Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 14 May 2020 - BrusselsProvisional edition
Genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127
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 Temporary measures concerning the general meetings of European companies (SEs) and of European Cooperative Societies (SCEs) ***
 Parliament's estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2021

Genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127
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European Parliament resolution of 14 May 2020 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D065067/03 ‒ 2020/2535(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0069B9-0121/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D065067/03),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed(1), and in particular Articles 7(3) and 19(3) thereof,

–  having regard to the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, on 9 December 2019, at which no opinion was delivered, and to the vote of the Appeal Committee on 23 January 2020, at which again no opinion was delivered,

–  having regard to Articles 11 and 13 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(2),

–  having regard to the opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 22 May 2019, and published on 5 July 2019(3),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions objecting to the authorisation of genetically modified organisms (‘GMOs’)(4),

–  having regard to Rule 112(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

A.  whereas, on 28 October 2016, Monsanto Europe N.V. on behalf of Monsanto Company, submitted to the national competent authority of the Netherlands an application in accordance with Articles 5 and 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 (‘the application’); whereas the application covered the placing on the market of foods, food ingredients and feed containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified (GM) soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, as well as the placing on the market of products containing or consisting of GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127 for uses other than food and feed, with the exception of cultivation;

B.  whereas, on 22 May 2019, EFSA adopted a favourable opinion, which was published on 5 July 2019, in relation to that application;

C.  whereas GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127 has been developed to confer tolerance to dicamba, glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate-based herbicides(5);

Complementary herbicides

D.  whereas it has been shown that the cultivation of herbicide-tolerant GM crops results in a higher use of herbicides, due in large part to the emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds(6); whereas, as a consequence, it is to be expected that crops of GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127 will be exposed to both higher and repeated doses of the complementary herbicides (glufosinate, dicamba and glyphosate), which will potentially lead to a higher quantity of residues in the harvest;

E.  whereas a peer-reviewed study found that glyphosate accumulates in GM soybeans(7); whereas a pilot project carried out in Argentina found surprisingly high levels of glyphosate residues on GM soybeans(8);

F.  whereas questions concerning the carcinogenicity of glyphosate remain; whereas EFSA concluded in November 2015 that glyphosate was unlikely to be carcinogenic and the European Chemicals Agency concluded in March 2017 that no classification was warranted; whereas, on the contrary, in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen for humans; whereas a number of recent scientific peer-reviewed studies confirm the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate(9);

G.  whereas glufosinate is classified as toxic to reproduction 1B and thus meets the ‘cut-off criteria’ set out in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council(10); whereas the approval of glufosinate for use in the Union expired on 31 July 2018(11);

H.  whereas in GM plants, the way that complementary herbicides are broken down by the plant, and the composition and thus toxicity of the break-down products (‘metabolites’), may be driven by the genetic modification itself(12);

I.  whereas, in spite of this, the assessment of herbicide residues and their metabolites on GM plants is considered to be outside the remit of the EFSA Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms;

J.  whereas, whilst EFSA states in its opinion that ‘the assessment of herbicide residues relevant for this application has been investigated by the EFSA Pesticide Unit’, this is not sufficient in itself since the combinatorial toxicity of the complementary herbicides and metabolites as well as their potential interaction with the GM plant itself, in this case GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, have not been taken into account;

K.  whereas, in addition, according to the EFSA Pesticide Unit, toxicological data allowing a consumer risk assessment to be performed for several metabolites of glyphosate relevant for GM glyphosate-tolerant crops are missing(13) and there are insufficient data to derive maximum residue levels (‘MRLs’) for glyphosate on GM soybeans(14);

L.  whereas the lack of analysis of herbicide residues on the GM crops and the potential health risks for consumers has been raised as a concern by a number of Member State competent authorities(15);

M.  whereas the conclusions of an international research project entitled ‘Risk Assessment of genetically engineered organisms in the EU and Switzerland’, presented in January 2020, found that the Union risk assessment of GMOs fails to deal in a satisfactory way with risks to public health and the environment, including in relation to the health risks associated with the consumption of products derived from herbicide-tolerant GM plants(16);

MRLs and related controls

N.  whereas, under Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council(17), which aims to ensure a high level of consumer protection in relation to MRLs, the residues on imported crops for food and feed of active substances which are not authorised for use in the Union should be carefully controlled and monitored(18);

O.  whereas, on the contrary, under the latest coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union (for 2020, 2021 and 2022), Member States are not obliged to measure glufosinate residues on any products, including soybean(19); whereas it cannot be excluded that glufosinate residues on GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, or products derived from it for food and feed, will exceed MRLs, which have been put in place to ensure a high level of consumer protection;

Undemocratic decision-making

P.  whereas the vote on 9 December 2019 of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 delivered no opinion, meaning that the authorisation was not supported by a qualified majority of Member States; whereas, the vote on 23 January 2020 of the Appeal Committee also delivered no opinion;

Q.  whereas the Commission recognises that the fact that GMO authorisation decisions continue to be adopted by the Commission without a qualified majority of Member States in favour, which is very much the exception for product authorisations as a whole but which has become the norm for decision-making on GM food and feed authorisations, is problematic(20);

R.  whereas, in its eighth term, Parliament adopted a total of 36 resolutions objecting to the placing on the market of GMOs for food and feed (33 resolutions) and to the cultivation of GMOs in the Union (three resolutions); whereas, to date, Parliament has adopted seven objections in its ninth term; whereas there was not a qualified majority of Member States in favour of authorising any of those GMOs; whereas despite its own acknowledgement of the democratic shortcomings, the lack of support from Member States and the objections of Parliament, the Commission continues to authorise GMOs;

S.  whereas no change of law is required for the Commission to be able not to authorise GMOs when there is no qualified majority of Member States in favour in the Appeal Committee(21);

Upholding the Union’s international obligations

T.  whereas Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 provides that GM food or feed must not have adverse effects on human health, animal health or the environment, and requires the Commission to take into account any relevant provisions of Union law and other legitimate factors relevant to the matter under consideration when drafting its decision; whereas these legitimate factors should include the Union’s obligations under the United Nations’ (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’), the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (‘UN CBD’);

U.  whereas a recent report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to Food found that, particularly in developing countries, hazardous pesticides have catastrophic impacts on health(22); whereas SDG Target 3.9 aims by 2030 to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination(23);

V.  whereas EFSA found that the estimated operator exposure to glufosinate, classified as toxic to reproduction, when used for weed control in GM maize exceeded the acceptable operator exposure level (AOEL) even when personal protective equipment was used(24); whereas the risk of increased operator exposure is of particular concern in relation to herbicide-tolerant GM crops, given the higher volumes of herbicides used;

W.  whereas deforestation is a major cause of biodiversity decline; whereas emissions from land-use and land-use change, mostly due to deforestation, are the second biggest cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels(25); whereas the Paris Climate Agreement and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 adopted under the UN CBD and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets promote sustainable forest management, protection and restoration efforts(26); whereas SDG 15 includes the target of halting deforestation by 2020(27); whereas forests play a multifunctional role that support the achievement of most SDGs(28);

X.  whereas soya production is a key driver of deforestation in the Amazon, Cerrado and Gran Chaco forests in South America; whereas 97 % and 100 % of soya cultivated respectively in Brazil and Argentina is GM soya(29);

Y.  whereas the Union is the world’s second largest importer of soya, the majority of which is imported for animal feed; whereas analysis by the Commission has found that soya has historically been the Union’s number one contributor to global deforestation and related emissions, accounting for nearly half of the deforestation embodied in all Union imports(30);

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision is not consistent with Union law, in that it is not compatible with the aim of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which is, in accordance with the general principles laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council(31), to provide the basis for ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, animal health and welfare, and environmental and consumer interests, in relation to GM food and feed, while ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision;

4.  Calls on the Commission not to authorise the import for food or feed uses of any GM plant which has been made tolerant to a herbicide, in this case glufosinate, which is not authorised for use in the Union;

5.  Calls on the Commission, in the upcoming REFIT of the MRL legislation as well as the Farm to Fork strategy, to commit to not permitting the presence of any residues of toxic pesticides, such as glufosinate, in imports of food and feed into the Union; reiterates its call to the Commission and Member States to ensure effective controls of agricultural products imported from third countries with a view to ensuring a high level of health protection and a level playing field for European food production(32);

6.  Calls on the Commission to fully integrate the risk assessment of complementary herbicide residues and their metabolites, including combinatorial effects, into the risk assessment of herbicide-tolerant GM plants, regardless of whether the GM plant concerned is to be cultivated in the Union or is for import into the Union for food and feed uses;

7.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw proposals for GMO authorisations, whether for cultivation or for food and feed uses, if no opinion is delivered by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health;

8.  Notes and welcomes that the mission letter of each Commissioner states that they ‘will ensure the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within their policy area. The College as a whole will be responsible for the overall implementation of the Goals.’(33);

9.  Welcomes that the European Green Deal, the flagship project of the Commission, has been put forward as an integral part of the Commission’s strategy to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs;

10.  Recalls that SDGs can only be achieved if supply chains become sustainable and synergies are created between policies(34);

11.  Reiterates its alarm that the Union’s high dependence on imports of animal feed in the form of soybeans causes deforestation in third countries(35);

12.  Calls on the Commission not to authorise the import of GM soybeans, unless it can be shown that their cultivation did not contribute to deforestation;

13.  Urges the Commission to review all its current authorisations for GM soybeans in light of the Union’s international obligations, including those under the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN CBD and the SDGs;

14.  Reiterates its call for the implementation of a European vegetable protein production and supply strategy(36), which would enable the Union to become less dependent on GM soybean imports and to create shorter food chains and regional markets; insists that this be integrated into the upcoming Farm to Fork Strategy;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) Scientific Opinion of the EFSA Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms on the assessment of genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127, for food and feed uses, under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 (application EFSA-GMO-NL-2016-135), EFSA Journal 2019;17(7):5733, https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2019.5733
(4)––––––– In its eighth term, Parliament adopted 36 resolutions objecting to the authorisation of GMOs. Furthermore, in its ninth term Parliament has adopted the following resolutions:European Parliament resolution of 10 October 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified maize MZHG0JG (SYN-ØØØJG-2), pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0028).European Parliament resolution of 10 October 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified soybean A2704-12 (ACS-GMØØ5-3) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0029).European Parliament resolution of 10 October 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified maize MON 89034 × 1507 × MON 88017 × 59122 × DAS-40278-9 and genetically modified maize combining two, three or four of the single events MON 89034, 1507, MON 88017, 59122 and DAS-40278-9 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0030).European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified cotton LLCotton25 (ACS-GHØØ1-3) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0054).European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 89788 (MON-89788-1) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0055).European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified maize MON 89034 × 1507 × NK603 × DAS-40278-9 and sub-combinations MON 89034 × NK603 × DAS-40278-9, 1507 × NK603 × DAS-40278-9 and NK603 × DAS-40278-9 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0056).European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × 1507 × 5307 × GA21 and genetically modified maize combining two, three, four or five of the single events Bt11, MIR162, MIR604, 1507, 5307 and GA21 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0057).
(5) EFSA opinion, p. 3.
(6) See, for example, Bonny, S., ‘Genetically Modified Herbicide-Tolerant Crops, Weeds, and Herbicides: Overview and Impact’, Environmental Management, January 2016, 57(1), pp. 31-48, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26296738 and Benbrook, C.M., ‘Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. - the first sixteen years’, Environmental Sciences Europe 24, 24 (2012), https://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/2190-4715-24-24
(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24491722
(8) https://www.testbiotech.org/sites/default/files/TBT_Background_Glyphosate_Argentina_0.pdf
(9) See, for example, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1383574218300887, https://academic.oup.com/ije/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ije/dyz017/5382278, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0219610, and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612199/
(10) Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC (OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1).
(11) https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/eu-pesticides-database/public/?event=activesubstance.detail&language=EN&selectedID=1436
(12) This is indeed the case for glyphosate, as stated in EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for glyphosate according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, EFSA Journal 2018;16(5):5263, p. 12, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/efsajournal/pub/5263
(13) EFSA Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate, EFSA Journal 2015;13(11):4302, p. 3, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4302
(14) EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for glyphosate according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 – revised version to take into account omitted data, EFSA Journal 2019;17(10):5862, p. 4, https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2019.5862
(15) Member State comments on GM soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127 can be accessed via EFSA’s register of questions: http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/login?
(16) https://www.testbiotech.org/sites/default/files/RAGES_%20Factsheet_Overview_0.pdf
(17) Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 February 2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin and amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC (OJ L 70, 16.3.2005, p. 1).
(18) See recital 8 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.
(19) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/533 of 28 March 2019 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2020, 2021 and 2022 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin (OJ L 88, 29.3.2019, p. 28).
(20) See, for example, the explanatory memorandum of the Commission’s legislative proposal presented on 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of GM food and feed on their territory and the explanatory memorandum of the Commission’s legislative proposal presented on 14 February 2017 amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.
(21) The Commission ‘may’, and not ‘shall’, go ahead with authorisation if there is no qualified majority of Member States in favour at the Appeal Committee according to Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 (Article 6(3)).
(22) https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/Pesticidesrighttofood.aspx
(23) https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/
(24) EFSA Conclusion regarding the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glufosinate, EFSA Scientific Report (2005) 27, 1-81, p. 3, https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2005.27r
(25) Communication of the Commission of 23 July 2019, ‘Stepping up EU action to Protect and Restore the World’s forests’, COM(2019)0352, p. 1.
(26) Idem, p. 2.
(27) See target 15.2: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/biodiversity/
(28) Communication of the Commission of 23 July 2019, ‘Stepping up EU action to Protect and Restore the World’s forests’, COM(2019)0352, p. 2.
(29) International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, ‘Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops in 2017: Biotech Crop Adoption Surges as Economic Benefits Accumulate in 22 Years’, ISAAA Brief No. 53 (2017), pp. 16 and 21, http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/53/download/isaaa-brief-53-2017.pdf
(30) Technical Report - 2013 - 063 of the Commission, ‘The impact of EU consumption on deforestation: Comprehensive analysis of the impact of EU consumption on deforestation’, study funded by the European Commission, DG ENV, and undertaken by VITO, IIASA, HIVA and IUCN NL, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/pdf/1.%20Report%20analysis%20of%20impact.pdf, pp. 23-24: Between 1990 and 2008, the Union imported crop and livestock products embodying 90 000 km2 of deforestation. Crop products accounted for 74 000 km2 (82 %) of this, with oil crops having the largest share (52 000 km2). Soybeans and soya cake accounted for 82 % of this (42 600 km2), equivalent to 47 % of the Union’s total import of embodied deforestation.
(31) Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1).
(32) European Parliament resolution of 16 January 2019 on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0023), paragraph 32.
(33) See, for example, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/sites/comm-cwt2019/files/commissioner_mission_letters/mission-letter-frans-timmermans-2019_en.pdf, p. 2.
(34) European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on transparent and accountable management of natural resources in developing countries: the case of forests (OJ C 433, 23.12.2019, p. 50), para. 67.
(35) Idem
(36) European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2020 on the European Green Deal (Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0005), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0005_EN.html, para. 64.


Discharge 2018: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2104(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0070A9-0030/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0070/2019),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 559/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0030/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2104(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0070/2019),

–  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(10), and in particular Article 209 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(11), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 559/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking(12), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0030/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2104(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0030/2020),

A.  whereas the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (‘FCH’) was set up in May 2008 as a public-private partnership by Council Regulation (EC) No 521/2008(15) for a period until 31 December 2017 to focus on developing market applications and facilitating additional industrial efforts towards a rapid deployment of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies; whereas Regulation (EC) No 521/2008 was repealed by Council Regulation (EU) No 559/2014(16);

B.  whereas Regulation (EU) No 559/2014 established the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (‘FCH2’) in May 2014 to replace and succeed FCH for a period until 31 December 2024;

C.  whereas the members of FCH were the Union, represented by the Commission, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative Industry Grouping, and the Research Grouping N.ERGHY;

D.  whereas the members of FCH2 are the Union, represented by the Commission, the New Energy World Industry Grouping AISBL (‘Industry Grouping’), renamed Hydrogen Europe in 2016, and the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen AISBL (‘Research Grouping’);

E.  whereas the maximum Union contribution towards FCH2’s first phase of activities is EUR 470 000 000 from the Seventh Framework Programme; whereas the contributions from the other members must be at least equal to the Union contribution;

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes that the report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on FCH2’s annual accounts (the ‘Court’s report’) finds the 2018 annual accounts to present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of FCH2 at 31 December 2018, the results of its operations, its cash flows, and the changes in net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with FCH2’s financial regulation and with accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer; notes, moreover, that FCH2’s accounting rules are based on internationally-accepted accounting standards for the public sector;

2.  Notes that FCH2´s final budget for the financial year 2018 included commitment appropriations of EUR 85 504 157 and payment appropriations of EUR 126 526 307;

3.  Notes that the overall 2018 budget execution of commitment and payment appropriations reached 93 % and 83 % respectively,

Multiannual budget implementation under the Seventh Framework Programme

4.  Notes that the Union contribution to FCH2 is EUR 421 300 000 from the Seventh Framework Programme, including EUR 19 100 000 of in-kind contributions, and the members from the Industry and Research Groupings contribute with resources in the amount of EUR 442 500 000, comprising EUR 420 000 000 in-kind contributions in the Seventh Framework Programme projects funded by FCH2, and EUR 17 900 000 cash to administrative costs;

5.  Regarding FCH2’s 2018 budget available for Seventh Framework Programme projects, the implementation rate for payment appropriations was 79,6 % due to delays in submission of cost claims for ongoing Seventh Framework Programme projects;

Multiannual budget implementation under Horizon 2020

6.  Notes that the Union contribution to FCH2 is EUR 318 800 000 from Horizon 2020 and that the contribution of resources by members from the Industry and Research Groupings amount to EUR 649 400 000 comprising EUR 1 800 000 of in-kind contributions in the Horizon 2020 projects funded by FCH2, EUR 7 700 000 of in-kind contributions to additional activities and EUR 3 600 000 of cash contributions to administrative costs;

7.  Observes that the low level of industry members’ in-kind contributions for operational activities is due to the fact that FCH2 certifies them together with the final cost claims; therefore, the certification of most of the committed in-kind contributions will happen later in the Horizon 2020 programme when the final payment for the projects is made and the certificates of financial statement are due;

8.  Observes that the implementation rate for commitment appropriations was 95,8 % while the rate for payment appropriations was 84,4 %; notes that at the end of 2018, 29 payments for interim and mainly final periodic reports were made for a total of EUR 21 400 000 for the Seventh Framework Programme; notes that the budget execution rate (in terms of payment appropriations) was 79,6 % (compared to 73,8 % in 2017);

9.  Notes that in terms of payment appropriations, 19 pre-financing payments were made for projects relating to the 2017 and 2018 calls for proposals, 11 payments to studies and 2 to the Joint Research Centre for Horizon 2020; notes, moreover, that the budget execution rate (in terms of payments) reached 83,4 % (compared to 93,3 % in 2017); notes that in terms of commitment appropriations the budget execution rate reached 95,8 % (compared to 98,3 % in 2017), due to the outcome of the call for proposals, whereby one topic was not covered, and to the delay in the procurement planning;

10.  Observes that FCH2 prepared an action plan that was endorsed by the FCH2 governing board in March 2018, which includes a wide set of actions to be implemented by FCH2, for which a certain number of activities has already been initiated; notes that the majority of those activities are to be carried out in 2018 and 2019, while a small number will be taken into consideration for the next programming period;

Performance

11.  Notes that FCH2 uses certain measures as key performance indicators to assess the added value provided by its activities such as renewable energy, end-user energy efficiency, smart grids and storage; notes, furthermore, that FCH2 uses other measures like having demonstrator projects hosted in Member States and regions benefit from Union funds; notes the revision of key performance indicators endorsed by FCH2 in 2018 due to the substantial technological progress in recent years and of the new applications that have started to emerge;

12.  Observes the fact that the management cost ratio (administrative and operational budget) remains below 5 %, thus pointing to rather lean and efficient organisational structure of FCH2;

13.  Notes the 2018 value of leverage effect of 1,36 compared to the requirement of 0,56; furthermore, notes that, taking into account in-kind contributions in projects from all private partners, the leverage reached 1,96;

14.  Welcomes the fact, that all calls for proposals were published and closed according to the respective work plans and with the annual work programme 2018, included 20 topics;

15.  Notes that at the end of 2018 FCH2 had 27 staff from 10 Member States and is pleased to note that there is gender balance among staff (51 % men and 49 % women); notes also that in 2018 the share of women participating in Horizon 2020 projects stood at 31 %, that 26 % of programme coordinators were women, that 22 % of the members of FCH2 Member State representatives group were women and that 33 % of the members of the scientific committee were women;

16.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of FCH as well as the dissemination of information on its added value; calls on FCH2 to pursue a proactive communications policy, disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus aiming to raise public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake.

17.  Observes that on the transport side, FCH2 supported demonstration activities concerning over 1 900 light-duty vehicles, more than 630 of which were already in operation in 2018; notes also that the FCH2 has demonstrated 45 buses operational in 10 cities of the Union in 2018; notes with satisfaction that the deployment of fuel cells electric buses can be considered to be world-wide state of the art, having progressed significantly throughout FCH2 projects;

Internal Audit

18.  Notes that in 2018 FCH2 finalised the implementation of all action plans addressing the recommendations of the internal audit service (IAS) audits on the performance management undertaken by the IAS in 2016, including a recommendation on the revision of the multiannual work programme and of the strategic and operational objectives; notes that in January 2018 FCH2 submitted an action plan to the IAS in relation to three recommendations raised by the IAS regarding coordination with central support service (CSC) and implementation of CSC tools and services; observes that as part of the action plan FCH2 organised its first workshop with the CSC; welcomes the fact that in December 2018 FCH2 submitted all action plans addressing the recommendations of the 2017 audit report to the IAS for a review; furthermore, notes with satisfaction that in 2019 the IAS sent a letter to the governing board confirming that all the recommendations and action plans have been successfully implemented;

19.  Notes that the ex-post audit effort was pursued with the launch of 141 audits for Seventh Framework Programme grants, of which 132 were finalised and the remaining to be finalised in the first quarter of 2019, representing a cumulative audit coverage of 23 % of the value of validated cost claims; notes that the residual error rate was below 2 %; observes that 14 new audits for Horizon 2020 were launched in 2018;

20.  Observes that the Commission’s final evaluation on FCH for the period between 2008 and 2016 and the interim evaluation on FCH2 operating under Horizon 2020 covering the period from 2014 to 2016 were carried out, having an action plan been endorsed by the governing board in March 2018, of which several actions have already been initiated, with the expectation of completing most of the program between 2018 and 2019, but taking into consideration that a small number of actions are expected to be implemented by the following programming period;

Internal Controls

21.  Welcomes the fact that FCH2 has set up ex-ante control procedures, based on financial and operational desk reviews and ex-post audits at beneficiaries of grants, for interim and final payments under the Seventh Framework Programme and for project cost claims under Horizon 2020, while the Commission is the responsible of the ex-posts audits; welcomes the fact that the residual error rate for the ex-post audits at the end of 2018 was 1,10 % for the Seventh Framework Programme and 0,46% for Horizon 2020, which the Court finds below materiality;

22.  Notes that in 2017, FCH2, together with the Commission DG Research and Innovation’s common audit service(CAS), launched the first ex-post audit of a random sample of interim cost claims under Horizon 2020; notes that FCH2 has set up ex-ante control procedures based on financial and operational desk reviews; notes that for interim and final payments under the Seventh Framework Programme, FCH2 performs ex-post audits at the beneficiaries, whilst for project cost claims under Horizon 2020 the CAS is responsible for the ex-post audits; however, notes with concern that by the end of 2018 there were two open audits launched in 2017 and FCH2 did no finalise theses audits due to ongoing discussions with beneficiaries that also required coordination with other DG Research and Innovation services to ensure coherent audit results across different stakeholders;

23.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions and that that assessment evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of the in-kind contributions.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.42.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 108.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.42.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 108.
(13) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(14) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(15) Council Regulation (EC) No 521/2008 of 30 May 2008 setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (OJ L 153, 12.6.2008, p. 1).
(16) Council Regulation (EU) No 559/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 108).


Discharge 2018: Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2101(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0071A9-0032/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings' reply(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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0067/2019),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 558/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0032/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2101(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings' reply(7),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(8) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0067/2019),

–  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(9), and in particular Article 209 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(10), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 558/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking(11), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(12),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0032/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 for the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2101(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0032/2020),

A.  whereas the Joint Undertaking started to work autonomously on 16 November 2009;

B.  whereas the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (the “Joint Undertaking”) established by Council Regulation No 558/2014(13) replaced, with effect from 27 June 2014, the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking under Horizon 2020;

C.  whereas the main objectives of the Joint Undertaking are to improve significantly the environmental impact of aeronautical technologies and to enhance the competitiveness of European aviation; whereas the lifetime of the Joint Undertaking has been extended until 31 December 2024;

D.  whereas the founding members of the Joint Undertaking are the Union, represented by the Commission, the leaders of the Integrated Technology Demonstrators (ITDs), innovative aircraft development platforms (IADPs) and the transversal areas (TAs) together with the associate members of the ITDs;

E.  whereas the maximum contribution from the Union to the Joint Undertaking second phase of activities is EUR 1 755 000 000 to be paid from the budget of Horizon 2020;

Budgetary and financial management

1.  Notes that the Court of Auditors (the “Court”) stated that the 2018 annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the year ended 31 December 2018 present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Joint Undertaking at 31 December 2018, the results of its operations, its cash flows, and the changes in net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its Financial Regulation and with the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Notes that the Court, in its report on the Clean Sky 2 (the “Court's report”), indicated the transactions underlying the annual accounts as legal and regular in all material aspects;

3.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking’s final budget for 2018 included commitment appropriations of EUR 371 100 000 and payment appropriations of EUR 343 786 573; notes that 98,7 % of commitment appropriations and 98,6 % of payment appropriations consist of Commission subsidies and carry over from previous years;

4.  Notes that the commitment appropriations utilisation rate was 99,2 % (compared to 99,6 % in 2017) and the rate of payment appropriations was 97,3 % (compared to 98,5 % in 2017); notes the decrease in the execution rate of payment appropriations for administrative expenditures to 79,23 % (from 93,13 % in 2017);

5.  Notes with satisfaction that the Joint Undertaking has implemented various tools to monitor the execution of the programme in terms of productivity, achievements, planning and risks of the operations;

Multiannual budget implementation under Seventh Framework Programme

6.  Notes that the Union contribution is EUR 800 000 000 from the Seventh Framework Programme and the members from the Industry and Research Groupings are contributing resources of EUR 608 300 000, comprising EUR 594 100 000 in-kind contributions in the Seventh Framework Programme projects funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2), and EUR 14 900 000in cash-contributions to administrative costs;

7.  Notes that the Seventh Framework Programme was formally closed in 2017 with an implementation level of around 100 %; observes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking still made recoveries of around EUR 850 000 stemming from outstanding pre-financings and ex-post audit results;

Multiannual budget implementation under Horizon 2020

8.  Notes that by the end of 2018, out of the total amount of EUR 2 064 000 000, for the activities to be funded under Horizon 2020, EUR 816 700 000 is the Union cash contribution and EUR 14 100 000 cash contribution from private members; notes that at the end of 2018, the governing board had validated in-kind contributions of EUR 273 900 000 and a further EUR 157 600 000 had been reported, but not yet validated, as well as EUR 801 700 000 of industry members' in-kind contributions to additional activities;

Calls for proposals

9.  Notes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking launched two calls for proposals, received 417 eligible proposals (out of the total of 420) and selected 131 proposals to be funded;

10.  Notes the successful closure of the four Core Partners calls in 2017; takes note that the activity in 2018 concerned the implementation into the new Grant Agreement for Members (GAMs) of all selected core partners, a small number of which became an active member in 2018; observes that the results from all four calls and the accession of the winning entities as members resulted in 183 core partners of which 49 are affiliates or linked third parties;

11.  Notes that, by the end of 2018, nine calls for proposals were launched, of which eight have been evaluated and fully implemented or in the final stage, notes that these eight calls are engaging more than 560 partners from 27 different countries; observes that the seventh call for proposals was implemented in October 2018 with 198 participants; furthermore, the eighth call for proposals started in November 2018 with 182 participants; in addition, the ninth call for proposals was launched in November 2018 with an evaluation taking place in March 2019;

Performance

12.  Notes that information on some of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is not yet available due to nature of the projects; welcomes that most of the specific KPIs are either achieved or on track; takes note that the experts call for further monitoring activity and analysis, making a clear distinction between the actually achieved KPIs at the end of each year and the projected KPIs;

13.  Observes that the management cost ratio (administrative and operational budget) remains below the 5 %, thus pointing to rather lean and efficient organisational structure of the Joint Undertaking;

14.  Notes the fact, that the Joint Undertaking’s turnover rates were high for temporary agents and contracts agents in 2017 and 2018; notes that for temporary staff the turnover rate increased almost 17 %; furthermore, the use of interim staff services almost doubled in 2018;

15.  Notes that, in the 2018 annual activity report of the Joint Undertaking, the key performance indicators regarding gender balance in 2017 and 2018 show that the level of participation by women, while stable, is nevertheless quite low: women account for 22 % of those involved in the programme, 13 % of programme coordinators and 18 %-25 % of advisers and experts carrying out evaluations and analyses and working on the Scientific Committee; recommends that constant efforts be made to increase the participation level of women in the programme;

16.  Welcomes the fact that the Joint Undertaking engages the best talents and resources in Europe; notes that it utilises the key skills and knowledge of the leading European aeronautic research establishments and academic faculties;

Key controls and supervisory systems

17.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has set up ex ante control procedures based on financial and operational desk reviews, ex post audits at beneficiaries of grants for Seventh Framework Programme interim and final payments and for Horizon 2020 project cost claims, it is the Commission’s Common Audit Service the responsible of the ex posts audits;

18.  Notes that the residual error rates for the ex post audits reported by the Joint Undertaking were 1,21 % for Seventh Framework Programme projects and 1,11 % for Horizon 2020 projects, both of which are below the materiality threshold of 2 %;

Anti-fraud strategy

19.  Observes that the Joint Undertaking pays particular attention to fraud prevention and detection; as a result, DG RTD implements the 2020 Anti-Fraud Strategy with stakeholders in order to detect and prevent double funding; however, notes with concern that, during 2018, three cases of alleged fraudulent activities were detected in connection with receiving funding from the Joint Undertaking and were notified to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);

Internal audit

20.  Notes that, in 2018, the Internal Audit Service (IAS) carried out an audit on the Coordination with the Common Support Centre (CSC) in order to assess the adequacy of the design of the Joint Undertaking governance, risk management and internal processes; notes with satisfaction that the IAS identified as a strength the active role of the Joint Undertaking in exchanging information with the CSC; moreover, notes that the auditors took note of the joint approaches of the Directors, setting out their needs in respect of important subjects, such as confidentiality; furthermore, several recommendations have been issued to the IAS to further adapt the IT systems of the Commission to remove the remaining constraints to the data transfer; calls on the Joint Undertaking to finalise the development of criteria and procedures for handling confidential data of the Joint Undertaking’s beneficiaries;

Other comments

21.  Notes the extension of the Joint Undertaking's bilateral contacts with a number of Member States and regions based on the research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) priorities mapping drawn up by the Joint Undertaking, which indicates over 60 regions that have indicated to the Joint Undertaking that aeronautics or correlated areas are among their R&I priorities; furthermore, notes with satisfaction that a further Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2018 with a region in Germany, which brought the number of MoUs in force by 31 December 2018 to 17; notes that this was followed by the signing of a MoU with the French region of Nouvelle Aquitaine in June 2019;

22.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful EU-financed projects. Considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking, and the dissemination of information concerning the value added. Calls upon the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communications policy, disseminating the results of its research to the general public, e.g. via social media or other media outlets, thereby aiming to raise public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake.

23.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions. The assessment should evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of the in-kind contributions.

Transport and Tourism

24.  Emphasises that the objectives of the Joint Undertaking should be adjusted to take account of the need for progressive decarbonisation and that the necessary financial and human resources should be automatically provided in order to ensure that the Joint Undertaking has sufficient capacity for any adjustments made;

25.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking is a public-private partnership between the Union and the aeronautic industry the goal of which is to develop breakthrough technologies to significantly increase the environmental performance of aeroplanes and air transport; notes that it was set up as the “Clean Sky Joint Undertaking” in 2007 under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (“FP7”) and became the “Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking” in 2014 under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation;

26.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking’s programmes are jointly funded under Horizon 2020 (for the period 2014-2020) through subsidies of the Union up to EUR 1 755 million and in-kind contributions from the private members of at least EUR 2 193,75 million; notes that the Union and the private members equally share the administrative costs that shall not exceed EUR 78 million over that period;

27.  Welcomes the major contribution made by the Joint Undertaking to the increased efficiency of the aviation sector; highlights the very good results and the essential role played by the Joint Undertaking in Europe in ensuring net accelerations in green technologies that aim to reduce CO2, gas emissions and noise levels produced by aircrafts; highlights the strategic importance that this Joint Undertaking should play under the future Horizon Europe programme towards contributing to the new 2050 "climate neutrality" goals and to the planned CO2 reductions due to technological progress;

28.  Points out that global use of the technologies created and promoted by the Joint Undertaking could eliminate the equivalent of total CO2 emissions by the Netherlands;

29.  Stresses that Clean Sky I technologies have reduced CO2 emissions per passenger by 19 % on long-haul and 40 % on medium-haul flights; calls for the Joint Undertaking to be given all necessary human and financial resources to build on this successful approach;

30.  Notes that up to 40 % of the Joint Undertaking funding is allocated to its 16 Leaders and their affiliates, i.e. to the industrials committed to deliver the full Clean Sky 2 programme throughout its duration; notes that 30 % of the Joint Undertaking funding are to be awarded via calls for proposals and calls for tenders to its Core partners (selected for long-term commitments to the programme); further notes that the remaining 30 % of the funding are to be awarded via calls for proposals and calls for tenders to other partners (participating in specific topics and projects in the context of a well-defined, limited commitment);

31.  Notes that, from the cut-off date of the provisional accounts 2018 (end of February 2019), the private members of the Joint Undertaking have reported a cumulative sum of EUR 399 million as in-kind contributions for Operational activities (IKOP), and that the Joint Undertaking has validated certified contribution to the value of EUR 279,9 million; notes similarly that the private members have reported a cumulative EUR 827,9 million in in kind contributions for Additional Activities (IKAA), of which EUR 620 million were validated by the Joint Undertaking;

32.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking now counts 16 Leaders, 193 Core partners (including 50 SMEs) and that nine calls for proposals were launched (to allocate the remaining of funds to other partners); notes that eight of these calls have been evaluated, leading to the selection of 560 partners (including 31 % of SMEs that account for 25 % of funding) from 27 countries;

33.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking is planning to revise its Financial Rules in order to align them to the new financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union in accordance with Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14);

34.  Notes that the Internal Audit Service issued a very important recommendation to the Joint Undertaking calling for the elaboration of a consolidated risk register, to cover risk affecting the programme and the Joint Undertaking as a stand-alone entity; notes that the Internal Audit Officer (IAO) declared to the management of the Joint Undertaking that there was a lack of objectivity due to their repeated involvement in management tasks and due to the quality management processes; urges the Joint Undertaking to immediately resolve this issue and fully implement the recommendation of the IAO;

35.  Notes with concern that the IAO identified several risk areas, which require actions of the Joint Undertaking’s management; expects the Joint Undertaking’s management to take all necessary measures to mitigate those risks;

36.  Notes that during the year 2018, three cases of alleged fraudulent activities were detected in connection with beneficiaries receiving funds from the Joint Undertaking and were notified to OLAF; calls on the Joint Undertaking to take all necessary measures to prevent cases of fraud in the future;

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 32.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 77.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.32.
(9) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 77.
(12) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(13) Council Regulation (EU) No 558/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 77).
(14) 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 (OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1).


Discharge 2018: Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2102(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0072A9-0034/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0068/2019),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 560/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0034/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2102(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0068/2019),

–  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(10), and in particular Article 209 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(11), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 560/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking(12), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0034/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2102(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0034/2020),

A.  whereas the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (the ‘Joint Undertaking’) was established as a public-private partnership by the Regulation (EU) No 560/2014 for a period of 10 years with the aim of bringing together all relevant stakeholders and contributing to establishing the Union as a key player in research, demonstration and deployment of advanced bio-based products and biofuels;

B.  whereas pursuant Articles 38 and 43 of the Joint Undertaking’s financial rules, adopted by the decision of its governing board on 14 October 2014, the accounting officer prepared the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the year 2018;

C.  whereas the founding members of the Joint Undertaking are the Union, represented by the Commission, and industrial partners, represented by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (the ‘BIC’);

General

1.  Notes that the maximum Union contribution to the activities of the Joint Undertaking is EUR 975 000 000, to be paid from Horizon 2020; notes that the industry members of the Joint Undertaking are to contribute resources of at least EUR 2 730 000 000 over the period of the Joint Undertaking’s lifespan, consisting of at least EUR 182 500 000 of in-kind and cash contributions to the Joint Undertaking’s operational activities and at least EUR 1 755 000 000 of in-kind contributions to implement additional activities outside the work plan of the Joint Undertaking;

2.  Notes that 19 out of 101 retained proposals from the 2018 call for proposals were at the grant agreement preparation stage by the end of 2018; notes, moreover, that by early 2018, the Joint Undertaking programme had a portfolio of 101 ongoing projects with a total of 1 169 participants from 35 countries with a total grant value of EUR 499 000 000;

3.  Notes that the objectives of the Joint Undertaking could not be addressed with traditional Union instruments; observes that the Joint Undertaking has provided a structuring effect, bringing together the sectors and actors towards deployment of new value chains, and it has mobilised increasing investments on developing innovations for the bio-based industries; in addition, notes that the mission of the Joint Undertaking is to implement the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) developed by the BIC and endorsed by the Commission;

4.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking and to disseminate information about their added value; calls on the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communication policy by disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus raising public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake;

5.  Asks the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions; asks that that assessment evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contributions procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of in-kind contributions;

Budget and financial management

6.  Notes that the Court’s report on the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’) finds the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking to be presented fairly, in all material respects, with regard to the Joint Undertaking’s financial position on 31 December 2018 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the year then ended, in accordance with its financial regulation and with the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

7.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts provide that the final 2018 budget is to be available for implementation and include commitment appropriations of EUR 121 231 820 and payment appropriations of EUR 118 126 520, the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations of which were 99 % and 71 %, respectively;

8.  Observes that the payment appropriations were used mainly for the pre-financing of grant agreements resulting from the 2017 call for proposals and interim payments for projects from the previous calls for proposals; furthermore, notes that the lower implementation rate of payment appropriations was due to delays of some periodic reports and cost declarations significantly below the budget approved in the grant agreements;

9.  Notes that out of the maximum of EUR 975 000 000 of Union cash contributions to be allocated to the Joint Undertaking over its lifespan, the Union had contributed a total amount of EUR 264 600 000 by the end of 2018;

10.  Expresses concern about the fact that out of the EUR 757 900 000 of contributions to be made by the industry members to the operational activities and administrative costs of the Joint Undertaking, industry members reported in-kind contributions of only EUR 36 800 000 for operational activities, and the governing board validated contributions by the industry members to the Joint Undertaking’s administrative costs of EUR 21 200 000 (EUR 12 100 000 in kind and EUR 9 100 000 in cash);

11.  Notes from the Court’s report that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking carried out a review in order to update the membership status of its constituent entities as the main basis for the validation and recognition of industry members’ in-kind contributions to the Joint Undertaking’s operational activities; observes with appreciation that that review is considered to be good practice and that the review should be carried out on a regular basis;

12.  Regrets that out of the minimum EUR 182 500 000 of cash contributions to be made by the industry members to the Joint Undertaking’s operational costs, only EUR 800 000 were paid by the end of 2018, and that, as a result, the Commission decided at the end of 2018 to reduce the Joint Undertaking’s 2020 budget of EUR 205 000 000 by EUR 140 000 000; observes with concern that there is a high risk that the minimum amount of cash contributions will not be achieved by the end of the Joint Undertaking’s lifespan;

Performance

13.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking’s available specific key performance indicators were found to be on track; welcomes the fact that the Joint Undertaking has operated efficiently and its average performance against the three main key performance indicators of Horizon 2020 exceeds the set targets in 2018;

14.  Notes with concern the value of leverage effect of 1,88 at the end of 2018, which is below expectation; observes with concern that the realised leverage effect has been decreasing since 2015; calls the Joint Undertaking to take steps to meet the target leverage effect of 2,86 over the whole 2014 to 2020 period;

15.  Notes that Joint Undertaking’s calls for proposals are fully open to the participation of any stakeholder; welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s great efforts in communicating its objectives and achievements as well as its calls to the stakeholders in the Union through its events, meetings and website;

16.  Notes that experts confirm that the Joint Undertaking has attracted a satisfactory level of participation of the best Union players in the areas of the selected value chains; observes that the good balance of industry sector participation was achieved, representing 61 % of the total number of participants; highlights the fact that 54 % of the private for profit entities are small and medium-sized enterprises and that 27 % are large enterprises;

17.  Notes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking operations included the conclusion of 17 grant agreements, resulting from the 2017 call for proposals, bringing the total number of the Joint Undertaking portfolio to 82 by the end of 2018; in addition, notes that the Joint Undertaking successfully implemented the 2018 call for proposals; notes that the procedure was initiated before the end of 2018 for 19 retained proposals;

18.  Observes that due to the design of the 2018 call for proposals and the management of the ranking system for the proposals, one out of two flagship topics of the call remained unfunded despite having received eligible and highly evaluated proposals for both topics;

19.  Notes with satisfaction that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking achieved a reasonable gender balance in its various bodies (scientific committee: 60 % women and 40 % men; States Representatives Group: 59 % women and 41 % men; programme office: 61 % women and 39 % men; evaluation experts (2018 call for proposals): 48 % women and 52 % men; project coordinators: 45 % women and 55 % men), with the exception of the governing board (20 % women and 80 % men); notes the Joint Undertaking’s observation that it has no influence over the composition of the governing board; notes with satisfaction the gender balance among the staff involved in Joint Undertaking projects (46 % women and 54 % men);

Procurement and recruitment procedures

20.  Notes that at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking’s staff comprised 23 members reaching its full staff establishment plan; observes that two recruitment procedures were launched in 2018, one for a contract agent and the other one for a temporary agent; however, notes that the Joint Undertaking was reinforced with three additional contract agents in 2018; in addition, notes that one candidate for a temporary post was appointed at the end of 2018 and took up the duties in the first quarter of 2019;

Internal audit

21.  Notes that in November 2017, the internal auditing service (IAS) performed the audit field work for the audit “Limited review of the implementation of the internal control standards (ICSs) in the BBI JU”; observes that according to the Court’s report, the situation at the end of 2018 showed that the Joint Undertaking had largely implemented the ICSs;

22.  Observes that the programme office performed a self-assessment of its ICSs to assess the current level of implementation of the ICSs and to explore the conditions necessary to move the internal control framework of the organisation to a higher degree of maturity; notes that the IAS made three recommendations in order to support and complement existing Joint Undertaking’s efforts in the field; observes that the programme office proposed the corresponding action plans and the IAS considered them adequate to mitigate the issues; however, notes with concern that the three standards considered were yet to be fully implemented at the beginning of 2018;

23.  Notes that according to the annual activity report, almost all the ICSs are considered to be implemented or largely implemented, and that only certain standards remain to be fully implemented such as ICS 8 (processes and procedures), ICS 10 (business continuity) and ICS 11 (document management);

24.  Notes that in 2017, the Joint Undertaking, together with the common audit service of Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation launched the first ex-post audit of a random sample of Horizon 2020 interim cost claims; notes that the second wave of audits started in 2018 but due to the low number of participants audited, no conclusion can yet be drawn;

25.  Notes with appreciation the Court’s finding that the residual error rate is below materiality, amounting to 0,01 % for Horizon 2020;

26.  Notes that the Commission’s interim evaluation on the Joint Undertaking’s activities from 2014 to 2016 was carried out, and that an action plan was prepared to address the recommendations raised; notes that according to the action plan, most of the actions to be taken in response to the recommendations are to be implemented in 2018 and 2019, and several actions have already been undertaken;

Legal framework

27.  Notes with concern that while the interim evaluation of the Joint Undertaking was completed in accordance with the precise timeframe fixed in its legal framework, nevertheless, it could not provide the best added value for the Joint Undertaking’s decision-making process at this early stage of its activity;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

28.  Notes the fact that the Joint Undertaking, together with six other joint undertakings launched a common joint undertaking call for expression of interest to select up to seven confidential counsellors that will set up a network of confidential counsellors; notes that, as a result, two confidential counsellors were appointed by the executive directors in November 2018.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 130.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 130.
(13) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(14) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.


