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Procedure : 2018/2086(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0378/2018

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Debates :

PV 14/01/2019 - 20
CRE 14/01/2019 - 20

Votes :

PV 15/01/2019 - 8.12
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Texts adopted
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Tuesday, 15 January 2019 - Strasbourg
Assessing how the EU budget is used for public sector reform

European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2019 on assessing how the EU budget is used for public sector reform (2018/2086(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘Public Sector Reform: How the EU budget is used to encourage it’ published by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies in 2016(1),

–  having regard to the Europe 2020 strategy,

–  having regard to the current EU funding period (2014-2020) and the Commission’s proposal for the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2028),

–  having regard to the agreement reached by the co-legislators in July 2018 to increase the budget of the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP),

–  having regard to Article 197 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0378/2018),

A.  whereas public administration in the Member States is fundamental to the implementation of the EU budget and, when it works effectively, can help to deliver modern systems that improve prosperity and welfare in the EU;

B.  whereas the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposal does not include a dedicated objective for public administration as it currently stands;

1.  Notes that public administration competences are spread across various Commission services and that this complicates the effective coordination of competent services, EU-funded programmes and initiatives; calls for all technical assistance programmes to be coordinated more closely so as to avoid overlap and ensure that measures will not be so ineffective as to cancel out all the Commission’s efforts to promote the combined use of funds with a view to exploiting synergies; calls on the Commission to improve its systems for the exchange of good practices in order to help the Member States implement best practice without imposing policies geared towards wage devaluation and socially unsustainable reforms;

2.  Calls on the next Commission President to assign responsibility for issues relating to better public administration and governance to one Commissioner;

3.  Is of the opinion that effective public sector reform is essential in helping Member States adapt to changing circumstances, increase resilience to prevent future crises, expand eGovernment and improve the delivery of services throughout the EU, especially with regard to new technology and IT systems, and that it would greatly assist in the reduction of waste and exposure to waste, and the loss or fraudulent use of Union funds; calls, therefore, for funding also to be provided in future programming periods for operations to deploy eGovernment in keeping with the principles and priorities set out in the EU eGovernment Action Plan;

4.  Notes that, especially in regions lagging behind, it often proves difficult to gain access to, or use, funding, owing to red tape, administrative capacity issues or irregularities; hopes, therefore, that Member States will pursue internal reforms aimed at giving more tangible effect to the principle of sound administration and expediting judicial proceedings;

5.  Notes that the EU budget provides approximately EUR 9 billion in support to EU Member States for public administration reform; encourages the Commission to match this financial support with the targeted sharing of knowledge, experience and good practices among Member States;

6.  Calls on the Commission to step up cooperation with Member States in order to support regions lagging behind, enhancing capacity and administrative governance;

7.  Calls for measures to encourage the implementation of programmes that promote the development and implementation of human resource strategies, for example through exchanges of best practice among Member States, also involving leaders and other senior figures;

8.  Points out that specific operational programmes and other EU funding resources have frequently been found to overlap in many respects, and calls for proposals to be put forward; hopes, accordingly, that assistance will be improved so as to make for coordination, complementarity and simplification;

9.  Underlines the importance of ensuring that operational programmes are implemented in the most effective and user-friendly manner possible; considers it essential that Member States refrain from adding rules that complicate the use of funds for the beneficiary;

10.  Notes that the Commission has neither a standardised and shared assessment framework for public administration nor a method of systematic data collection; notes with concern that as a result of the lack of these tools, the Commission produces incomplete analyses of issues across the Member States; proposes the reintroduction of a chapter dedicated to public administration and governance in the Annual Growth Survey;

11.  Calls on the Commission to assess the administrative capacity of development policy implementation machinery in advance and, for projects of particular strategic importance, to encourage the use of national bodies and agencies capable of enhancing and speeding up the implementation of programmes and individual operations;

12.  Believes that the MFF should be used to incentivise programmes that deliver better public administration and governance, in particular to help Member States in times of economic downturn, recognising that in such circumstances reforms in the area of public administration systems can help the Member States affected;

