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Procedure : 2002/2083(INI)
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Tuesday, 17 December 2002 - Strasbourg
Financing of the European Schools

European Parliament resolution on the future financing of the European Schools (2002/2083(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 272 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools(1),

–   having regard to the Council Recommendation of 5 March 2002 concerning the discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Communities for the financial year 2000 (SN 1649/02)(2),

–   having regard to the Report of the Court of Auditors on the accounts of the European Schools for the financial year ended 31 December 2000(3),

–   having regard to Special Report No 5/2000 of the Court of Auditors on the Court of Justice's expenditure on buildings (annexe buildings Erasmus, Thomas More and Annex C), together with the Court of Justice's replies(4),

–   having regard to the working document of the Committee on Budgets on the European Schools of 7 June 1999(5),

–   having regard to the working document of the Committee on Budgets on the future financing of the European Schools of 1 February 2002(6),

–   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinion of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport (A5-0395/2002),

A.   whereas, under the current Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools, the European school system is a unique system which constitutes a form of cooperation between Member States and between the Member States and the European Communities,

B.   whereas the following facts and developments force the budgetary authority to look at the future financing of the European Schools:

   the opening of two new European Schools (Alicante and Frankfurt),
   the withdrawal, in 2000, of all the Commission's permanent staff at the JET Joint Undertaking in Culham,
   the widely differing situation as regards the number of pupils of different categories in different Member States and the costs per pupil at the various schools,
   the budgetary system of a balancing subsidy without the budgetary authority having any influence over costs of the European Schools,
   the creation of new Union agencies and their location in various Member States,
   the approaching enlargement of the Union,

C.   whereas the current Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools stipulates that the role of the European Schools is to provide for the joint education of the children of the staff of the European Communities as a way of ensuring the proper operation of the Community institutions,

D.   whereas a number of presumptions on which the 'raison d'être' of the schools are based need re-evaluation,

E.   whereas the current way of financing the European Schools needs re-evaluation in the light of the abovementioned developments,

F.   whereas the presence of a school that provides a European baccalaureate is a much appreciated asset for a region to attract investment from international companies or administrative bodies,

G.   whereas the European baccalaureate allows its holder to apply for admission to all European universities,

H.   whereas the setting-up of new European Schools is not foreseen in heading 5 of the current Financial Perspective,

I.   whereas the budgetary authority has not been informed about the costs of enlargement for the European Schools,

J.   whereas the European Schools are the only schools in Europe providing mother-tongue learning and teaching in all eleven languages, including the less widely used ones,

1.  Is of the opinion that the increasing exchange of students between European universities, the globalisation of the world economy and the high intrinsic value of the European baccalaureate justify the wider spread of the European baccalaureate;

2.  Is of the opinion that the 'raison d'être' of the existing European Schools should be reconsidered as some of the smaller schools have a very limited number of pupils who are children of staff of a European body (between 5 and 11%) so that their existence as a prerequisite for the well-functioning of the European body has become exaggerated and that the current 'raison d'être' should be expanded to take into account the added European value of the schools;

3.  Considers, nevertheless, that the European schools foster a stronger sense of European identity and that, therefore, the maintenance of existing European schools or the foundation of new ones constitutes a positive step towards European integration;

4.  Notes that the European Schools outside Brussels, Luxembourg and Munich have a limited number of pupils who are children of staff of a European body; believes that the importance of the European Schools for the 'proper functioning of the European Institutions' must now be the subject of an independent evaluation;

5.  Stresses that adequate transitional measures would have to be taken should one of the existing European Schools close;

6.  Invites local, regional or national authorities that appreciate having a European School to explore additional ways of practical and financial cooperation and participation;

7.  Insists on more independence for each of the European Schools, which should allow them to undertake fund-raising activities, such as providing language courses, and which should improve the integration of the schools in the regions in which they are operating; is therefore in favour of a budget structure that makes funding available per school according to agreed and objective criteria;

8.  Considers that the number of representatives of the Commission on the Board of Governors should be increased in order to ensure a stronger influence from the Community within the decision-making process of the European Schools;

9.  Takes the view that the European baccalaureate is extremely useful for any children whose parents live abroad for a limited period of time;

10.  Suggests that an inter-institutional working group should be set up to develop and evaluate strategic options for the European Schools, if deemed necessary on the basis of an independent and objective study;