Discharge 2018: European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2018 (2019/2091(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0073A9-0042/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority 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 Authority in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (005761/2020 – C9‑0058/2020),

–  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 (EU) No 1094/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), amending Decision No 716/2009/EC and repealing Commission Decision 2009/79/EC(5), and in particular Article 64 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7), 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 Economic and Monetary Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0042/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority discharge in respect of the implementation of the Authority’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 Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2018 (2019/2091(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Authority in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0058/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1094/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), amending Decision No 716/2009/EC and repealing Commission Decision 2009/79/EC(12), and in particular Article 64 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14), 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 Economic and Monetary Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0042/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, 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).

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 Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2018 (2019/2091(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority 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 Economic and Monetary Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0042/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (the ‘Authority’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 25 207 008, representing an increase of 5,03 % compared to 2017; whereas the Authority is financed by a contribution from the Union (EUR 9 365 000, representing 37,15 %) and contributions from national supervisory authorities from the Member States (EUR 15 742 008, representing 62,45 %)(16);

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 100 %, representing an increase of 0,21 % compared to 2017; notes furthermore that the payment appropriations execution rate was 85,48 %, representing a decrease of 2,61 % compared to 2017;

2.  Notes that the Authority’s workload is constantly evolving and includes both regulatory tasks and the enforcement and application of Union law;

Performance

3.  Notes that each of the Authority’s three operationally focused strategic objectives have key performance indicators (KPIs) assessing the added value provided by its activities and the improvement of its budget management, in addition to other indicators used internally;

4.  Notes that the Authority achieved its target for eleven KPIs; acknowledges that it was close to achieving the target for the remaining two KPIs, which were missed only marginally;

5.  Notes that the majority of the Authority’s planned work (218 products and services) was delivered successfully and that 25 products and services experienced minor delays due to insufficient resources, but also to changes in requirements and priorities; further notes that only three work streams were not delivered as planned or with a tolerable delay;

6.  Notes that the Authority is replacing its current e-human resources management system with Sysper, which is provided by the Commission; notes with concern the delay in the implementation of Sysper 2; calls on the Authority to report to the discharge authority on developments in that regard;

7.  Notes with satisfaction that the Authority is proactive in identifying opportunities for efficiency and synergies with other agencies, in particular with the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), through the European Supervisory Authorities’ Joint Committee and through joint procurements; welcomes the Authority’s priority to develop common guidance in cooperation with EBA and ESMA on how to integrate anti-money laundering and terrorist financing risks in prudential supervision; strongly encourages the Authority to actively seek further and broader cooperation with all Union agencies; moreover calls on the Authority to explore possible ways of merging its non-expert services, such as ICT, with other Union agencies;

8.  Emphasises that the Authority’s role in promoting a common supervisory regime across the European financial system is essential in order to ensure financial stability, a better integrated, more efficient and safer financial market, as well as a high degree of consumer protection in the Union by promoting fairness and transparency on the product and financial services market;

9.  Underlines the central role of the Authority in contributing to high quality common regulatory and supervisory standards and practices, to the consistent application of legally binding Union acts, to stimulate and facilitate the delegation of tasks and responsibilities among competent authorities, to monitor and assess market developments within the scope of its competence and to foster the protection of policy holders, pension scheme members and beneficiaries;

10.  Emphasises the need for closer supervision in certain Member States with a view to addressing vulnerabilities in the insurance markets of those Member States and protecting consumers from unfair practices of multinational insurance companies;

11.  Stresses that, while making sure that all assignments are carried out in full and within deadline, the Authority should adhere to and make full use of the tasks and the mandate assigned to it by Parliament and the Council, and that the Authority must never attempt to go beyond its mandate; points out that focussing on the mandate assigned by Parliament and the Council will lead to a more effective and efficient use of resources;

12.  Shares the Court’s concern that, through peer reviews, national supervisors have a decisive say in the Authority’s main governing body, which means that they are in a position to decide the scope of the Authority’s action to review their own effectiveness;

Staff policy

13.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 95,54 % executed, with 107 temporary agents appointed out of 112 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 101 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 33 contract agents and 18 seconded national experts worked for the Authority in 2018;

14.  Regrets the unbalanced participation of men (six members) and women (one member) in the management board; notes that the Authority has reported a relatively good gender balance for 2018 with regard to senior managers (five men and three women);

15.  Notes that the Court considers that the Authority has not yet accomplished the shift from regulatory tasks to supervisory tasks and that the Authority should strengthen human resources assigned to supervisory tasks;

Procurement

16.  Notes with concern that the Authority applied award criteria that consisted of non-competitive price elements for one procurement procedure; calls on the Authority to use award criteria that focus on competitive price elements;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

17.  Acknowledges the measures the Authority already has in place and its ongoing efforts to secure transparency, to prevent and manage conflicts of interests, and to protect whistleblowers; notes the fact that the Authority publishes on its website a register of meetings with external stakeholders;

18.  Underlines the importance of an open, efficient and independent administration for all Union agencies and the Union as a whole; recalls the problem of conflict of interest arising from ‘revolving door’ situations and stresses the need for a unified legal framework to address such issues;

Internal Controls

19.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service issued an audit report on “Stress Tests in EIOPA”, which led to five recommendations for improvement and the implementation of an action plan;

20.  Notes that in 2018, the Authority used 29 interim workers through contracts with temporary work agencies; recalls that, according to Directive 2008/104/EC(17), those workers should work under the same working conditions as workers employed directly by the Authority; notes with concern that the contracts did not require the temporary work agencies to respect those working conditions, causing litigation and reputational risks; calls on the Authority to analyse the working conditions of its interim workers and ensure they are in line with Union and national labour law;

Other comments

21.  Notes that a future decrease in the Authority’s revenue is possible as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union; notes that the Authority issued two opinions to insurers and national supervisory authorities on steps to take to avoid service interruptions and to minimise risk;

22.  Underlines the responsibility of the financial system in meeting sustainability challenges and ensuring that the Union meets the obligations undertaken in the framework of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; highlights the crucial role of the Authority in integrating environmental, social and governance related factors into the regulatory and supervisory framework and in mobilising and guiding private capital flows towards sustainable investments; therefore stresses the need for sufficient resources to monitor the implementation of that framework by financial institutions and national competent authorities;

23.  Calls on the Authority to focus on disseminating the results of its research to the public, and to reach out to the public via 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(18) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1)OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 331, 15.12.2010, p. 48.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 331, 15.12.2010, p. 48.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 108, 22.3.2018, p. 149.
(16) OJ C 108, 22.3.2018, p. 148.
(17) Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9).
(18) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: ECSEL Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2106(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0074A9-0045/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0072/2019),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0045/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 ECSEL Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2106(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 joint undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0072/2019),

–  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(10), and in particular Article 209 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(11), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(12), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0045/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 for the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2106(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0045/2020),

A.  whereas the ECSEL Joint Undertaking on Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (the ‘Joint Undertaking’) was established on 7 June 2014 within the meaning of Article 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union for the implementation of the Joint Technology Initiative on ‘Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership’ (ECSEL), for a period up to 31 December 2024;

B.  whereas the Joint Undertaking was established by Council Regulation (EU) No 561/2014(15) in June 2014 to replace and succeed the ARTEMIS and the ENIAC Joint Undertakings;

C.  whereas the members of the Joint Undertaking are the Union, the Member States and, on a voluntary basis, the associated countries (Participating States) and private member associations (Private Members) that represent their constituent companies and other organisations active in the field of electronic components and systems in the Union;

D.  whereas the contributions to the Joint Undertaking envisaged for the entire period of Horizon 2020 amount to EUR 1 184 874 000 from the Union, EUR 1 170 000 000 from the Participating States and EUR 1 657 500 000 from the Private Members;

Budgetary and financial management

1.  Notes that the report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the Joint Undertaking's annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’), finds the annual accounts to be presented fairly, in all material respects, with regard to the Joint Undertaking’s financial position as at 31 December 2018 and the results of its operations, its cash flows and the changes in its net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its financial rules and the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking's final budget for the financial year 2018 included commitment appropriations of EUR 194 100 000 and payment appropriation of EUR 310 554 000; notes that the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations were 98 % and 65 % respectively;

3.  Notes that the Court´s report states that the transactions underlying the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 are, in all material respects, legal and regular;

4.  Notes that at the end of 2018, the Union contributed EUR 637 600 000 from the Seventh Framework Programme fund for the co-financing of the joint activities, and a further EUR 17 900 000 for the co-financing of related administrative costs; notes that the cumulated commitment for the Seventh Framework Programme operational activities amounted to EUR 606 000 000, and that the related cumulated payments were EUR 529 000 000; notes that in 2018, the implementation rate for the available payment appropriations of EUR 98 000 000 for Seventh Framework Programme projects was a low 42 %, which was mainly due to the national funding authorities’ delays in providing end of project certificates for ongoing Seventh Framework Programme activities;

5.  Observes that the payments made by the Joint Undertaking for Seventh Framework Programme projects amounted to EUR 41 000 000, which represented 22 % of the total operational payments made in 2018; in addition, notes that the residual error rate at the end of the year was 3,36 %;

6.  Notes that for Seventh Framework Programme operational payments, the Joint Undertaking is still dependent on the EPS national funding authorities, resulting in an enhanced risk regarding timely final payments;

7.  Notes with alarm that in 2018 Participating States, which are required to contribute at least EUR 1 170 000 000 to Horizon 2020 operational activities of the Joint Undertaking, made commitments amounting to EUR 564 000 000 and payments of EUR 178 000 000, representing 15 % of the total required contributions; notes that the low level of the Participating States’ contributions is related to the fact that some Participating States only recognise and report their costs to the Joint Undertaking at the end of the Horizon 2020 projects that they support; notes that the implementation rate of the budget available for Horizon 2020 was 100 % for the commitment appropriations and 72 % for the payment appropriations, and that the rate of payment appropriation resulted in a lower amount due to the additional contribution of EUR 20 000 000 received in December 2018;

8.  Notes that out of the EUR 1 657 500 000 of contributions to be made by industry members to the activities of the Joint Undertaking, at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking estimated that the members had made in-kind contributions of EUR 705 400 000, compared to the Union’s cash contribution of EUR 512 000 000; notes furthermore that industry members’ cash contributions were EUR 11 300 000 and that their in-kind contributions that were reported but not validated amounted to EUR 694 100 000;

Performance

9.  Notes the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring operational and programme performance, and that the Joint Undertaking is working with the other Joint Undertakings’ and its stakeholders to define common impact KPIs and methodologies to assess those KPIs;

10.  Observes that the management cost ratio (administrative/operational budget) remains below the 5 %, thus pointing to rather lean and efficient organisational structure of the Joint Undertaking;

11.  Welcomes the fact that the total achieved leverage in 2018 for the Joint Undertaking programme, calculated as the Horizon 2020 cost minus Union funding divided by the Union funding, is equal to 3, exceeding the target leverage effect over the whole 2014 to 2020 period; notes furthermore that the total achieved leverage is 3.3 if national cost is taken as a basis;

12.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has made efforts to consolidate and develop its activities to allow for smooth and efficient running of the Join Undertaking; observes that four calls for proposals were launched in 2018 resulting in the selection of 13 collaborative projects and two coordination and support actions;

13.  Notes that the joint Undertaking launched two calls for proposals; although the number of proposals decreased for a fourth year in a row, the number of selected proposals is the same as in 2017;

14.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking, and the dissemination of information on their added value; calls on the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communication policy disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus raising public awareness of the impact of Union support with particular regard to market uptake;

Staff

15.  Notes that out of 31 authorised posts on the establishment plan 30 were filled in 2018: 14 by temporary agents and 16 by contract agents; notes also that, in 2018, the posts of two heads of administration, one chief financial officer and one programme officer were occupied;

16.  Notes the information contained in the 2018 annual activity report of the Joint Undertaking regarding gender balance in ECSEL projects, indicating that the total number of women engaged in ECSEL projects running in 2018 and projects reported that year (running from 2014, 2015 and 2016) was 3 336 (or 18 %), compared to 14 820 men (or 82%); notes that not all staff members of recipient undertakings engaged in ECSEL projects carry out research activities and that only 16 % of research staff are female;

Procurement

17.  Notes with grave concern that the Court found significant shortcomings in the management of the procurement procedures for administrative services; notes from the Joint Undertaking’s replies that a budget, procurement, and contracts assistant has been nominated to address this issue;

Internal controls

18.  Welcomes the fact that the Joint Undertaking has taken steps to assess the implementation of ex-post audits by the national funding authorities (NFAs), and has obtained written statements from the NFAs declaring that the implementation of their national procedures provided for a reasonable assurance of the legality and regularity of transactions; notes that the Court’s report refers to the fact that for Horizon 2020 payments the Commission’s common audit service is responsible for the ex-post audits, and the residual error rates calculated by the Joint Undertaking was 1,15 % at the end of 2018;

19.  Notes that the issue concerning the variation in the methodologies and procedures used by the NFAs is no longer relevant to the implementation of Horizon 2020 projects, as the ex-post audits are undertaken either by the Joint Undertaking or by the Commission; notes that in accordance with the provisions of the common ex-post audit plan for Horizon 2020, the Joint Undertaking received 22 declarations out of 27 from the NFAs, and acknowledges that they provide a reasonable protection of the financial interest of its members;

20.  Observes that the Commission carried out its final evaluation on the ARTEMIS and the ENIAC Joint Undertakings for the period 2008 to 2013, together with its interim evaluation on the Joint Venture operating under Horizon 2020 covering the period 2014 to 2016; notes that the Joint Undertaking prepared and adopted an action plan to address the recommendations of these evaluations and that some activities are already initiated; however, the majority of the activities remain to be implemented in 2019, while some of them were considered beyond the scope of the Joint Undertaking;

21.  Notes that the final payment for the implementation of the service-level agreement concluded with one industry member for the provision of communication services and for the organisation of events, was made without the necessary supporting documents;

22.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions and suggests that the assessment evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of in-kind contributions.

23.  Notes with concern that the Joint Undertaking detected that cash contributions for administrative costs amounting to more than EUR 1 000 000 were not invoiced by the ENIAC to the industry member AENEAS before the Joint Undertaking was set up; in order to solve this problem, the Joint Undertaking received EUR 1 000 000 from its members as a ‘prepaid cash contribution’; calls on the Joint Undertaking to issue the debit note without delay;

Internal audit

24.  Notes that in 2018 the Commission’s internal audit services (IAS) performed a risk assessment; notes that the IAS followed-up on its audit recommendations on Horizon 2020 grant process and performance in the Joint Undertaking; acknowledges the fact that the IAS has concluded that all recommendations have been adequately implemented;

Human resources management

25.  Notes that on 31 December 2018, the Joint Undertaking employed 30 staff; notes that during 2018 the Joint Undertaking filled two positions, one for head of administration and finance and the other for programme officer, and advertised a post for a seconded national expert position;

26.  Notes the fact that with a view to adapting the structure of the organisation to priorities and needs for expertise, the organisation chart of the Joint Undertaking was updated on 6 August 2018; notes that a new set of five implementing rules of the Staff Regulations has been validated by the Governing Board in January 2018.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(13) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(14) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(15) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.


Discharge 2018: Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2103(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0075A9-0046/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2020 – C9‑0069/2020),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 557/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110 /2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0046/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2103(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2020 – C9‑0069/2020),

–  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(10), and in particular Article 209 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(11), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 557/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking(12), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0046/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2103(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0046/2020),

A.  whereas the Joint Undertaking for the implementation of the Joint Technology Initiative on Innovative Medicines ('IMI Joint Undertaking') was set up in December 2007 for a period of 10 years to improve significantly the efficiency and effectiveness of the drug development process with the long-term aim of the pharmaceutical sector producing more effective and safer innovative medicines;

B.  whereas, following the adoption of Regulation (EU) No 557/2014(15) in May 2014, the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking ('IMI2 Joint Undertaking') was established for the period up to 31 December 2024; whereas it replaces and follows the IMI Joint Undertaking in June 2014 with the aim of finalising research activities under the Seventh Framework Programme and launching a new project in the Horizon 2020 framework;

C.  whereas the Union, which is represented by the Commission, and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations are the founding members of the IMI Joint Undertaking and IMI2 Joint Undertaking;

D.  whereas the maximum contribution from the Union to the IMI Joint Undertaking is EUR 1 000 000 000 for the period of 10 years, to be paid from the budget of the Seventh Framework Programme and the founding members are to contribute equally to the running costs, each with an amount not exceeding 4 % of the total Union contribution;

E.  whereas the maximum contribution, for the period of 10 years, from the Union to the IMI2 Joint Undertaking is EUR 1 638 000 000, to be paid from the budget of Horizon 2020 and the members, other than the Commission, have to contribute 50 % of the running costs and should contribute to operational costs through cash or in-kind contributions, or both, equal to the financial contribution of the Union;

Budgetary and financial management

1.  Notes that the report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report) finds the annual accounts to be presented fairly, in all material respects, with regard to the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s financial position on 31 December 2018 and the results of its operations, its cash flows, and the changes in its net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its financial regulation and with the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Notes the opinion of the Court on the legality and regularity of transactions underlying the annual accounts of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking for the year 2018, which concluded that those transactions are legal and regular in all material respects;

3.  Notes that the final 2018 budget was EUR 275 600 000 in commitment appropriations (EUR 187 900 000 in 2017) and EUR 235 900 000 in payment appropriations (EUR 206 400 000 in 2017); including unused appropriations from previous years and assigned revenues, the total available commitment budget was EUR 485 596 000 (EUR 322 400 000 in 2017) and the available payment budget was EUR 235 963 021 (EUR 206 400 000 in 2017);

4.  Notes that out of the EUR 1 000 000 000 of contributions to be made by industry members to the activities of the IMI Joint Undertaking, by the end of 2018 the IMI2 Joint Undertaking had validated in-kind and cash contributions of EUR 655 200 000, more precisely EUR 633 300 000 in-kind and EUR 21 900 000 in cash contributions; points out that a further EUR 80 600 000 of in-kind contributions without validation had been reported by the members to the IMI2 Joint Undertaking; highlights the fact that consequently, at the end of 2018, the in-kind and cash contributions of the industry members amounted to EUR 735 800 000, compared to the Union’s cash contributions to the Seventh Framework Programme activities of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, which amounted to EUR 916 000 000;

5.  Notes with satisfaction that in 2018 IMI Joint Undertaking utilisation rates for payment appropriations for the Seventh Framework Programme projects were 88 %, an improvement from the previous period when the utilisation rates stayed below 75 % for four consecutive years; further notes that the implementation rate for payment appropriations under Horizon 2020 was 86 % and that in 2018 the implementation of commitment and payment appropriations for administrative and operational expenditure was greater than in 2017;

6.  Notes that out of the EUR 1 425 000 000 of in-kind and cash contributions to be made by industry members and associated partners to the activities of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, in-kind contributions of EUR 130 500 000 had been validated by the executive director, and a further amount of EUR 83 900 000 had been reported by the end of 2018; notes in addition that the executive director had validated cash contributions by the industry members of EUR 13 500 000; notes, moreover, that, at the end of 2018, the total contributions of industry members to the Horizon 2020 activities of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking consequently amounted to EUR 227 700 000, compared to the Union’s cash contribution of EUR 241 900 000;

7.  Notes that, in 2018, three budget amendments were adopted by the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s governing board: 

   (a) on 12 June 2018, to include the amounts carried over (EUR 209 698 405 in commitment appropriations and EUR 56 133 212 in payment appropriations) from the previous year;
   (b) on July 13 2018, to include additional carryovers (EUR 25  669 in commitment appropriations and EUR 25 669 in payment appropriations) from the previous year, specifically corresponding to the IMI Joint Undertaking amounts recovered from recipients in 2017 and carried over to the 2018 budget; and
   (c) on 5 December 2018, to reduce operational payment appropriations by EUR 36 332 261 as a result of reducing the Union's contribution to operational costs (EUR 34 978 261) and postponing to 2019 the contribution of IMI2 Joint Undertaking partner (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) to the operational costs (EUR 1 354 000) carried over to the following year;

8.  Notes that, at the end of 2018, the estimated unused payment appropriations for the operational and administrative expenditure approved by the board of directors of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking to be carried over to 2019 amounted to EUR 30 943 429; notes with concern the Court’s observation that, while the situation has improved following the corrective measures taken by the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, there are still weaknesses regarding planning and monitoring of the need for new payment appropriations;

Performance

9.  Notes that 2018 was the first year when the IMI2 Joint Undertaking reported on revised key performance indicators in its 2018 annual activity report (‘AAR’); welcomes the fact that this step has proven to be an effective monitoring tool that has resulted in increasing the level of transparency regarding the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s achievements and thus attracted the interest of civil society members;

10.  Notes that, according to the AAR, the analysis of the data collected up to 31 December 2018 shows that almost all the relevant priority areas in the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s strategic research agenda are addressed by the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s projects (11 out of 12);

11.  Welcomes the fact that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking signed a total of 20 new grant agreements in 2018, bringing the total project portfolio to 119 (59 IMI Joint Undertaking + 60 IMI2 Joint Undertaking projects);

12.  Observes that the management cost ratio (administrative/operational budget) remains below 5 %, thus pointing to the rather lean and efficient nature of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s organisational structure;

13.  Notes that in 2018 the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s leverage effect value was 0,99;

14.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, and to disseminate information on their added value; calls on the IMI2 Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communications policy by disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus raising public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake;

15.  Welcomes the successful launch of EBOVAC3 in 2018 aimed at running clinical trials in children in Sierra Leone and Guinea; notes furthermore that the project is implementing a clinical study in health care providers in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is contributing to fight the disease; notes with satisfaction that the lessons learned through IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s Ebola+ projects can be applied to other emerging infectious diseases;

16.  Calls upon the IMI2 Joint Undertaking to consider revising the number of funded projects in the future; further notes that a smaller number of bigger and well-funded projects would greatly clarify the area of operation of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, and make it easier for the general public to comprehend its benefits;

Staff and recruitment

17.  Notes that, in December 2018, the total number of staff posts filled in the IMI2 Joint Undertaking was 48 (49 in 2017);

18.  Notes that, at the end of 2018, the nationalities of 15 Member States were represented in the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, seven of them with one staff member; notes that 73 % of the 48 staff members were women and only 27 % men;

19.  Notes with concern the Court’s finding that, in 2018, the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s staff turnover rate was high at an average of 21 %, and particularly high at 60 % for contract agents, and the situation worsened due to eight people being on long-term sick leave of whom four were new cases in 2018, thus only half of the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s staff was fit for service in 2018, which increased the risk that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s operational objectives would not be achieved as planned; notes that, to resolve the staffing difficulties, the IMI2 Joint Undertaking made use of interim staff, who represented 9,8% of its total staff in 2018 and has invested resources in retaining its talents through training and wellbeing activities on one side, and in reaching full staffing on the other; expresses concern about the number of members of staff on long-term sick leave and is concerned that some of those cases may relate to exhaustion and an unsatisfactory work-life balance; calls on the IMI2 Joint Undertaking to be proactive towards the staff concerned, to carefully evaluate the staff workload and to ensure a balanced distribution of tasks;

Internal audit

20.  Notes that the Commission’s internal audit service (IAS) final audit report on the ‘Coordination with the Common Support Centre (CSC) and implementation of CSC tools and services in the IMI2 JU’ issued in March 2018 concluded that IMI2 Joint Undertaking has implemented adequate governance, risk management and internal controls processes that effectively and efficiently support its coordination activities with the CSC and the implementation of the CSC tools and services;

21.  Notes that the IAS audit did not result in any critical or very important issues being identified, and three ‘important’ recommendations were issued; notes that IMI2 Joint Undertaking prepared an action plan which translated the three recommendations into five actions, and four of those actions, which addressed two of the recommendations, were implemented by the end of 2018;

Internal control systems

22.  Notes the Court’s finding that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking has set up reliable ex-ante control procedures, based on financial and operational desk reviews, in particular, for the Seventh Framework Programme interim and final payments; observes that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking performs ex-post audits on beneficiaries’ premises, whilst for Horizon 2020 project cost claims, the IAS is responsible for the ex-post audits; notes that the residual error rates for the ex-post audits reported by the IMI2 Joint Undertaking at the end of 2018 were 0,87% for the Seventh Framework Programme and 0,67% for Horizon 2020;

23.  Notes that, in December 2017, the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s governing board adopted the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s internal control framework, which is aligned with the Commission’s control framework; notes that, in 2018, the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s internal control action plan focused on the implementation of the new principles of the internal control framework and revision, and on the development of the structure of the internal control environment; notes that new operational guidance for the implementation and measurement of the effectiveness of the control system was adopted;

24.  Notes that the Commission’s Directorate-General for Budget (DG BUDG) carried out its annual evaluation of the local financial systems set up in the IMI2 Joint Undertaking, and reviewed the information on changes in the local systems and in the control environment, evaluated internal control deficiencies identified by audits and supervisory controls, and verified a sample of transactions for the operations; notes that DG BUDG concluded on 13 December 2018 that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking’s internal control systems were working as intended; notes that the IMI2 Joint Undertaking completed the implementation of the action plan which was approved by the accounting officer on 5 February 2018, that the situation with regard to implementation of the action plan was assessed by DG BUDG, and that all five recommendations were closed by 28 January 2019;

25.  Invites the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions, and the assessment should evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process for the in-kind contributions.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 54.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 54.
(13) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(14) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(15) Council Regulation (EU) No 557/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (OJ L 169, 7. 6. 2014, p. 54).


Discharge 2018: Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2105(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0076A9-0055/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0071/2019),

–  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 209 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 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014 of 16 June 2014 establishing the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking(5), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6),

–  Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0055/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2105(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0071/2019),

–  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(10), and in particular Article 209 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(11), and in particular Article 71 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014 of 16 June 2014 establishing the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking(12), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(13),

–  Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/887 of 13 March 2019 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 71 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14)

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0055/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 for the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2105(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0055/2020),

A.  whereas the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (the “Joint Undertaking”) was established in June 2014 for a period of 10 years by Regulation (EU) No 642/2014(15);

B.  whereas the founding members are the European Union, represented by the Commission, and rail industry partners (key stakeholders, including rail equipment manufacturers, railway companies, infrastructure managers and research centres) with the possibility that other entities may participate in the Joint Undertaking as associated members;

C.  whereas the objectives of the Joint Undertaking are to achieve a Single European Railway Area; to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European railway system; to ensure a modal shift from road transport; and to maintain the European rail industry’s leading position in the global market;

D.  whereas the Joint Undertaking started to work autonomously in May 2016;

General

1.  Notes that the report of the Court of Auditors (the “Court”) on the Joint Undertaking´s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the “Court’s report”) finds the annual accounts to be presented fairly, in all material respects, with regard to the Joint Undertaking´s financial position on 31 December 2018 and the results of its operations, its cash flows, and the changes in net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its financial regulation and with the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Acknowledges that the Court´s report states that the transactions underlying the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 are, in all material respects, legal and regular;

3.  Notes that the maximum Union contribution to the activities of the Joint Undertaking is EUR 450 000 000, to be paid from Horizon 2020; notes that the industry members of the Joint Undertaking are to contribute resources of at least EUR 470 000 000, consisting of at least EUR 350 000 000 for in-kind and cash contributions to the operational activities and administrative costs of the Joint Undertaking and at least EUR 120 000 000 of in-kind contributions to the Joint Undertaking’s additional activities;

4.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking and the disseminate information on their added value; calls on the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communication policy by disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus raising public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake;

5.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions. The assessment shall evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of the in-kind contributions;

Budget and financial management

6.  Notes that the final 2018 budget available for implementation included commitment appropriations of EUR 84 756 000 and payment appropriations of EUR 71 890 204; stresses that the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations were 100 % and 82,3 % respectively which represent a low level, especially for payment appropriations; notes that lower than expected payment appropriations’ implementation is due to a pending legal decision concerning the membership of the Joint Undertaking; notes the low (63.4 %) rate of implementation of payment appropriation in Title 2 (administrative expenditures, representing 3 % of the Joint Undertaking’s budget) due to delays in invoicing by the suppliers under multi-annual framework contracts; notes, moreover, that most of the payments made by the Joint Undertaking in 2018 were interim payments for the Horizon 2020 projects selected under the 2015 and 2016 calls for proposals, as well as pre-financing payments for Horizon 2020 projects selected under the 2018 calls for proposals;

7.  Observes that, out of EUR 411 200 000 (including EUR 158 900 000 as the maximum of the Union cash contribution, and the industry members’ cash contribution to the Joint Undertakings’ administrative costs of EUR 6 500 000) by the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking had made commitments of EUR 84 756 000 and payments of EUR 59 155 000 for the implementation of its first wave of projects; this shows that the Joint Undertaking has currently signed interdependent multiannual grant agreements and procurement contracts for the implementation of 39 % of the Joint Undertaking’s research and innovation programme, in line with the Joint Undertaking’s multi-annual work programme;

8.  Welcomes the fact that out of EUR 350 000 000 of contributions to be made by the industry members to the operational activities and administrative costs of the Joint Undertaking, by the end of 2018, i.e. four months after the Joint Undertaking had launched its first Horizon 2020 projects, the industry members had reported in-kind contributions of EUR 63 700 000 for operational activities, of which EUR 21 700 000 had been certified; moreover, notes that out of EUR 120 000 000 of contributions to be made by the industry members to additional activities of the Joint Undertaking, the industry members had reported in cash contributions of EUR 6 500 000 for other activities outside of the Joint Undertaking’s work plan;

9.  Observes that by the end of 2018, the total contributions from industry members amounted to EUR 252 300 000, compared to the Union’s cash contribution of EUR 158 900 000;

10.  Notes that, in 2018, the Joint Undertaking signed 17 grant agreements resulting from the calls for proposals of 2018, and that the value of the research and innovation activities of those calls for proposals amounted to EUR 152 600 000, to be co-funded by the Joint Undertaking up to a maximum of EUR 77 300 000; notes that the other members agreed to limit their request for co-funding to 44,44 % of the total project costs, which is the lowest overall for Horizon 2020 Framework Programme; notes with regret that only 76 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) participated to the 2018 call (120 in 2017) and 40 SMEs (50 in 2017) were retained for funding (21,6 % of all retained participants for funding);

Performance

11.  Notes that the third set of key performance indicators will be developed on the basis of first Horizon 2020 results due to the nature of the projects; in addition, takes note that the Joint Undertaking continued the development of a key performance indicators model to measure the contribution of the research and innovation activities to its Regulation; notes that this work is still ongoing and the first results were presented to the governing board in December 2018;

12.  Observes that the management cost ratio (administrative/operational budget) remains below the 5 %, thus pointing to rather lean and efficient organisational structure of the Joint Undertaking;

13.  Takes note that the Joint Undertaking helped to create continuity and shared common vision for rail research within the railway community; notes that, in addition, the Joint Undertaking has helped to build trust between players that would otherwise not have the opportunity to share ideas and common interests outside a commercial situation; observes that the presence of rail operators in the Joint Undertaking should be strengthened over time;

14.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking should contribute to addressing the challenges faced by the rail sector focusing on the needs of the rail system and of its users, including in Member States that do not have a railway system within their territory; observes that in order to do that, the Joint Undertaking is implementing the Shift2Rail Programme, and research and innovation activities in the railway sector in Europe, through the collaboration between stakeholders and Member States; notes that particular attention should be given to promoting concrete measures for the removal of remaining technical obstacles to enhancing interoperability and to actions supporting a more integrated, efficient and safe Union railway market, with the ultimate aim of realising the Single European Railway Area;

15.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking launched the 2018 call for proposals for grants restricted to its members, as a lump sum funding scheme; however, the financial experts involved in the grant evaluation phase revealed some relevant deviations in the financial proposals; the Joint Undertaking used the grant preparation phase to analyse the beneficiaries’ explanations for the deviations and to correct the lump sum if justified; calls on the Joint Undertaking to continue to strengthen the financial data in its beneficiary database and to disclose important financial experts’ comments in the evaluation summary report; takes note of the Joint Undertaking’s reply that all legal and financial aspects of the Commission Decision C(2017) 7151(16) have been strictly followed-up, and that the Authorising Officer has ensured that all the comments of the experts, technical and financial, have been taken in due consideration; moreover, taking into account the recommendation of the Court, the overall process will be further enhanced in the 2019 call for proposals;

16.  Notes that, according to the 2018 annual activity report of the Joint Undertaking, the key performance indicators regarding gender balance for that year show a very low percentage of women - only 15 % - on the board, while they made up 34 % of the Joint Undertaking representatives and 40 % of the Scientific Committee;

Personal selection and recruitment

17.  Notes that in 2018, the Joint Undertaking recruited two seconded national experts in accordance with the Staff Establishment Plan, and with the agreement of the budget authority, recruited a third one for a one-year secondment in order to replace one Programme Manager;

18.  Notes that at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking’s staff consisted of 22 members out of the 23 who were foreseen in the Staff Establishment Plan;

Internal Control

19.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has set up reliable ex ante control procedures based on financial and operational desk reviews and that the Common Audit Service of Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the Commission (the “common audit service”) is responsible for the ex post audit of Horizon 2020 project cost claims; notes, moreover, that the situation at the end of 2018 showed that the most important internal control standards were largely implemented with some actions remaining to be completed in 2019, in particular, the revision of the key performance indicator model;

20.  Takes note that the residual error rate for the Horizon 2020 Programme was below the materiality threshold according to the Court, amounting to 0,97 %; takes into consideration that at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking could base its error rate calculation on four ex post audit reports, one related to the risk based audit and three related to the Joint Undertaking representative sample;

21.  Acknowledges the fact that the internal audit service performs the role of internal auditor of the Joint Undertaking and that, in this respect, it reports to the governing board and the executive director indirectly; notes that the first audit mission established a risk profile of the Joint Undertaking with the objective of establishing a triennial internal audit plan; observes that the internal audit service strategic internal audit plan 2017-2019 was presented in June 2017; moreover, in accordance with this audit plan, the internal audit service, in 2018, carried out a limited review of the implementation of internal control standards; observes with satisfaction that of the five recommendations to management to address the shortcomings identified that had not yet been fully implemented, only one still required implementing actions in 2019;

22.  Notes with regret that, at the end of 2017, the Commission’s common Horizon 2020 grant management and monitoring tools had not finished the specific developments needed for the processing of the Joint Undertaking’s in-kind contributions; however, notes that in-kind contributions have been validated by the executive director in 2018;

23.  Observes that the Commission’s interim evaluation on the Joint Undertaking’s operating activities under Horizon 2020 covering the period from 2014 to 2016 was carried out; notes that an action plan has been prepared and adopted by the governing board in June 2018; takes into consideration that not all recommendations raised in the interim evaluation will be addressed under the current financial framework programme; however, notes that some actions included in the action plan have already been initiated, while others are expected to be implemented by 2020;

Others issues

24.  Insists on the importance of the cooperation between the Joint Undertaking and the Union Agency for Railways (ERA); notes the involvement of ERA in meetings of the Joint Undertaking’s governing board and in the groups that drafted the multi-annual action plan; notes that the Joint Undertaking assessed the requests for research and innovation coming from ERA in order to avoid overlapping activities and to maximize the efficiency of use of the public funding;

25.  Notes that, in 2018, one Associated Member became a wholly-owned subsidiary of a founding member, as a result the founding member’s representation in the governing board increased; observes that the provisions of the Joint Undertaking’s current legal framework do not sufficiently address corporate acquisitions among the Joint Undertaking’s industry members and the implications they might have on the balanced representation of members in the governing board; takes note of the Joint Undertaking’s reply that the legal framework established within the Joint Undertaking does not allow an increase in the influence of a founding member on the decision-making process and overall governance; notes that the finding of the Court will be considered in any possible amendment to the regulation;

26.  Notes that the interim evaluation of the Joint Undertaking was completed in the timeframe set by its legal framework; notes with regret that it could not provide the best added value for the Joint Undertaking’s decision-making process at this early stage of its activities; takes note of the Joint Undertaking’s reply that the evaluation took place early in the life of the joint Undertaking but this was a requirement in compliance with the Joint Undertaking regulation and the overall Horizon 2020 programme;

27.  Observes that the staff turnover rates for the last two years were entirely caused by turnover of contract agents; welcomes the steps taking by the Joint Undertaking to cope with this situation; notes that the Joint Undertaking made use of interim staff services, which represented about 17 % of its total staff; takes note on the Joint Undertaking’s reply that the main reasons for this stem from the current staff establishment plan structure, which does not allow the Joint Undertaking to offer the same favourable contractual conditions as those offered by other bodies and institutions; notes that soft measures have been put in place to reduce high levels of turnover; calls on the Commission to follow up this point;

Transport and Tourism

28.  Highlights that the objectives of the Joint Undertaking are to achieve a Single European Railway Area and to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of the Union railway system; points out that the rail mode of transport will be key in the future Union actions to promote a shift to low-emission mobility and tackling negative externalities; stresses that the Joint Undertaking needs to be given the necessary financial, material and human resources to reach these key objectives and to contribute to a real modal shift;

29.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking is a public-private partnership established in 2014 under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme; notes that the Shift2Rail Programme is jointly funded through contributions of the Union (through the operational budget of the Joint Undertaking) and in-kind contributions from the other members, i.e. the eight founding members (other than the EU) and the nineteen associated members;

30.  Notes that during 2018, the Joint Undertaking has progressed towards achieving its targets, delivering the Shift2Rail Programme implementation ensuring an effective and efficient sound financial management; notes that 2018 saw the progress of the research and innovation activities launched in previous years that are now well on track and largely proceeding at a rapid pace; notes that new wave of research and innovation activities (Call 2018) started at the year end; notes that it is estimated that the total project cost of the activities performed in 2018 will amount to EUR 83 400 000;

31.  Stresses the need to increase the attractiveness of rail for transport operators and passengers in order to achieve a lasting shift from road to rail, and notes that the next five years will be critical for the success of rail and that the Joint Undertaking plays a key role in making rail cheaper, more efficient and more attractive;

32.  Stresses that points, or faulty points, alone account for 25 % to 30 % of all maintenance on the rail network and are responsible for a significant part of infrastructure costs; welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s efforts to increase the reliability of the system and reduce costs;

33.  Welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s objectives of halving the life-cycle costs of the rail system, doubling capacity and improving reliability and punctuality by 50 %; calls for the Joint Undertaking to have at its full disposal the human and financial resources necessary to achieve these objectives;

34.  Welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s efforts to introduce Automatic Train Operation (ATO); warns that the road transport sector has made greater progress with automation;

35.  Welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s decision to propose to its governing board, as part of the annual working programme 2018, the adoption of the lump sum grant, which was subsequently implemented through the lump sum pilot scheme in the call for members part of the 2018 call;

36.  Considers that, in order to ensure the legal clarity of the decision-making process and of the overall governance of the Joint Undertaking, it is of utmost importance to clarify the provisions of the legal framework of the Joint Undertaking regarding corporate acquisitions among its industry members and their consequences for the membership of the governing board; therefore invites the Council to address this issue possible by adopting amendments to Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014;

37.  Notes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking launched 14 representative audits on its population and one risk based audit (in addition to the 15 representative audits and one risk based audit launched in 2017) bringing the direct coverage of the Joint Undertaking’s audits to EUR 4 660 000; notes that the overall detected error rate for the three representative audits and the risk-based audit finalised by 31 December 2018 is 0,94 % on a simple average and 1,19 % on a weighted average; notes that all other error rates (representative and residual), although limited in respect their coverage, are also below the targeted threshold of 2 %;

38.  Welcomes the continued implementation of the Joint Undertaking’s anti-fraud strategy 2017 - 2020, which did not result in any cases of ‘close monitoring due to an assessment of high risk of fraud’ or in any files being sent to OLAF for investigation.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 57.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 177, 17.6.2014, p. 9.
(6) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p.57.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 177, 17.6.2014, p. 9.
(13) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(14) OJ L 142, 29.5.2019, p. 16.
(15) Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014 of 16 June 2014 establishing the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (OJ L 177, 17.6.2014, p. 9).
(16) Commission Decision C(2017) 7151 of 27 October 2017 on authorising the use of reimbursement on the basis of a lump sum for the eligible costs of actions under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and under the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (2014- 2018).


