes that three agencies used contracts for the provision of IT and other consultancy services which were formulated and/or implemented in a way that, in practice, might result in the assignment (‘mise à disposition’) of temporary agency workers instead of the provision of clearly specified services or products and as required by Directive 2008/104/EC[9], and by Staff Regulations and social and employment rules, thereby exposing these agencies to legal and reputational risks; calls on the Network to introduce a general policy to preclude the replacement of  permanent staff by more expensive external consultants;

33. Notes with concern findings by the Court that in some agencies interim workers have poorer working conditions than workers employed directly by the agency; recalls that, according to Directive 2008/104/EC and several national labour laws, interim workers should work under the same working conditions as workers employed directly by the user undertaking; calls on the agencies concerned to analyse the working conditions of its interim workers and ensure that they are in line with Union and national labour law

34. Notes the very low number of whistleblower cases in Union agencies, raising concerns of staff not being aware of existing rules, or a lack of trust in the system; calls for the  bringing of whistleblower protection policies of all Union agencies into line with Directive (EU) 2019/1937[10]; urges the agencies to effectively utilise their established internal rules or guidelines on whistleblowing; and calls on the agencies that are still in the process of adopting such rules to do so without unnecessary delay;

 

35. Calls on all agencies to disclose their level of annual staff turnover and average levels of absence from work due to sick leave and to clearly indicate the positions which are occupied on 31 December of the relevant year, in order to ensure inter-agency comparability;

36. Reiterates its call on the Commission to review how the salary coefficient for staff working in different Member States is calculated with the aim of providing for a better geographical balance of staff in agencies;

37. Notes with concern that low correction coefficients applied to staff salaries create difficult situations that may hamper an agency's ability to effectively perform its daily duties and may lead to high levels of staff turnover; stresses that agencies located in countries where a low correction coefficient is applied should receive further support from the Commission in implementing complementary measures in order to make them more attractive to current and prospective staff, such as establishing European schools and other facilities; calls on the Commission to assess the impact and viability of applying salary correction coefficients in the future;

38. Notes that most agencies do not publish their vacancy notices on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO); takes note of the concern regarding high translation costs; welcomes in this regard the inter-agency job board launched and maintained by the Network and invites all agencies to take advantage of the platform;

39. Encourages the Union agencies that do not have a fundamental rights strategy to consider adopting one, including making a reference to fundamental rights in a code of conduct that could define the duties of their staff and training for staff; recommends that effective prevention policies should be implemented and efficient procedures found to resolve harassment issues;

Procurement

40. Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s report, shortcomings were found related to excessive dependency on contractors, external consultancy and interims, to the use of inadequate award criteria and to the conclusion of contracts with abnormally low tenderers without reasonable justification; notes that several agencies have outsourced, extensively, regular activities and, occasionally, core business activities, thereby weakening internal expertise and control over contract execution, with some weakening in the procurement process which may impair fair competition and the achievement of best value for money procurements; recommends an adequate ratio between price and quality when awarding contracts, an optimal design of framework contracts, justified intermediary services and the use of detailed framework contracts notes that for six agencies the framework contract terms for the provision of IT maintenance and equipment were weak, as they allowed the purchase of items which were not specifically mentioned therein and were not subject to an initial competitive procedure, and it also allowed the contractor to charge uplifts on the prices of items purchased from other suppliers; notes that although agencies have no power to change the basic contractual arrangements, their related ex-ante controls did not check the accuracy of the up-lifts charged by the contractor; calls on all agencies and bodies of the Union to strictly abide by public procurement rules; underlines that digitalisation is a great opportunity for agencies to increase efficiency and transparency, including in the field of procurement; calls, therefore, on all agencies and bodies to rapidly finalise and implement e-tendering, e-submission, e-invoicing and e-forms for public procurement; asks the Commission and the agencies to address necessary improvements in procurement teams as a matter of urgency, taking into account that the problem persists and needs to be addressed systemically;

41. Considers that agencies, bodies and institutions of the Union must set an example in terms of transparency; calls therefore for the publication of the full lists of contracts awarded through public procurement procedures, including those below the 15.000 EUR threshold legally required;

