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Procedure : 2002/2084(BUD)
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Tuesday, 2 July 2002 - Strasbourg
Implementation of 2002 budget

European Parliament resolution on the 2002 budget: implementation profile, transfers and supplementary and amending budgets (2002/2084(BUD))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 272 and 274 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2001 on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2002 as modified by Council (all sections) and Letter of Amendment No 2/2002 to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2002(2) and to the joint declarations by the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission annexed thereto, which concern the implementation profile for the 2002 budget and an action plan to put an end to abnormal outstanding commitments,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 28 February(3) and 30 May 2002(4) on Supplementary and Amending Budgets (SABs) 1 and 2 for the financial year 2002,

–   having regard to transfers Nos 1-17 for the financial year 2002,

–   having regard to Rule 92 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A5-0246/2002),

A.   whereas it establishes, as one of the two arms of the budgetary authority, the general budget of the European Union, according to Article 272 of the Treaty,

B.   whereas the Commission implements the budget voted by the Budget Authority according to Article 274 of the Treaty,

C.   whereas during the period of the current financial perspective, 2000-2006, no increase of the own resources ceiling is foreseen for the first time since the establishment of financial perspectives, allowing the financing of new political priorities only by reorganising existing policies and making it even more necessary to evaluate existing priorities and policies and to guarantee the sound and efficient management of available resources,

D.   whereas the structure of the financial perspective does not fit easily together with the structure of the programme cycles, and whereas a progressive financial perspective would be better suited to the Union's true legislative set-up,

E.   whereas, according to the common declaration of 20 July 2000, the budgetary authority is entitled to assess the compatibility with the financial perspective of the new programmes proposed by the Commission so that they do not inevitably lead to a reduction of the current policies,

F.   whereas it decides, in cooperation with the Council, on modifications to the adopted budget proposed by the Commission through supplementary and/or amending budgets and transfers between chapters,

G.   whereas point 37 of the Interinstitutional Agreement provides for the possibility of entering in the budget appropriations without legal bases for pilot projects and preparatory actions,

H.   whereas it has decided to reinforce the monitoring of the implementation of the current budget and, to that end, joint initiatives have been taken by the committee responsible and the spending committees to scrutinise closer the implementation of parts of the budget which are of particular political importance,

I.   whereas the Commission has presented two preliminary draft supplementary and amending budgets in the course of the current financial year concerning the financing of the European Convention, the balance of the 2001 budget and the adjustment of the calculation of the revenue side of the budget to Council Decision 2000/597/EC, Euratom of 29 September 2000 on the system of the European Communities' own resources(5),

J.   whereas the Commission has so far presented 17 transfers during the 2002 financial year, with a total volume of EUR 250 million, some of which were presented to unblock appropriations in reserve, following the adoption of a legal base, whereas others shifted appropriations between chapters,

1.  Expects the Commission to implement the budget, both figures and remarks, as adopted by the budgetary authority and takes the view that deviations from the decisions of the budgetary authority could only be justified through new developments which could not be foreseen when the budget was adopted and with detailed reasons given;

2.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all the administrative measures required for the launch of programmes - particularly new ones - are initiated immediately after Parliament's first reading and not - as is often the case - at the end of the year, so as to enable the budgetary authority to conduct at least a partial assessment of their impact when the following year's budget is being drawn up;

3.  Expects the Commission to follow the commitments it has made in the budgetary procedure 2002, in particular the joint declarations concerning the implementation profile for the 2002 budget and concerning the action plan to put an end to abnormal outstanding commitments agreed in the conciliation between the three institutions before second reading;

4.  Notes that the date for forwarding the report on implementation profiles agreed to by Parliament in connection with the 2002 budget could not be fitted into Parliament's work schedule, and therefore proposes that the dates laid down by the joint declaration be amended and that programming profiles be broken down in greater detail;

5.  Notes that, for December 2002, the Commission is forecasting an average implementation rate of 100% for commitments and 97% for payments; hopes that these are realistic forecasts, in particular as regards payments, given that the implementation rate for them was only 72% in 2001; invites the Commission to submit, by 30 September 2002, the list of lines and chapters where there is a risk of divergence from that profile;