Discharge 2018: European Environment Agency
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2070(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0077A9-0064/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Environment Agency 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0037/2020),

–  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 (EC) No 401/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the European Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network(5), and in particular Article 13 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7), 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0064/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Environment Agency, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2070(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Environment Agency 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0037/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the European Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network(12), and in particular Article 13 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14), 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0064/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, 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).

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 Environment Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2070(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Environment Agency 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0064/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Environmental Agency (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 65 800 176,52, representing a decrease of 6,57 % compared to 2017; whereas the Agency’s budget derives mainly from the Union budget (65,45 %) and the contributions under specific agreements, namely the Copernicus and European Human Biomonitoring Programmes (34,55 %);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the annual accounts of the Agency for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court's report’), has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’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 99,96 %, representing a slight decrease of 0,01 % compared to 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 91,06 %, representing an increase of 2,03 % compared to the previous year;

Performance

2.  Welcomes the fact that, according to the Agency, substantial progress was made in the sharing of resources on overlapping tasks among other agencies with similar activities; also notes that the Agency shared efforts with other science-based agencies, including the European Chemicals Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, on issues related to human health; welcomes the fact that there is a growing interest in the Agency’s information and data; is of the opinion that dissemination of environmental information is of key importance in light of the new Commission’s policies and the dangers of climate change;

3.  Notes that the Agency achieved its 2018 objectives as referred to in the Agency’s Annual Work Programme and provided European decision-makers and citizens with access to timely and relevant information: the Agency’s website gained 500 000 users (+17%) in 2018 to reach a total of 3,45 million users, registering 10,7 million page views (+15%);

4.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

5.  Recalls that the Agency provides sound and independent information on the environment; commends the quality of the output of the Agency in 2018, such as its reports on air quality in Europe, on mercury in Europe’s environment and on the circular economy; underlines the fact that it is still difficult to obtain clear and reliable information on some sectors of the Union's economy, which prevents the Agency from undertaking a fully comprehensive analysis of the state of the Union's environment;

6.  Notes the key role of the Agency in delivering quality data on the state of our environment, which becomes increasingly important in light of the huge challenge that the Union faces in tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis, and its role in finding answers through the European Green Deal; welcomes the fact that the Agency's opinion is being heard through the institutions and recommends that the scientific committee of the Agency play a key role in advising the Commission;

7.  Encourages the Agency to work together with the other relevant agencies of the Union in order to better assess environmental impacts of human activity;

8.  Recalls that the Agency started, in 2018, its work on Energy Union Governance and streamlining of environmental reporting;

9.  Regrets that some activities could not be fully delivered in 2018 due to a number of circumstances, including limited IT and staff resources; notes with concern that the management board stressed that the Agency’s capacity to further respond adequately to policy developments will depend on an increase in allocated core resources or the further prioritisation and/or discontinuation of current core tasks;

10.  Notes the conclusions of the evaluation of the Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) carried out by the Commission;

11.  Stresses that the aims of the Agency are pan-European and for this reason it is necessary for it to cooperate closely with third countries located in Europe.

12.  Notes that the outcome of the internal review of the functioning of the management board and bureau carried out in 2018 will be implemented in 2019; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken in this regard;

Staff policy

13.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 98,39 % executed, with 3 officials and 119 temporary agents appointed out of 124 posts authorised under the Union budget (compared with 127 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 63 contract agents and 19 seconded national experts were working for the Agency in 2018;

14.  Notes the uneven gender balance reported for 2018 with regard to senior managers (seven men and two women), but the good balance achieved within the management Board (15 men and 17 women);

15.  Notes with concern from the Court’s report that the Agency does not have an up-to-date policy covering sensitive posts; notes from the Agency’s reply that the Agency has carried out an inventory of its sensitive posts since 2009, which is currently under review to reflect the changes resulting from the Agency’s reorganisation in September 2018; calls on the Agency to adopt and implement that sensitive posts policy without delay;

16.  Supports the suggestion of the Court to publish vacancy notices also on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office in order to increase publicity; understands the issue raised in the Agency’s reply concerning the translation costs triggered by such publication; notes that the Agency publishes vacancy notices on the EU Agencies Network’s website and on social media to increase publicity;

Procurement

17.  Deplores the fact that, following the termination of a EUR 1,4 million contract due to a contractor’s unsatisfactory performance, the Agency signed, a few months later, a new EUR 2 million contract “in cascade” for the same type of service with the same contractor, without inserting in the technical specifications elements to neutralise the risk of similar problems arising again under the new contract; is of the opinion that such contracting behaviour raises serious concerns as to the Agency’s sound financial management; calls on the Agency to award contracts only if satisfactory performance can be expected; and asks the Agency to report back to the Court and the discharge authority on the performance of the contractor;

18.  Notes with concern from the Court’s report that for the provision of Copernicus local land monitoring services, the Agency concluded a contract for services for an amount above the ceiling of the governing framework contract, but did not formalise it through a contract amendment; notes from the Agency’s reply that it considers that the increase of the budget ceiling was made in accordance with the guidance from the Commission; nevertheless calls on the Agency to formalise contract modifications only in line with public procurement provisions;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

19.  Acknowledges the Agency’s existing measures and ongoing efforts to secure transparency, prevent and manage conflicts of interests, and provide whistleblower protection; raises concerns that the Agency has not put in place a system for declarations of conflict of interest for in house experts;

20.  Stresses that the publication of CVs and declarations of interest of management board members should be obligatory;

Other Comments

21.  Notes the Agency’s efforts to provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly working place and to preferably reduce and offset its CO2 emissions in the areas of premises and travel;

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

o
o   o

23.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(16) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 126, 21.5.2009, p. 13.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 126, 21.5.2009, p. 13.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 416, 15.11.2018, p. 1.
(16) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Union Agency for Railways
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Railways for the financial year 2018 (2019/2081(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0078A9-0061/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Railways 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0048/2020),

–  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 (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 (5), and in particular Article 65 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(6), 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(7), 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0061/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Union Agency for Railways, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Railways for the financial year 2018 (2019/2081(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Railways 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0048/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 (12), and in particular Article 65 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(13), 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(14), 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0061/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Railways for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, 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).

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 Union Agency for Railways for the financial year 2018 (2019/2081(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Railways 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0061/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Union Agency for Railways (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 28 793 243, representing a decrease of 6.31 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget of the Agency derives mainly from the Union budget(16);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the annual accounts of the Agency for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court's report’), has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency'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 99.98 %, representing a slight decrease of 0.02 % compared to 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 88.96 %, representing an increase of 1.66 % compared to 2017;

2.  Notes the Agency's role in ensuring the safety and interoperability of the European rail system and improving competitiveness of rail with other modes of transport, by reducing administrative and technical barriers, encouraging market entry and ensuring non-discrimination, spending public money more efficiently on public rail transport services and through better governance of the infrastructure; supports the Commission’s vision of a European railway system that leads the world on safety performance;

3.  Welcomes the Agency's role in the follow-up of the development, testing and implementation of the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS), as well as in evaluating the specific ERTMS projects; notes, furthermore, that the 4th Railway Package includes a technical pillar that enhances the role of Agency by introducing new tasks to ensure a uniform implementation of the EU framework; stresses that, as the Agency receives greater responsibilities, it will need to be given the necessary financial, material and human resources to perform its new and additional tasks effectively and efficiently;

4.  Recalls that the ERTMS is crucial to achieving a Single European Railway Area; stresses, therefore, that an optimised coordination of ERTMS development and deployment that ensures a single, transparent, stable, affordable and interoperable ERTMS system throughout Europe is a key priority;

5.  Notes that, following the Agency’s enlarged mandate in its new Regulation, in 2019 the Agency will start to collect fees and charges for certification tasks, taking into account the specific needs of medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); notes that, according to Regulation (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council, fees and charges represent assigned revenue for the Agency; notes that some amendments to the implementing rules for the Agency’s Financial Regulation are necessary and notes from the Agency’s reply that it has submitted a derogation request to the Commission to that aim; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the implementation of this new system;

6.  Calls on the Agency to take into account the specific needs of SMEs during the certification process, in particular by reducing their administrative and financial burdens;

Performance

7.  Notes that the Agency uses a set of Railway Indicators across its operational activities as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess the added value provided by its activities and other indicators to improve its budget management;

8.  Encourages the Agency to implement the Court's recommendations;

9.  Acknowledges that the Agency had a satisfactory level of achievement for its KPIs and its targets for outputs, achieving full completion of the initial activities after the entry into force of the Fourth Railway Package; notes that the Agency met its target of issuing reports, advice and opinions in a timely manner in 95 % of cases; points out that the Agency did not achieve the goal of 90 % achievement of all outputs using financial and human resource planning, with only 79.75 % categorised as fully achieved;

10.  Welcomes the Agency’s continued cooperation with the European Securities and Markets Authority in sharing accountancy services; further urges the Agency to explore possibilities of sharing resources for overlapping tasks among other agencies with similar activities; encourages the Agency to actively seek further and broader cooperation with all of the Union agencies; encourages the Agency to explore the possibility of staff sharing in certain non-expert, technical and administrative fields, with a special emphasis on the development of collaboration with the Paris-based Institute for Security Studies;

11.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

12.   Notes that the objective set by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of establishing a single European railway market has not been achieved; calls on the Agency to focus its efforts and publications on this area;

13.  Notes that the aim of shifting traffic from road to rail can only be achieved if a competitive European railway area is established; calls on the Agency to draw up a set of measures designed to ensure that in future, rail transport can be incorporated into modern logistics chains;

14.  Points out that the next five years will be crucial for the future of the rail sector and that the Agency must be provided with the funding and staff it needs in order to meet the coming challenges;

15.  Notes that the indicative ceilings of 10 % used by the Court of Auditors to assess the budget execution at the level of the carry-overs for Title 1 (staff) and 20 % for Title 2 (administrative) have been reached; notes with regret that the indicative ceiling for Title 3 (30 % for operational expenditure) has not been reached;

16.  Notes that the results of the annual benchmarking exercise regarding the staff are similar to those of 2017 with 18,4 % of the staff assigned to administrative tasks (18,18 % in 2017), 69,7 % assigned to operational tasks (70,16 %), and 11,90 % of the staff assigned to control and financial tasks (11,67 %);

17.  Welcomes the Agency’s continued efforts to prepare for its new tasks as defined by the Fourth Railway Package and to take up, in June 2019, its role as the EU authority responsible for issuing authorisations for placing railway vehicles on the market, single safety certificates for railway undertakings and ERTMS trackside approvals; welcomes in particular that all the legal texts and management board decisions were adopted on time and that the Agency published the Application guide for vehicle authorisation; welcomes the other steps taken by the Agency to prepare for its new tasks (active stakeholders interaction, learning cases and shadow running, pilot National Safety Authorities monitoring); welcomes the development of the One-Stop Shop;

Welcomes the fact that the Agency has made a start on the task of harmonising the more than 14 000 national rules governing rail transport;

   (a) deplores the fact that, unlike in the aviation and road transport sectors, in the rail sector harmonisation is still a distant objective;
   (b) calls on the Agency significantly to step up its efforts to establish a single European rail area;

18.  Notes that the Agency plays a key role in removing bureaucratic obstacles in the area of cross-border rail transport;

19.  Notes that, as regards both infrastructure and rolling stock, far too little progress has been made in introducing the equipment required for the ERTMS in Europe, and calls on the Agency to propose measures to speed up that process;

20.  Regrets that 37 non-conformities were registered in 2018, including 18 with financial impacts (among which 4 superior to 15 000 euros); requests the Agency to continue its efforts to improve its management as well as procurement procedures;

21.  Notes that the Agency proposed to review the Framework for Good Administrative behaviour; requests that the Agency reports on the evolution of this framework in its next annual report; welcomes the fact that the Agency continued the training on Ethics and Antifraud; welcomes the fact that no cases of suspicion of fraud have been transmitted to OLAF; notes that the case reported in 2017 is still under investigation;

22.  Welcomes the successful passing of the ISO 9001 confirmation audit;

Staff policy

23.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 89.19 % executed, with 132 temporary agents appointed out of 148 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 139 authorised posts in 2017); notes that in addition 31 contract agents and 2 seconded national experts worked for the Agency in 2018;

24.  Notes with concern the unequal gender balance reported for 2018 for senior managers (5 men and 1 woman) and for the management board (40 men and 15 women);

25.  Notes that the Agency has adopted a policy on protecting the dignity of persons and preventing harassment, confidential counsellors are promoted and staff is encouraged to address their issues to them; notes that one alleged harassment was reported, but none was investigated nor taken to court;

Procurement

26.  Notes that, according to the Court´s report, the Agency did not systematically check prices and uplifts charged with supplier’s quotes and invoices issued to the framework contractor for the acquisition of software licences; acknowledges that the Agency applied the Commission framework contract and awaits the new framework contract where a reopening of competition is foreseen; calls on the Agency to adapt the ex-ante controls on payments under framework contracts and to ensure there is a competitive procedure for all procurements;

27.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the Agency, through an amendment to a direct contract for the organisation of a conference, decided to contract and pay all related services separately, resulting in an artificial splitting of the contract, and thus rendering the contract and all related payments irregular; takes note of the Agency’s reply that it intends to prepare terms of reference to sign a framework contract for the organisation of events;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

28.  Notes that the Agency has published the declarations of conflicts of interest of the management board and members of staff and the CVs of its management board members and of part of its management staff on their website; welcomes the fact that since June 2019, all the Agency’s senior management and member staff have to sign an annual declaration of conflicts of interest;

29.  Notes that, according to the Agency, the Framework for Good Administrative behaviour in place encompasses strict measures on management of conflict of interests regarding individuals involved in the new tasks under the Fourth Railway Package; also notes that the framework has encountered practical difficulties and therefore is the subject of a revised proposal; notes that the case of suspicion of fraud reported in 2017 is still under investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office; notes that no other case of suspicion of fraud has been reported since then; urges the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the outcome of this investigation;

30.  Notes that the Agency adopted guidelines on whistleblowing, which were published on 21st November 2018;

Internal controls

31.  Notes the fact that, following the Agency’s re-organisation, the accounting officer is directly linked administratively to the executive director and is not in charge of the Finance and Procurement team anymore;

32.  Notes that in 2018, an audit report on “Programme, Project and Service Management in the Agency” was issued by the Commission’s Internal Audit Service and that the Agency prepared an action plan to address any potential areas for improvement; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken in this regard;

Other comments

33.  Notes that, by the end of the transitional period (16 June 2019), the Agency will transform itself from a body with a mere policy preparation and dissemination role into an authority working directly for the industry as regards authorisations for safety certifications and rolling stock; notes in this regard that the Agency’s reorganisation has allowed the necessary changes to ensure the management of the new applications, drawing upon experts, and the development of both a training programme and a monitoring system;

34.  Notes that on 15 April 2019, the Agency signed the headquarter agreement with the French authorities; acknowledges that the decision for the double seat is a Council decision that the Agency must apply;

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

o
o   o

36.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(17) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 80.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 80.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7)[1] OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 80.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 80.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14)[1] OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 108, 22.03.2018, p. 79.
(16) OJ C 108, 22.03.2018, p.77, subsidy from the Commission (EUR 28 135 398), third countries contribution (EUR 657 845, note this is smaller than previous year).
(17) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Maritime Safety Agency
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2076(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0079A9-0066/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0043/2020),

–  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 (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency(5), and in particular Article 19 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0066/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Maritime Safety Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Maritime Safety Agency, 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).

2. European parliament decision of 13 May on the closure of the accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2076(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0043/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency(12), and in particular Article 19 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14), 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0066/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Maritime Safety Agency, 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).

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 Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2076(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0066/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 106 777 232,65 representing an increase of 23,76 % compared to 2017; whereas the increase was mainly related to the enhanced mandate of the Agency; whereas the Agency’s budget derives entirely from the Union budget(16);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the annual accounts of the Agency for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’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 99,02 %, representing a slight increase of 0,98 % compared to 2017 and a payment appropriations execution rate of 92,84 %, representing a decrease of 3,41 %;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Agency uses a number of specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the implementation of its annual work programme and that the evaluation of the Agency represents the main instrument to assess the added value provided by its activities; acknowledges the Agency’s performance management system which sets both multiannual objectives and quarterly KPIs in the periodic monitoring of the implementation of the annual work programmes; notes that the Agency uses only the budgetary execution rate as the main KPI to improve its budget management;

3.  Notes that the Agency’s KPI of continuity and quality of its external services have met overall their respective targets, and that its quality system for visits and inspections was expanded;

4.  Encourages the Agency to implement the Court's recommendations;

5.  Notes that the Agency cooperates closely with other Union agencies such as with the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency for what concerns the European coastguard function; further strongly encourages the Agency to seek further and broader cooperation with all of the Union agencies;

6.  Notes that following the approval of the independent external evaluation on the implementation of the Agency’s Founding Regulation in 2017, the Agency presented its Action Plan in March 2018; notes with satisfaction that actions, potential risks and mitigating measures were identified, as well as a timeframe for implementation and a realistic budgetary impact;

7.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

8.  Notes that the delay in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) operations linked to European cooperation on coast guard functions due to technical challenges and continuing difficulties in obtaining from national authorities the permits to fly led to a budget amendment reducing the EU subsidy and to the return of EUR 6 000 000 in payment appropriations to the Commission; notes that this reduction proved insufficient due to further delays caused by technical problems and bad weather, leading to lower consumption of payment appropriations; supports the recommendation of the Administrative Board that the Agency should address the risk resulting from the ‘Permits to Fly’ issue in respect of full budget execution;

9.  Welcomes the Agency’s direct support to Members States’ environmental enforcement efforts in implementing environmental legislation, as well as the EMSA RPAS services assisting in maritime surveillance operations such as maritime pollution and emissions monitoring; believes that, with further resources, the Agency can play an important role in supporting Member States in mitigating shipping-related environmental risks and in improving the sustainability of the maritime sector;

10.  Appreciates that the Agency is only in its second full year of operations following the extension of the mandate at the end of 2016 and that some of the factors that led to budgetary modifications were not known at the time of the drafting of the 2018 budget; notes that the Agency had to carry out budgetary modifications to cater for salary increases due to the correction coefficient for Portugal;

11.  Notes with satisfaction that the Agency is testing High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites (HAPS), and welcomes the fact that, in this way, the gap between satellites and drones is being filled;

12.  Welcomes the Agency's efforts to make operational services, analyses, specialist knowledge and the best possible technical support available in the context of Commission and Member State projects and to users in the maritime transport sector;

13.  Calls on the Agency to exploit to the full, and if necessary to adapt, the operational possibilities offered by drones, HAPS and satellites; emphasises the multi-functional nature of the systems, covering the spectrum from rescue at sea to early detection and monitoring of maritime pollution and the vital efforts to combat illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, people smuggling and unlicensed fishing;

14.  Notes that the Administrative board of the Agency has adopted in November 2018 a new Internal Control Framework based on the 2017 Commission framework;

15.  Notes that, at the beginning of 2018, the Agency expanded the scope of the Visits & Inspections Quality Management System (V&I QMS) to include the maritime security inspections and the horizontal analysis process; welcomes that the annual verification audit of the enlarged QMS was successfully performed by TUV Rheinland Portugal without any non-conformity;

16.  Notes that no case of conflict of interest was reported in 2018; notes that, in accordance with the Risk Management Policy, the risk register was updated in 2018, and that this update did not result in any critical risks that could lead to a formal reservation to the Authorising Officer’s annual declaration of assurance; notes further that none of the risks previously identified materialised in 2018;

17.  Appreciates that the Agency has introduced appropriate control mechanisms on payments in the Agency contracts;

18.  Notes that the results of the fifth benchmarking exercise regarding the staff are similar to those of 2017 with 20,20 % (20,42 % in 2017) of the jobs dedicated to administrative support of coordination, 71,65 % (72,08 %) to operational tasks and 8,15 % (7,50 %) to neutral tasks;

Staff policy

19.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 98,58 % filled, with 209 officials and temporary agents (TAs) appointed out of 212 officials and TAs authorised under the Union budget (212 authorised posts in 2017); notes that in addition 30 contract agents and 17 seconded national experts have been working for the Agency in 2018; encourages the Agency to perform a research on the topic of sharing staff among other Union agencies, with a special emphasis on possibilities of further connection of administrative staff with other Lisbon-based Agencies, namely the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction;

20.  Notes with satisfaction that an equal gender balance was achieved for senior managers (2 men and 2 women); is concerned, however, that at the management board level there is unbalanced participation of men (44 members) and women (12 members);

21.  Regrets the lack of information and details regarding the ‘Action Plan for Gender Balance at EMSA’;

Procurement

22.  Notes from the Court´s report that by the end of 2018 the Agency did not systematically check prices and uplifts charged with supplier’s quotes and invoices issued to the framework contractor for the acquisition of software licences; notes from the Agency’s reply that the implementation mechanism for this framework contract did not include a fixed price list but instead that the Commission decided to opt for a system of applying price uplifts and that the contractor has exercised its rights to terminate the contract with effect on 12 October 2019;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

23.  Acknowledges that the Agency employs, and publishes, declarations of conflicts of interest for its management board members and senior management and that the Agency has issued guidelines on conflict of interest and has implemented Whistleblowing arrangements, which are an important tool to detect fraud, corruption and serious irregularities;

Internal Controls

24.  Takes note that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) issued an audit report on “Visits and Inspections” in the Agency, concluding that the management and control systems designed for this subject are adequately designed and effectively and efficiently implemented; points out that the IAS issued four recommendations that the Agency accepted and committed to address;

25.  Notes that, in 2018, the Agency implemented all action plans related to the IAS Audit on Human Resources Management at EMSA that took place in 2017;

Other comments

26.  Notes the Agency’s efforts to promoting a cost-effective and environment-friendly working place; points out, however, that the Agency does not have any additional measures in place to reduce or offset CO² emissions;

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

o
o   o

28.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(17) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 208, 5.8.2002, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 208, 5.8.2002, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 120, 29.03.2019, p. 204
(16) OJ C 120, 29.03.2019, p. 202
(17) Texts adopted, P9–TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European GNSS Agency
PDF 159kWORD 50k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2084(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0080A9-0067/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0051/2020),

–  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 (EU) No 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency, repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programmes and amending Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5), and in particular Article 14 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), and in particular Article 105 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0067/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 GNSS Agency, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2084(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency 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 (8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0051/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency, repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programmes and amending Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council(12), and in particular Article 14 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14), and in particular Article 105 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0067/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency, 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).

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 GNSS Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2084(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0067/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European GNSS Agency (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 32 230 582, representing an increase of 13,22 % compared to 2017; whereas the increase related to titles 2 and 3; whereas the Agency’s budget derives mainly from the Union budget(16);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the annual accounts of the Agency for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court's report’), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’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 100 %, representing the same rate as in 2017; notes furthermore that the execution rate of payment appropriations was 83,72 %, representing a decrease of 2,48 % compared to 2017;

2.  Notes that in addition to its core budget, the Agency continued to manage a large amount of delegated budget in 2018 for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), the Galileo Delegation Agreement, the Delegation Agreement for Public Regulated Service and the Horizon 2020 delegation agreement; notes that a total of EUR 1 173 219 279 was committed under a delegated budget in 2018 and EUR 796 500 300,84 made in payments;,

Cancellation of carry-overs

3.  Welcomes the fact that the cancellation of carry-overs from 2017 to 2018 represents 3,25 % of the total amount carried over after a decrease of 2,05 % in comparison to 2017;

Performance

4.  Notes that the Agency uses certain Key Performance Indicators to measure the added value provided by its activities and to enhance its budget management;

5.  Notes that the Agency’s Galileo and EGNOS programmes are now fully in their operational phase and that specifically with regard to Galileo, besides the successful launch in 2018 of the last four satellites before batch 3, the Agency completed the contract award activities;

6.  Welcomes the fact that the Agency has outsourced its accounting services to the Commission since 2015 and that it shares the provision of the services related to business continuity management and the internal audit capability with other Agencies;

7.  Notes that, in light of last year’s comments and observations by the discharge authority, the mid-term evaluation of the Galileo and EGNOS programmes and of the Agency’s performance was completed by the Commission and was presented to Parliament and the Council in October 2017;

8.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

Staff policy

9.  Notes that on 31 December 2018 the establishment plan was executed to 90,63 %, with 116 temporary agents appointed out of 128 that were authorised under the Union budget (compared to 116 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 51 contract agents and 3 seconded national experts worked for the Agency in 2018; notes that 10 additional posts were allocated to the Agency for its 2018 establishment plan in addition to the 2 posts already provided for;

10.  Notes with concern the lack of gender balance for 2018 among the senior managers (10 men and 2 women) and on the management board (44 men and 7 women);

11.  Welcomes the fact that the Agency adopted the suggestion of the Court and finally published the vacancy notices on the website of EPSO in order to increase publicity; notes from the Agency’s reply that it intends to publish all vacancy notices on the inter-agency portal, which is considered to be equivalent to EPSO from the Agencies’ perspective, and that additionally, the Agency publishes its vacancy notices in specialised publications of the space sector;

Procurement

12.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the Agency signed a framework contact on the exploitation of the Galileo satellite system for 2017 to 2027 on 15 December 2016, amounting to EUR 1 500 000 000; notes moreover that the contract was awarded following a public procurement procedure; points out that one of the tenderers involved has launched legal proceedings, challenging the outcome of the procedure; notes that the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the Court of Justice) will rule on the legality and regularity of the procurement procedure for the framework contract and all related specific contracts and future payments; points out that the written procedure was closed in the first quarter of 2019, that the oral hearing was expected to take place during the second or third quarter of 2019, and that the judgement of the Court of Justice was expected to be delivered in the last quarter of 2019, but that, on 3 December 2019 the Court of Justice discontinued the proceedings (Case T-99/17)(17); notes, from the Agency’s legal analysis on the consequences of a potential annulment of the award decision, that the Agency would likely not be required to terminate the contract but would, rather, be required to meet the plaintiff’s legal costs of approximately EUR 300 000 as well as possible damages, which are mentioned in the Agency’s annual accounts; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the developments in this regard;

13.  Notes that following an internal assessment, in light of comments and observations by the discharge authority related to the use of e-procurement procedures, it was concluded that the e-submission module at its current stage of development did not address the Agency’s complex procurement needs, and that for the time being it has been decided that tenders will not be carried out electronically; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the developments in this regard;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

14.  Notes that one former high-level official occupies an advisory role under the active senior initiative, without financial emoluments;

15.  Notes, in light of comments and observations by the discharge authority related to the declarations of interest and the publication of the CVs of the Agency’s senior management, that for the chairperson and the deputy chairperson of the Agency’s administrative board only declarations of interests are published on the Agency’s website; notes that the Agency intends to proceed with the publication on its website of the CVs of the administrative board members after due consideration of the applicable rules on the protection of personal data;

16.  Regrets that the CVs of the administrative board members have still not been published on the Agency's website; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the actions taken in that regard;

17.  Notes that the Agency adopted an internal whistleblowing policy in June 2018;

18.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the Commission’s internal audit service performed an audit on ‘IT Governance in GSA’ in 2018 and that the Agency drew up an action plan to address some potential areas for improvement; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the developments in this regard;

Other comments

19.  Notes, in light of comments and observations by the discharge authority related to the Agency’s commitment to minimise any negative impact from the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union, that the Agency sent letters to all contractors and beneficiaries of contracts and grants affected, requiring mitigating measures to be implemented by the end of October 2019, in particular to ensure that prime contractors and subcontractors are not entities established in the United Kingdom and that the back-up site of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre has been relocated from the United Kingdom to Spain; calls on the Agency to keep the discharge authority informed of the outcome of those measures;

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

o
o   o

21.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(18) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.34.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010, p. 11.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.34.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010, p. 11.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 116, 28.03.2018, p.21.
(16) OJ C 116, 28.03.2018, p.21.
(17) ECLI:EU:T:2019:847.
(18) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
PDF 160kWORD 52k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2018 (2019/2069(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0081A9-0073/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0036/2020),

–  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 (EC) No 1920/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction(5), and in particular Article 15 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7), 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0073/2020),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction discharge in respect of the implementation of the Centre’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 Director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2018 (2019/2069(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0036/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1920/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction(12), and in particular Article 15 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14), 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0073/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 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).

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 Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2018 (2019/2069(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0073/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (the ‘Centre’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 16 174 200,21, representing an increase of 2,18 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget of the Centre derives mainly from the Union budget(16);

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Welcomes the fact that the budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 100 %, the same rate as in 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 98,02 %, representing an increase of 3,31 % compared to the previous year;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Centre measures the achievement of its 66 annual targets with 50 key performance indicators (KPIs), which are divided into eight strategic objectives, to assess the added value provided by its activities, and to improve its budget management; notes that, starting from 2019, the Centre put in place a new performance model based on ten KPIs, which will be used to measure the Centre’s effectiveness in delivering the desired outputs and its efficiency in using the resources allocated to that end;

3.  Notes that the Centre has reached 85 % of the applicable outputs and results planned in the 2018 work programme and that it successfully implemented the first year of its Strategy 2025;

4.  Encourages the Centre to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

5.  Notes with satisfaction that the Centre continues to share synergies with the European Maritime Safety Agency in corporate and support services, and in the management of common premises in Lisbon, and that those synergies also relate to ICT, telecommunications and internet-based infrastructure and services; notes that operational synergies have been put in place with other Union agencies in the areas of justice and home affairs and health; commends the agencies for this form of cohabitation and holds it to be an example worth following;

6.  Highlights the important role of the Centre in providing policy-makers and practitioners with analyses and information concerning drugs and drug addiction as well as emerging trends, with a view to effectively countering illicit drug use and trafficking, and recalls that drug trafficking has been identified as one of the main sources of profit and a channel of recruitment for organised crime and terrorism; recalls the fact that the Centre’s mandate was expanded in 2018, inter alia, to include new responsibilities and formal partnerships with other Union agencies, such as Europol;

7.  Considers that the adoption of the Centre’s 2019-2021 programming document, which is fully grounded in the EMCDDA Strategy 2025(17), represents an important step in the strategic and operational planning framework of the Centre;

Staff policy

8.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 96,05 % executed, with 9 officials and 64 temporary agents appointed out of 10 officials and 66 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 77 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 29 contract agents and 1 seconded national expert worked for the Centre in 2018;

9.  Notes that the Centre has reported a good gender balance within the management board for 2018, namely 15 male members and 14 female members;

10.  Notes with satisfaction that the Centre has general provisions in place on building and sustaining a working culture, based on dignity and respect, to prevent and fight against harassment; observes that it makes confidential counselling available;

Procurement

11.  Welcomes the fact that the Centre put in place a procurement plan in line with the Centre’s management plan, which was successfully executed in close collaboration with all units;

12.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the Centre did not attract a reasonable number of tenderers in low-value procurement procedures and that in five of those procedures only one candidate submitted a tender, and two tenders were submitted in one procedure; notes that, according to the Centre’s reply, it duly invited the number of tenderers required by the applicable financial rules to ensure the necessary level of competition; calls on the Centre to pursue its ongoing efforts to ensure that all public procurement procedures are compliant with the principle of fair competition and to facilitate participation in its procurement procedures for low-value contracts;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest, and transparency

13.  Acknowledges the Centre’s existing measures and ongoing efforts to secure transparency, prevent and manage conflicts of interest, and provide whistleblower protection; notes with satisfaction that the CVs and declarations of interest of the director and the members of the scientific committee are published on its website;

14.  Stresses that a recent study commissioned by Parliament’s Committee on Petitions(18) found that, given the fact that the Centre uses experts and particularly that the scientific committee takes decisions by itself, there is a potential risk of conflicts of interest;

Internal controls

15.  Notes that, following the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) report on the analysis of the need to support data collection, validation and quality assurance processes, and the review of its data quality management framework and its alignment with the Centre’s Strategy 2025, all of the necessary recommendations from the adopted action plan were implemented in 2018;

16.  Notes with concern that, according to the Centre, several recommendations included in the 2015 IAS audit on IT project management have been only partly implemented and that, at the end of 2018, two recommendations were still outstanding; notes, however, that those two recommendations were expected to be implemented by mid-2019; calls on the Centre to report to the discharge authority on the progress achieved by June 2020;

17.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, pursuant to Directive 2008/104/EC(19) and Portuguese labour law, interim workers should work under the same working conditions as workers employed directly by the user undertaking; notes, however, that the relevant contracts did not explicitly require the temporary work agencies to respect those conditions and that there is no evidence that the Centre itself carried out any comparison between the working conditions of its own staff and those of interim staff, which undermines safe and predictable working conditions for the staff and causes a risk of litigation and risks for the Centre’s reputation; notes that, according to the Centre’s reply, the contract between the Centre and the temporary work agency refers to the obligation of the Centre to comply with all aspects of the applicable legislation and that, pursuant to that contract, the temporary work agency is the party exposed to the risks of litigation; highlights, however, that this type of situation still carries high reputational risks for the Centre; welcomes the fact that the Centre is reassessing its policy for the use of temporary workers to base that policy more on the law of the Member State in which the Centre is located, in line with its operating needs and the legal framework; calls on the Centre to analyse the working conditions of its interim staff and ensure that those conditions are in line with Union and national labour law; calls on the Centre to report to the discharge authority on the progress achieved by June 2020;

18.  Notes that the Union signed an agreement with Norway in 2006 that defines the formula to calculate Norway’s financial contribution to the Centre as well as the minimum contribution threshold which should be subject to an annual adjustment based on price trends and gross national income in the Union; notes with concern that, while the Union budget subsidy increased by 24 % between 2007 and 2018, Norway’s contribution remained almost the same; notes that, according to the Centre’s reply, there is no linear correlation between the increase of the Union subsidy and Norway’s contribution and that the Centre does not have the required legal capacity to claim a different formula/method for the adjustment of the minimum contribution by Norway; calls on the Centre with the parties concerned to adjust the minimum contribution by Norway in accordance with the agreed terms;

19.  Calls on the Centre 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

20.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(20) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 376, 27.12.2006, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 29, 23.1.2019, p. 3.
(16) OJ C 29, 23.1.2019, p. 2.
(17) European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, ‘EMCDDA Strategy 2025’, Lisbon, March 2017; http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/work-programmes-and-strategies/strategy-2025_en.
(18) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/621934/IPOL_STU(2020)621934_EN.pdf
(19) Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9).
(20) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Union Aviation Safety Agency
PDF 164kWORD 55k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (before 11 September 2018: European Aviation Safety Agency) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2077(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0082A9-0074/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0044/2020),

–  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   605/2002(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 (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency, and repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/EC(5), and in particular Article 60 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and amending Regulations (EC) No 2111/2005, (EC) No 1008/2008, (EU) No 996/2010, (EU) No 376/2014 and Directives 2014/30/EU and 2014/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 552/2004 and (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91(6), and in particular Article 121 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) 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0074/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Union Aviation Safety Agency, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (before 11 September 2018:y European Aviation Safety Agency) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2077(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency 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(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0044/2020),

–  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(11), 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(12), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency, and repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/EC(13), and in particular Article 60 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and amending Regulations (EC) No 2111/2005, (EC) No 1008/2008, (EU) No 996/2010, (EU) No 376/2014 and Directives 2014/30/EU and 2014/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 552/2004 and (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91(14), and in particular Article 121 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(15), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(16), 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0074/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, 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)

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 Union Aviation Safety Agency (before 11 September 2018: European Aviation Safety Agency) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2077(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0074/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(17), the final budget of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (the "Agency") for the financial year 2018 was EUR 197 871 000, representing an increase of 3.27 % compared to 2017; whereas EUR 36 915 000 of the Agency’s budget derives from the Union budget and EUR 102 992 000 is revenue from fees and charges;

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the "Court"), in its report on the Agency’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the "Court's report"), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’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 98,31 %, representing a decrease of 1.02 % compared to 2017; notes furthermore that the payments appropriations execution rate was 90,26 %, showing a decrease of 3,49 % compared to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that, following the 2017 audit of the Agency carried out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in June 2018 ICAO published the results confirming the very high implementation rate, which puts the Agency among the top three aviation regulators in the world;

3.  Acknowledges that the Agency is strengthening the safety intelligence and safety performance functions and that, in particular, it is developing the Data4Safety programme that will provide a big data platform and an improved analysis capability at European level;

4.  Encourages the Agency to pursue its digitalization policy;

5.  Notes with satisfaction that the Agency shares resources on overlapping tasks with other Agencies, including notably the European Food Safety Agency, the European Training Foundation, the European Securities Market Authority, in the areas of surveys, e-learning, cloud and LinkedIn services and environment awareness training; strongly encourages the Agency to actively keep seeking further and broader cooperation with all of the Union agencies;

6.  Notes that, in 2018, an external evaluation of the process that lead to the development of the Agency’s Single Programming Document and of the ways in which the Agency’s key stakeholders are consulted in the establishment of the Single Programming Document was carried out; notes that the Agency is preparing an action plan to address any potential areas for improvement;

7.  Highlights the Agency's vital role in ensuring the highest possible level of aviation safety and environmental protection in a fast growing aviation market; stresses that 2018 was a landmark year for the Agency, with the entry into force of the Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 (18); recognises that the increased responsibilities and workload of the Agency were not accompanied by a proportionate increase in resources, which created significant challenges to fulfil its tasks and objectives in 2018, and lead to postponement or deprioritisation of certain activities; reiterates that the Agency should be provided with adequate financial resources and staff, which registered a reduction to 767 staff employed on 31 December 2018 (compared with 771 staff in 2017), in order to perform the important tasks entrusted to it;

8.  Recalls the Agency’s contribution to developing smart standards on noise and CO2 emissions and its responsibility for the environmental certification of aeronautical products, parts and appliances; believes that with further resources the Agency can play a leading role in developing and implementing measures to improve the sustainability of aviation;

9.  Welcomes the significant efforts made by the Agency to create a single European drone area;

10.  Is concerned that aviation is an attractive target for cyber attacks and that software errors may have serious consequences; calls on the Agency, together with the European Centre for Cybersecurity in Aviation, to further increase the digital resilience of European aviation;

11.  Is concerned that the forthcoming incorporation of remotely piloted aircraft systems will cause concern about safety among the public; calls on the Agency to take greater account of general safety concerns and the concerns of the authorities regarding prosecution of offenders;

12.  Calls on the Agency to ensure that the Union acquires, as quickly as is feasible without jeopardising safety, rules on the commercial sale of drones that are uniform and easy to comply with; is concerned that the Agency does not have sufficient financial and human resources for this new remit;

13.  Notes that the Agency ended the year with an overall deficit of EUR 2 000 000 (a surplus of EUR 700 000 related to subsidy activities and a deficit of EUR 2 700 000 related to fees and charges activities); notes that the fees and charges deficit is deducted from the accumulated surplus, reducing it from EUR 54 900 000 to EUR 52 200 000; observes that concerning activities related to fees and charges, the income rose by EUR 1 800 000 compared to 2017, however, staff costs increased by EUR 3 700 000, administrative costs by EUR 900 000 and operational costs by EUR 2 600 000; notes that for activities related to subsidy, an increase of subsidy by EUR 2 000 000 was enough to cover the rise in administrative costs by EUR 100 000 and operational expenditures by EUR 1 400 000;

14.  Commends steps taken to increase the efficiency of the Agency, such as the launch of the lean efficiency agility programme and other efficiency initiatives, which resulted in a total reduction in workload equivalent to 16 employees working full-time and enabled the Agency to redeploy posts and to cope with the increased workload and the revised quality needs of legacy activities; also welcomes the increasing digitalisation, automation and simplification of financial processes, leading to 86 % of financial transactions being processed paperless;

15.  Is pleased that the Agency has implemented the recommendation of the Court to ensure the independence of the accounting officer, who now functionally reports to the Agency’s management board and administratively the Agency’s executive director;

16.  Welcomes the adoption of the guidelines on whistleblowing by the management board of the Agency and calls on the Agency to ensure their implementation; notes that the internal audit services performed a review of ethics in 2018, covering areas of the code of conduct, ethics and fraud, with draft audit report expected in the beginning of 2019; reiterates, in this context, the need to have in place safeguards against conflicts of interest;

Staff policy

17.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 95,74 % executed, with 651 temporary agents appointed out of 680 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 678 authorised posts in 2017); notes that in addition 83 contract agents and 19 seconded national experts worked for the Agency in 2018;

18.  Notes with concern that an uneven gender balance is reported for 2018 with regard to the senior managers (4 men and 1 woman) and the management board members (26 men and 3 women);

19.  notes that the Agency joined the Commissions imitative ‘Women in Transport’ aiming to strengthen women’s employment opportunities at all levels; welcomes that the Agency has established a gender balance task force to make recommendations on redressing the considerable existing imbalance;

20.  Encourages the Agency to develop a long term human resources policy framework which addresses the work-life balance of its staff, the lifelong guidance and career development, the gender balance, the teleworking, the non discrimination, the geographical balance and the recruitment and integration of disabled people;

Procurement

21.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, the Agency committed the funds for an agreement with the Commission on archiving services about eight months after the renewal of the agreement; notes that, according to the Financial Regulation, the commitment of funds should be recorded before entering a legal obligation; takes note of the Agency’s reply that the commitment was signed before the reception of the invoice but after the beginning of the service and this a posteriori was therefore covered by an exception; calls on the Agency to enter budgetary commitments before legal commitments;

22.  Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s report, for the procurement of data analytics services for a volume of up to EUR 5 000 000, the Agency chose to use a framework contract with a single operator resulting from an open procedure published in the Official Journal of the European Union; notes, however, that the terms used in the framework contract were not specific enough to allow a fair competition, because the requirements were not yet known at the time of the procurements procedure; recalls that, according to the Financial Regulation, in such circumstances, the contracting authority has to award a framework contract to multiple operators and a competitive procedure between the selected contractors has to be used for the specific purchases; takes notes on the Agency’s reply that it chose a single framework contract rather than a multiple framework contract which would have resulted in a change of contractor during the lifetime of the framework contract and would have had severe consequences for its coherence and timely completion; calls on the Agency to design framework contracts which allow fair competition and ensure value for money;

23.  Observes from the Court’s report that in another procurement procedure for the core business of the Agency, namely outsourcing of certification tasks, the Agency awarded the contracts solely on the basis of the quality of the services without evaluating the price; notes, furthermore, that the Agency signed a contract with one operator before having received proof that the contractor was not in an exclusion situation; notes that, according to the Agency’s reply, this Agency-specific activity is not reflected in the Financial Regulation; notes, furthermore, that there was no risk that the Agency will obtain services from an ineligible provider, since evidence regarding exclusion criteria was submitted prior to any accreditation of tasks; calls on the Agency to ensure that contracts are signed only after having verified the exclusion criteria;

24.  Notes that, in light of comments and observations from the discharge authority related the use of some of the tools launched by the Commission with the aim of introducing a single solution for the electronic exchange of information with third parties participating in public procurement procedures (e-procurement), the Agency gave all suppliers the possibility of submitting invoices electronically from January 2018; welcomes, moreover, that by the end of 2018 more than 80 % of invoices were being received electronically; however, notes that the processing of electronically received invoices and the encoding of the invoice data is done manually since this is considered to be the most reasonable solution;

Prevention and management of conflict of interest and transparency

25.  Notes, in light of comments and observations from the discharge authority related to the Agency’s review of its “Policy on impartiality and independence: prevention and mitigation of Conflict of Interest” and the extension of the completion, review and update of declarations of interest to all staff members, that the Agency, at the end of May 2019, received the final audit report on ethics, fraud prevention and conflict of interest from the internal audit service with an overall positive conclusion on the management and control systems; notes, moreover, that the Agency has established an action plan with regard to the recommendations of the internal audit service and, that the Agency plans to perform by the end of March 2020 a review of the existing code of conduct framework for the Agency’s staff and board of appeal members, as well as a review of the public declaration of interest process for the management board members;

26.  Notes that 62 % of the Agency’s income consist of fees; takes note of the Agency’s view that the fact that applicants pay fees does not necessarily imply a conflict of interest;

Internal controls

27.  Notes that in 2018, the internal audit service reviewed and confirmed the implementation of all the actions that were pending in the areas of business continuity, information security management and the European plan for aviation safety;

28.  Observes that, in 2018, the Commission’s internal audit service issued an audit report on “Strategic Risk Assessment including IT in EASA”; furthermore, notes that the Agency prepared an action plan to address some potential areas for improvement;

29.  Notes that in 2018 the internal audit capability performed four audit assurance engagements to assess whether the relevant regulations were complied with, the process objectives were being met, and the key risks were properly mitigated; notes that this level of assurance was provided in each of the reviews and that recommendations were given to further enhance either the control environment or the overall efficiency of the processes; acknowledges, furthermore, that in the four follow-up audits carried out in 2018, the residual risks were considerably reduced, resulting in them falling to an acceptable level, and all open actions implemented with the final action were scheduled to be closed by the third-quarter of 2019;

30.  Calls upon the Agency to focus on disseminating the results of its research to the general public, and to reach out to public through the social media and other media outlets;

o
o   o

31.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(19) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.48.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.48.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 79, 19.3.2008, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 212, 22.8.2018, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 48.
(10) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 48.
(11) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 79, 19.3.2008, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 212, 22.8.2018, p. 1.
(15) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(16) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(17) OJ C 279, 8.8.2018, p.4.
(18) Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and amending Regulations (EC) No 2111/2005, (EC) No 1008/2008, (EU) No 996/2010, (EU) No 376/2014 and Directives 2014/30/EU and 2014/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 552/2004 and (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91 (OJ L 212, 22.8.2018, p. 1).
(19) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Asylum Support Office
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2018 (2019/2096(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0083A9-0077/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office 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 Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0063/2020),

–  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 (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(5), in particular Article 36 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7), 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0077/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office discharge in respect of the implementation of the Office’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 Asylum Support Office, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2018 (2019/2096(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Office in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0063/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office(12), in particular Article 36 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/715 of 18 December 2018 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies set up under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Euratom Treaty and referred to in Article 70 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14), 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0077/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office, 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).