42. Notes that the decentralised agencies and other bodies, together with the eight Union joint undertakings, push for increased administrative efficiency and economies of scale through an increased use of joint procurement procedures; notes, however, that despite the promising trend, attempts for joint procurement procedures were not always successful, for instance due to inadequate market analysis;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

43. Notes that on 2 April 2019 a workshop was organised at the request of Parliament’s Committee on Petitions on "Conflicts of Interest: Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in EU institutions and agencies" in the course of which the preliminary findings of an upcoming study on "Conflicts of interests and EU Agencies" were presented; regrets that the study, whose date of presentation was supposed to be in July 2019, was published only in January 2020; notes that the study provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of the policies on avoidance of conflicts of interest in the different agencies and also that it makes recommendations in relation to improved scrutiny of conflict of interest policies in agencies; calls on the Network to report to the discharge authority on developments in the application of conflict of interest regulations and policies, and on possible changes in terms of such regulations and policies;

44. Notes with concern that not all agencies and bodies of the Union have published on their respective websites the declarations of interest for members of the management boards, executive leadership and seconded experts; regrets that some agencies still publish declarations of absence of conflict of interest; highlights that it is not up to the board members or executives to declare themselves to have an absence of conflict of interest; calls for a unified model of declarations of interest to be implemented by all agencies; stresses the importance of establishing an independent ethics body to assess conflict of interest and revolving door situations throughout the institutions, agencies and other bodies of the Union; urges the Member States to ensure that all seconded experts publish their respective declarations of interest and CVs on the respective agency websites;

45. Reiterates that an insufficiently detailed conflict of interests policy may result in a loss of credibility of an agency; upholds that the starting point for all of these policies is the submission of regular and sufficiently detailed declarations of interests; stresses in this regard that moving towards positive declarations of interests instead of declarations of absence of interests would allow for more comprehensive controls; stresses that in addition to this,  Union agencies should have a conflict of interests screening mechanism in place, proportionate to the size and function of that agency;

46. Calls on all agencies to participate in the interinstitutional agreement on the transparency register for interest representatives under negotiation between the Commission, the Council and Parliament;

47. Considers it regrettable that there are still no clear guidelines and that there is no consolidated policy on the revolving doors issue; stresses the fact that this issue is of key importance, particularly in the case of those agencies working with industries; calls on the Commission to provide stronger rules, better controls and clearer guidelines on cooling-off periods for out-going staff, as well as other revolving-doors related measures;

48. Welcomes the fact that most agencies, except the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT) and the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) have guidelines in place for granting public access to documents; notes, however, that CdT envisages having guidelines in place and that eu-LISA is going to develop internal rules on how to handle requests to access public documents and will endeavour to adopt them in 2020;

49. Reiterates its concern that agencies which receive a large part of their revenues as fees paid by the industry are more prone to the risk of the conflict of interests and their professional independence; calls on the agencies and the Commission to reduce  dependency on industry fees;

50. Reiterates its call on the agencies to implement a comprehensive and horizontal policy concerning the avoidance of conflicts of interest, and to use ECHA’s independence policy as a model of best practice and an exemplary system for monitoring and preventing any conflicts of interest; encourages all agencies to set up a conflicts of interest advisory committee;

Internal controls

51. Acknowledges the Court’s comment that when using interinstitutional contracts, agencies remain responsible for the application of public procurement principles for their specific purchases, and that agencies’ internal controls must ensure they are respected;

52. Notes that at the end of 2018, the boards of 29 agencies had adopted the Commission’s revised internal control framework, and that 15 agencies also reported its implementation; calls for the adoption and implementation of the internal control framework by all agencies in order to align control standards to the highest international standards and to make sure that internal controls support decision making effectively and efficiently;

53. Notes that, according to the Court’s report, some agencies do not have policies in place defining their sensitive functions and related mitigating controls (which aim to reduce the risk of the misuse of powers delegated to staff and which should be a standard element of internal control); urges those agencies therefore to adopt such policies;

