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Procedure : 2014/2080(DEC)
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Document selected : A8-0111/2015

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Debates :

PV 28/04/2015 - 16
CRE 28/04/2015 - 16

Votes :

PV 29/04/2015 - 10.15
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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015 - Strasbourg
Discharge 2013: EU general budget - Court of Justice

1.European Parliament decision of 29 April 2015 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section IV – Court of Justice (2014/2080(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2013 (COM(2014)0510 – C8‑0149/2014)(2),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2013, together with the institutions’ replies(3),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(4) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2013, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5),

–  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(6), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0111/2015),

1.  Grants the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Justice for the financial year 2013;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the resolution forming an integral part of it to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ L 66, 8.3.2013.
(2) OJ C 403, 13.11.2014, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 398, 12.11.2014, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 403, 13.11.2014, p. 128.
(5) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

2.European Parliament resolution of 29 April 2015 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section IV – Court of Justice (2014/2080(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section IV – Court of Justice,

–  having regard to the Decision of the European Ombudsman of 26 February 2015 closing her own-initiative inquiry OI/1/2014/PMC concerning whistleblowing,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0111/2015),

1.  Notes with satisfaction that in its 2013 annual report, the Court of Auditors observed that no significant weaknesses had been identified in respect of the audited topics relating to human resources and procurement for the Court of Justice of the European Union ('Court of Justice');

2.  Welcomes the fact that, on the basis of its audit work, the Court of Auditors concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended on 31 December 2013 for administrative and other expenditure of the institutions and bodies were free from material error;

3.  Notes that in 2013, the Court of Justice had appropriations amounting to EUR 354 880 000 (EUR 348 300 000 in 2012) and that the implementation rate was 96,3 %; regrets the decrease of the utilisation rate in 2013 when compared to that of 98,6 % in 2012;

4.  Takes note that the lower implementation rate can be attributed to the fact that the initial appropriations for 2013 had included a proposed adjustment to salaries and pensions, totalling almost EUR 6 000 000, whereas no adjustment was ultimately granted by the Council; points out that the reasons behind the unexpected ruling on the salary adjustment are no longer applicable following the agreement on the new Staff Regulation in 2014;

5.  Stresses, however, that the Court of Justice's budget is purely administrative, with a large amount being used on expenditure concerning persons working within the institution; takes note of the justification for the decrease in the utilisation rate stated in the Court of Justice's annual activity report for the 2013 financial year;

6.  Notes that the Court of Justice completed 701 cases in 2013 (595 completed cases in 2012), had 699 new cases brought before it (632 in 2012), including 450 appeals and references for preliminary ruling; endorses the positive statistical results and finds that despite the good outcome, there is still margin for improvement;

7.  Takes note that in 2013 the General Court received 790 new cases, had 702 cases dealt with and 1325 cases pending, constituting a general increase in the number of proceedings when compared to 2012; notes also that the duration of proceedings has slightly decreased; points out that the creation of a ninth chamber did not contribute in 2013 to an increase in the General Court's efficiency yet notwithstanding this, reiterates its position that the General Court needs reinforcement in the area of human resources;

8.  Notes that in 2013, the Civil Service Tribunal completed 184 cases, as against 121 in 2012 ( increase of 52 %), thus reducing the number of pending cases by 24 (i.e. a decrease of its backlog by 11 %); believes that the elimination of the Civil Service Tribunal is an inadequate solution to face the Council's long lasting blockage;

9.  Considers that there is still a margin for improvement within the existing resources at the disposal of the Court of Justice; stresses that the internal reforms implemented in 2013, namely the creation of a new chamber in the General Court and the new Advocate General, as well as the reform of the Rules of Procedure governing the operation of the Court of Justice, particularly in the areas of languages and the use of technology, and other supplementary rules, have contributed to positive changes in the system that have enabled progress to be made in optimising resources; encourages the Court of Justice to continue with this approach;

10.  Recommends that the institution be reorganised in such a way as to make a clearer separation between legal and administrative functions, thus bringing the setup more closely in line with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights so that judges no longer run the risk of having to rule on appeals against acts in which their authorities have been directly involved;

11.  Recalls that in its response to the discharge resolution 2012 the Court of Justice indicates that holding more hearings and issuing more judgments would not increase productivity significantly; points out that on the other hand, the Court of Justice asked to increase the number of judges; urges the Court of Justice to request an external peer review in order to be provided with external instruments to identify possible solutions to the problems raised by the Court of Justice;

12.  Highlights the particular importance of respect for multilingualism in the Court of Justice since it must guarantee not only equal access to the Court of Justice’s case-law but also equal opportunities for the parties involved in litigation before the Court of Justice;

13.  Regrets the insufficient information received during the discharge procedure regarding the list of external activities pursued by the Judges; asks the Court of Justice to publish on its homepage a register which includes detailed information on the outside activities of each judge with an impact on the Union budget;

14.  Calls on the Court of Justice, in the case of the two retired staff translators who were awarded translation contracts, to submit a report making it possible to verify that the situation meets the requirements of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union as regards both conflicts of interest and pay;