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 Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2018 (2019/2096(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0077/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Asylum Support Office (the “Office”) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 97 665 322, representing an increase of 12,52 % compared to 2017; whereas the increase was related to reinforcing operational activities; whereas the budget of the Office derives mainly from the Union budget(16);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the “Court”), in its report on the annual accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2018 (the “Court’s report”), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Office’s annual accounts are reliable and that it has obtained sufficient audit evidence on the legality and regularity of revenue underlying the accounts; whereas, however, the Court issued a basis for a qualified opinion in relation to the Court’s findings reported for the financial years 2016 and 2017 on the legality and regularity of the payments; whereas, except for the effects of the financial years 2016 and 2017, the Court is of the opinion that payments underlying the annual accounts for the year ended 31 December 2018 are legal and regular in all material aspects;

Follow-up to the 2017 discharge report

1.  Notes the decision of the Office’s management board of 6 June 2018 to release the previous executive director from his duties with immediate effect; notes the designation of an ad interim executive director on 6 June 2018 and the appointment of a new executive director on 16 June 2019; welcomes the follow-up report by the Office on the observations of Parliament for the financial year 2017, in particular the corrective measures taken by the Office’s management board, the ad interim executive director and the new executive director to improve the governance structure and efficiency of the Office, restore transparency and build trust; supports and appreciates the measures outlined by the 2019 EASO Governance Action Plan; notes the positive message and intention for future close cooperation expressed by the new executive director in the public hearing of 4 September 2019 and the agencies’ hearing in Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control of 4 December 2019;

The outcome of the investigation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

2.  Deplores the findings of OLAF as regards irregularities surrounding the breach of procurement procedures, misappropriation of Union funds, mismanagement, abuse of position in human resources issues, breaches of data protection rules, harassment and inappropriate behaviour towards staff in 2017; reiterates its call on the Office to report to the discharge authority on the follow-up of the measures proposed by OLAF; understands the Office’s request to report in more detail in the appropriate setting due to confidentiality and data protection issues;

3.  Notes the decision of the Office’s management board of 6 June 2018 to release the executive director from his duties with immediate effect; emphasises, however, that the budget for the financial year 2017 was implemented under the supervision of the Office’s previous management; highlights that the report concerns the discharge procedure for the financial year 2017; recognises the commitment of the new executive director to delivering significant reforms ensuring solid governance;

Basis for an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts for the financial year 2017

4.  Notes, in light of comments and observations from the discharge authority related to the Office’s high dependency on sufficient resources, mainly on experts being made available by Member States, that shortages of experts are reported to the Member States and Commission at different levels; notes, furthermore, that, in order to compensate for the shortages faced in Member States’ nominations and deployments, the Office has increased the deployment of locally recruited interim staff and that, in 2018, only 26 % of the deployments of the operational needs were covered by Member State experts; points out the fact that the Office would not be in position to provide Member States with critical support to their asylum systems without the use of temporary agents; acknowledges the Office’s proposal suggesting an Asylum Reserve Pool of 500 Member State experts; calls on the Member States and the Commission to urgently assess and address this proposal;

Budget and financial management

5.  Regrets that limited annual budgets and the partial absence of contingency funds in the Office’s budget to cover the financing of unforeseen urgent operational needs create budgetary uncertainties and hamper emergency planning; notes that the Office is in constant dialogue with the Commission and budgetary authorities regarding its operational planning and resource allocation; acknowledges that the Office makes partial use of contributions from associate countries as a contingency for operational expenditure, in particular in order to deal with unplanned requests for support from Member States; calls on the Office to continue to address budgetary constraints in close consultation with the Commission and the budgetary authorities;

6.  Highlights the fact that proposed budgetary cuts may hamper the Office’s ability to continue to properly fulfil its functions in providing the necessary support to Member States, as entrusted to it through its mandate; recalls the fact that strengthening the mandate of the Office and the increase in the workload should be accompanied by adequate budgetary allocations;

7.  Welcomes the renewed cooperation strategy of the joint EASO-Frontex management board; notes, moreover, with appreciation that the Office plays an active role in the Network of Agencies in streamlining common actions such as the call for the recruitment of confidential counsellors, participation in joint procurement procedures for framework contracts and staff mobility programmes; strongly encourages the Office to actively seek further and broader cooperation with all of the Union agencies; points to the recommendation in the Court’s Special Report on Migration Management to ensure complementarity and better coordination between the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Office; urges the Office to work on the concept of resources sharing overlapping tasks among other agencies with similar activities;

Performance

8.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was only 68,22 % executed, with 146 temporary agents appointed out of 214 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 155 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 61 contract agents and 3 seconded national experts worked for the Office in 2018; notes with satisfaction that the recruitment plan of the Office provides for 500 staff by 2020;

9.  Notes the lack of managers in the administration department, as four out of five management posts were either vacant or saw the persons occupying them suspended from their duties, but acknowledges the response given by the Office that the vacancy notice for the head of the Human resources and security Unit will be published in the first quarter of 2020; notes as well that, due to the fact that the Office was affected by reorganisation, the recruitment of the head of the Finance and procurement Unit is ongoing and the head of the ICT Unit was filled in 2019; calls on the Office to make additional efforts to fill the vacant posts in collaboration with the Commission and Member States and to keep the discharge authority informed as to the corrective measures taken to mitigate that risk;

10.  Regrets to note that, according to the Court’s report, as from the end of 2017, the human resources situation at the Office has deteriorated exponentially; notes that, by the end of 2018, the Office had 216 staff members, 89 offer letters were sent out and 60 contracts were signed; observes, however, that there were still 78 vacancies to be filled by the end of 2018; express grave concern that this situation entails a significant risk to the continuation of the Office’s operations at the current scale; notes the commitment expressed by the executive leadership to the transparent and efficient fulfilment of the Office’s recruitment plan;

11.  Notes with concern that in 2018 senior management comprised only men (nine members), but that the negative gender balance was changed by the appointment in 2019 of a woman as executive director; notes with satisfaction that a good gender balance was achieved with regard to the management board (16 men and 15 women);

12.  Notes the presentation by the executive director to the management board on 26 November 2019 of a new organigram; considers that a reorganisation of staff should contribute to strengthened internal control, quality assurance and risk management and to compliance with actions required by the Court and the Internal Audit Service of the Commission;

Staff policy

13.  Notes with concern that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was only 68,22 % executed, with 146 temporary agents appointed out of 214 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (155 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 61 contract agents and 3 seconded national experts worked for the Office in 2018;

14.  Notes with satisfaction that, as regards housing arrangements concerning the accommodation of asylum support teams and other Office forces in the Member States (e.g. as regards privileges and immunities for the Office’s own staff, Member States’ experts and contracted experts), the Office signed a hosting arrangement with Cyprus in July 2019, was to sign a hosting agreement with Greece in January 2020 and is in the process of concluding a new agreement with Italy to fully respect Regulation (EU) No 439/2010(17) and in line with other hosting arrangements of the Office; calls on the Office, together with the Commission, to continue seeking effective arrangements with Member States concerning the accommodation of asylum support teams and other Office forces;

15.  Notes the Office’s replies to the observations of the Court and its efforts to address them under the new executive director by, inter alia, prioritising the conclusion of hosting arrangements with Italy, Greece and Cyprus concerning the accommodation of asylum support teams and other Office forces in the Member States, increasing the transparency of recruitment procedures and reinforcing its legal service in the course of 2019;

16.  Notes that the Court has identified a horizontal trend across agencies in the use of external staff hired in IT consultancy roles; calls for the dependency on external recruitment in such an important and sensitive area to be reduced as much as possible in order to limit any potential risks;

17.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, in 2018 the Office launched an open public procurement procedure to establish framework contracts for the provision of the services of temporary workers in Italy; notes that the Office discontinued the procedure because only one tender was received and the Office considered the offer unacceptable because the financial offer exceeded the estimated maximum budget; observes that the Court found that the tender specifications contained a significant mistake amounting to EUR 25 000 000; notes, however, that the Office has accepted these findings and has adopted and implemented corrective actions that include: terminating the framework contract for the services of temporary agency workers in Italy; launching a new procurement procedure for the services of temporary agency workers in Italy; launching an additional call for Member State experts and, where possible, using alternative arrangements for the deployment of experts to cover the period until the entry into force of a new framework contract; temporarily significantly scaling down the number of the Office’s temporary agency workers deployed in Italy and, together with Italian authorities, maintaining the level of business continuity for essential support measures; notes also that the new procurement procedure was concluded and the new framework contract was awarded in December 2019 so that business continuity is assured throughout the procedure; calls on the Office to apply the Union’s public procurement rules in a rigorous manner;

18.  Notes that the Office uses service contracts with IT companies which were formulated in a way that could imply the assignment of temporary agency workers instead of clearly defined IT services or products; recalls that the provision of temporary agency workers to perform precise tasks for a specific duration is subject to Directive 2018/104/EC(18) and to specific rules adopted by the Member States; notes that the use of IT service contracts for the provision of labour is not compliant with the Union’s Staff Regulations or Union social and employment rules; notes with satisfaction that the Office revised its template for time and means contracts in order to include in each contract a list of deliverables that are to be performed under the contract; calls on the Office to continue to be diligent and to make sure that the way in which contracts are formulated prevents any confusion between the procurement of IT services and of interim workers;

Procurement

19.  Acknowledges from the Office that in 2018 it began to implement the Commission decision regarding whistleblowing and developed a practical guide for the management and prevention of conflicts of interests, with an adoption calendar by the management board by the third quarter of 2019 as well as rules for the protection of whistleblowers; notes with appreciation that the Office has organised a series of staff-dedicated training sessions on ethics, with a specific emphasis on the prevention of conflicts of interest and with a special tailor-made module dedicated to managers; notes with satisfaction that relevant rules regarding conflicts of interest have also been transposed into the relevant standard operating procedures and policies; calls on the Office to continue to pay particular attention to the prevention of conflicts of interest and the proper implementation of rules and procedures regarding whistleblowing;

20.  Notes with concern that, although the Office publishes the declarations of interest and CVs of its management board members on its website, it still does not publish the declarations of interests of senior management and calls on the Office to immediately take action in that regard;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

21.  Is aware that, at the end of 2018, the Office did not have an internal audit capability and that no comprehensive Internal audit Service audit reports have been issued since January 2018; notes furthermore that the creation of ex post controls to verify the legality and regularity of transactions was in its infancy; welcomes the Office’s reply that it has agreed and documented corrective measures on the internal control systems, including the creation of audit capability by the fourth quarter of 2019 and an ex post internal control capability by the third quarter of 2019; notes with satisfaction that the Office is building its ex post controls capability with the first ex post control officer recruited in the fourth quarter of 2019 and with additional officers to be recruited during the first half of 2020; acknowledges that the Office is in the process of building an internal audit capability and is currently in talks with another Union agency that has extensive experience in the area in order to identify the best model for the Office; calls on the Office to report back to the discharge authority on the measures taken in that respect;

Internal controls

22.  Welcomes the fact that the Office, according to the Court’s annual report on Union agencies for the financial year 2018, has taken concrete and positive steps aimed at improving organisational governance; notes that 48 out of the 61 measures in the action plan were completed, while 13 had an ongoing status at the time of the Court’s audit;

23.  Welcomes the adoption in September 2019 of the Office’s new sensitive post policy providing the guidelines and criteria for the management team to implement risk assessments, identify and document the sensitive functions in the Office together with the agreed mitigating controls and, additionally, to assess the sensitive function and document mitigating controls by the first quarter of 2020;

24.  Recalls the fact that, at the end of 2017, there was no internal legal service at the Office and that a multitude of law firms had been engaged under the control of the previous executive director; observes, however, that in 2018 the Office created a list of all contracts used for legal advice, and that in 2019, a new senior legal advisor started her duties at the Office and the new framework contract for legal advice to replace the previous contracts was signed, with several other legal advisors to be recruited in 2020; notes, however, that there was still no systematic internal review of legal documents in place while multiple inconsistencies were noted in the legal aspects of public procurement procedures in 2018; calls on the Office to ensure a strong legal service and effective management of legal procedures; notes with satisfaction the objective of the Office to build the governance and internal control framework with the creation of, inter alia, a legal and data protection sector and an internal control and risk management sector to ensure in future a systematic review of legal documents, including for procurement; welcomes also the initiative of the Office to establish an internal audit capacity within the Office whilst arranging a joint audit capacity with the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice;

25.  Regrets that there is still no policy regarding sensitive posts at the Office, which is not in line with the Office’s internal control standards whereby sensitive functions are to be clearly defined, recorded and kept up to date; notes the Office’s reply that a sensitive posts policy was being finalised and was expected to be approved by the third quarter of 2019 and to be implemented by the fourth quarter of 2019; calls on the Office to report to the discharge authority on developments on this matter;

26.  Appreciates the progress made on the implementation of internal control systems, including controls on procurement and expenditure operations; supports the decision to reduce and rapidly end outsourcing legal counselling and the establishment of an internal legal service; supports the Court’s observations on the need for introduction of further corrective actions;

27.  Notes, following comments and observations from the discharge authority related to the fact that the Office is one of the few multi-location Union agencies and that the Office entered into lease contracts in several locations without having carried out an adequate local market analysis, that, as regards the office in Rome, a new tender will be shortly launched, preceded by a proper market analysis for renting an office in order to regularise the current situation; observes, moreover, in the case of the office in Athens, that the current rental contract ended in January 2020 and that a new procurement procedure is currently being prepared which includes a proper market analysis; notes, in addition, that the processing facility in Pagani (Lesvos) moved the operational working places located within the hotspots outside the centres; notes that, concerning Cyprus’ office, in mid-2018 a new contract was signed with the owner of the building following a tender aimed at regularising the initial agreement and including the possibility to expand if further needs arise; welcomes the new procurement standard operating procedures adopted on 15 February 2019 providing guidance on sensitive aspects of the procurement and contract management procedure, including detailed provisions on market surveys; notes the effort of the Office to align its procurement procedures with the ‘Methodology to be followed by the services of the Commission for prospecting and negotiating for buildings’ and publish market prospect notices for all envisaged building contracts in order to increase transparency and competition;

28.  Notes with concern that the lack of clear responsibilities and roles concerning the management of rented premises and related services and works may hamper an efficient mitigation of premises-related risks; calls on the Office to establish an effective policy for the management of rented premises and related services;

Other Comments

29.  Welcomes the fact that, in light of comments from the discharge authority related to the appointment of the new ad interim executive director, who took office on 6 June 2018, transparency has been given utmost priority since this change in management as the founding principle of the governance action plan under the leadership of its new executive director, who is committed to continuing this approach in future;

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

31.  Notes that, in lights of comments and observations from the discharge authority related to the fact that the Office expanded its office space in Malta to an additional block of the building in which its premises are situated, the Office finalised a lease agreement in October 2018, the costs of which are fully covered by the Office’s budget, with a view to occupying the full complex;

o
o   o

32.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 Mays 2020(19) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 306/2, 30.8.2018, p.6.
(16) OJ C 306/2, 30.8.2018, p.5
(17) Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office (OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11).
(18) Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9).
(19) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - European Parliament
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section I – European Parliament (2019/2056(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0084A9-0021/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0051/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the report on budgetary and financial management for the financial year 2018, Section I – European Parliament(3),

–  having regard to the Internal Auditor’s annual report for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018, together with the institutions’ replies(4),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(5) 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 Article 314(10) and Article 318 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(6), and in particular Articles 164, 165 and 166 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(7), and in particular Articles 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

–  having regard to the Bureau decision of 10 December 2018 on the internal rules on the implementation of the European Parliament’s budget, and in particular Article 34 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 100 and Rule 104(3) of, and Annex V to, its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0021/2020),

A.  whereas the President adopted Parliament’s accounts for the financial year 2018 on 27 June 2019;

B.  whereas the Secretary-General, as principal authorising officer by delegation, certified, on 25 June 2019, his reasonable assurance that the resources assigned for Parliament’s budget have been used for their intended purpose, in accordance with the principles of sound financial management and that control procedures established give the necessary guarantees concerning the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions;

C.  whereas the audit of the Court of Auditors stated that, in its specific assessment of administrative and other expenditure in 2018, it did not identify any serious weaknesses in the examined annual activity reports of the institutions and bodies required by Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046;

D.  whereas Article 262(1) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 requires each Union institution to take all appropriate steps to act on the observations accompanying the Parliament’s discharge decision;

1.  Grants its President discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Parliament 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 Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section I – European Parliament (2019/2056(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 2018, Section I – European Parliament,

–  having regard to Rule 100 and Rule 104(3) of, and Annex V to, its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0021/2020),

A.  whereas, in his certification of the final accounts, the European Parliament's (“Parliament’s”) accounting officer stated his reasonable assurance that the accounts, in all material aspects, present fairly the financial position, the results of the operations and the cash-flow of Parliament;

B.  whereas, in accordance with the usual procedure, 126 questions were sent to Parliament's administration and written replies were received and discussed publicly by Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, in the presence of the vice-president responsible for the budget, the Secretary-General and the internal auditor;

C.  whereas there is always scope for improvement in terms of quality, efficiency and effectiveness in the management of public finances, scrutiny is necessary to ensure that the political leadership and Parliament's administration are held accountable to Union citizens.

Parliament’s budgetary and financial management

1.  Notes that Parliament's final appropriations for 2018 totalled EUR 1 950 687 373 or 18,9 % of heading V of the Multiannual Financial Framework(8) set aside for the 2018 administrative expenditure of the Union institutions as a whole, representing a 2,2 % increase over the 2017 budget (EUR 1 909 590 000);

2.  Notes that total revenue entered in the accounts as at 31 December 2018 was EUR 193 998 910 (compared to EUR 206 991 865 in 2017), including EUR 30 783 590 in assigned revenue (compared to EUR 50 052 674 in 2017);

3.  Emphasises that four chapters accounted for 67,6 % of total commitments: Chapter 10 (Members of the institution), Chapter 12 (Officials and temporary staff), Chapter 20 (Buildings and associated costs) and Chapter 42 (Expenditure relating to parliamentary assistance), indicating a high level of rigidity for the major part of Parliament’s expenditure;

4.  Notes the figures on the basis of which Parliament's accounts for the financial year 2018 were closed, namely:

(a)  Available appropriations (EUR)

appropriations for 2018:

1 950 687 373

non-automatic carry-overs from financial year 2017:

2 564 000

automatic carry-overs from financial year 2017:

289 785 291

appropriations corresponding to assigned revenue for 2018:

30 783 590

carry-overs corresponding to assigned revenue from 2017:

47 369 977

Total:

2 318 626 231

(b)  Utilisation of appropriations in the financial year 2018 (EUR)

commitments:

2 283 150 877

payments made:

1 933 089 380

appropriations carried forward automatically including those arising from assigned revenue:

348 106 015

appropriations carried forward non-automatically:

---

appropriations cancelled:

39 994 836

(c)  Budgetary receipts (EUR)

received in 2018:

193 998 910

(d)  Total balance sheet at 31 December 2018 (EUR)

1 671 682 153

5.  Points out that 99,2 % of the appropriations entered in Parliament’s budget, amounting to EUR 1 934 477 627, were committed, with a cancellation rate of 0,8 %; notes with satisfaction that, as in previous years, a very high level of budget implementation was achieved; notes that the payments totalled EUR 1 636 858 018, resulting in a payment appropriations execution rate of 84,6 %;

6.  Underlines the fact that the cancelled appropriations for the year 2018, amounting to EUR 16 209 746, were mainly related to remuneration and other entitlements, as well as to the expenditure related to buildings;

7.  Notes that eleven transfers were approved, in accordance with Articles 31 and 49 of the Financial Regulation, in the financial year 2018, amounting to EUR 53 533 500 or 2,7 % of final appropriations; observes that the majority of funds transferred were related to Parliament’s buildings policy and, in particular, were to help fund the annual payments for the Konrad Adenauer building project;

The Court of Auditor’s opinions on the reliability of the 2018 accounts and on the legality and regularity of the transactions underlying those accounts

8.  Recalls that the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) performs a specific assessment of administrative and other expenditure as a single policy group for all the Union institutions; points out that administrative and related expenditure comprises expenditure on human resources (salaries, allowances and pensions), accounting for 60% of the total, and on buildings, equipment, energy, communications and information technology;

9.  Notes that the overall audit evidence indicates that spending on ‘administration’ is not affected by a material level of error; also notes that, on the basis of the 13 quantified errors, the estimated level of error present in heading 5 of the Multiannual Financial Framework on administration is below the materiality threshold;

10.  Takes note of the specific finding, concerning Parliament, contained in the Court’s report on Parliament’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’); notes that, owing to terrorist attacks in recent years, the institutions, including Parliament, have found it necessary to reinforce the protection of people and premises as a matter of urgency; observes with concern that the Court found weaknesses in the procedures organised by Parliament and the Commission; notes that, in order to procure specific security-related building works, Parliament had recourse to framework contracts that were already in place and that the design of these framework contracts allowed Parliament to order essential security works not included in the original price schedule on the basis of a single quotation from the contractor; notes that Parliament has used this method in two out of the four procedures examined by the Court;

11.  Notes with concern the response given by Parliament in the contradictory procedure with the Court, in which it recognises that, given the specific context (time pressure and market-specific structure), competition may have been suboptimal; notes with satisfaction that the new framework contracts awarded in this sector, with five contractors, are based on a reopening of competition in order to ensure adequate price competition;

The internal auditor's annual report

12.  Notes that, at the meeting of the committee responsible with the internal auditor held on 18 November 2019, the internal auditor presented his annual report and described the assurance audits and consulting assignments he had performed and reported on, which covered the following subjects in 2018:

   building maintenance, refurbishment and operation (Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics) (DG INLO);
   preliminary review of the institution’s information and communication technologies (ICT) Security;
   individual entitlements under Staff Regulations of Officials and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants;
   staff shop in Luxembourg (DG INLO);
   follow-up of open actions from internal audit reports - Phase 1 and 2 of 2018;
   establishment of a function of internal quality assurance in Directorate-General for Security and Safety (DG SAFE);
   independent advice on project ‛From Desktop to Hybrid’ Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support (DG ITEC);
   aspects of Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union’s (DG EXPO) reporting sheets system;
   follow-up to the IT outage and reinforcing IT Continuity;
   procurement and contract implementation in the catering sector (DG INLO) report not yet issued, preliminary findings under discussion with management.

13.  Welcomes and supports the actions that the internal auditor agreed with the directorates-general responsible as a result of the assurance assignments and the recommendations that he issued following the consulting assignments:

Agreed actions:

   with regard to the audit on building maintenance, refurbishment and operation (DG INLO), enhancing the strategic framework for maintenance and further improving Parliament’s building maintenance activities through the adoption of a comprehensive policy and a structured coherent multi-annual plan; increasing confidence that Parliament’s building processes and operations are efficient and cost-effective; supporting decision-making on maintenance activities by reliable information and analysis;
   with regard to the information systems audit, preliminary review of the institution’s ICT Security, strengthening information systems security governance (comprising policies, standards and guidelines), notably through the adoption of an institutional information security policy: improving the identification, protection and monitoring of IT assets (hardware, related software and network); better detecting of and responding to cybersecurity incidents, and enhancing recovery capabilities;
   with regard to the audit of individual entitlements of members of staff, strengthening the overall control environment in this area and addressing specific issues relating to family allowances;
   concerning the audit of the staff shop in Luxembourg, implementing the measures required to improve the control environment and control activities and the adequacy of internal governance; ensuring compliance of the shop’s operations, including its imprest account, with the Financial Regulation, accounting principles and tax legislation;

Recommendations:

   with regard to DG EXPO’s reporting sheets system, implementing the six recommendations to strengthen its reporting system and better frame the cooperation between delegations, committees and other interested parties;
   concerning the establishment of a function of internal quality assurance in DG SAFE, implementing the six recommendations for that purpose, including notably setting up a quality policy;
   in relation to the pilot project ‛From Desktop to Hybrid’, strengthening the project business case; using the hybrid to replace multiple existing devices; improving financial management of proof-of-concept and pilot projects before rolling out new tools;
   concerning the follow-up to the IT outage and reinforcing IT Continuity, ensuring complementary protection of ICT infrastructure; testing the disaster recovery plan; listing critical information systems and their dependencies and improving planning for housing Parliament ICT infrastructure outside its premises;

14.  Notes that the 2018 follow-up process resulted in the closure of 28 of the 76 open actions, as well as the risk profile of the overdue actions, continued to be progressively reduced in 2018; notes, in particular, that the number of open actions addressing significant risks decreased from 22 to 7 and there were no open actions in the highest risk category (‛critical’); notes that in addition to these validated actions, there was a total of 117 open actions, including those not yet due for implementation, of which 47 address significant risk; expects that these will be implemented in accordance with the agreed deadlines;

15.  Particularly welcomes the possibility for the internal auditor to be called by directorates-general for consultation assignments, and recommends that all directorates-general make use of this possibility, if the need arises;

16.  Notes that two audits, one on visitors’ groups and the other on the parliamentary assistance allowance, are part of the 2019 activity and will be reported in early 2020; asks the internal auditor to inform Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on both outcomes as soon as they are available;

17.   Deeply regrets that the internal auditor’s report is not public; insists that this report be made public each year, and that it be sent to Members at the same time that it is sent to the Parliament’s President and Secretary-General; deplores that, for the 2018 report, the decision was taken in January 2020 that Members may only view this report upon request, applying the secure reading room procedure; strongly believes that by limiting access to this document, which concerns the use of public funds, it gives the regrettable impression that there is something to hide;

Follow-up to the 2017 discharge resolution

18.  Takes note of the written answers to the 2017 discharge resolution provided to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on 17 September 2019, and of the Secretary-General’s presentation addressing the various questions and requests of Parliament's 2017 discharge resolution and the exchange of views with Members that followed;

19.  Deplores the fact that no action has been taken in response to some of the recommendations in Parliament's resolution on discharge for 2017, and that the discharge follow-up document does not provide any justification for this; stresses the importance of having more frequent discussions with the Secretary-General on issues concerning Parliament's budget and its implementation in the Committee on Budgetary Control;

Parliament's 2018 discharge

20.  Notes the exchange of views between the vice-president responsible for the budget, the Secretary-General and Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control Members in the presence of the internal auditor, on 18 November 2019, in the context of the 2018 Parliament discharge;

21.  Reiterates its call on the Bureau to follow-up all discharge decisions, as follows from Rule 25 of and Annex V to the Rules of Procedure and Articles 6 and 166 of the Financial Regulation; asks the Secretary-General to forward this resolution to the Bureau, highlighting all requests for action or decisions by the Bureau; calls on the Secretary-General to establish a plan of action and a timetable enabling the Bureau to follow up and/or to respond to the recommendations contained in Parliament’s discharge resolutions and to include the results in the annual monitoring document; asks the Secretary-General to report in good time to the Parliament’s Committee on Budgets and Committee on Budgetary Control on all projects with a significant budgetary impact that have been submitted to the Bureau; reiterates the need for the Bureau to substantially improve, in a proactive manner, the transparency of its decision-making procedure;

22.  Deplores that, in 2018, the internal investigation identified four cases in the area of the parliamentary assistance allowance that enabled the recovery of EUR 146 814 (47 cases identified in 2017 and EUR 903 741,00 recovered) and that, for Members’ travel and subsistence allowances, EUR 173 546 was recovered coming from six investigations (EUR 68 589,05 in 2017);

23.  Points out that legislative activity substantially increased in 2018, as Parliament was approaching the end of its 2014-2019 legislative term;

24.  Notes that two temporary committees, Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR) and Special Committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST), successfully concluded their work during the year and a third one, Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3), was established;

25.  Highlights that, in view of the 2019 European elections, the communication campaign was successfully launched; points out the increased participation of citizens in the 2019 European elections, although the turnout remained too low in certain countries; considers that this type of campaign should be ongoing, with a particular focus on those countries;

26.  Approves of the measures of the institution to enhance security, notably in matters of physical and building security but also cybersecurity and communication security;

27.  Regrets that, despite the fact that Parliament’s Committee on Budgets rejected the budget requested in order to create an observatory on artificial intelligence, this initiative still seems to be ongoing in the form of a working group; is strongly concerned by the apparent circumvention of a democratic decision taken by Members, which sets a very unfortunate precedent; recommends that the activity of this working group be immediately interrupted until the budgetary authority has decided to provide it with a budget;

28.  Is aware of the importance of the building policy, in particular the Martens Building project and the reconstruction of the Montoyer 63 building in Brussels, which were completed in 2018 and the Konrad Adenauer project in Luxembourg, which is scheduled to be completed by end of June 2023; understands that, in 2018, Parliament’s Committee on Budgets authorised a mopping-up transfer, amounting to EUR 29 million, for the pre-financing of the project, which resulted in estimated saved interest of EUR 4,7 million; is concerned at the delay in constructing the Konrad Adenauer building in Luxembourg, delivery of which was planned for 2018 but is now not expected before 2023;

29.  Supports the use of the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), which is a management instrument of the European Union for private and public organisations to evaluate and improve their environmental performance in accordance with Regulation 1221/2009(9); supports measures taken to reduce Parliament’s carbon footprint;

30.  Invites the administration to draw attention to the code of conduct for Members, which sets out that Members shall act solely in the public interest and conduct their work with disinterest, integrity, openness, diligence, honesty, accountability and respect for the Parliament's reputation; highlights that the code of conduct defines conflicts of interest and how Members should address them and it includes rules governing the professional activities of former Members;

31.  Notes with concern that there were at least 24 breaches of the Code of Conduct between 2012 and 2018 which were not sanctioned; stresses that if breaches are not adequately sanctioned, Members are less likely to comply with the Code of Conduct; calls on the President to carefully assess any alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and, if applicable, impose an adequate sanction on the respective Members;

32.  Takes note of the Rules Governing Transport Arrangements for Members in the European Parliament’s Places of Work (‘the Rules’); considers the provisions setting out conditions for the use of official cars on a permanent basis by the President, Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General and each political group chair in the Rules to be too vague; calls on the Bureau to revise the Rules with a view to introducing stricter conditions on the use of such cars;

33.  Is of the opinion that the protection of whistleblowers is an integral element of democracy and it is crucial in preventing and deterring unlawful activities and wrongdoings; recalls that, among others, accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) are in a vulnerable position due to their contract of employment; notes with concern the Secretary-General’s acknowledgement that “whistleblowing rules are applicable to accredited parliamentary assistants but that the Parliament cannot provide employment protection”; as they are dependent on their individual Member; calls on the Secretary-General to take that factor into account when APAs act as whistleblowers, and to look to extend the contract protection options granted by Parliament for APAs who are victims of harassment to APAs who act as whistleblowers;

34.  Underlines the fact that current rules on the termination of contracts for APAs do not provide for the possibility of a termination by ‛mutual consent’, which would be a way to recognise the special relation between Members and assistants, where both parties can acknowledge that mutual trust no longer exists, and benefit from a common solution without undermining the social rights of APAs; asks the Secretary-General to find a solution for the fact that APA's salaries can only be paid to Belgian bank accounts, which runs counter to the idea of a single monetary and payments union;

35.  Reiterates its concern about the alleged practice by Members of obliging APAs to undertake missions, particularly to Strasbourg, without mission orders, without mission costs or even without travel costs; is of opinion that such a practice leaves room for abuse: where APAs travel without a mission order they not only have to pay for the costs out of their own pockets, they are also not covered by workplace insurance; reiterates its calls on the Secretary-General to investigate this alleged practice and to report on this by the end of the year;

36.  Reiterates its call on the Conference of Presidents and the Bureau to reconsider the possibility for APAs, under certain conditions to be determined, to accompany Members on official Parliament delegations and missions, as already requested by several Members; calls on the Secretary-General to investigate the budgetary consequences, and the organisation and logistics of those missions;

37.  Calls on Parliament to fully adapt its own internal rules in the Staff Regulations to the recently adopted Directive (EU) 2019/1937(10) on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, including by setting up secure channels for reporting; further requests that Parliament guarantees the same level of protection to whistle-blowers as it does to victims of harassment; requests that the Secretary-General institute mandatory training for line managers to raise awareness among parliamentary staff on their whistleblower protections and their duty under the Staff Regulations to report illegal activities or maladministration;

38.  Notes that the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union had a considerable impact in the different services of Parliament, particularly on committees, research units and horizontal services;

39.  Welcomes the decision of the Bureau on 2 May 2018 regarding staff with United Kingdom nationality, namely that no official will be dismissed on the grounds of their United Kingdom nationality; understands that the case-by-case assessments that had been conducted by the date initially foreseen for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union with regard to the contractual and temporary staff of United Kingdom nationality, resulted in no contracts being terminated; acknowledges that political groups conduct their own case-by-case assessments for their staff;

40.  Takes note of the successful implementation of the 5 % staff reduction target, that in 2018 required Parliament to eliminate 60 posts from its administration establishment plan; considers that it is important to ensure the high level of performance of Parliament, both in the short and long term, while also ensuring responsible budgetary management and making savings where appropriate; believes that further savings could be envisaged; strongly believes that it is essential to implement a communication strategy aimed at the Council, the Member States and the European citizens to respond to unfair, widespread criticism of the European Union civil service, which has been going on for years;

41.  Is worried about the number of members of staff on long-term sick leave and the steep rise in the number of cases of burnout, and is concerned that some of those cases may relate to exhaustion and disturbed work-life balance; is particularly concerned about understaffing and, at the same time, considers that it is hard to justify the expansion in senior management positions, which is leading to an imbalanced, top-heavy management structure; calls on the administration to adopt a proactive approach towards the staff concerned, to carefully evaluate the staff workload and to ensure a balanced distribution of tasks; asks for a report on measures taken in response to long-term sick leave and burnout by 30 June 2020;

42.  Within a context of increased expectations of what staff are able to do, insists on the importance of a regular and constructive dialogue with the staff committee, trade unions and in the case of political groups with their staff representatives; counts on continuing the constructive dialogue with those bodies, particularly on matters related to staff policy, as well as to working conditions such as mobility, working environment and flexitime;

43.  Considers that it is essential, to this end, for staff representatives to be heard when the Bureau discusses general matters affecting staff policy: asks the Secretary-General to take the appropriate measures to implement this crucial necessity;

44.  Points out that in order to maintain an excellent and independent, loyal and motivated European Union civil service, the Staff Regulations need to be fully respected and applied in letter and spirit; calls, in this context, to also put an end to the practice of ‘parachuting’ people into positions, which runs the risk of damaging procedures and thus the credibility of the institution, in particular, and of the Union, in general;

45.  Recalls the findings and recommendations of the European Ombudsman in joint cases 488/2018/KR and 514/2018/K, as well as Parliament’s resolution of 18 April 2018, notably that officials from staff representative bodies sit on Parliament’s senior management selection panels, and invites the Secretary-General to further improve the procedures of appointment of high ranking official towards more transparency and equality; calls, furthermore, for consistency to be ensured when it comes to external publications of senior management posts and diligence in the publication of these posts as and when they fall vacant; calls on Parliament’s administration to report annually on the appointment of high ranking officials;

46.  Profoundly regrets the lack of career prospects for contract staff; invites the Secretary-General to assess the risks relating to employing growing numbers of contract staff, including the danger of creating a two-tier staffing structure within Parliament; insists that core permanent positions and tasks should be performed by permanent staff;

47.  Is convinced that the attractiveness of Parliament as a workplace is a key component of its success; draws attention to the difficulties encountered in recruiting some nationalities; calls on the Secretary-General to insist on the need for real geographical balance in terms of proportional representations of all Member States at all levels, including top management levels; recognises the very positive steps taken in order to achieve gender balance; calls for urgent action to achieve better gender balance at all levels, including directors-general level;

48.  Regrets the continuing under-representation of countries which joined the Union after 2004, especially in more senior posts, the problem being that, whilst citizens from the new Member States are indeed taken on, more from the old Member States are being promoted, which results in an ever-widening gulf between the old and the new Member States; calls for this situation to be rectified;

49.  Points out that in internal competitions between 2014 and 2019, 30 people were appointed to the highest AD9 pay grade, of whom 16 were from two large old Member States, so that there was a striking number of appointments of staff from these two countries over the whole legislative cycle, and asks the Secretary-General to explain the reason for this disproportionate result;

50.  Regrets the difficulty of recruiting staff at lower grades in Luxembourg, especially in the assistant-secretaries category; stresses that the introduction of a correction coefficient that takes account of the higher living costs in this place of work together with recruitment at higher grades is necessary to solve this structural problem; calls for European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)-based recruitments to be reformed so that it is better able to meet the institutions’ needs, including through shorter recruitment procedures;

51.  Recalls that Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure has introduced an obligation for rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs to publish information on meetings held with interest representatives in the context of their reports; notes with satisfaction that, since the start of the new legislature, the necessary infrastructure is available on Parliament’s website to allow Members to publish scheduled meetings with interested representatives; invites the secretariat to disseminate detailed information and organise trainings in order to make it easier for Member’s offices to abide fully to this obligation; regrets that the current infrastructure does not include a process for Members and APAs to provide suggestions and their feedback for improvement based on user experience; calls on the Parliamentary services to develop a feedback questionnaire on a yearly basis and for the results to be included in a report on the use of the tool; welcomes the fact that the Secretary-General has instructed Parliament’s services to connect the tool to the Transparency Register and Legislative Observatory and encourages any effort that would further improve this tool, including by providing access for processing of the data provided by Members in the Parliament website infrastructure concerning meetings with interest representatives in a machine readable format, providing an option to link the meeting to membership in a delegation, to indicate that the meeting took place at staff-level, to link the entries on Parliament's website to the Member's own website and to make this infrastructure available in all official languages of the Union; further calls on Parliament to improve its communication towards Members about the obligation for rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs to publish such meetings;

52.  Welcomes this positive step towards increased transparency and the possibility for all Members who wish to do so, to be able to publish this information via the infrastructure of Parliament’s website, even if the Member is not a rapporteur, shadow rapporteur or committee chair; considers that this increased transparency helps European citizens to better understand the work of their Members; regrets therefore that this meeting declaration infrastructure only exists in English and not in all the official languages of the Union;

53.  In addition to the joint Parliament and Commission report on the activities of the Transparency Register, requests Parliament to draft an annual detailed report on the interest representatives and other organisation that were given access to Parliament‘s premises.