Other comments

54. Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the agencies previously based in London (the European Baking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA)) were relocated from the United Kingdom in 2019 and that their accounts include provisions for the related removal costs; notes, furthermore, in the case of EMA, that the Court referred to developments following the lease agreement of the agency and the ruling of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales; notes the contingent liability of EUR 465 000 000 left following the conclusion of the new sublease agreement and the uncertainty about the total loss of staff following the relocation; in addition, notes with concern that for both agencies, the Court also referred to possible decreases in revenue following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union;

55. Welcomes the Court’s Rapid case review "Reporting on sustainability: A stocktake of EU Institutions and Agencies"; reiterates its findings that the information collected or published mainly relates to how the running of the organisation affects sustainability (such as their internal use of paper or water) rather than on how they have considered sustainability in their overall strategy and operations; stresses that such internally-focused reporting does not capture the most essential issues for an organisation; calls on all agencies to take stock of the adverse impact on sustainability produced by its operations, and to include this in a structural way in their sustainability reporting.

56. Encourages strongly the agencies to implement the Court's recommendations

57. Stresses the urgent need to direct the focus of the agencies towards disseminating the results of their research and work to the general public, and to reach out to public via  social media and other media outlets in order to raise awareness of their operations; recalls the general lack of awareness of citizens about the agencies even within the country in which they operate ; appeals to the agencies to reach out to people more effectively and frequently;

 58. Stresses the possible negative effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on the organisation, operations and accounts of the agencies, specifically when it comes to a reduction in direct contributions; urges the Commission to act with extreme diligence when handling risk prevention and risk mitigation for the agencies;

59. Welcomes the creation of the European Labour Authority (ELA), whose founding regulation came into effect in March 2018 and which started its operation in October 2019; highlights the need to ensure that sufficient financial resources are set aside for its establishment; insists that funding cannot be accomplished by redeploying allocations from the other employment and social affairs agencies and budgetary lines, and that the ELA, being a new body, requires fresh resources to run smoothly; stresses in particular that the establishment of ELA should not result in a reduction of resources and capabilities for European Employment Services (EURES), which plays a pivotal role in facilitating labour mobility of Union citizens and offers services and partnerships for jobseekers and employers, public employment services, the social partners and the local authorities; highlights therefore the need to maintain clear and separate budget lines for both ELA and EURES;

60. Points out that ELA will help ensure that Union rules on labour mobility and social security coordination are enforced effectively and fairly, will assist national authorities in cooperating to enforce these rules, and will make it easier for citizens and businesses to benefit from the internal market; is of the opinion that, although the four agencies (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound),  European Training Foundation (ETF) and European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)) are predominantly research-centred, they could usefully support and contribute to the work of ELA;

61. Highlights that transparency, and awareness by citizens of the existence of the agencies are essential for their democratic accountability; considers that ease of use of agency resources and data are of paramount importance; calls therefore for an assessment of how data and resources are currently presented and made available, and of the degree to which citizens find them easy to identify, recognise and use;

62. Recommends that all agencies focus on public communication and publicity as their existence and activities are often not recognised among citizens;

63. Encourages the Union agencies to consider adopting a fundamental rights strategy, including a reference to fundamental rights in a code of conduct that could define the duties of their staff and training for staff; encourages the setting up of mechanisms to ensure that any violation of fundamental rights are detected and reported, and that risks of such violations are swiftly brought to the attention of the main bodies of the agency concerned; encourages the establishing, whenever relevant, of the position of a fundamental rights officer, reporting directly to the management board (to ensure a certain degree of independence vis-a-vis other staff) in order to ensure that threats to fundamental rights are immediately addressed, and that a constant upgrading of the fundamental rights policy within the organisation takes place; encourages the developing of a regular dialogue with civil society organisations and relevant international organisations on fundamental rights issues; encourages making compliance with fundamental rights a central component of the terms of reference of the collaboration of the agency concerned with external actors, including in particular members of national administrations with whom they interact at an operational level.