15.  Asks the Court of Justice to consider a consolidation of the Registries of the Court of Justice into one Registry in order to ensure a better coordination of procedural actions between the Courts;

16.  Takes note of the improvements made in the e-Curia application; acknowledges that the application has not yet achieved its full potential; recommends that the Court of Justice establish a plan to encourage all the Member States to use it;

17.  Acknowledges the launch in 2013 of the digital case-law reports project to replace the paper case-law reports; is of the opinion that this project could have been implemented earlier;

18.  Considers that the Court of Justice, taking into account the data provided in the annual activity report, can further reduce the number of paper copies without undermining its responsibilities;

19.  Encourages the Court of Justice, given that the Court of Justice had its first live web streaming broadcast in 2013, to use the technology further and widen its application to work related matters;

20.  Recognises that the quality of interpretation at the Court of Justice is fundamental and it is not possible to control the number of hearings; believes, however, that a more efficient planning of the hearings' calendar is possible; suggests that the Court of Justice, in its interinstitutional relations, looks for best practices undertaken by other institutions on this matter;

21.  Notes the Court of Justice's policy of giving preference to the use of internal resources, in particular within the translation services; understands the difficulties in finding some language combinations with a legal expertise background; is deeply concerned however with the very high unused appropriations - EUR 2 200 000 - allocated to freelance translation; considers therefore that outsourcing, if needed, should also lead to further savings;

22.  Asks the Court of Justice to consider implementing a system of translation "on demand" for specific cases and to make more frequent use of technological based translation tools;

23.  Asks the Court to verify on a case by case basis the necessity of translation if there is a limited relevance for Union citizens;

24.  Observes with concern the enormous disparities in translation costs for the different Union institutions; asks consequently that the Interinstitutional Working Group on Translation identify the causes of these disparities and put forward solutions that will bring this imbalance to an end and produce harmonised translation costs that fully respect quality and linguistic diversity; notes, with this in mind, that the Working Group should relaunch collaboration between the institutions in order to share best practice and outcomes and identify those areas in which cooperation or agreements between institutions may be strengthened; notes that the Working Group should also aim to establish a unified methodology for presentation of translation costs which all the institutions can use, in order to simplify the analysis and comparison of these costs; notes that the Working Group should present the results of this work before the end of 2015; calls on all the institutions to play an active part in the work of the Interinstitutional Working Group; recalls in this regard the fundamental importance of respect for multilingualism in the Union institutions in order to guarantee equal treatment and equal opportunities for all Union citizens;

25.  Considers that at a time of crisis and budgetary cuts in general, the cost of ʽaway daysʼ for staff at the Union institutions has to be reduced and that these should take place, where possible, on the institutionsʼ own premises as the added value derived from these away days does not justify such high costs;

26.  Expects that the Court of Justice will continue to look for new in-house synergies, in particular in the areas of translation and interpretation;

27.  Reiterates the request to have the agenda of the Court of Justice meetings included as an annex in the annual activity report of the corresponding year;

28.  Recommends the establishment of some objective criteria to define the excessive delay in the period for delivering judgments;

29.  Regrets the fact that the Member States which acceded the Union after 2004 are not represented in the top management of the institution; reiterates the need for a greater geographical balance at all levels within the administration;

30.  Is concerned by the shortage of women in positions of responsibility at the Court of Justice (70 % - 30 %); calls for an equal opportunities plan to be set in motion, particularly in relation to management posts, with the aim of correcting this imbalance as soon as possible;

31.  Takes note that the rules applied by the Court of Justice governing the private use of official cars are similar to those applied in other institutions; is of the opinion that those rules should be updated in order to reduce costs, notably in the case of private use;

32.  Calls on the Court of Justice to reduce the number of official cars at the disposal of the Members and staff and to report to Parliament on the savings made; is of the opinion that a revision of post assignments for drivers will thus be required; points out that the cost of the extended private services provided by drivers is borne by Union taxpayers;

33.  Believes that the Court of Justice should improve its environmental commitment by further developing the existing measures to reduce emissions and to include environmental criteria in procurement;

34.  Takes note of the Court of Justice's commitment to continue improving its system for the timely monitoring and control of the recruitment and procurement procedures; supports the Court of Justice in its continued efforts to monitor the management of allowances and to improve its performance levels;

35.  Finds the amount of contracts concluded under negotiated procedure quite high; requests to be thoroughly informed of the reasons behind those decisions;

36.  Calls on the Court of Justice to include in its annual activity reports, in compliance with the existing rules on confidentiality and data protection, the results and consequences of closed OLAF cases, where the institution or any of the individuals working for it were the subject of the investigation;

37.  Takes note of the Court of Justice's building policy attached to the annual activity report;

38.  Notes with satisfaction that the Court of Justice has prepared a thorough and detailed annual activity report and has included in it in-depth information on its human resources management, as requested by Parliament;

39.  Is concerned by the delayed adoption of the internal whistle-blowing rules; calls on the Court of Justice to implement these without further delay.

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