54.  Recognises the fact that the production of public data in an open, machine-readable format, easily accessible and re-usable, offers great opportunities both in terms of public transparency and innovation; welcomes the current initiatives to create and convert those of its data that are of interest to the public into that format; underlines the need to have a more user-friendly, systematic and coordinated approach for such initiatives, under a well-defined Parliament open data policy;

55.  Recognises the added value that free and open source software can bring to Parliament; underlines in particular their role in increasing transparency and avoiding vendor lock-in effects; recognises also their potential for improving security since they make it possible to identify and fix the weaknesses; strongly recommends any software developed for the institution to be made publicly available under free and open-source software licence;

56.  Notes that the results of roll-call votes in plenary should be available in an open, machine-readable format and easily visible on Parliament’s website; calls on Parliament therefore to publish the machine-readable version of the roll-call vote results next to the non-machine-readable versions, on the plenary minutes’ webpage;

57.   Notes that the revised rules governing the payment of financial contributions for sponsored visitors groups entered into force on 1 January 2017; calls on the Secretary-General to release the assessment of these rules without delay; is of the opinion the current system disregards the fluctuating accommodation and transport costs and fails to keep pace with inflation, and strongly calls for a review of the system for calculating the financial contribution for the groups of visitors as soon as possible in order, inter alia, to avoid Members being able to derive any material benefit from the system; calls on the Bureau to generalise the system of reimbursement based on submission of bills for visitors groups; reiterates its call to remove the possibility of appointing an APA as the head of a group;

Environmentally friendly Parliament and carbon neutrality by 2030

58.  Welcomes Parliament’s positive contribution to sustainable development through its political role and its role in legislative procedures; underlines the need for Parliament to lead by example and contribute to sustainable development through the way it operates;

59.  Commends Parliament’s commitment to green public procurement; notes that Parliament’s objective is to increase the value-weighted percentage of contracts among certain priority products classified as ‛Green’, ‛Very Green’ or ‛Green by Nature’; notes that 44.9 % of contracts by value in priority product categories were classified as ‛Green’ or ‛Very Green’, or ‛Green by Nature’ in 2018; points out that, when all contracts classified as ‛Green by Nature’, regardless of the product category, are included in the figure, the greenness of Parliament’s contracts increases to 55,8 % for 2018, which is close to the intermediate target of 60 %; underlines the need to develop further green public procurement by setting ambitious targets for greening contracts in the medium term;

60.  Welcomes the adoption of the Environmental Management Review and Environmental Statement 2018, the implementation of the Action Plan 2018 and its regular monitoring;

61.  Supports Parliament’s objective to reduce its carbon emissions as much as possible; reiterates its concern that a geographic dispersion of the parliament results in 78 % of all missions by Parliament staff and that the environmental impact is between 11 000 and 19 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions;

62.   Is of the opinion that after the declaration of Climate Emergency, Parliament shall lead by example and commit itself to achieving a zero-carbon footprint by 2030; requests that Parliament develop a strategy to become carbon-neutral by 2030 and to present its strategy to the discharge authority; instructs it’s Bureau’s EMAS working group to amend the key performance indicators and the current CO2 reduction plan for reaching carbon neutrality by 2030; asks further for reporting and accounting of Parliament’s CO2 offsetting as a matter of urgency;

63.   Emphasises that approximately 67 % of Parliament’s carbon footprint originates from the transport of persons; recalls that, by its decision of 15 May 2017, the Bureau approved the proposal to provide an efficient and high-quality way for Members while minimising the environmental impact through a gradual transition towards electric vehicles for Parliament’s fleet of cars and the promotion of all types of green transport which operate with zero-emissions in the urban environment and to have a fully-electric fleet from 2024; welcomes the various measures and instruments introduced in this respect by DG INLO; expects the Bureau to work out a travel reimbursement system which includes the cost of the CO2 offsetting in the price of the travel and to incentivise the use of eco-friendly transport;

64.  Supports Parliament’s objective, which is to offset its unavoidable emissions; suggests joint offsetting of unavoidable emissions with other Union institutions and bodies;

65.  Stresses that Parliament has to honour its commitments regarding the fight against climate change, and must consequently take appropriate steps in all its buildings to make bicycle parks, where bicycles are protected against theft, vandalism and the elements, available to all staff, and at the very least should offer the same arrangements currently available in staff car parks; notes that a system whereby vignettes are used as a means of identification could also be very worthwhile in this regard;

66.   Welcomes Parliament’s efforts to increase the number of paperless meetings; calls for more training sessions to be offered to all Members, members of staff and APAs about the paperless tools which have been created to enable less documents to be printed and for further communication campaigns;

67.  Asks Parliament to improve its communication to Members informing them of the possibility to use the direct train between Parliament and Brussels airport which takes 20 minutes door to door, and which Members may use free of charge, and to use its influence to advocate for those trains to run at regular and smaller intervals to make this possibility as attractive as possible;

68.  Commends staff for making full use of the charter trains to Strasbourg; encourages senior managers not to use their service cars for their missions to Strasbourg;

69.  Supports the offsetting of 100 % of Parliament’s CO2 emissions, including emissions from flights by Members between their country of origin and Brussels and Strasbourg, on an annual basis through carbon credits; recalls that the offsetting contract covering Parliament’s emissions from 2017 was signed on 19 July 2018 for a total amount of EUR 184 095,80;

70.  Is concerned about the volatility of prices for CO2 offsetting on the emission certificate market, which makes it is impossible to estimate the exact amount necessary to offset the total amount of carbon emissions; draws attention to the fact that the financial means available in budget line 2390 (currently EUR 249 000) may not be sufficient to offset the total amount of carbon emissions in the coming years;

71.  Welcomes the Quaestor and Bureau decisions, in April and June 2018 respectively, to reduce plastic waste and waste management activities; calls upon Parliament to swiftly undertake further ambitious action, towards a plastic-free Parliament;

72.  Welcomes the positive outcome of the external audit carried out in May/June 2018 confirming the good condition and maturity of Parliament´s environmental management system;

Geographic dispersion of Parliament - single seat

73.  Stresses that the Union has chosen to be present through its institutions and agencies in several Member States, which guarantees a strong link with citizens and ensures the visibility of Union added value (‛European visibility’), taking into consideration responsible public funds management;

74.  Notes that the costs linked to Parliament’s 12 journeys for Members per year to Strasbourg amount to EUR 21 266 689; notes that the annual travel costs amount to EUR 3 631 082 for Parliament staff and EUR 2 097 250 for APAs;

75.  Notes that the cost of the Thalys charter train was EUR 3 741 900 in 2018 (compared to EUR 3 668 532 in 2017);

76.  Stresses that moving Parliament’s official vehicles to Strasbourg and back empty apart from their respective drivers further adds to the financial and environmental impact of the 12 annual missions to Strasbourg; welcomes the fact that opportunity exists for APAs to join for the trip to Strasbourg and back, but regrets that this option is not used to its full capacity; calls on Parliament to allow for all the Parliament and Political groups staff to also use this option for their trip to Strasbourg and to improve its communication concerning this possibility;

77.  Notes that the additional expenditure involved in not having a single seat goes against the principle of sound financial management and against the principle of budgetary discipline; recalls that a vast majority of Parliament expressed in various resolutions support for a single seat to ensure efficient spending of Union taxpayers money; notes that the Court estimated that moving from Strasbourg to Brussels could generate annual savings of EUR 114 million plus a one-off saving of EUR 616 million if the Strasbourg buildings are successfully divested, or a one-off cost of EUR 40 million if they are not; notes that a single seat can only be achieved by a unanimous Treaty change; urges the Council to take note of Parliament's position and take its responsibility and act accordingly; stresses that it would be a more efficient use if Parliament’s official vehicles to Strasbourg transported Members, (APAs and members of staff with mission orders; considers that Parliament’s official vehicles should at the very least be filled before organising charter buses when the charter trains between Brussels and Strasbourg are full;

78.  Underlines the fact that the Union, as one of the signatories of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, vowed to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and notes with concern that the 12 journeys per year to Strasbourg unnecessarily increase the carbon emissions produced by Parliament;

Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM)

79.  Recalls that in 2018, Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) had 805 members of staff; calls upon DG COMM to make use of a greater percentage of Parliament’s overall budget in the years to come than the 6,1 % that it used in 2018;

80.  Welcomes the full implementation of the budget in 2018 as testimony to the fact that efforts have been made to fully use all resources available to DG COMM in order to reach a maximum number of citizens, which was of particular importance in this pre-election year; notes with satisfaction that in 2018, it actively contributed to the development and setting-up of the European elections campaign strategy;

81.  Notes that DG COMM’s lead indicator, since 2017, is the number of hours of attention that Parliament receives across all communication channels; notes with satisfaction that, beyond a focus on attention levels, DG COMM is developing a methodology for measuring the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of its activities across all communication channels; approves of the focus placed on Parliament’s visibility;

82.  Calls on DG COMM to inform the discharge authority in future discharge cycles of the targets set in the respective year so that it can assess the effectiveness of the directorate-general’s activities;

83.  Calls on DG COMM to continue its efforts to improve Parliament’s public website, in particular with regard to the optimatisation of search engines, and to increase its visibility; urges DG COMM to create an easy-to-browse website, easily accessible from all devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets and desktop computers), with a particular emphasis on a simplified mobile version of the website;

84.  Notes that, in the field of media, numerous projects were implemented in 2018 and Parliament’s web presence was further consolidated with the deployment of Webstreaming 3.0, which improves Parliament’s streaming capacity;

85.  Acknowledges, in addition, a significant improvement in Parliament’s use of social media, and further encourages the use of free open-sources self-hosted social network platforms having special regard to the protection of user’s data; further acknowledges efforts related to raising awareness of Union actions, and further urges Parliament to intensify its activity on social media in order disseminate the results of Parliament’s work among the Union citizens; notes also that significant efforts were invested in a comprehensive visitors’ strategy and, with a particular focus on youth, in the implementation of the Ambassador School Programme;

86.  Notes that, in 2018, 285 press seminars were organised in the Member States with more than 3629 journalists attending; welcomes the fact that, additionally, 1905 journalists were invited to take part in plenary sessions, and 1191 journalists were invited to take part in centrally organised press seminars; commends DG COMM for using all possible media channels for the dissemination of Parliament’s work and achievements; invites the directorate-general to pay adequate attention to the importance of social media and to its significant and ever-growing potential for reaching citizens;

87.  Supports the activities of the Parlamentarium that welcomed its 2 millionth visitor on 11 July 2018, and the success of the pilot projects of the Europa experience in Berlin, Ljubljana, Strasbourg and Helsinki; expresses its gratitude to the Visits and Seminars unit that welcomed a record number of visitors in 2018;

88.  Recalls that 2018 marked the first full year of operation for the House of European History; notes that the House of European History welcomed 164 158 visitors; welcomes the co-financing agreement with the Commission, ensuring a yearly contribution to the running costs; remains deeply concerned by reports on working conditions in the European House of History under the previous contractor and urgently requests the Secretary-General to inform Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on the situation of European House of History employees under the new contractor; also asks the Secretary-General to publish figures on the total costs of the contractor and the amount spent on the wages of the European House of History employees;

European Parliament Liaison Offices

89.  Recalls that there was a reform of the European Parliament Liaison Offices (EPLO) in the Member States, where the revised mission statement aims at engaging with citizens and media through reinforced press teams and stakeholders and multipliers in order to reach out to citizens;

90.  Takes note of different items of expenditure for 2018, broken down as follows:

Item of expenditure

2018 expenditure

Staff cost

EUR 22 814 372

Buildings cost

EUR 11 170 082

Security cost

EUR 1 843 339

Communication cost

EUR 11 639 088

Total

EUR 45 886 152

91.  Insists on the importance of effective communication in Member States while ensuring cost-effectiveness; invites all decision-making parties involved to strive for added value, particularly with regard to running costs;

92.  Appeals to Parliament and to the Member States to intensify cooperation with their respective EPLOs; demands that the EPLOs increase their visibility through events and intensive activity on social medias in order to out to citizens; calls on EPLOs to step up their cooperation and communication with individual European institutions with an aim to streamline the operation of EPLOs;

93.  Notes that the EPLO office based in Athens has spent EUR 38 400 in 2018 for the rental of parking spaces; considers that these costs are disproportionally high considering that only six employees currently work in this office; calls on Parliament to investigate reasons for these costs and if necessary, take appropriate measures to remedy the situation;

94.  Notes that, on 30 January 2019, the Bureau decided to maintain Parliament’s office in London and that the Edinburgh antenna will remain in place at least until end of 2020; notes that a decision on Parliament’s presence in Edinburgh beyond 2020 will be taken at a later stage;

95.  Notes with concern the Bureau decision of 11 February 2019 regarding parliamentary support to the EU Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta, the EU delegation to the African Union in Addis Ababa and the EU Delegation to the UN in New York; considers that given the specific nature of this parliamentary support, Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control should be provided with detailed information on resources and output on an annual basis in the framework of the Parliament discharge; asks the Secretary-General to carry out a cost/benefit analysis of this parliamentary diplomacy support before the end of 2020 and prior to any envisaged extension to other regions of the world;

Directorate-General for Personnel (DG PERS)

96.  Recalls that, in 2018, Directorate-General for Personnel (DG PERS) had 456 member of staff and managed 47,5 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

97.  Welcomes the transfer of tasks related to APAs from Directorate-General for Finance (DG FINS) to DG PERS and the significant effort necessary in order to organise the transfer of responsibilities;

98.  Notes with satisfaction the creation of the Accredited Parliamentary Assistants Front Office to manage the end-to-end recruitment of APAs, as well as the modification and termination of contracts and administrative support to APAs; believes that the Front Office’s capacity to answer to APAs needs should be further strengthened; welcomes the introduction of a simplified and quicker procedure to recruit APAs and the progress towards paperless file management; calls for the Parliament administration teams responsible for the recruitment of APAs to be reinforced before the beginning of each new mandate, for the time necessary to provide comprehensive training beforehand and until the high work load has been completed;

99.  Reiterates its call on the administration to provide, as early as possible in the next parliamentary term, training courses or publications especially for new APAs, including as regards practical and administrative matters (mission orders, medical examinations, accreditation, parking stickers, groups of visitors, exhibitions, etc.) in order to avoid systemic errors that hinder the smooth running of administrative procedures that affect new APAs;

100.   Reiterates its request that APAs receive the same subsistence allowance as statutory personnel for their missions to attend the part-sessions in Strasbourg;

101.  Expresses its support for the management of the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union on the administration of Parliament, especially as regards the impact on human resources and the budget;

102.  Notes that DG PERS’s lead indicator in 2018 is time to deliver; notes with satisfaction that targets and methods of data collection were refined with a generally positive assessment of the results;

103.  Notes that the total number of staff in Parliament in December 2018 was 9 883 agents in activity, which includes permanent and temporary staff, contract staff and APAs (compared to 9 682 in 2017);

104.  Draws attention to the Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 15/2019: Implementation of the 2014 staff reform package at the Commission - Big savings but not without consequences for staff; notes with concern the observations of the Court that are applicable to other Union institutions, including Parliament, and thus welcomes the Commission’s readiness to accept the recommendations of the Court; supports the position expressed by Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control(11) on the matter; underlines the importance of the Union providing competitive salaries compared to the private sector in the country of residence and is concerned that less favourable conditions of employment may have reduced the attractiveness of working for the Union particularly when there are difficulties in attracting sufficient staff from a number of Member States; warns of the serious consequences that any cut to the administrative budget or any staff reduction may have in the future of the European Union civil service and the implementation of the Union's policies; expresses also its great concern about the increased proportion of contract staff as a result of the 2014 staff reform resulting in an increasingly precarious employment conditions in the Union institutions and the establishment of an EU parallel low-cost staff; calls on the Union’s institutions to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the impact on the human resources management and staff well-being of any future reform or revision of the Staff Regulations;

105.  Recalls the fact that promoting equal opportunities is a key component of the Parliament's human resource management policy; takes note of the fact that the gender equality roadmap continues to be implemented through concrete actions: targets for women heads of unit was set at 40 %, women directors at 35 % and women directors-general at 30 %by the end of 2019; regrets however that the gender equality roadmap has not been fully implemented, especially as regards reaching the target for the representation of women in senior management positions of40 % by 2020; calls for more ambitious targets to be urgently set and for them to be achieved over a short time frame;

106.  Proposes, in addition, that a greater focus be placed on equal opportunities for all, notably for example increasing the number of people with disabilities working in the Parliament administration; notes that within the Bureau a High-Level Group on Gender and Diversity already exists and requests that it conduct a study of measures taken in Member States and internationally that have been effective in increasing the participation of people with disabilities in the work place, including legislative measures; requests that the High-Level Group reports back to the Bureau with concrete suggestions once the study has been undertaken and the results analysed; calls for ambitious targets to be urgently set, including those that reflect the need for geographical balance, and for them to be achieved over a short time frame;

107.  Notes with satisfaction that the High Level Group on Equality and Diversity tasked DG PERS in 2018 to elaborate a report with a roadmap containing the list of measures to eliminate discrimination based on any ground such as ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity in the Parliament Secretariat; takes note that the Bureau adopted the report in April 2019 and it is already being implemented; asks the High Level Group to continue reinforcing and improving this kind of measures and initiatives in order to foster an inclusive working environment in Parliament;

108.  Deplores the fact that no system exists for Members who are on maternity leave to be temporarily replaced by substitutes; is of the opinion that this impossibility is fundamentally at odds with core values of the Union because it sends the signal that a vote on a female candidate may entail temporary non-representation; is of the opinion that the fact that no system exists for Members on parental absence and also for Members on long-term sick leave to be temporarily replaced by substitutes is an unresolved problem, since the fact that they cannot send a proxy to vote on their behalf creates a temporary imbalance in the representation of Union citizens; calls on the Council to amend Article 6 of the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage(12) in order to remedy the situation;

109.  Regrets that, during the period 2017 to 2018, the number of women holding posts at the level of director-general remained stable in absolute numbers, at two, far below the target; notes with satisfaction that the number of women at director level reached 34 % at the end of 2018 and 37 % in the course of 2019 and that the number of women at head of unit level increased to 38 % at the end of 2018 and 39 % at the end of 2019; recognises the need for a step-by-step approach, but underlines that the situation will only be satisfactory once the gender balance at management level reflects the gender balance of the eligible population for those posts;

110.  Notes that there are Member States that do not hold any director or general-director position, and that, despite many years having passed since the 2004, 2007 and 2013 enlargements, there has been no corresponding increase in representation for the new Member States at management level, where some nationalities continue to be heavily overrepresented; recommends addressing this situation; recalls the importance of all recruitment being based on competency, while respecting the importance of achieving a geographical balance among the Parliament’s staff; to this end, calls on Parliament to ensure that staff at all levels, including at director and director-general level, is hired and promoted without discrimination based on nationality and to ensure that employment at Parliament is equally attractive to all nationalities;

111.  Takes note of the solutions found for APAs who had worked for two consecutive parliamentary terms without interruption but who were lacking up to 2 months to complete the ten years of service needed to be entitled to a pension under the pension rights scheme of the Union institutions; criticises the fact that a solution was put forward too late, despite the numerous and continuous warnings during the previous parliamentary term; criticises, further, the fact that only one solution was found and that it depended solely on the goodwill of certain Members who were aware of the situation and wished to show solidarity with their APAs in this situation; criticises, also, the fact that the Administration did not inform Members elected for the new parliamentary term of this matter and of the fact that they could issue contracts of less than six months in these instances, as a result of which many of these APAs had great difficulty finding a Member willing to employ them on a contract without interruption for a short period of time, something which some APAs did not manage to do(according to the Administration, this was the case for at least three of the 170 APAs concerned);

112.  Welcomes the extension and streamlining of teleworking possibilities for the Secretariat-General of Parliament but calls for the extension of the possibility of teleworking with a fixed schedule, as at the Commission and other institutions; supports conducting a survey on the experience of teleworking and asks for the evaluation results to be shared with the Members and all the Parliamentary services;

113.   Reiterates its call for a greater use of videoconferences and other technologies in order to protect the environment and to save resources, in particular to reduce travel by staff between the three places of work in order to carry out their duties;

114.  Recognises Parliament’s zero tolerance policy towards harassment at any and all levels including Members, staff and APAs and the actions put in place to discourage harassment in the workplace, in particular the adoption, by the Bureau, on 12 March 2018, of an updated roadmap for the adaptation of preventive and early support measures to deal with conflict and harassment between Members and APAs, trainees or other staff, an external audit of Parliament’s internal practices and procedures, the creation of a network of confidential counsellors and of a mediator function, and the organisation of a public hearing with experts in harassment in the workplace; notes that the results of the external audit were expected by early November 2018, and requests that they be communicated without delay, once available; calls for an explanation for such a delay: welcomes the fact that some groups have strongly encouraged their Members to participate in training sessions on dignity and respect at work, in order to lead by example, and calls for training sessions for Members and members of staff; expects the full and transparent implementation of the roadmap; takes note that the Advisory Committee on Harassment and its Prevention in the Workplace received some 20 complaints regarding psychological or sexual harassment at work each year from 2014 to 2017 and 7 complaints in 2018, which can not be ignored in a context where every case is one too many;

115.  Asks for the full implementation of the measures recommended in Parliament’s resolution of 26 October 2017 on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the European Union, namely the implementation of the anti-harassment training for all staff and Members on a compulsory basis, as well as the restructuring of the two existing committees into one independent committee; requests that the judicial and medical expenses of victims of harassment be covered in accordance with Article 24 of the Staff Regulations;

116.  Welcomes the fact that there were no waiting lists for the first three categories of staff (i.e. single parent working at Parliament and Members; two parents working full time at Parliament; two parents working at Parliament, one of which works full time and the other at least half time) used to prioritise the allocation of places at Parliament's nursery and the private nurseries in Brussels with which Parliament has a contract; notes that, in 2018, 197 places were offered and 116 places were accepted by members of staff; notes with satisfaction that the Wayenberg nursery is being extended and will have capacity for 320 children (there are currently 230 places);

117.  Notes that, from 1st February 2020, the company ‘Esedra’ has taken over as the new service provider of Parliament's crèches and nursery sections; notes with anxiety the limited information given by the relevant Parliament services (DG PERS) about the changes that this new contract will entail before the change of service provider took place; underlines the need for Parliament always to place the well-being of the children in its nursery at the top of its criteria when evaluating a call for tender, as well as to give high importance to the working conditions of the staff employed by the service provider;

118.  Underlines the importance of clear rules governing crèches and nursery; requires Parliament’s Crèches and Nursery Sections Management Committee to adopt sufficient specifications to make its rules clear, transparent and broad enough to cover any unusual and specific situations, such as individual family situations or children with special needs; suggests to keep updated information about crèches and nursery services on the websites including the contributions and the current capacity; recommends, in addition, amending Article 4 of the rules governing the crèches and nursery sections run under the supervision of the European Parliament in order to clearly state the maximum parental contribution in order to ensure sufficient transparency is provided and to prevent any potential discrepancies;

119.  Recalls the need for all service providers to fully respect Belgian law and to ensure that the subcontractor is aligned with Parliament’s policy of respect and dignity at work; calls on the responsible Parliament services to ensure a smooth transition and that none of the possible changes to how the crèches and nursery sections operate, introduced by the new management, results in a reduction in thequality of service and in working conditions, as compared to the previous service provider;

120.  Notes that, due to the high workload of staff in DG PERS, there is a lack of flexibility in modifying APAs salaries, when requested by a Member and justified by an increase of the APA responsibilities;

Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics (DG INLO)

121.  Recalls that, in 2018, DG INLO had 607 members of staff and managed 12,6 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

122.  Notes that committed appropriations amounted to EUR 239 547 603, corresponding to an 11 % decrease in comparison to 2017 (EUR 265 839 576);

123.  Stresses that, with regard to Parliament's building policy, the principle of cost-effectiveness must be observed to the maximum extent possible, both in terms of costs related to existing buildings and of new projects; emphasises that Parliament’s primary concern must be effective financial management, with the objective of completing work at the lowest possible cost;

124.  Notes that the new medium and long-term buildings strategy was adopted by the Bureau in April 2018; notes that the Bureau’s buildings strategy focuses on measures designed to meet future needs beyond 2019, including the renovation of buildings, which remains one of the main challenges to be addressed; recalls that Parliament has focused on buying properties, meaning that it now owns 80 % of the buildings it occupies;

125.  Acknowledges that in Brussels the Martens building was completed and the Montoyer 63 building was rebuilt;

126.  Notes that the largest building project of Parliament - the enlargement of the Konrad Adenauer building in Luxembourg - is at the point of the finalisation of its first phase, the East site, which represents approximately 70 % of the entire project; recalls that currently, Parliament staff in Luxembourg are located in four buildings; acknowledges that the Konrad Adenauer building will bring all services under one roof and, as such, allow for economies of scale in the fields of energy, water, security and facilities management of the building; points out with concern that certain costs relating to construction delays have been higher than originally foreseen but thanks to the considerably lower expenses for the financial costs of the loans, Parliament has been able to partially offset the additional costs; takes note that, at this stage, the total cost of Adenauer project remains EUR 32,5 million under the approved overall budget which excludes project management costs, financial costs, certified bodies, etc; regrets the increased costs due to the constructions delays and notes that transactions with the construction companies (linked to the delay with the project) have been necessary to avoid further delays and costs (between 5 % and 15 % of the contract amount);

127.  Notes with concern that, as in previous years, new mopping-up transfer for the pre-financing of the Konrad Adenauer building project - EUR 29 million - was authorised; stresses that ‘mopping-up’ is a relaxation of the principle of specification and deliberately contravenes the principle of budgetary accuracy; disagrees with the ongoing practice of the year-end ‘mopping up transfer’ to contribute to current building projects; calls for a better budget management in order to reduce such transfers to the bare minimum possible and to improve the clarity and transparence of the related budgetary lines;

128.  Commends the improvement of the working environment for Members in Brussels (1 personal office + 2 offices for their staff) and Strasbourg (1 + 1 offices); further supports improving of working conditions of Members in keeping with paragraph 147 below;

129.  Supports the efforts of DG INLO to tighten its security arrangements by making structural and organisational improvements, including the securing of all physical sites; insists on the need to reconcile openness for citizens with security requirements;

130.  Notes with regret that a number of crucial service-providers have recently decided not to extend long-term contracts signed with Parliament (banks and food shops) and asks the service to investigate the reasons for the decline in services available at Parliament;

131.  Acknowledges the start of the works to extend the Wayenberg nursery in 2018; is concerned however by the unsafe access given to these sites during the works and suggests that DG INLO and DG SAFE should pay closer attention to ensuring the safety of users during such building works in the future;

132.  Takes note of Parliament’s significant infrastructure, which can be broken down as follows:

Brussels buildings

Luxembourg buildings

Strasbourg buildings

13 owned

1 owned

5 owned

7 rented

6 rented

1 parking rented

671 285 m2

176 283 m2

344 283 m2

EP Liaison Offices and antenna

 

Total

37

owned

12

rented

25

surface

28 383 m2

133.  Acknowledges that the Bureau instructed the Secretary-General to authorise DG INLO to launch an architectural competition for the refurbishment of the Paul-Henri Spaak building considering only two options: renovation or redesign of the building; presses for the building to be prepared for a further evolution of Parliament’s activities in the decades ahead, in line with the Treaties; recalls that an architectural competition was launched in order to elicit concrete architectural proposals and that a final decision on the project should be taken by the political and budgetary authorities; stresses that such a decision should take place following the publication of an assessment of the safety of the building and that the Secretary-General should draw up a budgetisation of the plan before the decision is taken;

134.  Notes that the creation of a “Europa Experience” in several Liaison Offices has been approved by the Bureau and is being implemented throughout the coming years;

135.  Supports the internalisation of the drivers’ service and notes the very high satisfaction rate (99,9 %) for the official car service in 2018; suggests that official cars should not travel empty and that, when driving from Brussels to Strasbourg and back, they should be used to transport Members, staff and APAs with mission orders ; takes note of the new rule requiring drivers to wait for a maximum of five minutes at the pick-up location and understands the need for such a rule but is, however, concerned that this time limit is too tight; notes the long waiting time for Members at the airport before cars depart to the Parliament and suggests finding a more efficient way of managing these delays;

136.  Expresses strong concern for the working conditions of the staff of two of the external concessions contracted by Parliament, namely the cleaning staff and the restauration staff, and strongly recommends that DG INLO organises an independent survey of their satisfaction with the working conditions, in order to ensure respect and dignity at work; calls for an evaluation of Parliament’s public procurement policy with a view to improving transparent and predictable working conditions for all contracted services; calls on Parliament to report to the discharge authority on the results of such evaluation; acknowledges that Parliament respects the relevant legislation;

137.  Is concerned that the service has still not been able to solve the problem with Parliament's hot water system and asks the committee responsible in future to provide information on action taken to combat legionella in Parliament;

138.  Welcomes the increase in the variety of the food on offer in Parliament’s self-service canteen; is, however, concerned that, despite holding a public call for the cost/benefit assessment of the price/quality balance, the food on offer has been found to be unsatisfactory; calls for a reassessment of the evaluation of quality and price of potential service providers on the market; calls for necessary amendments to be made regarding the unbalanced quality-price ratio stemming from the results of the survey; expresses serious concern about the price and quality of the food and beverages;

139.  Expresses solidarity with workers of COMPASS Group who are facing staff cuts and a worsening of their working conditions; is concerned about the growing use by the external catering company of temporary and interim staff, which has consequences for the quality of the services and for the benefits and quality of the working conditions for permanent staff;

140.  Welcomes the creation of an ex-ante control and public procurement coordination unit in 2017 in order to strengthen the central role of the ex-ante verification unit and to provide support to ensure the uniform application and monitoring of procurement procedures in DG INLO;

141.  Notes with satisfaction that an audit on the accessibility of buildings for persons with disabilities was carried out throughout 2018 as part of the ‘Design for all’ policy and the launch of DG INLO’s accessibility network;

142.  Approves of the role of DG INLO in Parliament’s environmental policy, in particular the objective to make buildings more energy efficient and to reduce water consumption;

Directorate-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences (DG LINC)

143.  Recalls that, in 2018, Directorate-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences (DG LINC) had 534 members of staff and managed 3,1 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

144.  Insists on the application of the code of conduct on multilinguism, allowing every Member to express themselves in their own language; stresses that the more detailed language profiles introduced by the revision of the code of conduct on multilingualism are only to be used in exceptional circumstances; their purpose is not to limit language provision but to provide a more targeted service to Members in the case of market limitations and logistical constraints;

145.  Approves of the 2018 transformation of the directorate-general to enhance Parliament’s capacities in conference organisation and by the completion of the process of establishing new working conditions for interpreters;

146.  Acknowledges the strategy for the modernisation of conference management, largely focused on enhancing and adapting service provision in Parliament, based on user needs, and developing a single interface for organisers;

147.  Notes with satisfaction the agreement on interpreter working conditions of 8 September 2018; encourages the joint follow-up group, which consists of representatives of the administration and of the interpreters, to continue offering a forum for fruitful cooperation in order to smoothly solve issues that may arise;

148.  Notes that the overall average number of hours per week that interpreters spent delivering interpretation services in their booths increased from 11 hours 54 minutes in 2014 to 13 hours 47 minutes in 2018 due to, inter alia, increase in parliamentary activity;

149.  Calls attention to the fact that there are large differences in the cost of translation from particular languages and asks the service to investigate the reasons for these major discrepancies;

Directorate-General for Translation (DG TRAD)

150.  Recalls that in 2018, Directorate-General for Translation (DG TRAD) had 1145 members of staff and managed 0,9 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

151.  Acknowledges that, in 2018, DG TRAD saw a 10 % increase in production compared with the previous year, owing to the cyclical nature of translation demand, which is closely linked to parliamentary activity; notes with concern that in-house translation output in relation to capacity reached 119,4 % (benchmark: 100 %) and the outsourcing rate was 32,8 % (31,4 % in 2017); appeals to DG TRAD for it to consider increasing the amount of outsourcing, respecting the 100 % benchmark and focusing on the quality and translational flawlessness of the documents; calls on DG TRAD to continue its work to increase the checking of outsourced translations for compliance and quality;

152.  Notes the progressive migration to eTranslation, providing machine translation output for all language combinations; insists on the irreplaceable role and added value of human translators;

153.  Observes that new tasks for translators were introduced in 2018, transforming translation into intercultural linguistic mediation, for instance, via the establishment of the Audio Capacity Service, which involves some of the translators translating the flash news (daily news bulletins) into 24 languages and podcasts into 6 languages; notes that DG TRAD hired a voice coach who trained almost 180 members of staff; is concerned that DG TRAD staff were faced not only with an exceptionally high workload due to the end of the legislative term but also with uncertainties related to upcoming new and unfamiliar tasks; calls on DG TRAD’s high-level management and staff to continue discussions on the impact of the cyclical workload on the well-being of staff; encourages the establishment of a joint follow-up group, which would consist of representatives of the administration and of translators, similar to the one established by DG LINC;

Directorate-General for Finance (DG FINS)

154.  Recalls that in 2018, DG FINS had 222 members of staff and managed 20,8 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

155.  Is aware that the regulatory framework of DG FINS has greatly evolved since the entry into force of the Statute for Members in 2009; notes, in addition, the entry into force of the new Financial Regulation on 2 August 2018 and the consequent modifications of the internal rules on the implementation of Parliament’s budget, which affects the work of DG FINS;

156.  Is concerned about human resource scarcity and mobility, meaning that priority has had to be given to core services for Members and for Parliament, leading to problems with the extent of checks made, with deadlines, with the speed with which payments have been made, and with balancing expenditure operations; is worried about this trend and its adverse impact, in particular, about deteriorating well-being at work and more long-term sickness, which have become more marked during the year;

157.  Expresses great concern about the obsolescence of the directorate-general’s IT applications and the risk of IT failure, which are both considered as high; calls on DG FINS and DG ITEC to step up their constructive cooperation in order to implement appropriate mitigating measures, including the smooth deployment of the new financial management and accounting system;

158.  Approves of significant efforts for ongoing investment in the digitisation of financial processes, such as Members’ electronic signatures, with a view to enhancing client service, administrative efficiency and the level of checks, in particular, the introduction of online reimbursement of Members’ medical expenses and automation of the central attendance register, with a view to speeding up payments of related entitlements and extension of the functions of the e-Portal, as the single entry point for Members to manage their financial and social entitlements; deplores time-consuming inefficiencies in entering and checking the data, notably that data on Members' travel costs is entered into the system twice, first by Members and in a second step again by the administration;

159.  Notes that Parliament’s new travel agency started operating on 1 January 2019, following a public call for tenders; notes the limited use of the travel service’s call centre, available at weekends but which does not cover all the companies used by the travel agency; deplores the fact that Members have experienced difficulties reaching the travel service’s call centre during and outside working hours; deplores the limited opening hours of the agency, notably the fact that it is shut on Friday afternoons, except for Friday afternoons before a Strasbourg session, which seriously limits Members’ staff’s ability to work efficiently; calls for an improvement of availability; insists on the mandatory implementation of a simple and user-friendly complaints mechanism, which would allow for quick resolution of any problems; deplores the slow reaction time of the agency when dealing with requests for tickets; finds it absolutely unacceptable that tickets proposed by the agency are not always the most cost effective ones (often above online prices) and that Members experience considerable delays in the reimbursement of their travel costs; calls on DG FINS to launch a satisfaction survey on the services of the travel agency, and, with the aim of presenting the results by 30 June 2020 at the latest, to inform customers of the organisation and responsibilities of DG FINS and Parliament's travel agency; urges the new travel agency to reflect on the results provided by the satisfaction survey and implement improvements accordingly;

General Expenditure Allowance

160.  Welcomes the measures taken by the Bureau to develop greater transparency and financial accountability;

161.  Recalls that a separate bank account for the reception of the general expenditure allowance is mandatory; calls on Parliament to regularly inform the discharge authority of how many Members comply with this obligation;

162.  Draws attention to the fact that, at its meeting of 2 July 2018, the Bureau adopted a new non exhaustive list of expenses which may be defrayed from the general expenditure allowance that contains the most common examples of eligible expenditure; notes that for Members who so wish, the costs relating to a voluntary verification audit of the use of general expenditure allowance can be covered from general expenditure allowance; recalls that all Members are free to document their use of general expenditure allowance, and to have this information published in their personal websites; calls on Parliament to regularly inform the discharge authority of how many Members follow these recommendations;

163.  Acknowledges the improvements made in the last years in the efficient and transparent verification and control of expenditure reimbursements, such as Members’ travel cost reimbursements and Parliamentary Assistant’s allowances, in respect of which documentation for costs incurred must be provided; calls for a strict handling of cases where misconduct has been uncovered; urges the Bureau to draw conclusions from past incidents of fraud and issue severe punitive measures in cases of fraud; strongly urges Members to use their General Expenditure Allowance strictly for the purposes laid out in the Implementing Measures for the Statute for Members of the European Parliament; urges the Bureau to proceed with the evaluation of the guidelines as it is foreseen in the last bureau decision; seeks, in the interest of the citizens and the reputation of the House and its Members, a well adjusted balance between the Freedom of the mandate and the combat against risks of misuse and fraud; considers a regular evaluation of the relevant provisions every five years towards the mid-point of a parliamentary term to be appropriate;

164.  Recalls Articles 62(1) and 62(2) of the Decision of the Bureau of 19 May and 9 July 2008, as amended (last modification on 1 July 2019), concerning implementing measures for the Statute for Members of the European Parliament, which stipulates that ‛the sums paid’, including the general expenditure allowance, ‛shall be reserved exclusively for the funding of activities linked to the exercise of a Member’s mandate and may not be used to cover personal expenses or to fund grants or donations of a political nature’ and that ‛Members shall pay back any unused amounts to Parliament except where they are defrayed in the form of a lump sum’; calls upon the Secretary-General and the Bureau to ensure that those provisions are fully implemented and complied with and to regularly inform the discharge authority of how many Members have paid pack their unused amounts;

165.  Recalls that the ad-hoc Working Group for defining and publishing the rules concerning the use of the general expenditure allowance in the past legislative term recommended that the Bureau resume discussions about the general expenditure allowance and come up with an agreement that requires Members to: keep all receipts pertaining to the general expenditure allowance, to admit an independent auditor in charge of the annual check of the accounts and the publication of an auditor’s opinion, and to return the unspent share of the general expenditure allowance at the end of their mandate;

166.  Further recalls that the plenary has adopted the following additional changes concerning the general expenditure allowance on top of those already issued by the ad-hoc Working Group, requiring: a 5 % sample check of general expenditure allowance spending by Parliament’s internal auditing, the final results and the findings of which should be part of the annual internal audit report published by Parliament, Members to publish, on an annual basis, an overview of their expenditures by category (communication costs, office rental, office supplies, etc.);

167.  Urges the Bureau to implement the democratic will of the plenary concerning the general expenditure allowance as soon as possible;

168.   Welcomes the fact that the Bureau of the past legislative term created the necessary infrastructure on Members’ online page on Parliament’s website for those Members who wish to publish a voluntary audit or confirmation of their expenditure that their use of the general expenditure allowance complies with the applicable rules of the Statute for Members and its implementing measures; calls on Parliament to improve its communication towards Members about this possibility and how to make use of it in practice;

Voluntary Pension Fund

169.  Notes that the voluntary pension scheme has an estimated actuarial deficit of EUR 286,1 million at the end of 2018; further notes that at the end of 2018, the amount of net assets to be taken into account and the actuarial commitment amount to EUR 112,3 million and EUR 398,4 million respectively;

170.  Recalls that these projected future liabilities are spread over several decades but notes that the total amount paid by the voluntary pension fund in 2018 amounts to EUR 17,8 million;

171.  Points out that this raises concerns about the possible exhaustion of the fund and that Parliament is guaranteeing the payment of pension rights if, and when, this fund is not able to meet its obligations;

172.  Strongly supports the results of a meeting of 10 December 2018, where the Bureau decided to modify the rules applicable to the pension scheme by increasing the retirement age from 63 to 65 years and introducing a levy of 5 % to pension payments for future pensioners with a view to improve its sustainability; endorses the Bureau’s decision as a positive step; notes however that Parliament will remain liable for a very significant amount in the future; recalls that Article 27(2) of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament provides that ‛ [a]cquired rights and future entitlements shall be maintained in full’;