64. Encourages all agencies in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), to consider registration under the Environmental Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) in order to improve their environmental performance.

o

o  o

65. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the agencies subject to this discharge procedure, 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)

 


 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS (23.1.2020)

<CommissionInt>for the Committee on Budgetary Control</CommissionInt>


<Titre>on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2018: performance, financial management and control</Titre>

<DocRef>(2019/2098(DEC))</DocRef>

Rapporteur for opinion: <Depute>Tomáš Zdechovský</Depute>

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Underlines the important role of agencies in preparing and implementing Union policies, especially regarding tasks of a technical, scientific, operational and/or regulatory nature; in this context appreciates the importance and quality of the work performed by the four agencies under the remit of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (Cedefop, Eurofound, EU-OSHA and ETF);

2. Expresses its satisfaction that, according to the Annual report of the European Court of Auditors on EU agencies for the financial year 2018, the Court of Auditors issued unqualified audit opinions on the reliability of all agencies’ accounts; notes that the Court issued unqualified audit opinions on the legality and regularity of the revenue underlying all agencies’ accounts; notes further that the Court issued unqualified audit opinions on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the agencies’ accounts, except for EASO;

3. Welcomes the Commission’s evaluation report (published in 2019) of the EU Agencies working in the employment and social affairs policy field (EUROFOUND, CEDEFOP, ETF, and EU-OSHA) on the relevance, effectiveness, coherence and EU value-added of the agencies; stresses that the Commission has identified several areas for improvement, but overall its evaluation report is very positive stating that the agencies have fulfilled their tasks with a high added-value and value-for-money, and that their work has been relevant and useful for their stakeholders;

4. Welcomes and encourages the cooperation among the agencies within and beyond the framework of the EU Agencies Network (EUAN), which has an important role to identify and promote possible efficiency gains, to add value and to ensure efficient communication between the agencies and relevant stakeholders; appreciates and encourages the close collaboration among the agencies under the remit of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs in order to ensure synergies, complementarity and sharing resources;

5. Recognises, in this context, the progress made by the agencies in relation to exchange of information and cooperation and stresses the need for further measures and improved cooperation to help reduce costs, increase efficiency and achieve stronger synergies between them; appreciates that all the agencies under the remit of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs have delivered their objectives and work programmes and stresses the importance of ensuring adequate staff and financial resources allowing them to continue implementing their work programmes with a very high activity completion rate; calls on the EUAN to develop a general policy to not replace permanent staff by more expensive external consultants;

6. Recommends that all agencies adopt and implement the Commission’s Internal Control Framework that will ensure the alignment of internal control standards with the highest international standards;

7. Notes that most of the observations the Court made in its Annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018 concern shortcomings in public procurement procedures, as was the case in previous years; encourages the agencies to further improve their public procurement procedures, ensuring full compliance with the applicable rules and best value for money procurements; notes that with regard to sound financial management the Court’s observations refer to excessive dependency on contractors, external consultancy and interims;

8. Recognises the progress made by the agencies in relation to the introduction of e-procurement;

9. Supports the Court’s conclusions that the use of framework contracts must not hinder a fair and competitive procurement procedure and that competition on price must take into account all major price elements; is of the opinion that joint procurement procedures or inter-institutional framework contracts, based on a market analysis and feasibility proof for the joint procedure, could help achieve efficiency gains and economies of scale for the agencies and could be particularly useful for the newly established agencies, such as ELA;

10. Welcomes the creation of the European Labour Authority (ELA), whose founding regulation was put forward in March 2018 and which started its operation in October 2019; highlights the need to ensure that sufficient financial resources are set aside for its establishment; insists that funding cannot be accomplished by redeploying allocations from the other employment and social affairs agencies and budgetary lines and that the ELA, being a new body, requires fresh resources to run smoothly; stresses in particular that the establishment of ELA should not result in a reduction of resources and capabilities for EURES, which plays a pivotal role in facilitating labour mobility of Union citizens and offers services and partnerships for jobseekers and employers, Public Employment Services, the social partners and the local authorities; highlights therefore the need to maintain clear and separate budget lines for both ELA and EURES;

11. Points out that the ELA will help ensure that EU rules on labour mobility and social security coordination are enforced effectively and fairly, will assist national authorities in cooperating to enforce these rules, and make it easier for citizens and businesses to benefit from the internal market; is of the opinion that, although the four agencies (EUROFOUND, CEDEFOP, ETF and EU-OSHA) are predominantly research-centred, they could usefully support and contribute to the work of the ELA;