6.  Recalls that one of the major objectives of the reform of the Commission aimed to improve the implementation of Community programmes through new methods of management such as deconcentration and decentralisation of the external service, new types of externalisation, significant requests for human resources, and redeployment of staff towards political priorities; therefore expects concrete and visible results;

7.  Asks the Commission to inform Parliament by 30 September 2002 of the measures taken with a view to implementing Parliament's demand to simplify the rules for and management of small-scale projects;

Supplementary and amending budgets

8.  Reiterates its satisfaction that a solution for the financing of the European Convention was found (SAB 1/2002) which assures that the Convention can function properly and that the budgetary powers of Parliament are guaranteed;

9.  Emphasises that SAB 2/2002 has returned to Member States a preliminary amount of EUR 10 billion of payment appropriations that were not spent in the previous year; considers this to be an extremely high figure and expects to receive a further analysis, by September 2002, of why these funds could not be implemented under the EU budget in 2001; points out that a less restrictive approach to payments could obviate the need for many transfers, particularly in cases where the Commission finds it difficult to demonstrate that it is unable to use all the appropriations entered; considers it important to receive a quarterly payments schedule from the Commission, before the first reading, for more efficient implementation of payments;

10.  Restates its utmost concern over the poor implementation of payment appropriations; considers that it is necessary to improve the track record and image of the EU in this respect, to accelerate payments on old commitments or to decommit those and cancel the payment appropriations; calls on the Commission to present, for the conciliation meeting on 19 July 2002, a plan of how the payments cancelled in the 2001 budget can be rescheduled, also taking into account decommitments, and to present by 30 September a proper assessment of payments in 2002 and, where appropriate, for 2003, in order to take the appropriate measures;

11.  Points out that, although the Commission has final responsibility for implementation of the Community budget, the national authorities play a significant role in the implementation of much of it; calls, accordingly, on the Member States to show the utmost diligence and not to delay the implementation of payment appropriations for domestic political reasons;

12.  Reiterates its concern that, due to the rigidity of the system, unspent appropriations in one area cannot be used to finance needs in another and asks the Commission to present proposals that would increase flexibility in this respect;

13.  Reiterates its will to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan and is ready to use the margin of heading 4, reserved for this purpose, on condition that the Commission can demonstrate that appropriations already entered under the budget lines for Asia and for humanitarian aid are spent properly, with the right being reserved to assess the contributions of other donors on the basis of the commitments given at the ministerial meeting in Tokyo (January 2002), and that the new appropriations can be spent in an efficient way to help the Afghan people; expects the Commission to present a supplementary and amending budget when these conditions are met;

14.  Hopes that the political situation in the Middle East develops in the direction of peace and conciliation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and expects the European Commission to submit, by 1 September 2002, proposals to support this process and precise information concerning the use that both partners in the peace process make of funds received from the European Union, what control mechanisms are in operation and what penalties should apply in the event of misuse of those funds;


15.  Points out that, with the exception of those made from the reserve, transfers entail an alteration to what was initially adopted by the budgetary authorities, and must be duly motivated;

16.  Notices that a great number of transfers, mainly concerning payment appropriations, are due to delays caused by heavy comitology procedures; reminds the Commission of its undertaking to simplify the comitology procedure when launching new legislative programmes in order to accelerate implementation, and expects the Commission to replace the inefficient comitology procedure as soon as possible;

17.  Considers that transfers can be a powerful tool to facilitate political, as well as financial, responses to situations arising after the adoption of the budget, notably unforeseeable major international events, and to optimise the use of financial resources;

18.  Emphasises, however, that transfers must not simply be used to shift budgetary funds from one area to another so that the final budget would contradict the priorities voted by the budgetary authority; points out that more than EUR 2 billion in payment appropriations were transferred during the 2001 budgetary procedure;

19.  Reiterates its request that the Commission should present a schedule for the transfers it intends to request from one chapter to the other, in particular during the last quarter, in order to allow Parliament and Council a sound and adequate evaluation of these and to provide a clear picture of how the initial budget would be finally modified;

20.  Stresses that it will, in principle, not accept any transfer request that reduces budget lines voted by Parliament unless convincing justifications can be provided and adequate proposals are presented to improve the implementation of the donor line;

21.  Underlines that it can accept the increase of budget lines through transfers, in principle, if:

   a justified need, which could not be foreseen during the budgetary procedure, appears,
   under multiannual programmes agreed by the Council and the Parliament, the amount can be reduced in following years so as not to breach the established overall financial framework,
   the transfer corresponds to a political priority of the budgetary authority.