173.  Calls on the Secretary-General, as well as the Bureau, to exhaust - in full accordance with the provisions of the Statute for Members, namely Article 27(1) and (2) - all possible avenues to find a fair solution to the problem while keeping Parliament’s liability to a minimum, as taxpayers’ money is involved and to inform the discharge authority of the measures taken in this regard;

Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support (DG ITEC)

174.  Recalls that, in 2018, DG ITEC had 484 members of staff and managed 6,4 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

175.  Notes that DG ITEC’s lead indicator in 2018 is its responsiveness to the demands of users and partners in all fields of activity in a timely and efficient manner; insists that DG ITEC should continue to invest in the delivery of a modern, seamless, efficient and user-oriented IT interfaces;

176.  Supports the on-going development of e-Parliament applications, a reinforcement of IT innovation activities and the strengthening of Parliament’s cybersecurity capacity; welcomes the decision to double the resources allocated to the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU Institutions, bodies and agencies (CERT-EU); commends the strengthening of the Union institutions’ capacity to ensure an optimal protection against cyberattack;

177.  Acknowledges the fact that it is very difficult for DG ITEC to recruit enough highly qualified experts with very specific profiles, knowledge and experience; calls on Parliament to ensure that this request is properly transmitted to the European Personnel Selection Office to better respond to such specific needs of Union institutions;

178.  Insists that DG ITEC make stronger efforts to guarantee continuity and resilience of Parliament ICT infrastructures achieved since the IT outage of October 2017; calls for increasing the efforts and capacity to provide assurance on Parliament ICT robustness; calls for continuing the work and progress made in the areas of business continuity, risk management, incident management and recovery capability; stresses the existence of deficiencies in the functioning of the internet network in Parliament;

179.  Highlights the increasing risks related to data and privacy; points with concern to recent reporting on storing and processing user's data when logging in to Parliament’s wi-fi; strongly questions the need to retain data for up to six months(13); calls on Parliament to develop an information security policy and strategy; stresses that close cooperation between DG ITEC and DG SAFE is of utmost importance; encourages the directorate-general’s to plan common activities over the medium and long term;

Directorate-General for Security and Safety (DG SAFE)

180.  Recalls that, in 2018, DG SAFE had 756 members of staff and managed 1,5 % of Parliament’s overall budget;

181.  Is concerned by the results of the recent DG SAFE staff survey, and hopes that a solution can be found in the near future that responds to staff concerns;

182.  Recalls that openness to the public is a hallmark of Parliament and an adequate balance with the necessary level of security must remain;

183.  Welcomes the major security-related decisions taken by the Bureau over the 8th parliamentary term, in particular (a) measures concerning relations with the national authorities of the host countries and with the other institutions, notably measures to secure the Brussels European district, security screening of external service providers’ personnel, threat assessment and changes to alert levels, (b) measures to upgrade Parliament’s buildings and (c) internal measures; recalls that those decisions implied infrastructure investment;

184.  Welcomes the agreement, concluded by Parliament in 2018, on reciprocal exemption from security checks with the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions; regrets however that no such agreement has been signed with the Council yet, and hopes that a solution can soon be found in that respect;

185.  Approves of the replacement of the access badges for Members and their staff; looks forward to the forthcoming replacement of those used by Parliament’s staff;

186.  Commends the good cooperation between DG SAFE and DG INLO in enhancing security of all Parliament’s buildings in upgrading access, including to car parks, as requested by the Bureau;

187.  Acknowledges the creation of the Protection Unit, in particular the close protection of the President of Parliament and the reinforcement of the security of Parliament’s strategic locations;

188.  Supports the extension of the SMS security alert system to all users of service telephones which will, in future, be used for all Members and staff;

Legal Service

189.  Approves of the Legal Service strategy of making lawyers more readily available to the parliamentary committees; calls on a reinforcement of staff dealing with parliamentary activities;

190.  Notes with satisfaction that the Legal Service respects gender balance at the level of administrators, heads of unit and directors;

191.  Highlights that the Legal Service has won 95 % of the cases taken to court during the 8th legislative term; expresses its conviction that the Legal Service plays its role in safeguarding the financial interests of Parliament and of the Union citizens by retrieving public money through court cases;

192.  Is concerned by the difficulties of finding qualified individuals from certain countries to fill some posts, as it is an obligation to cover all legal systems and all the languages of the Member States;

Annual report on contracts awarded

193.  Recalls that the successive two Financial Regulations(14) and the Rules of Application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(15) lay down the information to be provided to the budgetary authority, and to the public, concerning the award of contracts by the institution; notes that the Financial Regulations require publication of the contracts awarded with a value greater than EUR 15 000, a value that corresponds to the threshold above which a competitive tendering procedure becomes compulsory;

194.  Notes that, of a total of 251 contracts awarded in 2018, 94 were based on open or restricted procedures, with a value of EUR 569,5 million, and 155 on negotiated procedures, with a total value of EUR 35,9 million; notes that the total number of contracts awarded by negotiated procedures decreased in terms of value as a percentage of the total value of contracts awarded, from 12 % in 2017 to 6 % in 2018, as well as in terms of volume, from EUR 70,5 million in 2017 to EUR 35,86 million in 2018;

195.  Notes the following breakdown of contracts by type awarded in 2018 and 2017, including building contracts:

Type of contract

2018

2017

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Services

Supply

Works

Building

199

37

12

3

79%

15%

5%

1%

177

36

11

0

79%

16%

5%

0%

Total

251

100%

224

100 %

Type of contract

2018

2017

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Services

256 374 627

42%

446 313 270

76%

Supply

210 526 209

35%

133 863 942

23%

Works

133 431 628

22%

6 892 972

1%

Building

5 039 824

1%

0

0%

Total

605 372 288

100%

587 070 184

100%

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2018, p. 6)

196.  Notes the following breakdown of contracts awarded in 2018 and 2017 by type of procedure used, in terms of number and value:

Type of procedure

2018

2017

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exceptional

89

5

155

1

1

35,46 %

1,99 %

61,75 %

0,40 %

0,40 %

78

1

145

-

-

35 %

1 %

64 %

-

-

Total

251

100 %

224

100 %

Type of procedure

2018

2017

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Value (EUR)

Percentage

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exception

486 039 380

83 433 046

35 859 040

24 221

16 600

80

14

6

-

-

488 368 460

28 200 000 70 501 724

-

-

83%

5%

12%

-

-

Total

605 372 288

100%

587 070 184

100%

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2018, p.8)

Political groups (budget item 4 0 0)

197.  Notes that, in 2018, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 0, attributed to the political groups and non-attached Members were used as follows(16):

Group

2018

2017

Annual appropriations

Own resources and carried-over appropriations

Expenditure

Rate of use of annual appropriations

Amounts carried-over to next period

Annual appropriations

Own resources and carried-over appropriations

Expenditure

Rate of use of annual appropriations

Amounts carried-over to next period

European People's Party (EPP)

18.282

6.690

20.820

113,88

4.152

17.790

8.150

19.330

108,66

6.610

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

15.792

5.863

16.888

106,94

4.767

15.610

5.469

15.268

97,81

5.812

European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)

6.182

2.962

7.200

116,47

1.944

6.200

2.810

6.051

97,60

2.959

Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)

5.823

1.824

6.033

103,61

1.614

5.711

1.694

5.596

97,99

1.809

The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA)

4.478

1.579

4.669

104,27

1.388

4.333

1.826

4.583

105,77

1.578

European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)

4.443

1.257

4.590

103,31

1.110

4.421

1.407

4.571

103,39

1.257

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD)

3.829

1.828

2.725

71,17

1.915

3.654

1.917

3.523

96,41

1.827

Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF)

3.238

1.094

3.612

111,55

720

2.719

846

2.474

90,99

1.091

Non-attached Members

1.153

314

537

46,57

442

929

257

494

53,18

318

Total

63.220

23.412

67.073

106,09

18.052

61.365

24.377

61.889

100,85

23.258

198.  Welcomes the fact that independent external auditors for the political groups issued only unqualified opinions for the financial year 2018;

European political parties and European political foundations

199.  Notes that the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (APPF) was created in 2016 with the task of assessing registration requests, registering new Union parties and foundations, monitoring their funding and imposing sanctions in cases of failure to respect their obligations; acknowledges that it became fully operational in 2017;

200.  Notes that the Commission, Council and Parliament agreed to provide additional financial and human resources for the APPF in the budget for the financial year 2019;

201.  Points out that, pursuant to Article 6(10) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 114l/2014(17),the director of the APPF shall submit annually a report to Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the activities of the Authority; notes that the annual report was sent to Parliament’s President and Secretary-General on 21 November 2019; deplores the fact that the 2018 report was submitted to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control in January 2020 only; expresses concerns about the decision to consider the report as confidential, following an express request from the APPF making it available only to a limited number of persons under restricted conditions; considers that by limiting access to this document, which concerns the use of public funds, it gives the regrettable impression that there is something to hide; insists that the APPF report be made public each year, and that it is sent to Members at the same time as it is sent to Parliament’s President and Secretary-General;

202.  Calls on Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control to invite of the director of the APPF to the annual hearing for the Parliament discharge, as is the case for the other heads of agencies and institutions;

203.  Underlines the importance of the APPF’s public reporting about its activities as an element of its accountability, which is essential for the continued construction of trust and assurance, as well as to assess whether the APPF is adequately equipped with staff, resources and competences to effectively prevent a misuse of funds by political parties and foundations;

204.  Notes that, in 2018, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 2 were used as follows:

Party

Abbreviation

Own resources

EP final contribution - first part

Total revenue (18)

EP contribution as % of reimbursable expenditure (max. 85 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserve or loss)

European People's Party

EPP

1.427.466  

7.356.802  

11.340.157  

85%

64.271  

Party of European Socialists

PES

1.153.831  

6.309.079  

7.462.911  

85%

—  

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party

ALDE

759.642  

2.674.543  

3.935.648  

85%

157.524  

European Green Party

EGP

544.072  

2.244.342  

2.961.972  

85%

—  26.538

Party of the European Left

EL

301.456  

1.513.876  

1.875.332  

85%

—  6.798

European Democratic Party

PDE

125.374  

532.075  

754.587  

85%

18.913  

European Free Alliance

EFA

156.351  

628.696  

910.047  

85%

32.110  

Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe

ACRE

—  286.814

1.253.918  

1.245.829  

71%

—  729.991

European Christian Political Movement

ECPM

125.110  

624.532  

749.641  

85%

5.995  

Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom

MENL

211.768  

1.045.592  

1.257.360  

85%

—  28.579

TOTAL

 

4.518.257

24.183.454

32.493.485

 

-513.092

205.  Notes that, in 2018, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 3 were used as follows:

Foundation

Abbreviation

Affiliated to party

Own resources

EP final grant

Total revenue

EP grant as % of eligible costs (max. 85 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserve or loss)

Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

WMCES

EPP

1.097.171  

5.816.345  

6.913.516  

85%

31.397

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

FEPS

PES

1.050.548  

4.895.825  

5.946.373  

85%

-

European Liberal Forum

ELF

ALDE

292.141  

1.650.538  

1.942.680  

85%

-

Green European Foundation

GEF

EGP

185.182  

1.038.822  

1.224.004  

85%

1.368

Transform Europe

TE

EL

244.655  

1.193.712  

1.438.367  

85%

16.375

Institute of European Democrats

IED

PDE

45.755  

255.000  

300.755  

85%

-

Coppieters Foundation

CF

EFA

115.193  

388.702  

503.895  

85%

38.617

New Direction - Foundation for European Reform

ND

ACRE

279.636  

1.215.011  

1.494.647  

85%

—  156.378

Sallux

SALLUX

ECPM

77.416  

418.444  

495.860  

85%

2.159

Foundation for a Europe of Nations and Freedom

FENL

MENL

53.600  

329.251  

382.851  

85%

—  4.503

TOTAL

 

 

3.441.296  

17.201.651  

20.642.947  

 

-70.965

(1) OJ L 57, 28.2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(6) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(8) Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884).
(9) Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 and Commission Decisions 2001/681/EC and 2006/193/EC (OJ L 342, 22.12.2009, p. 1).
(10) Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (OJ L 305, 26.11.2019, p. 17).
(11) Working Document on Implementation of the 2014 staff reform package at the Commission - Big savings but not without consequences for staff.
(12) Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom of 20 September 1976 (European Electoral Act) (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 5).
(13) https://euobserver.com/institutional/146270
(14) Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 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 Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2003, No 223/2014 and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1).
(15) Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 of 29 October 2012 on the rules of application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (OJ L 362, 31.12.2012, p. 1).
(16) All amounts in thousands of EUR.
(17) Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations (OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, p. 1).
(18) Total revenue includes previous year's carry-over in accordance with Article 125(6) of the Financial Regulation (version in force during the financial year concerned).


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - Court of Justice of the European Union
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section IV – Court of Justice of the European Union (2019/2058(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0085A9-0027/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0053/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the annual report of the Court of Justice of the European Union to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2018, 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 2018, 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 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 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(6), and in particular Articles 59, 118, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0027/2020),

1.  Grants the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Justice of the European Union 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 Court of Justice of the European Union, 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).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section IV – Court of Justice of the European Union (2019/2058(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 2018, Section IV – Court of Justice of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0027/2020),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority wishes to stress the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.  Notes with satisfaction that in its 2018 annual report, the Court of Auditors identified no significant weaknesses with respect to the audited topics relating to human resources and procurement for the Court of Justice of the European Union (the 'CJEU');

2.  Welcomes the conclusion of the Court of Auditors that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2018 in respect of the administrative expenditure of the CJEU were free from material error and that the examined supervisory and control systems were effective;

3.  Regrets, as a general observation, that chapter 10 ‘Administration’ of the 2018 annual report of the Court of Auditors has a rather limited scope and conclusions, notwithstanding the fact that the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 'Administration' is considered to be low risk;

4.  Notes that the Court of Auditors selected a sample of 45 transactions from the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 'Administration' for all Union institutions and bodies; notes that the sample was designed to be representative of the range of spending under Heading 5, which represents 6,3 % of the Union budget; notes that the work of the Court of Auditors indicates administrative expenditure as low risk; considers, however, that the number of transactions selected in relation to the 'other institutions' is not sufficient and asks the Court of Auditors to increase the number of transactions to be examined by at least 10 %;

5.  Notes that, in 2018, the CJEU's budget amounted to EUR 410 025 089, compared to EUR 399 344 000 in 2017, corresponding to an increase of 2,67 %; notes an overall rate of implementation of 99,18 % (compared to 98,69 % in 2017);

6.  Welcomes the overall prudent and sound financial management of the CJEU in the 2018 budget period; notes the high budget implementation rate for Title 1 (persons working with the CJEU, representing 75 % of budget implemented) and Title 2 (buildings, furniture, equipment and miscellaneous operating expenditure, representing the rest of the budget implemented) amounting to 99,0 % and 99,8 % (compared to 98,6 % and 99,1 % in 2017);

7.  Acknowledges the CJEU's efforts to avoid significant discrepancies between commitments (99,18 %) and payments (94,04 %); welcomes the fact that the CJEU monitors very closely the execution of its budget during the year by establishing monthly dashboards in order to ensure an optimal use of the resources available;

8.  Highlights the CJEU’s application of the principles of performance-based budgeting to all its administrative services; notes the establishment of specific objectives accompanied by one or more measurable indicators which are essential in the preparation of the annual budget; acknowledges the organisation of workshops with all services in order to harmonise the budgetary approach and exchange best practices;

9.  Regrets, however, the increase in expenditure of 11,81 % between 2017 and 2018 in respect of budget item 2022 'Cleaning and maintenance' arising from a new building maintenance contract and other factors, in respect of which an estimate had not been made and which resulted in an increase in this budgetary line during 2018; calls on the CJEU to continue its efforts to prepare sound budget estimates;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the implementation rate in respect of the final appropriations for meetings and conferences increased to 98,83 % in 2018 (compared to 81,40 % in 2017); recognises that this budget item is partly intended to finance official visits and ceremonial events for which budgetary planning is less predictable due to unforeseeable events;

11.  Welcomes the CJEU’s effort to publish its annual activity report on 29 April; notes that the CJEU continues to explore, in cooperation with other institutions, the possibility of bringing forward further its calendar, which would provide the discharge authority with more time to go into greater depth and to conduct the discharge procedure;

12.  Acknowledges the CJEU’s commitment to work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Court of Auditors, in particular with regard to proactive case management with timetables adapted according to the nature and complexity of the different cases; recognises the CJEU's careful planning and monitoring to ensure a smooth continuity of judicial activity; notes that the average duration of proceedings in 2018 at the Court of Justice was 15,7 months (compared to 16,4 months in 2017) and at the General Court was 20 months (compared to 20,6 months in 2015 and 16 months in 2017); encourages the CJEU to continue its efforts to shorten the duration of proceedings whenever possible;

13.  Recognises that the main priorities of the CJEU are to ensure a reasonable period of time for the handling of cases brought before the two Courts together with the preservation of the quality of decisions; notes that, due to a rigorous control system and a high level of vigilance, it was possible to achieve a reduction in the average duration of proceedings over recent years; notes, however, that this demands continual attention, in particular in the context of an increasing workload;

14.  Welcomes the satisfaction expressed by users of the e-Curia application (which has become compulsory for the exchange of procedural documents between lawyers and the General Court as of 1 December 2018); notes that the use of e-Curia has not been made compulsory by the Court of Justice; encourages the Court of Justice to follow the good example of the General Court and to consider the compulsory introduction of e-Curia; commends the fact that this development has contributed both to the security and the speediness of such exchanges and to the improvement of the environment (through the reduced use of paper) and to the reduction of postal costs; encourages the CJEU to continue its efforts to achieve widespread digitalisation of all stages of the judicial process;

15.  Takes into account the fact that further organisational and procedural measures are needed to enable the CJEU to cope with an ever-increasing workload while still respecting its objectives; notes that, on 26 March 2018, the CJEU (on the basis of the second paragraph of Article 281 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) made a request to amend Protocol No 3 on the statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union and that this legislative procedure came to an end with the adoption and entering into force of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2019/629(7).;

16.  Notes that the CJEU had 2 217 posts in 2018 composed of 1 413 officials (or 64 %), 650 temporary agents (or 29 %) and 154 contract agents (or 7 %) (compared to 2 180 posts in 2017);

17.  Points out that the distribution of staff by sector of activity remains similar to that in previous years with at least 85 % of posts occupied by staff performing legal and linguistic activities; notes that the occupation rate of posts remained very high in 2018 (97 %) owing to the sustained volume of judicial work, which requires rapid and optimal recruitment to all vacant posts;

18.  Reiterates that, in the context of the continued increase in the number of cases, a flexible allocation of resources, in particular of existing legal secretaries, could increase the effectivity of the CJEU; calls on the CJEU to report on concrete measures taken;

19.  Expresses concerns that while 274 trainees worked at the CJEU in 2018, only 87 trainees were entitled to a monthly stipend of EUR 1 120; welcomes the fact that the CJEU adopted new rules regarding trainees and requested additional appropriations in order to be able to finance internship for trainees in members’ cabinets from 2019 onwards; notes, however, that it remains the case that not all traineeships offered will be accompanied by a fair remuneration; instructs (with due regard to non-discrimination practices and fair remuneration) the CJEU to swiftly accept the decision to start paying all trainees; calls on the CJEU to ensure fair remuneration for all of its working staff;

20.  Welcomes the reform of the General Court which brought improvements in reducing the backlog of cases and lowering the average duration of proceedings; notes that in 2018 the General Court closed 13 % more cases than in 2017 and reduced the number of pending cases by 12 %;

21.  Welcomes the fact that the two courts comprising the CJEU closed a combined total of 1 769 cases in 2018 (which is a record in terms of productivity) and that this confirms the general trend between 2012 and 2018 of a major upswing in court activity;

22.  Points out that in 2018 a record number of new cases were brought before the Court of Justice (a total of 849, which equals an increase of 15 % compared to 2017); welcomes the record number of closed cases (a total of 760, which equals an increase of 10 % compared to 2017);

23.  Welcomes the fact that in 2018 the General Court passed the mark of 1 000 closed cases (1 009 in total) for the first time; highlights, at the same time, the significant reduction (12 %) in the number of cases pending compared to 2017 (1 333 on 31 December 2018, compared with 1 508 one year previously);

24.  Notes a steady increase in the number of women in management positions which was 37,7 % in 2018, 35 % in 2016 and 30 % in 2013; notes that there are 27 female managers (21 posts in middle management and 6 posts in higher management) compared to 45 male managers in 2018; welcomes the CJEU’s efforts to strengthen its policy on equal opportunities and diversity by setting up a special entity introducing and following-up concrete programmes, measures and awareness-raising meetings; calls on the CJEU to continue its efforts;

25.  Notes, however, the persistent imbalance concerning the number of women among the judges of both the Court of Justice and the General Court; urges, once again, the Members of the Council to address this situation by actively promoting gender parity in the appointment of judges, in line with the principles enshrined in Article 8 TFEU and Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and with the commitments made pursuant to Regulations (EU, Euratom) 2015/2422(8) and (EU, Euratom) 2019/629;

26.  Reiterates that the geographical balance of staff, in particular in management positions, should be closely monitored; notes that only 15 of 57 heads of unit at the CJEU and 2 of its 13 directors are from Member States that have joined the Union since May 2004; encourages the CJEU once more to develop a policy to improve the geographical balance and to report back to the discharge authority in this regard;

27.  Welcomes the CJEU’s commitment to promote work-life balance measures such as the adoption of a decision allowing occasional teleworking in addition to structural teleworking arrangements; notes also the achievements within IT to improve remote access to work applications; notes further, with satisfaction, the efforts to protect the psychological health of the staff by providing the support of a psychologist, working part-time;

28.  Expresses concern at the number of cases of burnout at the CJEU, which totalled 12 cases both in 2017 and 2018; asks the CJEU, therefore, to assess whether the workload is distributed proportionally across the different teams and members of staff;

29.  Calls on the CJEU to publish on an annual basis a table with detailed data on its interinstitutional cooperation agreements with respect to fees, services and related matters; repeats the importance of interinstitutional cooperation through service level agreements for different domains, such as HR, security and IT; agrees with the recommendations of the internal audit service to increase the exchange of good practices with other institutions and to explore the possibilities of enhanced cooperation for contract preparation and contract management, such as in IT matters; regrets the lack of information given in response to Parliament’s question relating to the cooperation of the CJEU with the European Anti-Fraud Office; encourages the CJEU to seek ways to increase its cooperation with the European Anti-Fraud Office;

30.  Observes that the CJEU updated its data processing operations following the entry into force of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725(9); notes with appreciation that a specific procedure to report data breaches was set up;

31.  Welcomes the efforts of the CJEU to improve the cybersecurity of the institution; notes that activities have been coordinated with the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU institutions, bodies and agencies (CERT-EU) and with the Informatics Inter-institutional Committee subgroup on security;

32.  Welcomes the internal audit on the proper functioning of the staff selection and recruitment procedures in order to identify synergies and streamlining opportunities to make them more effective; notes that an action plan was initiated in 2016 and completed in 2018 with the introduction of measures such as a new recruitment manual, new and updated modules for the HR management information system, the simplification of administrative circuits and the streamlining of vacancy notices drafting; notes the measures taken to improve the attractiveness of the CJEU and of the Luxembourg site in an interinstitutional context;

33.  Highlights the internal auditor's follow-up to appraise whether the action taken by the departments audited is appropriate, effective and timely and to identify and record improvements made; notes with satisfaction that all audits carried out were closed without prejudice to any additional examinations;

34.  Notes the CJEU’s anti-fraud strategy to combat fraud, corruption and any illegal activity detrimental to the interests of the Union; notes that this strategy is founded on the relevant provisions of the Financial Regulation and the Staff Regulation, supplemented by a series of internal decisions and rules; acknowledges that the strategy is an integral part of the CJEU’s risk management policy within the framework of the internal control system;

35.  Acknowledges the CJEU’s environmental management system based on Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009(10); notes that the CJEU improved its environmental performance in 2018 compared to the base year 2015 as follows: a reduction in paper consumption of 15,5 %, a reduction in electricity consumption of 8,3 % and an increase in the number of videoconferences of 52,9 %; welcomes various additional projects, such as the reduction in single-use plastics, the reduction in the number of individual printers and participation (jointly with the other Union institutions based in Luxembourg) in the self-service bike system 'vel’OH';

36.  Welcomes the CJEU’s commitment to fully respect the timetable and budget for the work of the fifth extension of the CJEU’s buildings (construction of the third tower offering an additional 50 000 m2) which will make it possible to gather all CJEU staff on a single site; notes the works on the upgrading of security measures and welcomes the fact that the CJEU’s buildings are designed to ensure easy access for disabled people;

37.  Welcomes the fact that savings in the order of EUR 100 million will be achieved over the 25 year depreciation period for that fifth extension, compared with the continuation of a policy of leasing, which clearly shows the value of the chosen building policy of purchase; underlines the outcome of special report no. 34/2018 of the Court of Auditors on office accommodation of EU institutions, in which it made highly positive findings regarding the efficiency of the CJEU’s buildings policy;

38.  Notes with interest that the staff committee of the CJEU in 2017 organised a survey about open spaces and presented the findings to the directors-general on 30 January 2018; welcomes the initiative of the CJEU in creating a working group featuring the director of buildings and security, the president of the staff committee and members of staff working in open spaces; notes that, following the recommendations of this working group, the information technology directorate converted part of its office space into individual offices; calls on the CJEU to share its insights from this experience with other institutions and with the Commission in particular;

39.  Congratulates the CJEU for having been included by the European Ombudsman among the three finalists for the Award for Good Administration (category 'excellence through collaboration') in respect of the creation of the Judicial Network of the European Union; agrees that, in terms of transparency and cooperation, the launch of the secured platform in January 2018 (where previously undisclosed documents are made available to participating courts) is an important step in the correct direction;

40.  Notes the launch of CJEU’s redesigned website in June 2018 and the important steps and works undertaken in order to strengthen, clarify and simplify the information delivered to the public; welcomes a new product on the website named 'factsheets' which aims at presenting an overview of the reference case law in a specific area of Union law in all official languages; notes that a recent survey has shown a very high level of user satisfaction, with 80 % of users giving a rating between 4 and 5 out of 5;

41.  Welcomes the CJEU’s communication strategy which seeks to bring the CJEU closer to citizens; recognises the evolving budget for communication of the CJEU, totalling EUR 429 000 in 2018 (compared to EUR 330 500 in 2013); notes the short animated films which are made available in 23 official languages on the CJEU's YouTube channel (viewed by 82 800 in 2018), its presence on Twitter with more than 74 000 followers (compared to 42 000 in 2017), its outreach events (including seminars for journalists) and its open days;

42.  Encourages the CJEU to broadcast its public hearings and to make the recordings available online; believes that this enhanced transparency would be in line with Article 15 TFEU and would benefit all who work or study in the legal field in the Union;

43.  Points out that the Judicial Network of the European Union, which includes the Member States’ constitutional and supreme courts, has been set up by the CJEU and is being coordinated by it;

44.  Welcomes the fact that that a list of the missions (representation of the CJEU at a ceremony or an official event) carried out by members, in line with the revised code of conduct of the CJEU, is published on the CJEU’s website and contains information such as the participating member’s name and the purpose, the venue and the organiser of the event; calls on the CJEU to publish also the related costs (as is done by other Union institutions); reiterates its call on the CJEU to publish more detailed information concerning the external activities of members, including the purpose, date, venue and travel and subsistence costs of the listed events and whether they were paid by the CJEU or by a third party;

45.  Welcomes the fact that members of the CJEU are subject to a code of conduct governing their independence, impartiality, integrity, commitment, collegiality, responsibilities and obligations; notes that the CJEU considers the declarations of financial interests of its members as an internal means to ensure impartiality and independence; calls on the CJEU to consider publication in the interest of public scrutiny;

46.  Notes that the declarations of financial interests are necessarily of a self-declaratory nature and, given the current legal framework, the CJEU has no investigatory powers to ensure the veracity and the exhaustiveness of the declared data; calls on the CJEU to improve the system in cooperation with other Union institutions;

47.  Reiterates its call on the CJEU to publish CVs and declarations of interest for all its members on its website; notes that short biographies of each member are published on the website (which do not, however, contain information on membership of any other organisations); notes that members are required to submit a declaration of their financial interests to the president of the court of the CJEU of which they are members on taking up their duties in line with the new code of conduct for members; calls on the CJEU to publish those declarations on its website;

48.  Recognises the internal procedures to verify, before attributing a case to a member, on the basis of the declarations of interests, whether that member has a financial interest in the case; notes that the members contact the President of the court of the CJEU of which they are members whenever an issue relating to the interpretation of the code of conduct may arise and that the consultative committee is only convened in exceptional cases, e.g. when a complaint has been lodged against a member; asks the CJEU to advise Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control as to the robustness of this mechanism;

49.  Regrets the fact that it has not received information on the progress achieved relating to the internal procedures on 'revolving doors' for senior members of staff; reminds the CJEU of the strategic initiative conducted by the European Ombudsman in 2018 on how to implement the provisions laid down in the Staff Regulations on 'revolving door moves' of senior members of staff; calls on the CJEU to establish and to publish strict rules in this regard without delay;

50.  Notes the procedure related to the pre-recruitment declaration on the absence of conflicts of interests for new members of staff; notes further that the recruitment process has been modified to ensure that such declarations are assessed and that, if necessary particular measures are proposed to the appointing authority; notes also that the CJEU is working on rules governing the exercise of external activities by staff; calls on the CJEU to report on this to Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control;

51.  Acknowledges the CJEU’s procedures and internal rules to prevent all forms of harassment in the working place, which are published on its website; welcomes the information provided on how to initiate a formal or an informal procedure in case of inappropriate behaviour;

52.  Congratulates the interinstitutional network of counsellors (which involves the participation of all Union institutions located in Luxembourg and was set up in order to exchange best practices in the field of prevention of harassment and counselling); welcomes the intensive training provided to the CJEU’s counsellors;

53.  Deplores the fact that it was not informed by the CJEU of plans to enhance the control system related to the use of official cars; underlines the requirement that drivers should only accompany members to their home countries in exceptional and justified cases; urges the CJEU to rapidly adopt measures to avoid situations in which drivers are going to members’ home countries without having the member on board; underlines the high reputational and ethical risks these practices may carry for the CJEU; calls on the CJEU to report back to the discharge authority on progress achieved in this regard by June 2020;

54.  Notes that more than 40 % of the translation workload has been outsourced with the cost of an outsourced translated page in 2018 amounting to EUR 103,10 (compared to EUR 111,30 in 2017); notes that the cost of an in-house translated page in 2018 amounted to EUR 128,07 (compared to EUR 136,70 in 2017); notes that the internal cost includes all necessary sub-costs, such as IT, office space and similar; notes that under the current conditions the CJEU does not consider a further increase of the outsourcing rate advisable and that, due to the sensitive nature of the information handled by this institution, a part of the translation workload should remain in-house; asks the CJEU to explain to the Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control the reasoning for this view;

55.  Acknowledges that members of staff from the United Kingdom have been informed that the appointing authority does not intend to require the compulsory resignation of officials who are no longer nationals of a Member State following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union; notes that, similarly, temporary and contract agents from the United Kingdom have been informed that an assessment based on the interests of the service will be made on a case-by-case basis;

56.  Highlights all the work achieved in recent years, in areas such as performance-based budgeting, the ethical framework with its many related rules and procedures, enhanced communication activities and the increasing number of measures to improve transparency; welcomes the substantial number of interinstitutional service and cooperation agreements; underlines the importance of collaboration and of sharing of experience among Union institutions and bodies; suggests that an analysis be made of the possibility of formalised networking activities in different domains in order to share best practises and to develop common solutions.

(1) OJ L 57, 28.2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(7) Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2019/629 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union (OJ L 111, 25.4.2019, p. 1).
(8) Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/2422 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union (OJ L 341, 24.12.2015, p. 14).
(9) Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC (OJ L 295, 21.11.2018, p. 39).
(10) Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 and Commission Decisions 2001/681/EC and 2006/193/EC (OJ L 342, 22.12.2009, p. 1).


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - European Data Protection Supervisor
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor (2019/2063(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0087A9-0029/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0058/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the European Data Protection Supervisor’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2018, 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 2018, 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 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 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(6), and in particular Articles 59, 118, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0029/2020),

1.  Grants the European Data Protection Supervisor discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Data Protection Supervisor 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 European Data Protection Supervisor, the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman and the European External Action Service, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor (2019/2063(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 2018, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0029/2020),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority wishes to stress the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.  Notes with satisfaction that the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the European Data Protection Supervisor’s (EDPS) annual accounts for the financial year 2018, observed that no serious weaknesses had been identified with respect to the audited topics related to human resources and procurement;

2.  Takes note of the fact that, according to the annual activity report of the EDPS, the Court examined one transaction from the financial year 2018 and this examination did not give rise to any observations;

3.  Welcomes the conclusion of the Court that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2018 in relation to administrative expenditure of the EDPS were free from material error and that the supervisory and control systems examined were effective; notes the Court’s request to re-implement the ex post control, which is now again in place;

4.  Regrets, as a general observation, that chapter 10 ‘Administration’ of the Court’s Annual Report has a rather limited scope and conclusions, notwithstanding the fact that Heading 5 ‘Administration’ of the Multiannual Financial Framework is considered to be low risk;

5.  Notes that the Court selected a sample of 45 transactions for the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 ‘Administration’ for all Union institutions and bodies; notes that the sample was designed to be representative of the range of spending under Heading 5, which represents 6,3 % of the Union budget; notes that the Court’s work indicates administrative expenditure as low risk; considers, however, that the number of transactions selected in relation to the “other institutions” is not sufficient and asks the Court to increase the number of transactions to be examined by at least 10 %;

6.  Recalls that the EDPS is not a decentralised Union agency and takes the view that despite the fact that its budget represents a very small percentage of the Union budget, the legality and regularity of EDPS transactions should, nevertheless, be properly examined by the Court, as transparency is vital for the appropriate functioning of all Union bodies; notes that the EDPS is neither covered by the report of the Court on the implementation of the Union budget for 2018 nor by the 2018 report on Union agencies and other bodies; stresses, however, that information regarding the results of external independent audits by the Court should be publicly available for all Union bodies; calls, therefore, on the Court to reconsider its position and start publishing audit reports covering the EDPS from the coming year onward; requests, therefore, that the Court issue separate annual activity reports on the annual accounts of this important Union body which aims to ensure that Union institutions and bodies fully respect the right to privacy and data protection;

7.  Welcomes the overall prudent and sound financial management of the EDPS; notes that the EDPS made a clear distinction between so-called “current or new activities”; notes an increase of 1,54 % for current activities in line with its policy of austerity, with most budget lines frozen at 0 % increase; notes, however, the increase for new activities, mainly due to the setting up of a new Union entity called the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and its related operations (which became operational asof 25 May 2018);

8.  Notes that in 2018, the EDPS had a total allocated budget of EUR 14 449 068 (compared to EUR 11 324 735 in 2017), which represents an increase of 27,59 % compared to the 2017 budget (a 21,93 % budget increase from 2016 to 2017); welcomes the fact that 93,7 % of all appropriations were committed by the end of 2018 compared to 89 % in 2017; notes with concern that the budget implementation in terms of payment appropriations corresponds to 75,2 % (compared to 77 % in 2017) of all appropriations;

9.  Recalls the necessity for budget estimates in order to ensure an efficient budgetary performance in the coming years; recognises the existence of matters which have a crucial impact, such as the EDPS salary budget with a share of more than 53 % whereby even a moderate staff turnover has a significant impact on the overall budget implementation rate; recognises that the budget estimates in respect of the recently created EDPB will achieve accuracy only after a few years of operation;

10.  Notes with interest that the EDPS launched a new open competition to create a pool of highly qualified data protection experts to satisfy its future recruitment needs; acknowledges, in relation to staff recruitment planning, that the EDPS requested a moderate increase of six members of staff in the context of preparations for the setting up of the EDPB;

11.  Recognises that 2018 was crucial for the EDPS due to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/679(7) and Directive (EU) 2016/680(8) in 2016 in the context of the modernisation of data protection rules; notes that the new tasks and responsibilities arising from Regulation (EU) 2016/679 will require additional resources in future; notes that the EDPS had 97 members of staff in 2018 (compared to 55 in 2013); asks the EDPS, however, to analyse the situation in relation to potential efficiency gains arising solely from reorganisation and reallocation of tasks;

12.  Notes that, as a result of this new legislation, the EDPB, made up of 28 Member State data protection authorities and the EDPS, was established to ensure the consistent implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 across the Union; notes that a significant amount of the EDPS’s time and effort in early 2018 went into the support of the EDPB secretariat, as well as participating fully itself as a member of the board;

13.  Notes that, following the new rules on the processing of personal data, the Union institutions and bodies also ensure their compliance with said rules, including the management and governance of their IT infrastructure and systems; acknowledges that the EDPS expanded its catalogue of specific guidelines and started a programme to verify compliance with rules among Union bodies;

14.  Notes that there is a need for greater transparency and cooperation between European data protection authorities; underlines the importance of cooperation between the EDPS and the national data protection authorities in the Member States to ensure effective supervision and collaboration in the preparation for the new legal framework; calls on the EDPS to inform Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control in relation to all the results achieved;

15.  Acknowledges the fact that the EDPS annually publishes data on their interinstitutional cooperation through service level agreements in respect of medical, translation/interpretation, catering and training services and in respect of administrative agreements for building, logistics, security services and IT, etc.; welcomes the agreement of a memorandum of understanding between the EDPS and the EDPB (mainly in relation to IT), which allows the new Union body to benefit from the work done by the EDPS over the recent years;

16.  Welcomes the EDPS’s intention (in the context of the modernisation of its procurement processes) to install an electronic workflow in order to set up a paperless mode of functioning; reiterates the importance of the interinstitutional cooperation between the EDPS and the Commission in terms of procurement, financial management and human resources; welcomes the service level agreement with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Budget and Directorate-General for Informatics in relation to the IT tools “ABAC” and “Sysper II” as requested in the last discharge report; encourages the EDPS to make progress on a coherent policy for the digitalisation of its services;

17.  Notes that the first action plan of the ethics officer was fully achieved and that the second report foresees several measures such as the revision of the codes of conduct for supervisors and staff, a revised decision on external activities and the possible adhesion to the new transparency register for Union institutions, etc.; invites the EDPS to implement such requested measures as soon as possible; welcomes the awareness raising sessions in line with the ethics framework; asks for detailed information on the achievements arising from the ethics framework to be presented in the next annual activity report;

18.  Welcomes the fact that the internal rules concerning whistleblowing adopted in 2016 will be updated in order to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers and alleged wrongdoers; notes the existence of some protection measures such as a risk assessment and an access limitation of a strict “need to know basis” to the related files; encourages the EDPS to ask its ethics officer to give special attention to this issue in the next awareness raising session organised for all staff; notes with satisfaction that the EDPS has had no case of whistleblowing so far;

19.  Reiterates the importance of data protection in relation to cybersecurity; welcomes the efforts of the EDPS in providing guidance to the Union institutions on how to protect personal data when implementing cybersecurity measures, on how comprehensive information security management systems serve as the basis for fulfilling both data protection and cybersecurity obligations and on how to carry out data protection notification and information obligations in relation to personal data breaches; notes that the scandal over the misuse of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica and the growing evidence of illegal interference in elections require responses from the EDPS; underlines that the EDPS must fight against the potential misuse of digital data;

20.  Recognises the added value that free and open source software can bring to the EDPS; underlines in particular their role in increasing transparency and avoiding vendor lock-in effects; recognises also their potential in the improvement of security as they allow the identification and fixing of weaknesses; strongly recommends that any software developed for the institution be made publicly available under free and open-source software licences;

21.  Welcomes the fact that the decision on anti-harassment has been made available to the entire staff via the EDPS intranet; notes with satisfaction the fact that the EDPS is currently working on revising the anti-harassment decision, as well as on a mandate to appoint additional confidential counsellors; notes that 69 % of colleagues acknowledged in the 2018 staff survey that they were aware of the existing policy on psychological and sexual harassment; welcomes the fact that in 2018 one confidential counsellor was trained;

22.  Welcomes the fact that the CVs and declarations of interests of the supervisors are available on the EDPS website; notes that those declarations are necessarily of a self-declaratory nature and neither the EDPS nor its ethical officer have any investigating powers to ensure the veracity and the exhaustiveness of the declared data; calls on the EDPS to evaluate how to improve the system together with other Union institutions and bodies;

23.  Calls on the EDPS to guarantee publication and regular updating on its website of all its guidelines and procedures related to the ethical framework; calls on the EDPS to continue its efforts to improve the information available online, in terms of transparency and public scrutiny;

24.  Regrets the fact that more detailed information on concrete measures on how to improve well-being at work was not included in the annual activity report; welcomes, however, the fact that decisions and policies have been adopted and/or implemented in 2018, such as a staff survey report, a revised decision on teleworking and a revised decision on mentorship; asks the EPDS to provide more detailed information in the next annual activity report;

25.  Welcomes the initiative of the EDPS in 2018 to in future offer paid traineeships only through the Blue Book trainee program; notes that this change in the EDPS recruitment process of trainees was made following a recommendation from the Ombudsman to adapt eligibility criteria in relation to paid traineeships; reiterates the need to guarantee that an appropriate allowance is paid to all Union institutions' trainees in order to avoid the reinforcement of discrimination on economic grounds;

26.  Notes with interest the representation of 20 Union nationalities among the staff of the EDPS (compared to 16 different Union nationalities in 2017); notes in relation to gender balance that there was a 40 % male (compared to 32 % in 2017) and 60 % female population at the EDPS; acknowledges the continuous efforts of the EDPS to achieve balance, taking into account the EDPS’s small size and specific core business activities;

27.  Notes with interest that the EDPS was allocated four extra offices in the MTS building currently shared with the European Ombudsman; notes that the EDPS staff, including the EDPB secretariat, is expected to grow further in 2020 and therefore a greater expansion to the entire building is necessary; supports the EDPS in relation to this request and asks it to inform Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control in relation to all related steps and achievements;

28.  Welcomes the targeted initiatives by the EDPS to reduce the environmental footprint of the institution; encourages the EDPS to put in place a concrete action plan to reduce its environmental footprint;

29.  Welcomes the fact that the importance of the communication activities of the EDPS has increased considerably over the recent years; recognises the efforts to improve the impact of its online presence; notes the organisation of two important communication campaigns, namely the 2018 International Conference focusing on Debating Ethics (thereby reaching the widest possible audience for the debate on digital ethics), and, in December 2018, its communication campaign on the new data protection regulation for Union institutions;

30.  Recalls that the EDPS uses a number of key performance indicators to help to monitor its work and the use of its resources; notes with satisfaction that in 2018 the EDPS met or exceeded the targets set in the majority of its key performance indicators (e.g. in relation to key performance indicator 4 “level of interest of stakeholders” with a target of 10 consultations, a figure of 13 consultations was reached); notes that the implementation of the relevant strategic objectives is well on track and no corrective measures are needed; encourages the EDPS to continue working in this direction;

31.  Welcomes the fact that the EDPS follows nearly all 16 internal control standards, which are regularly monitored to ensure the economic, efficient and effective achievement of the objectives; notes that the internal audit service carried out a follow-up audit on the recommendations outstanding of a review on the internal control standards and concluded that the level of internal control is satisfactory and effective;

32.  Notes that the internal audit service carried out a survey concentrating on three main areas (the EDPS’s governance in connection with the EDPB, the framework for providing human resources, budget and financial administration, and the logistical support for the EDPB and EDPS support teams) which were the subject of close scrutiny; notes that the internal audit service issued a final report, in which all recommendations were deemed "issues for consideration" only, and which will not be subject to any follow-up by the internal audit service;

33.  Notes that the expenditure on translation amounts to EUR 337 057,35 for the EDPS and EUR 516 461,90 for EDPB activities; notes that the EDPB benefits from a quota of free translations performed by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation; takes note that the need for frequent translations in all official languages of the Union allied to the very small size of the institution makes the internalisation of translation impossible from a cost-benefit perspective;

34.  Takes note that missions by staff are encoded in the missions integrated processing system and a mission report is uploaded as a supporting document in the statement of expenses; welcomes the data provided in the annual activity report as requested in the previous discharge report, which shows no significant differences in terms of the number and costs of missions in the past four years;

35.  Welcomes the fact that the EDPS respects the best practice of setting a deadline for the submission of the annual activity report on 31 March of the year following the accounting year; welcomes, therefore, the fact that the EDPS adopted its annual activity report by 26 March 2019 in order to provide the discharge authority with more time to go into the report in depth and to better conduct the discharge procedure;

36.  Highlights all the work achieved in the past few years in areas such as performance-based budgeting, the ethical framework with all its related rules and procedures, enhanced communication activities and the increasing number of measures to improve transparency; welcomes the significant number of interinstitutional service and cooperation agreements; underlines the importance of collaboration and sharing of experience among Union institutions and bodies; suggests that the possibility of formalized networking activities in different domains be analysed in order to share best practice and to develop common solutions.