12. Highlights that transparency and citizens' awareness of the existence of the agencies are essential for their democratic accountability; considers that usability and ease of use of agency resources and data are of paramount importance; calls therefore for an assessment of how data and resources are currently presented and made available and of the degree to which citizens find them easy to identify, recognise and use;

13. Recommends that all agencies focus on public communication and publicity as their existence and activities are often not recognised among citizens;

14. Encourages the EU agencies to consider adopting a fundamental rights strategy, including a reference to fundamental rights in a code of conduct that could define the duties of their staff and training for staff; setting up mechanisms ensuring that any violation of fundamental rights be detected and reported, and that risks of such violations be swiftly brought to the attention of the main bodies of the agency concerned; establishing, whenever relevant, the position of a fundamental rights officer, reporting directly to the management board to ensure a certain degree of independence vis-a-vis other staff, in order to ensure that threats to fundamental rights are immediately addressed, and that a constant upgrading of the fundamental rights policy within the organisation takes place; developing a regular dialogue with civil society organisations and relevant international organisations on fundamental rights issues; making compliance with fundamental rights a central component of the terms of reference of the collaboration of the agency concerned with external actors, including in particular members of national administrations with whom they interact at operational level.

 


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.1.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

46

6

1

Members present for the final vote

Marc Angel, Gabriele Bischoff, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Milan Brglez, Jane Brophy, Sylvie Brunet, David Casa, Leila Chaibi, Özlem Demirel, Jarosław Duda, Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Nicolaus Fest, Loucas Fourlas, Cindy Franssen, Helmut Geuking, Elisabetta Gualmini, Alicia Homs Ginel, France Jamet, Agnes Jongerius, Ádám Kósa, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Katrin Langensiepen, Elena Lizzi, Radka Maxová, Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, Matthew Patten, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Alexandra Louise Rosenfield Phillips, Dragoş Pîslaru, Manuel Pizarro, Miroslav Radačovský, Dennis Radtke, Elżbieta Rafalska, Guido Reil, Daniela Rondinelli, Monica Semedo, Eugen Tomac, Romana Tomc, Yana Toom, Nikolaj Villumsen, Marianne Vind, Maria Walsh, Stefania Zambelli, Tatjana Ždanoka, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Alex Agius Saliba, Marc Botenga, Antonius Manders, Bill Newton Dunn, Sara Skyttedal, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Anna Zalewska

 


 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

46

+

ECR

Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Helmut Geuking, Elżbieta Rafalska, Anna Zalewska

GUE/NGL

Marc Botenga, Leila Chaibi, Özlem Demirel, Nikolaj Villumsen

NI

Miroslav Radačovský, Daniela Rondinelli

PPE

David Casa, Jarosław Duda, Loucas Fourlas, Cindy Franssen, Ádám Kósa, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Antonius Manders, Dennis Radtke, Sara Skyttedal, Eugen Tomac, Romana Tomc, Maria Walsh, Tomáš Zdechovský

RENEW

Jane Brophy, Sylvie Brunet, Radka Maxová, Bill Newton Dunn, Dragoş Pîslaru, Monica Semedo, Yana Toom, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne

S&D

Alex Agius Saliba, Marc Angel, Gabriele Bischoff, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Milan Brglez, Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Elisabetta Gualmini, Alicia Homs Ginel, Agnes Jongerius, Manuel Pizarro, Marianne Vind

VERTS/ALE

Katrin Langensiepen, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Alexandra Louise Rosenfield Phillips, Tatjana Ždanoka

 

6

-

ID

Nicolaus Fest, France Jamet, Elena Lizzi, Guido Reil, Stefania Zambelli

NI

Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos

 

1

0

NI

Matthew Patten

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

 


 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS (21.1.2020)

<CommissionInt>for the Committee on Budgetary Control</CommissionInt>


<Titre>on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2018: performance, financial management and control</Titre>

<DocRef>(2019/2098(DEC))</DocRef>

Rapporteur for opinion: <Depute>Roberta Metsola</Depute>

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Expresses its overall satisfaction with the work of the eight decentralised agencies (CEPOL, EASO, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, FRA, FRONTEX) falling within its remit, which carry out operational, analytical or managerial tasks and thereby support the Union institutions as well as Member States in implementing policies in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), and the way their budgets are implemented; recalls the important role of JHA agencies in supporting and advising Member States in the fields of security, justice and fundamental rights; reiterates the need to ensure the provision of adequate financial support for JHA agencies in order to fulfil their mandates in a fully transparent manner and in full compliance with fundamental rights.

