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Procedure : 2019/2067(DEC)
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A9-0051/2020

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P9_TA(2020)0100

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Thursday, 14 May 2020 - Brussels Provisional edition
Discharge 2018: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0100A9-0051/2020
Decision
 Decision
 Resolution

1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (now European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2067(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditionsfor the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018, together with the agencies’ replies(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) 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 2018, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 18 February 2020 on discharge to be given to the Foundation in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0034/2020),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(3), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(4), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EEC) No 1365/75 of the Council of 26 May 1975 on the creation of a European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions(5), and in particular Article 16 thereof,

–  Regulation (EU) 2019/127 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 January 2019 establishing the European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions (Eurofound), and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1365/75(6), and in particular Article 16 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the TFEU and Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(8), and in particular Article 105 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0051/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) discharge in respect of the implementation of the Foundation’s budget for the financial year 2018;

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 Executive Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 417,11.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 139, 30.5.1975, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 30, 31.1.2019, p. 74.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.


2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (now European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2067(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018, together with the agencies’ replies(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) 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 2018, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 18 February 2020 on discharge to be given to the Foundation in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0034/2020),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(3), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(4), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EEC) No 1365/75 of the Council of 26 May 1975 on the creation of a European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions(5), and in particular Article 16 thereof,

–  Regulation (EU) 2019/127 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 January 2019 establishing the European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions (Eurofound), and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1365/75(6), and in particular Article 16 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the TFEU and Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(8) , and in particular Article 105 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0051/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 139, 30.5.1975, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 30, 31.1.2019, p. 74.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.


3. European Parliament resolution of 14 May 2020 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (now European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2067(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to Rule 100 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0051/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(1), the final budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (the ‘Foundation’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 20 760 000 representing an increase of 1,37 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget from the Foundation derives mainly from the Union budget;

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) in its report on the Foundation’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Foundation’s annual accounts are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular;

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that the budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 99,58 %, representing a slight decrease of 0,42 % compared to 2017; takes note of the fact that the payment appropriations execution rate was 82,70 %, representing an increase of 2 % compared to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Foundation uses four key performance indicators (KPIs), included in its performance monitoring system, which in addition to the KPIs consists of ‘metrics’ (other indicators for operational processes) and qualitative assessment and evaluation, to assess the added value, including the outcome and impact, provided by its activities, and to improve its budget management;

3.  Encourages the Foundation to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

4.  Acknowledges the fact that the delivery of work programme outputs planned for 2018 were 83 % achieved (48 of 58 outputs), and that the Foundation contributed to 236 policy development events (41 % of them at Union level);

5.  Notes that the Foundation continued cooperation with other Union agencies and implemented actions agreed in annual plans with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), and continued its preparations in collaboration with Cedefop on the fourth European Company Survey;

6.  Notes that the Foundation, which was the subject of the external cross-agency evaluation, together with Cedefop, EU-OSHA and ETF, covering the period 2012 to 2016, and focused on the assessment of the agencies’ work regarding relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and Union added value, as well as the future of the four Agencies, has developed an action plan to address the finding of that evaluation; calls on the Foundation to report to the discharge authority on the results of the final report, particularly as regards to the evaluation on the Union added value provided by the Foundation, and the views on the future of the Foundation;

7.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a feasibility study in order to assess the possibility of merging the Foundation with Cedefop; underlines that the Foundation and Cedefop have a very similar field of operation and that such a merger would simplify the funding of the two Agencies, as well as clarify the system of Union agencies in the eyes of the public; calls on the Commission to consider at least setting up shared synergies with Cedefop; calls upon the Commission to evaluate the following alternatives: the transfer of the Foundation to the headquarters of Cedefop in Thessaloniki and the transfer of Cedefop transfer to the headquarters of the Foundation in Loughlinstown; notes that this would mean sharing corporate and support services and the management of the common premises, as well as shared ICT, telecommunications and internet-based infrastructures, saving large amounts of money which would be used on further funding of both agencies;