11.  Notes, however, that the budgetary authority of the European Communities decides on the Communities' contributions under the budget procedure;

12.  Requests the Commission to present by 1 March 2003 a legislative proposal setting out ways, which are not contrary to the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools, to bring to an end the present discrepancy between the legislative provisions, that are intergovernmental in nature, and the budgetary provisions, which are, in part, supranational (Community) in nature;

13.  Asks the Commission to put forward a proposal which foresees that the subsidy paid to the European schools out of the Community budget should become a lump sum subsidy instead of a balancing subsidy;

14.  Requests the Commission to inform the European Parliament, in an official way twice yearly, of important developments at the European Schools;

15.  Requests that the Board of Governors of the European Schools, together with the Commission, existing to the budgetary authority, before 1 March 2003 a report with proposals on:

   how the European baccalaureate can be offered, without being dependent on the existing European Schools, in those Member States which may wish to do so;
   how to achieve methods of cooperation between the existing European schools and regional primary and secondary schools, or on other organisational solutions;
   how the existing European schools and future European schools (which might become necessary following the creation of new Union agencies, particularly with regards to enlargement) may be financed in the future, paying particular attention to the possibility of increased co-financing by third parties for all European Schools, the possibility of contributions through fund-raising and the adjustment of tuition fees;
   the impact of enlargement on the future development and financing of the European Schools;

16.  Calls on the Commission to issue a call for tenders for an independent and objective evaluation of the European Schools system, to cover:

   their importance for the recruitment of staff to the European Institutions,
   the strengths, weaknesses and 'added value' of the European Baccalaureate as an education for pupils who go on to study in higher education, for pupils who do not proceed to higher education, and in comparison with the International Baccalaureate;

calls, further, on the Commission to submit this report to the Board of Governors and the European Institutions;

17.  Is of the opinion that the Board of Governors should present to the budgetary authority before 15 February 2003 a fully-fledged financial and budgetary proposal for the creation of the new European Schools in Alicante and Frankfurt;

18.  Requests that the Board of Governors in future seek the prior approval of the budgetary authority for decisions it intends to take that have considerable multi-annual implications for the budget of the Union;

19.  Calls upon the Board of Governors to review its self-set criteria for the closure of existing schools, taking into account the availability of alternatives and guaranteeing existing language diversity;

20.  Requests the Board of Governors to discontinue the repartition of pupils in three categories, as it is discriminatory;

21.  Requests the Board of Governors to present to the budgetary authority, before 1 March 2003, a proposal to bring the tuition fee which is requested from the parents of the pupils, more into line with the real cost per pupil; considers that the tuition fee should be at least equal to the allowance which EU officials receive for children in full-time education;

22.  Considers that the Convention of 1994 may need revision in light of the above recommendations;

23.  Requests the Council and the Member States, when taking decisions on the creation of new agencies and their location, to choose locations where there are other international institutions or organisations in order to facilitate the financing and operation of a future model of the European School;

Educational aspects

24.  Believes that nursery and primary school classes, taught by a single qualified teacher, should not be larger than 30 pupil equivalents; calls on the Board of Governors to endorse this principle;

25.  Calls on the Commission to ensure, through its representative on the Board of Governors of the European Schools, that a coefficient is developed in respect of children with special educational needs and of pupils whose mother tongue is different from the language in which they receive most of their instruction (Language I), and that this coefficient is applied when class sizes are calculated;

26.  Calls on the Commission to ensure, through its representative on the Board of Governors of the European Schools, that the Board actively explores the suitability of qualifications other than the European Baccalaureate, for which pupils with certified special educational needs might study;

27.  Calls on the Board of Governors of the European Schools to ensure that none of its meetings is held in a city without a European School; calls, further, for the agenda of Board meetings normally to include the opportunity for Board members who wish to do so to visit a European School;

28.  Calls on the Board of Governors, in the interest of transparency, to make all non-confidential agendas and minutes of its meetings publicly available on-line; considers that, when the revision of the 1994 Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools enters into force, where qualified majority votes have been held, the minutes should also record the position of each Board Member;

o   o

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors, the Board of Governors of the European Schools and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 212, 17.8.1994, p. 3.
(2) Chapter 7, paragraph 5.
(3) 2002-D-163.
(4) OJ C 109, 14.4.2000, p.1.
(5) PE 227.940.
(6) PE 311.066.

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