37.  Underlines that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will have a significant impact on the planned work of the EDPS; highlights the importance of a swift negotiation of a data deal with the United Kingdom;

(1) OJ L 57, 28.2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(7) Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation) (OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1).
(8) Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA (OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89).


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - Court of Auditors
PDF 154kWORD 60k
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section V – Court of Auditors (2019/2059(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0088A9-0031/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0054/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2018, 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 2018, 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 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 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(6), and in particular Articles 59, 118, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0031/2020),

1.  Grants the Secretary-General of the Court of Auditors discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Auditors 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 Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section V – Court of Auditors (2019/2059(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 2018, Section V – Court of Auditors,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0031/2020),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority wishes to stress the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.  Notes that the annual accounts of the Court of Auditors (the 'Court') are audited by an external firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers Sàrl, in order to apply the same principles of transparency and accountability which the Court applies to its auditees; notes with satisfaction that the external auditor’s report states that the financial statements give a true and fair view of the Court's financial position on 31 December 2018, and of the results of its operations, its cash flows and the changes in net assets for the year then ended;

2.  Emphasises the fact that in 2018, the Court's final appropriations amounted to a total of EUR 146 469 000 (compared to EUR 141 240 000 in 2017), which represents an overall increase of 3,70 % compared to 2017 (the rise in price levels is estimated at 1,9 % for Luxembourg); notes that 96,21 % of all appropriations were committed by the end of 2018 (compared to 97,73 % in 2017 and 99 % in 2016) and that 94,73 % of all appropriations were paid in 2018 (compared to 94,27 % in 2017 and 93,29 % in 2016);

3.  Stresses that the Court's budget is entirely administrative, being related to expenditure concerning persons working within the institution (Title 1), to buildings, to movable property equipment and to miscellaneous operating expenditure (Title 2); is concerned about the continuing budget overestimates for Title 2 with a commitment rate of 59,13 % (compared to 57,13 % in 2017) and a payment rate of 55,11 % (compared to 55,75 % in 2017);

4.  Notes that the commitments carried over to 2019 amounted to EUR 6 068 597 or 4,1 % of the 2018 budget (compared to EUR 7 908 250 carried over to 2018 or 5,5 % of the 2017 budget), notes that the main item contributing to the carry-over was the EUR 4 310 280 carried over under chapter 21 (data processing, equipment and movable property: purchase, hire and maintenance) for IT projects which were still ongoing at the end of 2018;

5.  Regrets, as a general observation, that chapter 10 ‘Administration’ of the Court's 2018 Annual Report has a rather limited scope and conclusions, notwithstanding the fact that the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 'Administration' is considered to be low risk; requests that audit work for chapter 10 be broadened in order to review weaknesses in administrative expenditures in each institution;

6.  Welcomes the fact that the Court has generally applied its budgetary discipline soundly in recent years in order to keep its administrative costs stable without adversely impacting its core business; notes that no additional posts were sought for 2018 and that, therefore, the Court’s establishment plan (as in 2017) provides for a total of 853 authorised posts;

7.  Welcomes the efforts made by the Court to publish its annual activity report by 5 May in the succeeding year and to adopt its final accounts by 31 May; agrees that the Court must be given the necessary time to carry out its audit work (as has been expressed in the Court’s annual report on the implementation of the Union budget); suggests, however, that the Court discuss the matter further with Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control and with other relevant actors in order to better assess the timeframe of the discharge procedure;

8.  Welcomes the provision of the table in the annual activity report showing the different service level agreements signed with the Commission and other institutions on matters such as human resources issues, translation and infrastructure and indicating their budgetary impact; notes with concern that the service agreement for the pay master office expenditure in relation to managing the Court’s personnel files and management of missions increased to EUR 325 000 in 2018 (compared to EUR 180 000 in 2017) because of a new contract; reiterates the importance of inter-institutional cooperation;

9.  Appreciates the Court’s efforts to achieve the most cost efficient use of its official vehicles; notes that, as part of a cooperation with the Court of Justice, the Court signed an inter-institutional four-year leasing contract for those vehicles, resulting in better leasing prices and introducing environmental criteria;

10.  Notes that the Court decided to review the rules for the use of official vehicles and that according to the new rules the members and the secretary-general may use official vehicles for journeys other than those undertaken in the performance of official duties in return for a contribution of a fixed rate of EUR 100 per month plus certain costs and charges; notes that the Court expects significant savings compared to the situation under the existing rules; notes that the new rules apply from 1 January 2020; is of the opinion that the use of official vehicles for private use should not take place under any circumstances; considers that this practice may harm the reputation of the Court and, in general, of the Union institutions; asks the Court, therefore, to reconsider this subject and to keep Parliament informed;

11.  Notes that the Court adopted a new set of key performance indicators for the period 2018 to 2020 consisting of key performance indicators providing a broad overview of the dissemination, impact and perception of its work; notes that included among the key performance indicators are the Court’s appearances in Parliament, the Council and in national parliaments, and the number of special reports published (rather than those merely adopted); welcomes the clear improvement in efficiency of the work of the Court, shown by the number of special reports increasing by 25 % since 2008 and, since 2017, appearances in Parliament increasing by 47 %, in Council by 39 % and in national parliaments by 164 %; invites the Court to consider including the audit's added-value into its key performance indicators and to report continually on the implementation of its recommendations;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the Court experiences a strong increase in media interest with particularly high coverage given to its special reports; welcomes the fact that the Court will continue to promote its publications through social media channels; notes with interest that most of the Court’s publications are available on its website through a link called 'search publications'; notes that the reports with the most media coverage in 2018 were the special reports on the European high-speed rail network, on the operational efficiency of the European Central Bank’s crisis management for banks and on the facility for refugees in Turkey; welcomes the Court’s digital communication strategy for working with non-institutional stakeholders, such as think-tanks, NGOs, industry associations and academia (which can act as multipliers of the Court’s messages); further encourages the use of free open-source self-hosted social network platforms, with particular regard to the data protection of users;

13.  Notes with satisfaction that overall media coverage (including social media) nearly tripled in 2018 as compared to 2017 (increasing from around 15 500 online articles and social media mentions to more than 44 000); notes that in 2018, social media posts from the Court's official accounts concerning its publications were displayed approximately 11 million times (which is nearly 18 times more than in 2017); notes that in 2018, more than 11 000 online articles about the Court’s special reports were available (compared to 1 500 online articles in 2013);

14.  Acknowledges the publication of 35 special reports (compared to 28 in 2017), 9 review-based publications (compared to 2 in 2017) and 10 opinions (compared to 5 in 2017); welcomes the Court’s efforts, in line with the Financial Regulation, to generally produce its special reports within 13 months while noting that the average time to produce the special reports published during 2018 was 15,2 months; highlights, however, that 15 of the 35 special reports (43 %) took less than 13 months to produce (compared to 29 % in 2017);

15.  Notes with concern that the Court selected a sample of 45 transactions (compared to 55 in 2017 and 100 in 2016) from the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 'Administration' of all Union institutions and bodies; notes that the sample was designed to be representative of the range of spending under heading 5, which represents 6,3 % of the Union budget; notes that the Court’s work indicates administrative expenditure as low risk; considers, however, that the number of transactions selected in relation to the 'other institutions' is not sufficient and asks the Court to increase the number of transactions to be examined by at least 10 %; asks the Court to consider presenting an independent annual report on the Union institutions (as it already does with regard to the Union agencies); asks the Court to keep Parliament informed of developments in that regard;

16.  Notes with satisfaction that the chapter on transparency on the Court’s website presents a calendar of meetings of the Court and a table of the missions of the Court’s members (with date, place, purpose and costs) as well as links to related documents and other transparency portals;

17.  Highlights the introduction of an attendance register to record the presence of members at meetings of the Court, its chambers and its committees (which has been effective since 1 January 2019); asks the Court to report on those matters to Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control in its next annual activity report;

18.  Calls on the Court to establish procedures for maintaining a register of members’ annual leave, sick leave and absence from work for other reasons in order to ensure that all leave taken by members is effectively recorded; stresses that the current practice could undermine the trust of Union citizens and the Union institutions in the Court;

19.  Observes with interest that the Court collects information on the work-related missions of members to assess whether the activity planned fell within the area of interest of the Court; welcomes that members provide the names and job title of the persons with whom they will meet, a general description of the topics to be discussed and, where available, the invitation containing the necessary details, in order to reduce the risk of possible abuses;

20.  Notes that the decision clarifying the rules governing the missions of the members entered into force on 1 February 2018; notes that the decision defines in particular the information to be communicated when requesting a mission order;

21.  Notes that the Court, within the framework of its internal control system, decided from February 2018 to delegate to the secretary-general the powers of authorising officer with respect to the accounts related to mission and representation expenses of the members; notes that those expenditures are now subject to the general control system operated by the secretariat-general’s services which involves risk management and ex-ante and ex-post control and which are included in the annual declaration of the authorising officers by sub-delegation and by delegation; deeply deplores that it was only after a particularly critical situation that the Court took action with regard to this matter;

22.  Notes that the internal audit service reviewed the 2018 annual control reports and declarations of the authorising officers by sub-delegation in order to assess the reliability of the information provided; notes that the secretary-general requested control reports from all directorates; acknowledges that the internal audit service confirms the reliable quality of the ex-ante and ex-post controls performed by the services and that overall the information contained in the control reports is reliable;

23.  Notes the Court’s decision, in relation to the period 2012 to 2018, to complete an internal audit of mission expenses and of the use of official cars (which audit was finalised in July 2019); notes that the audit report concluded that the vast majority of randomly selected operations examined by the internal audit service complied with the applicable rules and procedures; deplores the fact that the report also concluded that prior to the 2017 to 2018 reforms the management and control systems of the Court were affected by certain shortcomings; notes further that the report concluded that the 2017 to 2018 reforms effectively corrected the weaknesses in the control systems and that management and control procedures currently in place are overall reliable;

24.  Notes that based on that audit report no indications of any misuse of their position by members or former members have been identified; notes that there has been no other internal investigation following that audit report;

25.  Observes that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has transmitted its report concerning a former member to the judicial authorities of Luxembourg; notes that the former member's immunity has been waived; notes that the Court has recovered the sum of EUR 153 407,58 from the former member;

26.  Notes that OLAF opened an investigation in 2016 concerning possible abuse of travel and subsistence expenses by a current member of the Court (relating to a time when he was a Member of Parliament); notes that OLAF concluded the case in September 2019 with a recommendation to Parliament to recover EUR 11 243; notes that no disciplinary or judicial recommendations have been made in this regard and that no recommendation was addressed to the Court;

27.  Welcomes the fact that members of the Court are subject to a code of conduct governing their independence, impartiality, integrity, commitment, collegiality, confidentiality, responsibility and obligations after leaving office; welcomes the fact that the Court publishes the declarations of interests (declarations of financial interests and outside activities) and the CVs of its members on its website, thereby making the Court subject to the same public scrutiny as the other Union institutions;

28.  Is concerned that the declarations of interest are of a self-declaratory nature and that, given the current legal framework, neither the Court nor its ethics committee have any investigative powers to ensure the veracity and the exhaustiveness of the declared data; calls on the Court to ensure that members submit declarations of interest instead of declarations of the absence of conflicts of interests; stresses that the current procedures, including those of the ethics committee, need to be reinforced to ensure the absence of conflicts of interests; requests the Court to report on any progress made;

29.  Welcomes the publication of the Court’s ethics guidelines, applicable to all members and staff; welcomes the discussion by the ethics committee of any matters of an ethical nature that it considers relevant, including the assessment of external activities of members of the Court; notes the appointment of ethics advisers among the Court’s members of staff with the aim of ensuring that every member of staff has the right and opportunity to seek confidential and impartial advice on sensitive matters, such as conflict of interests, the acceptance of gifts and how to provide information in the event of serious irregularities (whistleblowing);

30.  Highlights the fact that the Court offers all staff a dedicated training course on public ethics (which is compulsory for incoming staff), containing a section on whistleblowing (including the procedure to be followed and the rights of members of staff); welcomes the fact that in the internal guidance on 'frequent asked questions on ethical matters', a number of examples are provided with the aim of facilitating the recognition of potential conflicts of interests; calls on the Court to further strengthen its efforts by improving information and communication and by monitoring activities;

31.  Emphasises the fact that an ethical framework should consist of rules to prevent, identify and avoid potential conflicts of interests; notes that the Court’s ethical framework has been reviewed by experts from the Supreme Audit Institutions of Poland and Croatia; takes note of the final peer review report; calls on the Court to inform Parliament of any follow-up actions that are decided based on the outcome of the peer review;

32.  Welcomes the fact that the Court has established channels for whistleblowing which ensure appropriate protection for whistleblowers and that it has published the related rules of procedure; notes that an online contact form exists to report any serious irregularities; welcomes the link on its homepage on how to report fraud cases to OLAF;

33.  Notes the fact that the Court continues to provide training and presentations for managers, incoming members of staff and human resources staff, in order to raise awareness of harassment in the working environment; notes, moreover, that contact persons for the fight against harassment receive relevant training on an annual basis; notes that the Court enhanced its anti-harassment rules in 2017 and that their purpose is to avoid harassment situations, maintain a satisfactory working environment and facilitate resolving interpersonal conflicts by means of amicable settlements;

34.  Welcomes the efforts made by the Court to ensure the wellbeing of staff, such as by enabling flexible working and teleworking and notes that, in this regard, the Court provides presentations on equal opportunities and access to free psychologists; notes, however, that there were three cases of ‘burnout’ in 2018; asks the Court, therefore, to assess if the workload is distributed proportionally across teams and members of staff;

35.  Notes that there was one formal complaint of harassment lodged in 2018 and that the facts of sexual harassment were established; notes that the entire procedure (which ended up with preventive and disciplinary measures being taken) took five months to be completed from the date of filing the complaint;

36.  Highlights the fact that (as referred to in the third paragraph of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations related to the occupational activities of senior officials after leaving the service) the Court publishes related information on the occupational activities of senior officials of the Court; notes also the publication of the related rules on its website;

37.  Notes the fact that the Court and OLAF work in close cooperation in order to protect the financial interests of the Union; further notes that in 2018 the Court communicated nine cases of suspected fraud revealed in the context of its audits (compared to 13 in 2017); congratulates the Court on the fact that the ongoing negotiations resulted in an administrative cooperation arrangement between the Court and OLAF (signed in May 2019) which aims to facilitate the practical working relationship between those bodies, in particular regarding the transmission of suspected fraud cases, and to organise actions of common interest, such as training, workshops and staff exchanges;

38.  Regrets the fact that the Court’s follow-up to the 2017 discharge resolution provided only limited responses to Parliament’s remarks; stresses that follow-up is essential to enable Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control to determine whether the Court has implemented Parliament’s recommendations; calls on the Court to include all necessary responses and more detailed explanations on the implementation of Parliament’s recommendations in its next follow-up report;

39.  Notes that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union will not have a major impact on the structure and human resources of the Court; notes that the Court has committed itself to using its discretionary power in accordance with Article 49 of the Staff Regulations to the effect that officials are not dismissed on the sole ground that they are no longer nationals of a Member State; notes that, with regard to temporary and contract agents, the Court is required by law to examine each case individually and to authorise exceptions where justified in the interest of the service; welcomes the fact that the Court has committed to making an open and transparent use of this capacity to authorise exceptions; notes that the Court’s assessment will be based solely on the interests of the service;

40.  Stresses the Court’s commitment to improving its gender balance at all management levels; notes that 45 % of its auditors and administrators are women, resulting in an almost equal proportion of women and men; notes that 38 % of its managers (24) are women, and that out of 10 directors, 3 are women; calls on the Court to continue its efforts to promote gender balance, in particular in relation to management positions and the more senior management positions; welcomes the fact that the proportion of women in management positions in the audit chambers increased from 7 % in 2015 to nearly 24 % at the end of 2018 (compared to 20 % in 2017); notes that the Court’s equal opportunities policy for the 2018 to 2020 period (approved in February 2018) also addresses the issues of age and disability;

41.  Reiterates that only 6 out of 28 members of the Court (compared to 4 in 2016) are women; emphasises the issue of gender imbalance among the members; recalls that Member States should more actively encourage women to apply for these kind of positions; reiterates that the Council should always present at least two candidates, one woman and one man, during the appointment procedure;

42.  Notes that the increase in the translation workload has been compensated for by efficiency gains through the streamlining of the Court’s internal procedures, including the centralisation of the pre- and post-processing of translations; notes that this has enabled a significant decrease of costs per page (in excess of 10 % compared to 2017);

43.  Welcomes once more the Court’s cooperation with other public institutions and stakeholders; notes with satisfaction the cooperation between the heads of supreme audit institutions and the adoption of a joint work plan from 2018 onwards; supports, moreover, the partnerships entered into with various universities in the context of the Court’s policy to extend its range of training; asks the Court to extend its contacts to additional universities in order to establish cooperation in the future that is diversified and that retains a geographical balance;

44.  Welcomes the fact that archive spaces of the K2 building became unnecessary thanks to increasing digitalisation; notes that these spaces will be converted into new collaborative or wellbeing spaces and that the cost will be met by the remaining budget of the K3 construction project completed a few years ago; notes that the level of comfort of the K1 building remains far below the other buildings of the campus; acknowledges the conclusion of a study recommending works which would result in huge investments; notes that options for finding the most efficient solution for the future of K1 remain under consideration (including in cooperation with the Luxemburgish authorities); calls on the Court to inform Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control of any solutions, together with budget estimates;

45.  Welcomes the fact that the Court has set up a comprehensive environmental programme to address various themes identified in its environmental analysis and to reduce its environmental impact; notes with appreciation that it managed to reduce its energy consumption by 11,5 % from 2014 to 2018, its water consumption by 21,1 % from 2016 to 2018, and its paper consumption by 50,8 % from 2014 to 2018;

46.  Supports the Court's efforts to enhance data protection and cybersecurity by adopting a three-year cybersecurity action plan in mid-2018 with a number of actions to mitigate the risks identified; notes with satisfaction the Court's cooperation with the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU Institutions, bodies and agencies (CERT-EU) to implement some of the controls foreseen in the plan;

47.  Recognises the added value that free and open source software can bring to the Court; underlines in particular the role of such software in increasing transparency and avoiding vendor lock-in effects; recognises also its potential for security improvements as it permits the identification and fixing of weaknesses; strongly recommends that any software developed for the Court be made publicly available under a free and open-source software licence;

48.  Highlights all the work achieved by the Court in recent years in areas such as performance-based budgeting, the ethical framework (with all its related rules and procedures), enhanced communication activities and the increasing number of measures to improve transparency; welcomes the significant number of inter-institutional service and cooperation agreements; underlines the importance of collaboration and sharing of experience among Union institutions and bodies; suggests the possibility of analysing formalised networking activities in different domains in order to share best practices and to develop common solutions.

(1) OJ L 57, 28.2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.


Discharge 2018: Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (2019/2072(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0089A9-0035/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0039/2020),

–  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 Council Regulation (EC) No 2965/94 of 28 November 1994 setting up a Translation Centre for bodies of the European Union(5), and in particular Article 14 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7), 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 Culture and Education,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0035/2020),

1.  Grants the Director of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union discharge in respect of the implementation of the Centre’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 Director of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (2019/2072(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0039/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2965/94 of 28 November 1994 setting up a Translation Centre for bodies of the European Union(12), and in particular Article 14 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14), 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 Culture and Education,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0035/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union, 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).

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 Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (2019/2072(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union 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 Culture and Education,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0035/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (the ‘Centre’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 47 142 100, representing a decrease of 4,63 % compared to 2017; whereas 91,48 % of the Centre’s budget derives from direct contributions from institutions, other agencies and bodies;

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 94,94 %, representing an increase of 1,82 % compared to the previous year; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 87,94 %, representing an increase of 2,53 % compared to the previous year;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Centre uses input and output indicators as key performance indicators to assess the results of its activities and several indicators to enhance its budget management; notes the revised ex ante evaluation and the ongoing ex post revision of the Centre’s programmes and activities; invites the Centre to further develop the key performance indicators to assess the outcome and impact of its activities in order to gain qualitative advice on how to provide more added value for the Centre’s output and improve the Centre’s business model;

3.  Notes with appreciation that in 2018 the Centre took major steps forward in the use of translation technology and that, in close cooperation with its partner directorate-general at the Commission, it has successfully implemented machine translation and Euramis into its production workflow;

4.  Notes furthermore that in 2018 the brand-new version of the biggest terminology database in the world, Interactive Terminology for Europe (IATE), was launched to the public and that the Centre develops and manages it on behalf of its institutional partners;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the Centre implemented two actions to share resources with other agencies on overlapping tasks through the EU Agencies Network: a shared services catalogue, which lists all the services that can be shared by Union agencies, and a joint procurement portal on which Union agencies’ procurement plans are shared; strongly encourages the Centre to actively seek further and broader cooperation with all Union agencies, especially given its strategically well-suited location in Luxembourg, where many other Union agencies are headquartered;

6.  Encourages the Centre to implement the Court’s recommendations;

7.  Welcomes the progress made on the external evaluation of the Centre’s business model, which was carried out in 2017; calls on the Centre to report to the discharge authority on the outcome of the final evaluation;

8.  Notes with appreciation, and highlights the positive effects of, the continued impact of the pricing structure introduced in 2017 for the translation of documents, which corresponded to a saving of EUR 4,4 million for the Centre’s clients in 2018;

9.  Urges the Centre to adopt a sustainable business model in accordance with the transformation plan devised following the external study entitled ‘Study on the Translation Centre as the Linguistic Shared Service Provider for the EU Agencies and Bodies’; encourages the Centre to fully implement those actions which would help adapt the new business model to technological advances, such as the web translation and speech recognition project;

10.  Notes with concern that the Centre has not completed the anti-fraud plan which was targeted to be implemented by the end of 2018 and which had an implementation rate of 66 % in 2018; urges the Centre to speed up the implementation of that plan;

11.  Expresses its satisfaction with the efforts made by the Centre in developing key staff capabilities in the areas of quality and project management, with 86,8 % of key staff having received training, which exceeds the target set for 2018;

12.  Acknowledges the Centre’s follow-up on their commitment to make a new version of IATE available to the Union institutions by the end of 2018, which was done in November 2018; notes that the Centre released the interinstitutional version of IATE in February 2019;

Staff policy

13.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 94,82 % executed, with 50 officials and 133 temporary agents appointed out of 55 officials and 138 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 195 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 23 contract agents worked for the Centre in 2018;

14.  Notes with satisfaction that a good gender balance was achieved in 2018 with respect to the senior management positions (three men and two women) and within the management board (32 men and 27 women);

15.  Encourages the Centre to develop a long term human resources policy framework to address the work-life balance of its staff, lifelong guidance and career development, gender balance, teleworking, non-discrimination, geographical balance and the recruitment and integration of disabled people;

Procurement

16.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, by the end of 2018 the Centre had introduced e-invoicing but had not yet introduced the e-tendering and e-submission tools launched by the Commission to introduce a single solution for the electronic exchange of information with third parties participating in public procurement procedures (e-procurement); calls on the Centre to introduce all the necessary tools to manage procurement procedures and to report to the discharge authority on their implementation;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

17.  Notes that the Centre opted for the publication of only declarations of interests, without CVs, due to the management problems associated with the size of its management board (approximately 130 members and alternate members); notes that the director’s CV and declaration of interests are published on the Centre’s website; notes that the Centre considers that risks associated with conflicts of interests are very low due to the nature of its business;

18.  Notes with concern that, although the Centre is not fee-financed, it depends on revenue received from its clients, who are represented on the Centre’s management board, and that there is therefore a high risk of conflict of interest regarding the pricing of the Centre’s products, which could be remedied if the Commission collected fees on behalf of the Centre’s clients, leading to the Centre being fully funded from the Union budget; acknowledges the Centre’s comment that the possibility of being funded from the Union budget would require an agreement between the Commission and the budgetary authority; calls on the Centre to report to the discharge authority on measures taken in order to mitigate such a risk;

Other comments

19.  Welcomes the launch, in 2018, of the new version of IATE, intended to increase the Centre’s public visibility and online presence; calls on the Centre to further focus on disseminating the results of its work to the public and to reach out to the public via social media and other media outlets;

20.  Encourages the Centre to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

21.  Regrets the fact that the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) decided, on 26 April 2018, to terminate the translation arrangement it concluded with the Centre, despite its legal obligation to avail of the services of the Centre, as provided for in Article 148 of Regulation (EU) 2017/1001(16), which established the EUIPO; notes the legal action brought before the General Court by the Centre on 6 July 2018 and the closure of the oral phase of the hearing on 4 June 2019; notes that a new arrangement for two years only was signed on 7 December 2018 between the Centre and the EUIPO; calls on the Centre to keep the discharge authority updated on the development of the legal proceedings;

o
o   o

22.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(17) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 314, 7.12.1994, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 314, 7.12.1994, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 416, 15.11.2018, p. 16.
(16) Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on the European Union trade mark (OJ L 154, 16.6.2017, p. 1).
(17) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - European Council and Council
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section II – European Council and Council (2019/2057(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0090A9-0038/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0052/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the Council’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2018, 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 2018, 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 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 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(6), and in particular Articles 59, 118, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0038/2020),

1.  Postpones its decision on granting the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Council and of the Council 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 European Council, 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).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section II – European Council and Council (2019/2057(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 2018, Section II – European Council and Council,

–  having regard to the Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 1069/2019/MIG on sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Special Report of the European Ombudsman in strategic inquiry OI/2/2017/TE on the transparency of the Council legislative process,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2019 on the European Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry OI/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU(7),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0038/2020),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority wishes to stress the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.  Notes with satisfaction that in its annual report of 2018, the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) identified no significant weaknesses with respect to the audited topics related to human resources and procurement for the European Council and the Council;

2.  Notes the conclusion of the Court that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2018 for the administrative expenditure of the Council were free from material error and that the examined supervisory and control systems were effective;

3.  Regrets, as a general observation, that chapter 10 ‘Administration’ of the Court’s 2018 Annual Report has a rather limited scope and conclusions, notwithstanding the fact that the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 ‘Administration’ is considered to be low risk;

4.  Notes that the Court selected a sample of 45 transactions from the Multiannual Financial Framework Heading 5 ‘Administration’ for all Union institutions and bodies; notes that the sample was designed to be representative of the range of spending under Heading 5, which represents 6,3 % of the Union budget; notes that the Court’s work indicates administrative expenditure as low risk; considers, however, that the number of transactions selected in relation to the ‘other institutions’ is not sufficient and asks the Court to increase the number of transactions to be examined by at least 10 %;

5.  Regrets that the request to separate the budget of the European Council and the Council into one budget for each institution, made by Parliament in previous discharge resolutions, has not been considered; calls on the Council to separate the budget in that way for reasons of transparency and to improve accountability and expenditure efficiency for both institutions;

6.  Notes that in 2018 the Council had an overall budget of EUR 572 854 377 (compared to EUR 561 576 000 in 2017) with a global implementation rate of 91,9 % (compared to 93,8 % in 2017); notes a budget increase of EUR 11,3 million, equivalent to 2,0 % compared to an increase of 3 % in 2017 and 0,6 % in 2016;

7.  Welcomes the overall prudent and sound financial management of the Council; recognises the evolution of the budget of the Council from a budget of EUR 634 million in 2010 to a budget of EUR 573 million in 2018, a decrease of 9,63 %;

8.  Notes that appropriations carried over from 2018 to 2019 amounted to a total of EUR 56 599 584, equivalent to 10,7 % (compared to EUR 60 576 175 or 11,5 % in 2017), coming mainly from categories such as computer systems (EUR 18,3 million), buildings (EUR 16,0 million) and interpretation (EUR 11,9 million); notes the cancelled appropriations in 2018 of EUR 46 348 862 (compared to EUR 35 025 789 in 2017); reminds the Council that carry-overs are exceptions to the principle of annuality and should reflect actual needs and, thus, calls on the Council to strengthen its efforts to avoid budget over-estimates;

9.  Notes again the low implementation rate for delegation travel expenses with a commitment of EUR 11,1 million compared to a final budget, including internal reallocations, of EUR 22,3 million; notes that, since Member States had to reimburse unused amounts from previous years, the Council committed only EUR 11,1 million for subsequent payments; calls on the Council to inform Parliament on the achievements reached related to a policy negotiated with the Member States to overcome this long-standing issue;

10.  Acknowledges that the number of posts in the establishment plan for 2018 was fixed at 3 031 posts (compared to 3 027 posts in 2017); notes that 137 people were recruited (74 permanent officials and 63 temporary agents) in 2018 and that during 2018 184 people (154 permanent officials and 30 temporary agents) left, resulting in a net decrease of 47 occupied posts, which was the main cause for an underspending of EUR 18,8 million for the budget item ‘establishment plan’;

11.  Recognises the increased workload expressed in a total number of 7 733 meetings in 2018 compared to 6 338 in 2010; notes another quantitative indicator of activities such as the number of legal acts published in the Official Journal, with 1 210 legal acts published in 2018 compared to 825 in 2010;

12.  Welcomes the Council’s efforts in the implementation of the ‘Action Plan for a more dynamic, flexible and collaborative General Secretariat of the Council (GSC)’; notes the steps to further improve the Council’s financial management and performance by measures such as the establishment of an advisory management board, the adoption of guidelines for a common project & task force management framework, the creation of a reorganisation task force and the review of internal rules following the publication of the new Financial Regulation;

13.  Notes the Council’s building situation resulting in intensive negotiations in 2018 with the Belgian authorities, who did not proceed with the sale of the four adjacent plots of land despite the agreement on the final price of the Europa building project; notes that the parties came to an agreement on an alternative solution resulting in the non-spending of the initial price for the plots of EUR 4 672 944;

14.  Expresses its concerns about the alarming information reported by the media regarding the construction of the new Europa building; calls on the Council to thoroughly research the main contractor and the whole chain of subcontractors (up to 12 according to the media), as well as the working conditions of the workers employed, and to provide Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control with all its findings;

15.  Notes that the revised internal control framework took effect on 1 November 2018 and was set up with five components, namely control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring activities, and another 17 principles and 33 characteristics to provide reasonable assurance of the achievements of the objectives set;

16.  Welcomes the fact that in 2018, 92 % of the internal audit recommendations issued during the years 2015 - 2017 were implemented or in the process of being implemented; notes that the internal audit annual work programme of 2018 is based on an updated risk assessment, considering the review of risk registers, and was effectively implemented; notes the areas in which audits were carried out in 2018, such as technical management, IT public procurement, legal service and communication strategy;

17.  Notes that related to the proposal for a new interinstitutional agreement on a mandatory transparency register, accessible in a machine-readable format, for interest representatives covering Parliament, the Council and the Commission, two negotiating rounds took place in 2018 under the Bulgarian Presidency and one in 2019 under the Romanian Presidency; recalls the decision of 18 June 2019 of the European Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) that the General Secretariat of the Council should keep a full record of any meetings held between interest representatives and the President of the European Council and that this should be made public; regrets the fact that the Council has still not joined the transparency register despite all of those negotiations and calls on the Council to follow up the negotiations to reach a successful outcome which will finally include the Council in the registry; calls on the Council to demonstrate a real commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability by adopting concrete measures and by building on the example set by the Finnish Presidency; calls on all Presidency trios to lead by example by refusing meetings with unregistered lobbyists;

18.  Notes the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the President of the European Council and the President’s cabinet publish a full list of any lobby meetings held; is disappointed by the fact that the new President of the European Council has yet to implement that recommendation; notes that while it appears that the President of the European Council does not meet with many lobbyists, the principle of lobby transparency is nonetheless important; urges the President of the European Council to ensure that he and his cabinet refuse all meetings with unregistered lobbyists and proactively publish a comprehensive list of lobby meetings held; calls on the General Secretariat of the Council to ensure that the ethics rules governing the President of the European Council are brought into line with those of the President of the Commission so that ‘revolving door’ rules apply for three years and formal approval is required for any new roles with a link to the activities of the Union;

19.  Welcomes the setting up of a digital services department as part of a reorganisation of the General Secretariat of the Council on 1 July 2018; notes that the information and management programme is set to streamline and digitalise key business processes by delivering a fully integrated system of applications and services, which will be accessible to users through a collaborative and secure digital working place for staff, presidencies and delegates;

20.  Notes the intense media coverage and the particularly high level of media interest in the negotiations relating to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union; welcomes the continuous development of the Council’s website and the intense work to increase its audience on all channels (increases of 9 % on visits to the website, 13 % of fans on Facebook, 26 % of followers on Twitter and 92 % of followers on Instagram as compared to the previous year); notes the high amount of background briefings and press conferences; notes the newsroom platform which allows the press and media to view, download and embed the Council’s video and photo output in high-resolution quality; encourages further the use of non-proprietary social-network platforms, having special regards to users’ data protection;

21.  Reiterates its support for the recommendations of the Ombudsman on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council(8); asks the Council to strengthen its efforts to make the legislative process more traceable and reader friendly, to centre transparency around milestones in the legislative process and to normalise the identification and publication in due time of Member State input in a machine-readable format (e.g. statements and proposals for amendments) into legislative debates at Council meetings, preparatory discussions in the Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives or in any of its preparatory bodies; calls on the Council to step up its transparency efforts by, inter alia, publishing Council legislative documents, having formal minute-taking of Council preparatory bodies to record Member State positions and publishing those minutes, and making available more trilogue documents in line with the Ombudsman’s recommendations; acknowledges the Council’s efforts to improve transparency with ongoing changes to its website and the activities of its internal transparency team; calls on the Council to introduce further measures in order to achieve a successful transparency policy allowing the public to follow the Union legislative process with greater ease;

22.  Recalls the conclusions of the Ombudsman’s Special Report in strategic inquiry OI/2/2017/TE on the transparency of the Council legislative process, from May 2018, which found that ‘the Council’s current practices constitute maladministration’; recalls the joint non-paper by Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands from October 2019 on increasing the transparency and accountability of the Union, which specifically asks the Council to ‘increase openness in trilogue negotiations by systematic publication of legislative milestone documents’; asks the Council to seriously considers those recommendations in the interest of transparency and report to Parliament;

23.  Expresses its deep concerns about the information reported by European media regarding the corporate sponsorship of Member States hosting the Union Presidency and echoes the concerns expressed by Union citizens and Members of Parliament on the matter; acknowledges that the Member States are expected to finance their own Presidencies and regrets that resorting to corporate sponsorship to cover some of their expenses in that regard has become common practice in recent years; is highly concerned by the possible reputational damage and the risk of loss of trust that this practice might cause the Union, its institutions and especially the Council in the eyes of Union citizens; notes that the Council argues that the issue of sponsorship is the sole responsibility of the Member State holding the Presidency; is of the same opinion as the Ombudsman that the public does not distinguish between the Council Presidency and the Member State holding it; fully supports the Ombudsman’s assessment and recommendation(9) for the Council to issue guidance to Member States on the issue; moreover, strongly recommends the Council to envisage the budgetisation of Presidencies; requests the Council to forward this concern to the Member States, in particular to the current Presidency trio, to take those recommendations into serious consideration and to report back to Parliament;

24.  Asks for the code of conduct for the President of the European Council to be brought in line with those of the Commission and Parliament in order to insure formal approval for activities related to Union legislation for three years after having left the Council;

25.  Is deeply concerned by the conflict of interests allegations against a number of Member State representatives involved in the high-level policy and budget decision-making process; asks the Council to ensure that Member State representatives who are subject to benefit directly from Union subsidies through the businesses they own do not participate in the related policy or budgetary discussions and votes; further asks the Council to join Parliament in its call on the Commission to propose new audit procedures to speed up the investigation of urgent and grave cases of conflict of interests and ensure that Parliament be properly informed of the audit conclusions;

26.  Regrets that the Council once again failed to provide answers to the written questions sent by Parliament and that the Secretary-General of the Council did not attend the hearing organised on 12 November 2019 in the context of the annual discharge which shows a continued and complete lack of cooperation on the Council’s side; stresses that the expenditure of the Council must be scrutinised in the same way as that of other institutions and points out that the fundamental elements of such scrutiny have been laid down in its discharge resolutions of the past years; points out that Parliament is the only institution directly elected by Union citizens and that its role in the discharge procedure is directly connected with citizens’ right to be informed on how public money is spent;

Future cooperation between Council and Parliament

27.  Notes that Parliament's role in respect of the budget discharge is laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in the Financial Regulation and in Parliament’s Rules of Procedure;

28.  Notes that according to Article 319 TFEU Parliament, acting on a recommendation of the Council, grants discharge to the Commission for the implementation of the general budget of the Union; notes that the Council’s role is fully acknowledged as an institution giving recommendations in the discharge procedure;

29.  Emphasises Parliament’s prerogative to grant discharge pursuant to Articles 316, 317 and 319 TFEU in line with current interpretation and practice, namely to grant discharge in respect of each heading of the budget separately in order to maintain transparency and ensure democratic accountability towards Union taxpayers;

30.  Is of the opinion that the different roles of the respective institutions in the discharge procedure should be distinguished and hence an equivalent and reciprocal role of the two institutions in the annual discharge procedure should be excluded;

31.  Recalls the fact that, according to Article 316 and 335 TFEU, the institutions enjoy administrative autonomy and that their expenditure is set out in separate parts of the budget; notes that, according to Article 59 of the Financial Regulation, the institutions are individually responsible for the implementation of their budgets; underlines the importance of the institutions acting responsibly and professionally in the implementation of their budgets;

32.  Notes that over the course of almost twenty years Parliament has developed the practice of granting discharge to all Union institutions and bodies; recalls that Parliament grants discharge to Union institutions and bodies after considering the documents provided and the replies they give to written questionnaires and after hearing their secretaries general; notes that all Union institutions and bodies accept to participate in Parliament’s discharge procedure, with the only exception being the Council; regrets that the Council refused to answer the questions submitted by Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on 12 November 2019;

33.  Welcomes the fact that the Council has showed its openness to reaching an agreement with Parliament on how to cooperate in the discharge process.