22.  States that additional needs could be covered by the mobilisation of the emergency reserve (heading 6), and asks the Commission to consider this possibility in particular if natural disasters, wars or crises make EU aid important for the population concerned by these situations;

Implementation under various headings

23.  Underlines that it will continue to monitor closely the implementation of the 2002 budget as adopted by Parliament so that sufficient appropriations are provided for areas of particular political importance;

24.  Notes with satisfaction that, as at 31 May 2002, the commitments implementation level for headings 2, 3 and 4 was higher than on the same date in 2001, though it was lower than the original implementation profile; voices its concern at the potential political repercussions, in the context of preparing for enlargement, of the very low implementation level for heading 7; also notes that, as at 31 May 2002, the payments implementation level was lower than on the same date in 2001, thus sowing doubt as to keeping to the original profile;

25.  Deplores the fact that most of the programmes where the Commission is forecasting about 10% divergence from the budgetary authority's decision, in terms of commitments or payments, represent political priorities for Parliament (e-learning, information and communication, social dimension and employment, justice and home affairs, cooperation with Latin America, cooperation measures, etc.); calls on the Commission to give more detailed reasons for this failure to implement and to take the necessary action with due regard for Article 26 of the Financial Regulation and the budgetary authority's decisions;

26.  Notes that, as at 6 May 2002, total outstanding commitments were EUR 110.447 billion, more than the annual budget of the European Union;

27.  Notes that 624 items with outstanding commitments were examined between 1 January and 30 April 2002, representing 25% of total items pending and EUR 147 million in payment appropriations; welcomes the fact that the Commission has cancelled EUR 97 million of 'potentially abnormal' commitments totalling EUR 3.5 billion; calls on the Commission to draw up a plan, modelled on the implementation plan, to clear these abnormal outstanding commitments;

Heading 1

28.  Points out that, according to the latest Early Warning System report (No 5/2002) on expenditure in the EAGGF Guarantee Section, the uptake of appropriations under subheading 1a (market support) was EUR 1 592.4 million below the indicator in May 2002, whereas the implementation of subheading 1b (rural development) was proceeding as foreseen; believes that such a discrepancy cannot be attributed only to delays in payments and calls on the Commission to investigate the reasons and make known its conclusions so that, if structural shortcomings are the cause, they are taken into account when the Commission presents the mid-term review of Agenda 2000;

Heading 2

29.  Notes that the rate of payment implementation, which was already poor at the close of the financial year 2000, has deteriorated further, amounting to no more than 67.9% of payment appropriations at 31 December 2001 and only 14% at 6 May 2002, down by half over the same date in the previous year (27%);

30.  Voices its concern at the increasing volume of outstanding commitments, which rose from EUR 38 418 million to EUR 56 765 million between 1 January and 31 December 2001 and totalled EUR 82 710 million as at 6 May 2002;

31.  Points out that speeding up implementation is an abiding concern of the budgetary authority and one of the increasing objectives of revising the rules on the Structural Funds; stresses the importance of introducing new project management systems geared to best practice and procedural simplification; calls for the application, authorisation and payment procedures to be reviewed for unnecessary rigidity and obstacles, and for proposals for simplification to be made;

32.  Presses for the development and use, without delay, of new control instruments in order to ensure effective quarterly monitoring and thus improve implementation of structural operations: surveillance and early warning indicators and performance indicators for an assessment of economic, social and environmental impact on beneficiary regions;

33.  Urges the Commission, by 30 September 2002, to provide, on the basis of the latest implementation profile, information on the appropriations and regions affected by the "n+2 rule" in 2003;

