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Parliamentary questions
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2 July 2009
E-3639/2009(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Kallas on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-3639/2009

1. The Commission is aware of the concerns raised by the Honourable Members. In November 2008, in the framework of the budgetary procedure(1), the Commission informed the Parliament that it did not intend to recruit external personnel at headquarters to manage the Instrument for Stability (IfS); this would not be in line with the commitment, given to the Budgetary Authority when Technical Assistance Offices (the so-called ‘BATs’) were dismantled and their activities integrated into the services, to gradually phase out the financing of external personnel at Headquarters from the budget of operational programmes. More recently, the Commission reiterated its commitment to serve EU priorities up to 2013 with constant human resources, with a notable exception for external personnel to manage de-concentrated external aid action(2); the Commission also took note of the Parliament's concerns about the visibility of the staff employed by the European institutions(3).

However, the Commission agrees that adequate resources are needed for the implementation of the IfS and other external action programmes. This is why the Commission has presented in its Preliminary Draft Budget for 2010, adopted on 29 April 2009, a request for additional appropriations to finance external personnel in its Delegations, which is fully compatible with the Commission commitments and shared concerns on EU staff policy. The Commission hopes for the support of the Parliament in the course of the budgetary procedure for this request.

2. With regard to the second issue raised in the Honourable Members' question, the Commission agrees with the Members of the Parliament that the IfS needs to enhance inclusion of local civil society organisations and the contribution of specialized international civil society organisations, so as to achieve sustainability. It is for this reason that almost 20 % of IfS crisis response funds in 2007 and 2008 — EUR 30 million — are being implemented in the form of more than thirty-three grants to international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Working in crisis response with local and international NGO partners has been a particular focus in Colombia (Justice and Peace Programme), Thailand (Reconciliation in Southern Thailand), Haiti (stabilisation and rehabilitation), Zimbabwe (promoting dialogue and democracy), Uganda (Support to Peace and Stability in Northern Uganda), Georgia (Support for transparency and credibility of Elections), Sri Lanka (conflict mitigation) and Bangladesh (rehabilitation of livelihoods devastated by cyclone SIDR). This focus will continue in 2009 and beyond, as NGO partners on the ground often have the best knowledge of the causes of conflict and access to communities involved in mitigating conflict. In addition to this crisis response funding, the commitments of EUR 15 million for the IfS crisis preparedness component (covering IfS Article 4.3) in 2007 and 2008, implemented through the Peace Building Partnership, are largely aimed at building and improving capacity of NGOs in crisis response. This will further enhance the role of NGOs as implementing partners for crisis response under the Stability Instrument and should contribute to a possibly increasing share of NGO projects. Consequently, the Commission considers that the current arrangements under the IfS are ensuring the adequate involvement of local and international civil society organisations with regard to crisis response and crisis preparedness activities.

(1)in Letter from the Commissioner in charge of Financial programming and budget to Chairman R. Boege ‘Executability of the amendments adopted by the Parliament in its first reading of the Draft Budget 2009’, 7/11/2008.
(2)Annual Policy Strategy decision for 2010 COM(2009) 73 final.
(3)Point 38 of the Parliament Guidelines for the Budget 2010 procedure: ‘“ [the EP] notes with concern that an increasing number of staff employed by the European Union are neither visible in the institutions” establishment plans, as adopted by the budgetary authority, nor financed under Heading 5 of the MFF.’

OJ C 189, 13/07/2010
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