8.  Notes that an external evaluation of the Union agencies under the remit of Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (Eurofound, Cedefop, ETF and EU-OSHA) was carried out in 2018, on behalf of the Commission, with regard to their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and Union value-added; calls on the Foundation to report to the discharge authority on the results of that evaluation;

9.  Stresses the importance of the Foundation's high-quality work to provide scientifically sound, unbiased, timely and policy-relevant knowledge, expertise and evidence-based support for Union policy development and policymakers in the areas of living and working conditions, labour market and industrial relations across the Union, and the importance of retaining the tripartite nature of its governance model involving employers’ and workers’ organisations, governments from all Member States, as well as the Commission; welcomes in particular the publication of the Foundation's overview report from the most recent European quality of life survey (EQLS) and its publications related to the future of work and digitalisation, particularly in the area of platform work;

10.  Stresses the importance of the Foundation’s contributions for the development of forecasting tools and gathering of information in different areas such as the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, work-life balance and quality of life, the future of work, manufacturing, digitalisation and platform work;

11.  Notes the Foundation's increased workload and stakeholders' increased expectations and highlights the importance of ensuring adequate material and human resources allowing the Foundation to fully implement its tasks, while ensuring, in general, the agencies’ pre-eminence over private contractors;

12.  Welcomes the Foundation's commitment to economic, social and environmental sustainability of its operations ensuring a cost-effective and environmentally friendly work place and for using public procurement as an important instrument towards all three categories of sustainability in its operations;

13.  Highlights that transparency and citizens’ awareness of the existence of the agencies are essential for their democratic accountability; considers that usability and ease of use of agency resources and data are of paramount importance; calls therefore for an assessment of how data and resources are currently presented and made available and of the degree to which citizens find them easy to identify, recognise and use; recalls that public awareness in this respect can be raised by Member States through developing a comprehensive plan to reach out to more Union citizens;

Staff policy

14.  Notes that on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 96,70 % executed, with 88 officials or temporary agents appointed out of 91 authorised under the Union budget (compared to 93 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 11 contract agents and 1 seconded national expert worked for the Foundation in 2018;

15.  Notes with satisfaction that gender balance was achieved among senior managers (1 man and 1 woman); is concerned, however that there is no gender balance at management board level (97 men and 64 women);

16.  Welcomes the results of the job screening exercise carried out in December 2018, which shows a relatively high level of stability year on year;

Procurement

17.  Notes from the Court’s report that the Foundation did not systematically check prices and uplifts charged with the suppliers’ quotes and invoices issued to the framework contractor for the acquisition of software licences; notes from the Foundation’s reply that this framework contract has been replaced by a multiple framework contract in which the issues raised by the Court have been addressed; urges the Foundation to adapt ex-ante controls on payments under framework contracts and to ensure there is a competitive procedure for all procurements;

18.  Encourages the Foundation to implement the Court's recommendations as, for instance, the e-submission process;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

19.  Notes the Foundation’s existing measures on and ongoing efforts to secure transparency, the prevention and management of conflicts of interests, and the protection of whistleblowers;

Internal controls

20.  Acknowledges the fact that the Foundation adopted a revised internal control framework marking a shift from a compliance-based to a principles-based process;

21.  Notes with appreciation that Commission’s internal audit service finalised a performance audit on “prioritisation of the Foundation’s activities and allocation of resources” in 2018; calls on the Foundation to report the results of that audit to the discharge authority;

Other comments

22.  Notes that the Foundation is working to increase the environmental sustainability of its operations, that new video conferencing facilities have been installed during 2018 and that the offsetting of CO2 emissions is being discussed within the network of agencies;

23.  Calls on the Foundation to focus on disseminating the results of its research to the public, and to reach out to the public via the social media and other media outlets;

o
o   o

24.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(2) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) O.J. C 120/35, 29.03.2019, p.179.
(2) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.

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