2. Welcomes the fact that the Court of Auditors (the ʽCourtʼ) has certified the legality and regularity of the annual accounts of all JHA agencies and the revenue underlying these accounts for the year which ended on 31 December 2018;

3. Notes that the Court found that the payments underlying the accounts were legal and regular for all agencies except for EASO, for which a qualified opinion was issued due to irregularities in regard to public procurement procedures and related payments; notes that corrective actions launched by EASO in response to the Court’s findings for 2017 regarding its governance and internal control arrangements were still ongoing at the end of 2018; highlights in particular that the majority of vacancies opened in 2017 remained unfilled  at the end of 2018; deplores the fact that the legality and regularity of payments only slowly improved in 2018 due to a lack of proper attention in their management; regrets that, once again, there were irregularities in a  significant procurement procedure (EUR 50 million) carried out by EASO in 2018 due to major procedural weaknesses; acknowledges that the new Executive Director has already taken actions to improve the management of EASO and is demonstrating a strong commitment to addressing as a matter of priority the organisational flaws within EASO; urges EASO to maintain this commitment and to report back to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on a regular basis;

4. Considers that the sensitivity of the information processed by JHA agencies requires a strict policy of confidentiality, in particular with regard to staff recruitment and management; welcomes, in this regard, the fact that Union agencies increasingly recruit temporary agents rather than contract agents; notes, however, that the Court has identified a horizontal trend across Union agencies of reverting to the hiring of external staff in IT consultancy roles; calls for this dependency on external recruitment in the JHA area to be reduced and for IT services to be internalised as much as possible, in view of the serious risk posed by excessive outsourcing for the protection of sensitive personal data;

5. Notes that the Court did not address ‘emphasis on the matter’ with regard to JHA agencies, with the exception of FRONTEX; notes that FRONTEX reimbursed EUR 60 million of equipment-related expenditure without proper ex ante controls; stresses that ex ante controls are rendered ineffective if expenses are reimbursed without prior verification of whether such expenses are justified; notes also that FRONTEX did not carry out ex post verifications to compensate for the weakness of its ex ante procedure; considers this manner of proceeding to be problematic, and calls for  immediate action to resolve this problem and to prevent its occurrence in the future, particularly in view of the significant budget increase for FRONTEX in the coming years; urges FRONTEX to revisit its financing scheme for equipment-related expenditure and to significantly strengthen its internal controls in order to ensure that reimbursements are granted for expenses actually incurred;

6. Notes that public procurement continues to be the main area prone to error in relation to all Union decentralised agencies, including those in the JHA area; highlights in particular the illegitimate extension of duration of contracts, financial inconsistencies between framework contracts and specific contracts, over-dependency on specific contractors, and non-justified use of negotiated procurement procedures; stresses that, because the agencies rely on public funding, any weakness in the management of public procurement is ultimately detrimental to their efficiency and to the achievement of their objectives; calls therefore on the affected JHA agencies, i.e. CEPOL, EASO, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, and FRONTEX, to improve their public procurement procedures with a view to compliance with applicable rules and as a result, the achievement of  the most economically advantageous purchases, while respecting the principles of transparency, proportionality, equal treatment and non-discrimination.