13.  Welcomes the fact that proposals have been put forward in the next MFF in order to avoid programme overlaps and encourage further simplification;

14.  Encourages the Commission to develop, in cooperation with the Member States, a dedicated assessment framework that captures the quantitative and qualitative aspects of high-quality public administration, and to build its own analytical capacity; points to the need to determine the weaknesses of each Member State and, using the available resources, promote measures to overcome problems by tightening up the criterion of ex ante conditionality and setting targets;

15.  Proposes that the Commission enhance policy dialogue with Member States by ensuring the establishment of a dedicated forum;

16.  Proposes setting aside time in its parliamentary calendar for a structured dialogue with national parliaments on the issues associated with improving public administration across the EU; calls for the EU to improve the monitoring and assessment of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds under thematic objective 11 by incorporating specific indicators to gauge progress in terms of meeting the EU targets and priorities for public administration reforms;

17.  Welcomes the development of a benchmark to assess the public administration capacity of EU candidate countries to take on the responsibilities of EU membership; hopes that Member States will pursue internal reforms aimed at giving even more tangible effect to the principle of sound administration;

18.  Notes that the European Public Sector Award (EPSA) is co-funded by the Commission and some Member States, bringing together the best, most innovative and most efficient performers in the European public sector; is of the opinion that the Commission should ensure more learning and information exchange, and aim for a wider reach across Europe;

19.  Considers that, within public administrations, innovation processes should be promoted so as to make for better connectivity, digitalisation and quality digital services for citizens, businesses and public authorities, while constantly keeping step with the rapid development of new technologies in the areas concerned; welcomes the fact that the new proposal for a Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) provides future beneficiaries with the information necessary to enable them to use the systems as rapidly as possible;

20.  Recognises that the engagement of local administration is a prerequisite for the achievement of EU-level objectives in this area; draws attention to the Tallinn Declaration proposal of ‘enhancing the joint governance structures with local and regional authorities’ at national level(2);

21.  Welcomes the existing networks(3) that bring together Member State representatives – particularly those receiving EU funding – in order to improve public administration through the sharing of best practices and mutual learning;

22.  Takes the view that the existing networks could significantly improve their performance by setting more ambitious objectives and developing more proactive approaches such as benchlearning, combining Member State self-assessment with an enhanced peer review system;

23.  Believes that high-quality public administration is an essential pre-condition for achieving EU policy objectives under the MFF and elsewhere; stresses the importance of good communication and political awareness in building trust and stimulating positive reform actions and programmes;

24.  Believes continuous assessment to be necessary in order to ascertain whether cohesion policies are complying with the principle of additionality and complementarity in relation to operations financed with ordinary resources, and, not least, to ensure that cohesion policies do not become a substitute for ordinary national resources;

25.  Notes that, although ESI Fund resources for the regional implementation plan (RIP) have increased quantitatively during the last programming period, monitoring could be improved in order to assess the impact that this funding is having on the RIP;

26.  Calls for the continuation of the work of the Commission’s Working Groups responsible for assisting Member States’ national authorities to better implement cohesion policy funds in those Member States that are lagging behind in terms of absorption of ESI Fund resources;

27.  Stresses the importance of the reform support programme, and hopes that it will be enhanced in the upcoming programming period, by spelling out its role as a facilitator rather than a source of technical assistance, and that it will also be improved in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, and without reducing the cohesion budget by the amounts currently proposed by the Commission in the MFF 2021-2027;

28.  Notes that, while it has no direct legal competences in the administrative sector, the EU does have a beneficial effect on public administration in Member States and, in particular, plays an indirect role by laying down administrative standards in the acquis communautaire, enabling best practices to be exchanged across the Union, and providing budget instruments to support and encourage public administration reform by boosting administrative capacity and the efficiency of administrations and fostering innovation in the public sector;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Study – ‘Public Sector Reform: How the EU budget is used to encourage it’, European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department D – Budgetary Affairs, 2016.
(3) The European Public Administration Network (EUPAN); the Thematic Network on Public Administration and Governance (PAG), and other platforms and networks with a specific focus on justice, anti-corruption, digitalisation, public procurement, etc.

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