Heading 3

34.  Notes that the backlog of payments in the Trans-European Networks (TENs) amounted to EUR 1,131 million for the period 1989-2001, out of which EUR 490 million concerned the 14 priority projects approved at the Essen European Council in 1994; supports the Commission's proposal to increase Community co-financing from 10% to 20% in transport and energy TENs so as to improve implementation and reduce bottlenecks in cross-border regions; considers, however, that this does not solve the lack of common procedures between Member States, which has been the main cause for delays since the introduction of TENs; urges the Member States to reinforce their commitment and cooperation in order to improve implementation in transport TENs; encourages the Commission to impose fixed deadlines for the future implementation of TEN projects; considers it essential for priority to be given to projects that will help overcome the problem of cross-border geographical barriers;

35.  Welcomes the fact that the pilot project on enlargement, which was introduced by Parliament in the 2001 budget and reinforced in the 2002 budget, is being implemented by the Commission to the benefit of SMEs in the regions bordering the candidate countries;

36.  Notices that in parallel to the launch of a new multiannual programme in the field of energy in the Preliminary draft budget for 2003, which represents a significant increase of EUR 13 million over the existing programmes, the implementation percentage for the latter was between 0% and 3 % at the end of May 2002; asks the Commission to clarify why programmes in a terminating phase cannot be implemented more rapidly;

37.  Is concerned that Life, the launch of which was already delayed by the late adoption of the legal basis, was still at a very low level of implementation at the end of May; invites the Commission to take urgent and appropriate measures to eliminate all administrative or bureaucratic bottlenecks in view to accelerate the implementation of both commitments and payments;

38.  Is concerned about the low implementation rate for pilot projects and preparatory actions at the end of May 2002 (less than 5 %); does not accept that objections to implementation raised by the Commission, which have already been considered by the budgetary authority, continue to be invoked by the Commission after the budget has been established; intends to follow up closely the evolution over the coming months and evaluate the efforts made by the Commission in view of the budgetary decisions to be taken for 2003; is not ready to accept the discontinuation of some of them for reasons of poor levels of implementation;

Heading 4

39.  Stresses that the low implementation over the first five months of 2002 of a number of budget lines under heading 4 in the 2002 budget is worrying and, therefore, the Commission should modify its implementation schedule for these lines to arrive at a more balanced implementation over the year;

40.  Notes that the implementation of the budget line for political, economic and cultural support for Asian developing countries (B7-303) was at only 13 % in terms of commitments at the end of May, which is surprising given the needs for financial support in this area demonstrated by the situation in Afghanistan and the conflict between India and Pakistan;

41.  Deplores that, at the end of May, no operational expenditure had been committed for the European programme for reconstruction and development in South Africa (B7-320) or for assistance to partner countries in eastern Europe and central Asia (Chapter B7-52);

42.  Notes that as of May no commitments had been made for most of the BA lines under heading 4 and asks the Commission to review its approach to propose BA lines for most of the operational lines under heading 4 without concrete evidence of the needs;

Heading 5

43.  Recalls that a margin of EUR 2.2 million exists under heading 5 in the 2002 budget and that, according to the estimates of the institutions for 2003, the needs for enlargement preparations cannot be financed under the current ceiling for 2003; therefore considers that a front-loading from 2003 to 2002, using all available margins, should be looked at in a context of sound management; calls on all institutions to assess the feasibility of using transfers and amending budgets to bring forward to 2002 appropriations which can help scale down the requirements for 2003;

44.  Asks the Commission to explain why budget line A-3046 (Women's organisations) has apparently been restricted to only one field of action when the original intention of the budgetary authority was to open it to a wide range of women's organisations not covered by the European Women's Lobby;

Heading 7

45.  Underlines that the SAPARD and ISPA pre-accession instruments have to gain speed in 2002 to be implemented as much as possible, and in the most efficient way, to prepare the enlargement of up to 8 candidate countries in 2004 and of more candidate countries at a later date;

46.  Notes that the implementation of commitments under the three pre-accession instruments has worsened compared to last year and that, concerning payments, the only improvement is an increase of implementation to 20% for ISPA at the end of May;

o   o

47.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman, and the other institutions and bodies concerned.

(1) OJ C 172, 18.6.1999, p. 1.
(2) Texts Adopted, Item 2.
(3) P5_TA(2002)0077.
(4) P5_TA (2002)0263.
(5) OJ L 253, 7.10.2000, p. 42.

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