7. Encourages all JHA agencies to consider registration under EMAS in order to improve their environmental performance;

8. Notes with concern that several agencies are seriously deficient in relation to  gender balance; stresses the importance of  remedying this situation and calls on all JHA agencies to strive to achieve the balance and the objectives set by the Commission in its 'Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’, i.e. a level of at least 40% of the under-represented sex;

9. Urges all JHA agencies to implement a clear anti-harassment policy in order to prevent any such behaviour within their organisations, and to firmly condemn it wherever it occurs;


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

13.1.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

42

5

0

Members present for the final vote

Konstantinos Arvanitis, Malik Azmani, Nicolas Bay, Vladimír Bilčík, Vasile Blaga, Damien Carême, Caterina Chinnici, Tudor Ciuhodaru, Clare Daly, Cornelia Ernst, Sylvie Guillaume, Evin Incir, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Patryk Jaki, Assita Kanko, Fabienne Keller, Alice Kuhnke, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Roberta Metsola, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Kostas Papadakis, Nicola Procaccini, Emil Radev, Paulo Rangel, Terry Reintke, Michal Šimečka, Birgit Sippel, Sylwia Spurek, Tineke Strik, Tom Vandendriessche, Bettina Vollath, Ann Widdecombe, Elena Yoncheva

Substitutes present for the final vote

Damian Boeselager, Patrick Breyer, Delara Burkhardt, Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Beata Kempa, Ondřej Kovařík, Kris Peeters, Robert Roos, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Loránt Vincze, Petar Vitanov, Maria Walsh, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes under Rule 209(7) present for the final vote

Lukas Mandl

 

 



 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

42

+

PPE

Vladimír Bilčík, Vasile Blaga, Lukas Mandl, Roberta Metsola, Kris Peeters, Emil Radev, Paulo Rangel, Loránt Vincze, Maria Walsh, Tomáš Zdechovský

S&D

Delara Burkhardt, Caterina Chinnici, Tudor Ciuhodaru, Sylvie Guillaume, Evin Incir, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Birgit Sippel, Sylwia Spurek, Petar Vitanov, Bettina Vollath, Elena Yoncheva

RENEW

Malik Azmani, Sophia in 't Veld, Fabienne Keller, Ondřej Kovařík, Michal Šimečka

VERTS/ALE

Damian Boeselager, Patrick Breyer, Damien Carême, Alice Kuhnke, Terry Reintke, Tineke Strik

ECR

Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Patryk Jaki, Assita Kanko, Beata Kempa, Nicola Procaccini

GUE/NGL

Konstantinos Arvanitis, Clare Daly, Cornelia Ernst, Miguel Urbán Crespo

 

5

-

ID

Nicolas Bay, Tom Vandendriessche

ECR

Robert Roos

NI

Kostas Papadakis, Ann Widdecombe

 

0

0

 

 

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

 

 

 

 


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

19.2.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

21

3

0

Members present for the final vote

Matteo Adinolfi, Olivier Chastel, Caterina Chinnici, Lefteris Christoforou, Ryszard Czarnecki, José Manuel Fernandes, Luke Ming Flanagan, Isabel García Muñoz, Cristian Ghinea, Monika Hohlmeier, Jean-François Jalkh, Joachim Kuhs, Sabrina Pignedoli, Michèle Rivasi, Nico Semsrott, Angelika Winzig, Lara Wolters, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Maria Grapini, Niclas Herbst, David Lega, Mikuláš Peksa, Ramona Strugariu

Substitutes under Rule 209(7) present for the final vote

József Szájer

 


 

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

21

+

ECR

Ryszard Czarnecki

GUE/NGL

Luke Ming Flanagan

NI

Sabrina Pignedoli

PPE

Lefteris Christoforou, José Manuel Fernandes, Niclas Herbst, Monika Hohlmeier, David Lega, József Szájer, Angelika Winzig, Tomáš Zdechovský

RENEW

Olivier Chastel, Cristian Ghinea, Ramona Strugariu

S&D

Caterina Chinnici, Isabel García Muñoz, Maria Grapini, Lara Wolters

VERTS/ALE

Mikuláš Peksa, Michèle Rivasi, Nico Semsrott

 

3

-

ID

Matteo Adinolfi, Jean-François Jalkh, Joachim Kuhs

 

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

 

 

[1] OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.

[2] OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1

[3] OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

[4] OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

[5] OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.

[6] European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), European Asylum Support Office (EASO), European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), European Police College (CEPOL), European Police Office (Europol), European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), The European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust).

[7] European Banking Authority (EBA), European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

[8]  Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9).

[9]  Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9).

[10] Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (OJ L 305, 26.11.2019, p. 17).

Last updated: 18 March 2020Legal notice - Privacy policy