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Verbatim report of proceedings
Tuesday, 17 December 2002 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Budget 2003 (as modified by the Council)

  Turco (NI).(IT) Mr President, I too, like Mr van Dam, would like to focus on a specific budget line, not least because, as a member of the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, I have been able to follow the matter closely. The line in question is line B7-6310: ‘North-South cooperation schemes in the campaign against drug abuse’. First the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, then the Committee on Budgets and, finally, the plenary, by a unanimous vote, decided to block the new appropriations and place the payment appropriations in the reserve because, in Parliament’s opinion, this budget line did not have a legal basis. It did not have a legal basis because the Commission should have presented to Parliament an evaluation of the measures financed by the Community under this line as far back as October 2000 and proposed a new regulation. Instead, for at least two financial years, this line has been financed with no legal basis.

Immediately after the vote in plenary, the Commission told the Chairman of the Committee on Budgets that, in effect, this line did not have a legal basis, which was the opposite of what the Commissioner had repeatedly stated in response to Parliamentary questions, to the effect that it was a line financed according to a quite precise legal basis and that the fact that the evaluation had not taken place did not mean that it could not continue to be financed. We were then told that there had actually been an evaluation. This evaluation, which ought to have concerned the Regulation of 21 October 1997 and would have been submitted to Parliament in July 2002, certainly never reached the Secretariat of the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights. I succeeded, with some difficulty, in unearthing it. It is a final report of 9 May 2002, which, if we had had the time, the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights could indeed have assessed, possibly avoiding this situation, avoiding what is happening now with the new budget, which has led the Commission, Parliament and the Council jointly to release the appropriations in reserve now that there does appear to be an evaluation. Apart from the cover and the title, this is an evaluation which focuses principally on the 1990s and concerns North-South cooperation in the fight against drugs and drug abuse, which is only partly related to the Regulation published on 21 October 1997. What is more, the evaluation concentrates on all the measures undertaken in the previous years while still failing to state clearly what happened with this Regulation during those three years.

The evaluation clearly reveals that, in the past three years, the majority of the measures have been undertaken together with and through the United Nations agency, under the direction of Mr Arlacchi. We have been calling for years for this Commission to investigate the actions which the United Nations itself had recognised as not transparent and, furthermore, as running counter to the financial regulation. President Prodi himself had taken upon himself the responsibility of ascertaining what the United Nations recognised. None of this happened, and now we are blithely refinancing this budget line when we have financed it every year for years, without a legal basis, for dubious operations of which, even now, the Commission is unable or unwilling to provide a proper evaluation.

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