34.  Regrets the lack of cooperation from the Council in the discharge procedure which has resulted in Parliament’s refusal to grant discharge to the Secretary-General of the Council since the financial year 2009;

35.  Underlines the need for a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council and Parliament to find solutions to solve the longstanding differences in views between the Council and Parliament about the current practice of granting discharge;

36.  Welcomes that the composition of Parliament's newly appointed negotiating team has been endorsed; calls on the negotiating team to ensure full consistency of the agreement with the position as endorsed by Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control in February 2020; invites the Council to resume the negotiations without any further undue delay;

37.  Believes that answers to a number of recurring questions in the questionnaires sent to the different institutions, bodies and agencies, such as those on gender balance and geographical balance, conflict of interests, lobbying and protection of whistleblowers, could possibly be included in the evaluation report on the Union’s finances, drawn up in accordance with Article 318 TFEU, insofar as those issues have a link with the implementation of the budget; recalls the fact that the report referred to in Article 318 TFEU is explicitly mentioned in Article 319(1) TFEU as one of the documents to be examined in the context of the discharge procedure;

38.  Recalls the fact that each institution and body is required under the Financial Regulation to take appropriate measures to act on the observations accompanying Parliament’s discharge decision and to report on the measures taken in light of those observations; points out that a refusal by an institution to comply with this requirement, after being called upon to act, might give rise to an action for failure to act under Article 265 TFEU;

39.  Welcomes the statements by Vice-President-designate Věra Jourová and Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn, in their hearings before Parliament, that they are willing to engage in this matter so as to help achieve more transparency on the implementation of the Council’s budget; points to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the right of taxpayers and public opinion to be kept informed of the use of public revenue;

40.  Considers that the commitments of those Commissioners constitute a positive change in attitude compared to the stance taken by the Commission hitherto, as expressed in its letter of 23 January 2014, in which it stated that the Commission should not be expected to oversee the implementation of the budgets of the other institutions;

41.  Asks the Council to fulfil its particular role and to give discharge recommendations with respect to the other Union institutions.

(1) OJ L 57, 28. 2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0045.
(8) European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2019 on the Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry OI/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0045).
(9) Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 1069/2019/MIG on sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


Discharge 2018: European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA)
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) (now ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2080(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0091A9-0039/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) 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 Agency’s reply(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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0047/2020),

–  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 (EU) No 526/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 concerning the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 460/2004(5), and in particular Article 21 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/881 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) and on information and communications technology cybersecurity certification and repealing Regulation (EU) No 526/2013 (Cybersecurity Act) (6) and in particular Article 31 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) 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 Council7, and in particular Article 105 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0039/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity), 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) (now ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2080(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) 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 Agency’s reply(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0047/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 526/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 concerning the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 460/2004(12), and in particular Article 21 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/881 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) and on information and communications technology cybersecurity certification and repealing Regulation (EU) No 526/2013 (Cybersecurity Act) (13) and in particular Article 31 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(14), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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 Council7, and in particular Article 105 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0039/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity), 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).

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 Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) (now ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2080(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0039/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 11 473 788, representing an increase of 2,67 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget of the Agency derives mainly from the Union budget(16);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the Agency’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court's report’), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’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 99,98 %, representing a decrease of 0,01 % compared to 2017; notes furthermore that the payment appropriations execution rate was 88,56 %, representing a slight increase of 0,37 % compared to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Agency uses certain key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the added value provided by its activities and to enhance its budget management, focusing more on qualitative indicators for the assessment of the achievement of its operational goals and more on quantitative indicators for its administrative goals; notes that, in order to better meet its stakeholders’ expectations, the Agency is enhancing its reporting package by tailoring its qualitative and quantitative KPIs to measure its activity impact more efficiently;

3.  Calls on the Agency to step up its action to tackle the security vulnerabilities of 5G and to disseminate information on the subject as widely as possible in order to ensure that the existing technical solutions are adopted by the industry;

4.  Regrets that, following the study on the external evaluation of the Agency’s performance over the 2013 to 2016 period carried out on behalf of the Commission in 2017, no action plan has been formalised; nevertheless, notes that relevant recommendations have been implemented and that an internal audit carried out by the Commission’s internal audit service made overlapping recommendations for which a formal remedial action plan has been agreed upon;

5.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

6.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a Feasibility Study in order to assess the possibility of setting up shared synergies with the Cedefop which has its headquarters in Thessaloniki; calls on the Commission to evaluate both scenarios, namely the transfer of the Agency to the Cedefop headquarters in Thessaloniki, and the transfer of the Agency's headquarters to its Heraklion headquarters; notes that the transfer of the Agency to the Cedefop headquarters would entail the sharing of corporate and support services and the management of the common premises, as well as shared ICT, telecommunications and internet-based infrastructures, saving very significant amounts of money which would be used for the further funding of both agencies;

Staff policy

7.  Notes with concern that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was executed only to 93,62 %, with 44 temporary agents appointed out of 47 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared with 48 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 27 contract agents and three seconded national experts worked for the Agency in 2018;

8.  Notes that in 2015, the Agency planned to relocate staff engaged in its administration to Athens while Regulation (EU) No 526/2013(17) provides that such members of staff should be based in Heraklion, and that it is likely that costs could be further reduced if all members of staff were centralised in one location; notes that only seven members of staff are currently working at the Heraklion premises; notes that the Agency will further study the relevance of the facilities in line with the current seat agreement and the programmes developed in those facilities;

9.  Notes with concern that the Agency finds it difficult to recruit, attract and hold suitably qualified staff, mainly due to the types of post that are advertised, namely contract agent posts, and to the low correction coefficients applied to the salaries of the Agency’s members of staff in Greece; notes with satisfaction, however, that the Agency has implemented a number of social measures in order to increase its attractiveness;

10.  Notes that the Agency does not have the necessary appropriations to advertise all vacant posts in all EU languages as required by EPSO; notes, however, that the Agency, like other Union decentralised agencies, publishes vacancy notices on several websites, in publications across the Union and on the EU Agencies Network website;

11.  Notes that the handover process to new members of staff is currently being reviewed in order to better transfer knowledge to new staff in the future and that this process is considered to be included in the sensitive posts policy; invites the Agency to inform the discharge authority when that review has been concluded;

12.  Notes with concern the lack of gender balance in 2018 among senior managers (8 men and 2 women) and among the members of the management board (25 men and 5 women);

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

13.  Notes the Agency’s existing measures on and ongoing efforts to secure transparency and the prevention and management of conflicts of interests and notes that the CVs of the members of the management board and their declaration of conflicts of interests have now been published on the Agency’s website; recalls that the Agency does not publish the senior management members’ declarations of conflicts of interests on its website; reiterates its calls on the Agency to publish the CVs of all the members of the management board and the declarations of conflicts of interests of its senior management and to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken in that regard;

Internal controls

14.  Notes with concern that the Court’s report finds that the Agency does not have a sensitive post policy for the purpose of identifying sensitive functions, keeping them up to date and establishing appropriate measures to mitigate the risks of vested interests; calls on the Agency to adopt and implement such a policy without delay;

15.  Notes that in 2018, the Commission’s internal audit service issued an audit report on “Stakeholders’ involvement in the Production of Deliverables in ENISA” for which the Agency is preparing an action plan to address any potential areas of improvement;

Other comments

16.  Notes that the impact of the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the Union on the Agency’s operations and administration is very limited; notes, however, that the Agency has reviewed its internal processes to mitigate any risks linked to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union, and that none of those risks are considered to be critical but that they are, rather, considered to be very low;

17.  Regrets the fact that the Agency has not yet formalised a strategy to ensure an environmentally friendly work place; calls on the Agency to do so as a matter of urgency;

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

o
o   o

19.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(18) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 41.
(6) OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 15.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.34.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 41.
(13) OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 15.
(14) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(15) OJ C 120, 29.03.2019, p.207.
(16) OJ C120, 29.03.2019, p.206.
(17) Regulation (EU) No 526/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 concerning the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 460/2004 (OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 41).
(18) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training
PDF 159kWORD 54k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (now European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training Cedefop)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2066(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0092A9-0040/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0033/2020),

–  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 337/75 of the Council of 10 February 1975 establishing a European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training(5), and in particular Article 12a thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/128 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 January 2019 establishing a European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 337/75(6), and in particular Article 15 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) 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 (A9-0040/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) discharge in respect of the implementation of the Centre’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 Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (now European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2066(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training 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(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Centre in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0033/2020),

–  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(11), 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(12), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EEC) No 337/75 of the Council of 10 February 1975 establishing a European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training(13), and in particular Article 12a thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/128 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 January 2019 establishing a European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 337/75(14), and in particular Article 15 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(15), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(16), 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 (A9-0040/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), 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).

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 Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (now European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2066(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training 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 (A9-0040/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(17), the final budget of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (the ‘Centre’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 17 850 210, representing a slight decrease of 0,11 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget of the Centre derives mainly from the Union budget;

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’), in its report on the Centre’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’), states that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Centre’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 100 %, representing a slight increase of 0,04 % compared to 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was at 96,50 %, representing an increase of 6,84 % compared to the 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Centre uses an exemplary performance measurement system that includes key performance indicators to assess the added value provided by its activities in the project, activity and organisational levels and other measures to improve its budget management;

3.  Notes furthermore that the Centre’s Work Programme 2018 has been fully implemented in line with the set objectives, targets and indications;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the Centre is developing synergies and sharing resources with the other agencies;

5.  Notes the Centre’s continued and formalised close cooperation with the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound);

6.  Notes that the external evaluation, to which the Centre was submitted in 2017, as required by the financial rules, concluded that the Centre’s reinforced cooperation with the three other decentralised agencies within the remit of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment - ETF, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and Eurofound - emerged as a feasible option; notes that the Centre’s recast founding regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/128), which came into force in February 2019, took up the outcome of that external evaluation;

7.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a feasibility study in order to assess the possibilityof, if not fully merging, then at the very least setting up shared synergies with Eurofound; calls on the Commission to evaluate both scenarios, namely the transfer of the Centre to the Eurofound Headquarters in Loughlinstown, Ireland, and the transfer of the Eurofound Headquarters to the Centre’s Thessaloniki Headquarters; notes that this would result in the sharing of corporate and support services and the common management of premises, as well as the sharing of ICT, telecommunications and internet-based infrastructures, saving a significant amount of costs, which could be used on further funding for both agencies; acknowledges that the effective, efficient and error-free work of the agencies is closely linked to an adequate level of funding to cover their operational and administrative activities; therefore, calls on Member States to accommodate the activities the agencies have to perform to the funding they are assigned;

8.  Calls on the Centre to pursue the digitalisation of the institution;

9.  Encourages the Centre to implement the Court's recommendations;

10.  Appreciates the Centre’s expertise and its continued high-quality work to provide research, analyses and technical advice to assist the development of European lifelong learning and vocational education and training (VET), qualifications and skills policies with the aim of promoting high-quality training tailored to the needs of the labour market; stresses, to that end, the importance of ensuring adequate material and human resources allowing the Centre to implement its growing and changing tasks, while ensuring, in general, the Centre’s pre-eminence over private contractors;

11.  Welcomes the Centre’s contributions and expertise in providing new knowledge, evidence and policy analysis, monitoring policy trends and acting as a knowledge broker to highly relevant policy themes on the Union agenda; acknowledges the Centre’s quality work on different projects, in particular the Skills Agenda for Europe, Europass, the revision of the Skills Panorama and its role in supporting the participants of the Copenhagen process, the European Skills Index and Skills forecast;

12.  Considers it to be noteworthy that the Centre has launched a new strand of digitalisation, and in particular with regard to its online tools, providing country-specific information and improved visualisation opportunities of online data, such as guidance resources on labour market information or skills forecasts; acknowledges to that end the Centre's targeted marketing campaigns in raising awareness of the content of its website;

13.  Highlights that transparency and citizens’ awareness of the existence of the agencies are essential for their democratic accountability; considers that the 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 12 officials and 76 temporary agents appointed out of 78 temporary agents and 13 officials authorised under the Union budget (compared to 92 authorised posts in 2017); notes that in addition 26 contract agents and three seconded national experts worked for the Centre in 2018;

15.  Notes that the Centre has been taking measures in light of the observations and comments from the discharge authority related to the Centre’s new head of service for human resources, which took up duties in January 2019, as well as to the decision to externalise the Centre’s legal service; notes with concern that, given the high number of legal cases with which the Centre is involved, the full outsourcing of legal services creates a risk to the consistent treatment of cases and to the principle of efficiency; calls on the Centre to report to the discharge authority of any developments in that regard;

16.  Notes the Centre’s ongoing process to improve selection procedures by ensuring compliance with designing criteria assessed by the selection boards and increased controls by human resources; notes with concern that, according to the Court’s report, the two audited recruitments made in 2018 from two reserve lists established in 2015 and 2016 were inadequately managed and documented, as was the case for several other recruitment procedures audited in previous years; urges the Centre to take immediate corrective actions to ensure regular recruitment procedures and to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken to that effect;

17.  Notes the Centre’s concern that its new founding regulation extends the mandate of the Centre to include qualifications and skills policies in addition to VET, but without accompanying the new duties by additional resources; notes that the Centre has already experienced a 10 % staff reduction and this experience has led to an increased workload and pressure for staff in the Centre;

18.  Welcomes the fact that the Centre has close to an overall gender balance among its staff (59 % women female and 41 % men), but regrets the lack of detail provided regarding gender balance at management levels;

19.  Notes with satisfaction that gender balance was achieved in 2018 with respect to the members of the management board (50 % women and 50 % men);

20.  Regrets the lack of clarity provided regarding the geographical balance of the staff;

Procurement

21.  Deplores the fact that, according to the Court’s report, in the procurement procedure for the Centre’s travel agency services, price and quality criteria were not always detailed enough to ensure the procurement of the best value for money contracts; regrets the fact that the Centre’s methodology and documentation of potentially abnormally low offers was insufficient;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

22.  Notes the Centre’s existing measures and ongoing efforts with regard to ensuring transparency, the prevention and management of conflicts of interests, and the protection of whistleblowers; points out with concern, however, that the Centre does not yet publish the CVs of its senior management on its website, and that the Centre’s senior management, in-house experts and assistants declare potential conflicts of interests only as they occur in accordance with the Centre’s 2014 policy on the prevention and management of conflicts of interests; notes the Centre’s updated guidelines on reporting conflicts of interests in selection and recruitment processes and its preparation of revised rules for the prevention and management of conflicts of interests for management board members, independent experts and other staff;

23.  Welcomes the fact that, in light of the observations and comments of the discharge authority, the Centre adopted implementing rules concerning Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001(18) on 2 September 2019;

24.  Notes, in light of the observations and comments of the discharge authority, the establishment of an independent disclosure, advice and referral body for whistleblowers by the appointment of the Centre’s internal control coordinator as the Centre’s ethics and integrity correspondent;

General

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

Internal audit

26.  Notes with deep concern that following the audit conducted by the internal audit service on the Centre’s human resources management and ethics from 14 to 18 January 2018, recruitment procedures were still ranked as critical;

o
o   o

27.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(19) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 39, 13.2.1975, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 30, 31.1.2019, p. 90.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 39, 13.2.1975, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 30, 31.1.2019, p. 90.
(15) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(16) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(17) OJ C 108, 22.3.2018, p. 1.
(18) Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43).
(19) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Fisheries Control Agency
PDF 158kWORD 53k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2085(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0093A9-0041/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0052/2020),

–  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 Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 of 26 April 2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy(5), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/473 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 on the European Fisheries Control Agency(6), and in particular Article 45 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) 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 Fisheries,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0041/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Fisheries Control Agency, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2085(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency 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(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0052/2020),

–  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(11), 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(12), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 of 26 April 2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy(13), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/473 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 on the European Fisheries Control Agency(14), and in particular Article 45 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(15), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(16), 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 Fisheries,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0041/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency, 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).

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 Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2018 (2019/2085(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency 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 Fisheries,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0041/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(17), the final budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 17 408 849, representing an increase of 1,73 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget of the Agency derives mainly from the Union budget(18);

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 99,74 %, representing a slight increase of 0,83 % compared to 2017; notes with satisfaction that the payment appropriations execution rate was at 87,62 %, representing an increase of 13,81 % compared to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Agency uses a number of key performance indicators to support its multiannual strategic objectives and to assess the added value provided by its activities;

3.  Notes that the Agency implemented 98 % of its activities on time and that it implemented 100 % of its annual communication strategy plan;

4.  Notes that the Agency, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency adopted a tripartite working arrangement defining the cooperation between those agencies and the cooperation with national authorities carrying out coast guard functions by providing services, information, equipment and training, as well as by coordinating multipurpose operations;

5.  Encourages the Agency to pursue the digitalisation of its services

6.  Takes note of the fact that the results of the second Five Year Independent External Evaluation of the Agency for the period 2012 to 2016 were presented in 2017; notes with satisfaction that, at the end of 2018, one recommendation was closed and ten recommendations were progressing in line with the roadmap presented to the administrative board;

7.  Considers that the role of the Agency in promoting the creation of Frontex should not undermine the Agency’s core activity as the Union body responsible for organising operational coordination of fisheries control activities and providing assistance in that area to the Member States and the Commission, as this could lead to the weakening of fisheries surveillance and an increase in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; therefore stresses the need to provide the Agency with adequate financial and human resources commensurate with its growing tasks;

8.  Highlights the fact that the Agency adopted, in June 2018, a decision on the publication of information on meetings with organisations or self-employed individuals and that, following the agreement between Parliament and the Commission on the transparency register, the Agency will publish the relevant executive director and staff meetings with lobbyists on the Agency’s website;

9.  Notes that, following preparatory work in 2017, the Agency implemented in 2018 an information security management system based on the international standard ISO 27001 aiming to protect the Agency from technology-based risks and preserving the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information;

10.  Highlights the active role and added value provided by the Agency in the improved regional fisheries governance in western Africa (PESCAO) project to develop capacities to combat IUU fishing activities and to improve the management of fisheries resources in West Africa; highlights the three operations carried out in 2018, involving Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Mauritania;

11.  Stresses the importance of the Agency’s role in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and the achievement of its objectives, in particular with regard to the landing obligation, as Member States are facing difficulties in complying with this obligation;

Staff policy

12.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 98,36 % executed, with 60 Temporary Agents (TAs) appointed out of 61 TAs authorised under the Union budget (compared to 61 authorised posts in 2017); notes that in addition 11 contract agents and six seconded national experts have been working for the Agency in 2018;

13.  Encourages the Agency to develop a long term human resources policy framework which addresses the work-life balance of its staff, the lifelong guidance and career development, the gender balance, the teleworking, the non-discrimination, the geographical balance and the recruitment and integration of people with disabilities;

14.  Notes with concern the lack of gender balance on the management board (47 men and 21 women);

Procurement

15.  Highlights that the main procurement activity in 2018 was focused on launching the two open calls respectively to acquire travel agency and event organisation services for the Agency and for the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work ;

16.  Welcomes that, following the objective of Union agencies of sharing procurement efforts, the Agency launched its second inter-institutional open call for tender in 2018 and that two other agencies joined that procurement procedure; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on future developments regarding its joint procurement procedures; regards this practise as an example worth following; encourages the Agency to further explore possibilities of streamlining procedures with other institutions;

17.  Notes from the Court´s report that the Agency did not systematically check prices and uplifts charged with supplier’s quotes and invoices issued to the framework contractor for the acquisition of software licences; notes from the Agency’s reply that it has no possibility to change the conditions and provisions of the framework contract signed by the Commission and that it will implement the new framework contract to address the issues raised concerning the old contract;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

18.  Acknowledges the Agency’s existing measures and ongoing efforts to secure transparency, prevention and management of conflicts of interests, and whistleblower protection; notes with satisfaction that experts who do not sign a declaration of interests are not permitted to work under a specific contract and that the Agency monitors regularly the submission of the declarations;

19.  Notes that in 2018, the Commission’s internal audit service issued an audit report on “Planning, Budgeting and Monitoring in the Agency” and that an action plan for potential areas of improvement was agreed; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken;

Other comments

20.  Notes that the Agency has initiated a process in order to be certified in EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme and has taken a series of measures aiming to reduce its overall impact on the environment; points out, however, that the Agency does not have any additional measures in place to reduce or offset CO2 emissions;

21.  Calls upon the Agency to focus on disseminating the results of its research to the general public, and to reach out to public via the social media and other media outlets;

o
o   o

22.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(19) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 128, 21.5.2005, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 83, 25.3.2019, p. 18.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 34
(11) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 128, 21.5.2005, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 83, 25.3.2019, p. 18.
(15) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(16) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(17) OJ C 416, 15.11.2018, p. 45.
(18) OJ C 416, 15.11.2018, p. 44.
(19) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: EU general budget - European External Action Service
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section X – European External Action Service (2019/2064(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0094A9-0043/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2018 (COM(2019)0316 – C9‑0059/2019)(2),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2018, 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 2018, 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 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(5), and in particular Articles 55, 99 and 164 to 167 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(6), and in particular Articles 59, 118 and 260 to 263 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0043/2020),

1.  Grants the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European External Action Service 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 European External Action Service, the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Ombudsman and the European Data Protection Supervisor, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. 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 general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, Section X – European External Action Service (2019/2064(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 2018, Section X – European External Action Service,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0043/2020),

A.  whereas the effectiveness and efficiency of management systems and the use of resources in headquarters and Union delegations are key guiding principles for achieving the objectives of foreign policy, for responding to geopolitical challenges and for strengthening the role of the Union as a global actor;

B.  whereas it is essential to promote a common management culture within the European External Action Service (EEAS) by reinforcing the European character and ‘esprit de corps’ of diplomatic staff;

C.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority wishes to stress the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.  Regrets, as a general observation , that chapter 10 ‘Administration’ of the report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the annual accounts of the institution for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’) has a rather limited scope and conclusions, notwithstanding the fact that Heading 5 “Administration” of the Multiannual Financial Framework is considered to be low risk;

2.  Considers that the audit work carried out under chapter 10 of the Court’s report should be better balanced between the Union institutions and should go beyond compliance requirements;

3.  Believes that more audit work should be dedicated to operating expenditure or issues that are becoming of high relevance or even critical for the EEAS, such as strategic communication capacity and information technology, for example cybersecurity, the performance of the global security package for delegations or the financial management and administrative support of mission support platform to the civilian common security and defence policy;

4.  Notes also that, for the second consecutive year, the Court did not report any specific issues for the EEAS;

5.  Notes with appreciation that, for the second consecutive year, the Court did not identify material levels of error in the EEAS annual activity report and governance arrangement;

6.  Notes that the total budget of the EEAS for 2018 amounted to EUR 678,5 million (i.e. an increase of 2,8 % compared to 2017) with an execution rate of 99,9 % for commitments and 84,8 % (slightly lower than 2017 with 86,7%) for payments as of the end of the year and with additional contributions from the Commission to cover the administrative costs of Commission staff posted in Union delegations; notes the current budget breakdown, namely EUR 249,7 million for EEAS headquarters and EUR 428,8 million for the delegations;

7.  Notes that a contribution of EUR 58,5 million was also received in 2018 from the European Development Fund and the trust funds compared to EUR 55 million in 2017;

8.  Encourages the EEAS to possibly simplify the current budget nomenclature to allow for easier and more efficient management for the EEAS by progressively streamlining the 35 budget lines used to finance Commission staff operations in the delegations, reflecting geographical and various development instruments;

9.  Notes with appreciation the simplification of budget management with the entire financing of the common overhead costs relating to all delegation offices in 2018, (rent, security, cleaning and other overheads), including European Development Fund delegations, from the budget lines of the EEAS for the third consecutive year; supports the EEAS efforts to modernise and simplify its administration through the “Innovative 2019” project, which includes 20 proposals under examination; asks the EEAS to report back to the Budgetary Control Committee on the proposals under examination;

10.  Observes that the headquarters’ budget amounted to EUR 249,7 million out of which EUR 162,4 million (i.e. 65,5 %) concerned the payment of salaries and other entitlements of statutory and external staff, EUR 30,8 million (i.e. 12 %) were for buildings and associated costs, and EUR 34,9 million (i.e. 14 %) were related to IT computer systems, equipment and furniture;

11.  Notes that the delegations’ budget of EUR 428,8 million was divided between EUR 118,4 million (i.e. 27,6 %) for the remuneration of statutory staff, EUR 168 million (39,2 %) for buildings and associated costs, EUR 72,1 million (or 16,8 %) for external staff and outside services, EUR 27,6 million (6,4 %) for other expenditure related to staff and EUR 42,7 million (10 %) for other administrative expenditure; notes also that EUR 196,4 million (compared to EUR 185,6 million in 2016 and EUR 204,7 million in 2015) was received from the Commission for the administrative costs of the Commission’s staff posted in the Union’s delegations and was split between the Commission’s Heading V with EUR 47,2 million, the administrative lines of operational programmes with EUR 93,2 million, and the European Development Fund and trust funds with EUR 58,5 million (compared to EUR 55 million in 2017 and EUR 45,4 million in 2016);

12.  Notes the complexity of the building administration policy in the light of the mission of the EEAS; stresses the need for sufficient explanation to be provided by EEAS related to its building administration policy when buying, renting or managing buildings; calls on the EEAS to exercise constant vigilance on its building administration policy and, in particular, to ensure any suspected cases of fraud or corruption that may be detected when buying, renting or managing buildings are immediately addressed; calls on the EEAS to provide sufficient explanation on its tender procedures and the cost of the buildings in the remit of the discharge exercise;

13.  Stresses that good cooperation between Parliament and the EEAS is essential to manage and review building files; strongly encourages the EEAS to submit building files for approval in due time to allow time for a thorough review and follow-up questions; reiterates that files submitted to the budgetary authority only very close to critical deadlines create unnecessary time constraints and force approvals by the budgetary authority without the possibility to extend the review period;

14.  Calls on the EEAS to commit for the next discharges to keep sending its Working Document on EEAS’ Building Policy to the Budgetary Control Committee, including information explaining the context and coverage of the building costs; takes note of the exhaustive and detailed information about the EEAS’ building policy provided through the written questionnaires;

15.  Notes that the EEAS has transferred EUR 30,8 million out of which the largest amount was used to purchase a building in Washington, and the latter amount reduced the final headquarters budget to EUR 239 million while increasing the delegation budget by EUR 10,7 million;

16.  Notes that the Union is confronted with an increasingly challenging international environment, which has led to increasing demands on the Union to play a leading role on the international scene; highlights the central role of the EEAS in conducting the Union’s foreign policy under the guidance of the High Representative / Vice-President of the Commission; notes that the enhanced role of the EEAS has not been underpinned by a corresponding staff increase; calls for sufficient human resources to be made available in order not to put at risk the Union’s effectiveness as a global actor;

17.  Notes that the EEAS carries a vital role to ensure the coherence of the Union’s foreign policy; also highlights the need to provide necessary resources for a successful implementation of an efficient EU Common Security and Defence Policy;

18.  Recognises the difficult operational area of the EEAS in which Union delegations evolve, as political and socio-economic conditions are often complex, unstable and associated with high risks with potential significant budgetary and costs consequences mainly for staff and infrastructures’ security;

19.  Calls on the EEAS to create posts for local agents responsible for reporting on legislative work in countries of strategic interest, particularly accession countries and those of the Eastern Partnership, in order to increase the Union’s understanding of the neighbourhood and its approximation to the acquis; calls on the EEAS to take action to resolve the problems leading to the procurement errors identified and to prevent future infringements of the relevant rules;

20.  Notes that East Strat Com Task Force was granted EUR 1,1 million in 2018 for its work to address Russia’s disinformation. In 2019, the budget increased to EUR 3 million; calls for a substantial increase in the budget in order for the Union to successfully counter-attack Russia’s information war; calls for more information campaigns to better explain Union policies in the Eastern Partnership countries;

21.  Acknowledges, in that context, that the structure of certain EEAS costs, such as infrastructure costs, might be more difficult to manage due to exchange rate fluctuations or local specific market conditions, making the management and planning at the delegations level more difficult;

22.  Notes that the Article 60 of the Financial Regulation provides for new arrangements for the delegation of budget implementation powers to the delegations, namely the possibility for deputy heads of delegation to act as subdelegated authorising officers and to implement the operational budget of the Commission in order to ensure business continuity;

23.  Welcomes in that context the EEAS adaptations of its internal rules accordingly but invites nevertheless the EEAS to carefully monitor such situations when this new provision will be used, namely in small-sized delegations; invites the EEAS in the framework of its internal control strategy to pay particular attention to the related potential risks by proceeding to intensified remote operations control on the adequacy of the financial workflows and/or by providing increased temporary support with relevant ad hoc monitoring and reporting of these periods; recalls that the internal control standard ‘Business continuity’ was one of the weakest components of the EEAS internal control system for several years, especially for delegations;

24.  Considers as positive steps the creation of the risk assessment and management instrument with risks registers for headquarters and delegations as well as the adoption of a new internal control framework; invites however the EEAS to go beyond mere risk awareness by making sure that risk mitigation is effectively implemented and steadily reviewed;

25.  Takes note of the rate of anomalies detected in ex ante verifications of commitments and payments (209 errors out of 1041 and 258 errors out of 1841 respectively); regrets the recurrent nature of the errors detected, i.e. mainly the unavailability of supporting documents when financial operations are presented to ex ante financial verification; invites the EEAS also to continue providing specific support for all value public procurement in delegations; welcomes the implementation of financial e-workflows at headquarters by the end of 2019 which is intended to contribute to a reduction in the level of errors in general terms;

26.  Welcomes the alignment in 2018 of the ex post methodology with the Court’s methodology, enabling to provide error rate per principal domains of expenditure, namely staff expenditure, infrastructure, security and IT/telecommunications and based on random stratified samples of operations; considers that that positive evolution will provide the management and authorising officer by delegation a better overview of operational and overall financial amounts at risk based on a larger and exhaustive coverage of financial transactions; highlights that that methodology will provide more objective grounds for the issuance of dedicated action plans with mitigating measures or potential reservations;

27.  Reiterates the importance of providing a result-oriented support to delegations in all areas, namely for procurement support; considers that the experience, cooperation and outcomes of the Regional Centre Europe covering 27 delegations should be properly valued, in particular for the higher level of assurance provided, while possibly considering other equally effective means;

28.  Calls on the EEAS to progressively reinforce its EEAS assurance chain in line with the new set of internal control standards putting more emphasis both on the individual competence and accountability for their role in materialising controls (as also reflected in the 2018 questionnaire on the implementation of the internal control principles namely in the area of control over technology a little less well scored) and on the risk of fraud;

29.  Welcomes the EEAS’ efforts to foster the sense of accountability of newly appointed heads of delegation for the sound financial management of Union funds falling under their operational responsibilities alongside their political mandate; considers that this also concerns all the actors within foreign affairs such as EU special representatives, EU special envoys, heads of military operations and heads of civilian missions;

30.  Recalls that reservation is a keystone in the accountability construction and therefore constitutes a preventive and transparency instrument within the building of the EEAS assurance chain reflecting ongoing challenges or remaining and occurred weaknesses faced by heads of delegation;

31.  Notes that only two delegations provided motivated reservations, i.e. the Delegation to Syria, as in 2017, and the Delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg for non-compliance of implemented contracts with procurement rules; encourages the EEAS to continue the ongoing full review of all contracts to ensure compliance with the financial rules;

32.  Observes that at the end of 2018, the population of Member State diplomats in the total administrator population amounted to 33,76 %, almost equivalent to the 2014 level of 33,8 %; notes the following slight fluctuations between 2014-2018: 32,83 % end 2017, 31,7 % end 2016, 32,9 % in 2015; invites the EEAS to stay in line with the staffing formula as set out in the Decision 2010/427/EU(7), namely a ratio of one third of staff from Member States and two thirds from Union’s institutions;

33.  Remains concerned at continuing imbalances in the staffing profile of the EEAS as regards nationality; notes that at the end of 2017, Member State diplomats represented 32,83 % of the overall administrator staff of the EEAS (i.e. 307 persons), at the end of 2016, 31,7 % of the staff of the EEAS came from the Member States compared to 32,9 % in 2015 in comparison to 33,8 % in 2014;

34.  Stresses that the EEAS, despite repeated calls, still does not meet the requirements for geographical balance and is significantly disproportionate while having heads of delegation from Belgium (9), Germany (15), France (16), Italy (21), Poland (5), Czech Republic (2); notes, in particular, the increased number of Italian heads of delegation over the last two years;

35.  Calls for the enhancement of the geographical balance within the EEAS; reiterates the importance of appropriate and meaningful presence of nationals from all the Member States; stresses that the EEAS must ensure that all Member States are adequately represented while respecting the competences and merits of the candidates; therefore encourages the EEAS to carry on interacting with Member States to promote its posts among the national diplomat networks;

36.  Calls on the EEAS to implement gender budgeting in all public expenditure;

37.  Recalls that gender mainstreaming is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors involved in policy-making;

38.  Notes with satisfaction that numerical gender parity has almost been reached with 47,4 % of the overall number of posts occupied being women; invites however the EEAS to continue to further reduce existing qualitative imbalances at all levels, functions and in different categories, especially for administrator positions where 34,92 % of the posts are currently occupied by women; encourages the EEAS to keep working on the array of measures taken to support gender balance and increase diversity, such as the network for women in pre-management posts and the dedicated trainings for women in management and those aspiring to management;

39.  Observes that gender and geographic balance should also be respected with regard to the EU special representatives and notes that currently two out of eight EU special representatives are women; considers also that ethical standards have to be taken into account to avoid potential conflicts of interests; supports the EEAS’ prepararing guidelines on ethics, taking into account the specificities of work in delegation;

40.  Highlights the same situation in the staff overall distribution by gender in management posts, while noting a slight improvement in 2018 with 27,1 % compared to 24,5 % in 2017, representing 71 women, namely 60 out of 211 positions at middle management posts (28,4 % compared to 26 % in 2017) and 11 out of 51 senior management posts (21,57 % compared to 18 % in 2017);

41.  calls for further efforts to address these imbalances; calls on the EEAS to update its gender and equal opportunities strategy in order to include concrete goals regarding the presence of women in management positions; highlights the fact that an improvement of the geographical and gender balance in the EEAS would contribute to improving Union ownership of external action;

42.  Notes that out of 135 posts of heads of delegation, 34 were held by women; regrets also the low percentage of women candidates for management positions in the annual rotation exercise for delegations which remains low at only 18 %; encourages the EEAS to continue its work with Member States to introduce more women candidates;

43.  Observes that, following a regular increase since 2011, the number of seconded national experts from Member States has been stabilised to 449, the same number as in 2017; notes that 87,31 % of seconded national experts are posted at EEAS headquarters with the rationale that they respond to very specialised needs within the EEAS structure; calls on also the EEAS to pay particular attention to the potential issue of conflict of interest in its recruitment policy for seconded national experts;

44.  Recalls the importance of cooling-off periods for officials formerly employed by the Union institutions or agencies as unaddressed conflict-of-interest situations may compromise the enforcement of high ethical standards throughout the Union administration; underlines that Article 16 of the Staff Regulations enables Union institutions and agencies, including the EEAS, to turn down a former official’s request to take a specific job if restrictions are not sufficient to protect the legitimate interests of the institutions; fears that it is often not possible to enforce conditions imposed upon post-public employment activities; therefore encourages the EEAS, all other agencies and Union institutions, to consider the full range of tools made available under Article 16 of the Staff Regulations, in particular when they are notified of a transfer to an organisation or company which has registered in the transparency register in order to exclude any risk of former officials lobbying Union institutions within two years after leaving the service; further calls on all Union institutions and agencies, including the EEAS, to strictly publish their assessment of each case as required under Article 16 of the Staff Regulations;

45.  Considers the further pooling of experience in enforcement and supervision of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations and related ethics rules across all Union institutions necessary; welcomes the commitment of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for a Union ethics body common to the Union institutions;

46.  Observes that the interest and the number of co-location projects increased gradually due to their cost-effectiveness and synergies, and that they provide a mechanism to recover full-costs of co-locations;

47.  Welcomes the increase in co-location arrangements of Union delegations with Member States with the signature of twenty-two new co-location agreements in 2018, concerning 65 delegations and leading to a total of 114 co-location projects; notes also the conclusion of two service level agreements with the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and welcomes that further service level agreements are under negotiation with the European Investment Bank, European Border and Coast Guard Agency and European Union Aviation Safety Agency;

48.  Notes with appreciation that co-locations generated non-negligible new sources of revenues for the EEAS amounting to EUR 52,1 million, providing room for manoeuvre to develop its real estate purchasing policy; notes that the EEAS owned 34 office buildings in delegations and rented 143;

49.  Requests that the EEAS ensure that co-location in their premises is open to all interested Union institutions and bodies, such as Parliament and the European Investment Bank, with the same conditions as the EEAS; highlights the economic benefits of co-location by reducing the costs for maintenance and operating costs as well as security; further reiterates that the EEAS shall ensure that the costs for leasing or buying property for its delegations respect the price range the representations of Member States have to follow; underlines that the EEAS shall incorporate appropriate security cost estimations in its calculations to avoid request for additional funding at later stages;

50.  Welcomes the progress made on reducing the number of delegations exceeding the maximum space of 35 m2 per person, following the Court’s recommendation in order to make the best use of EEAS premises and avoid unnecessary spending;

51.  Supports the permanent annual review mechanism as an effective workforce management instrument to better prioritise and to ensure a recurrent adaptation of EEAS human resources in the network of delegations to the evolving geopolitical priorities and the size of projects portfolios (e.g. the preparation of the opening of the United Kingdom Delegation, the closure of the Solomon Islands Delegation, the upgrading of the Panama Delegation and the opening of a Delegation in Mongolia); notes in 2018, as a first result of this rationalisation exercise of staff resources, that eight posts have been transferred between delegations;

52.  Reiterates that the Union took a step towards fair remuneration for all within its institutions; stresses that the EEAS should ensure that its trainees in headquarters and in delegations receive a decent remuneration for all types of internships (Blue Book, Bruges and Other); welcomes the implementation of paid traineeships in delegations and the termination of offering unpaid traineeships on the European Ombudsman’s recommendations; notes that the number of trainees in delegations have more than quadrupled, from 26 in 2017 to 109 in 2018; regrets, however, that out of the total 404 traineeships offered by the EEAS in 2018, 126 were not remunerated, as they were part of a compulsory training for students; calls on the EEAS to guarantee an appropriate allowance to all EEAS trainees in order to avoid the reinforcement of discrimination on economic grounds;

53.  Considers useful to improve the management tools of workload alongside an action plan to attract and retain people taking into account various professional needs, experience and nationalities; welcomes the human resources report and invites the EEAS to clearly state its institutional needs (or new required expertise) and identify its workforce risks at corporate level that could hinder the EEAS achievement of policies objectives; supports the EEAS’s measures undertaken to address the increasing workload because of the staff cuts;

54.  Notes with concern the 135 mediation cases treated in delegations and headquarters in 2018 concerning either unsolved disagreements around rights and obligations or different kinds of conflict at work including alleged psychological and sexual harassment; calls on the EEAS, in particular the mediation service now reporting directly to the secretariat general, to continue giving the highest priority to this issue in the resource management; reiterates the importance of developing a culture of zero tolerance towards harassment with a strict following up on reported cases; welcomes the anti-harassment awareness raising initiative launched in 2018 by the EEAS Secretary General with the aim of providing more information on the EEAS anti-harassment policy;

55.  Invites also, in this context, the EEAS to extend the network of confidential counsellors, currently representing six people, especially in the network of delegations by possibly increasing the number of trained volunteer counsellors in delegations; encourages the EEAS to foster the social dialogue regardless the origin of the staff and the different status of the staff;

56.  Observes that after having updated its administrative arrangement with the European Anti-Fraud Office and reinforced its cooperation on fraud related issues with directorates-general acting in external affairs, such as Directorate-General for Foreign Policy Instruments (DG FPI), Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) and Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) in 2017, the EEAS has continued its efforts to refine its anti-fraud strategy; stresses that further cooperation with the European Anti-Fraud Office and Commission (the directorates-general acting in external affairs, such as DG FPI, DG NEAR and DG DEVCO) should be implemented; notes with appreciation the awareness raising of the heads of delegation in agreement with DG DEVCO and DG NEAR on fraud prevention and reporting via its internal control principle ‘Prevention of fraud’; welcomes the fact that the EEAS is a member of the Fraud and Detection Network chaired by European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);

57.  Calls on the EEAS to indicate in its annual activity report the number of referred cases to OLAF and ongoing investigations by the OLAF related to potential conflict of interest in the EEAS;

58.  Notes that in 2018 there was one reported case of alleged whistleblowing by an external person against a member of staff of the Commission in a Union delegation; asks the EEAS to provide Parliament with information concerning the policy and procedures it has in place, especially in delegations, when facing a case of whistleblowing;

59.  Supports the EEAS efforts to improve transparency by promoting and improving the e-EEAS Register, through which citizens can request access to documents; notes with satisfaction that citizens used the e-EEAS Register on a higher frequency compared to 2017; asks the EEAS to ensure a quick response to citizens’ requests;

60.  Welcomes the entry into force in 2020 of the three joint decisions on conditions of employment, LA-Medical and LA-Provident Fund, which introduce a new framework of rules for local agents in delegations in order to modernise and improve social security schemes; welcomes the first joint EEAS-Commission staff survey in delegations in 2018; supports the launching of an internal audit on the recruitment and management of local agents to remedy certain weaknesses found by the Court in the recruitment procedures of local agents in delegations (i.e. a lack of transparency as regards certain steps of the procedure);

61.  Takes note of the internal audit service’s audit on ‘EC-EEAS coordination’ and notes with appreciation the audit conclusion that the coordination activities between the Commission services (DG DEVCO, DG NEAR and DG FPI) and the EEAS are overall effective and efficient; notes however the need for defining a non-fragmented view of the overall Union external assistance to a given country and the need to reinforce, in coordination with DG DEVCO and DG NEAR, risk assessment and management developing a common view on uncertainty and mitigating strategies;

62.  Draws attention to the findings and recommendations of the Court’s Special Report No 15/2018 ‘Strengthening the capacity of the internal security forces in Niger and Mali: only limited and slow progress’; calls on the EEAS to (i) take measures to improve the operational efficiency of the missions by providing adequate practical guidance and enough support, (ii) improve the occupancy rate of staff posts in the missions, (iii) set mandates and budgets to match operations and devise a common, comprehensive exit strategy clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the winding-up of the common security and defence policy missions, (iv) increase the focus on sustainability aspects and (v) improve performance indicators and the EEAS impact assessments to adequately monitor and evaluate the achievement of tasks;

63.  Supports the reinforcement of the linkage between policy making, public diplomacy and strategic communication; notes, in that context, that EUR 3 million were allocated to the EEAS in 2018 (compared to EUR 1,1 million in 2017) for consolidating its Strategic Communication Plus action in order to counter disinformation and hybrid threats, to develop resilience to foreign interference while also noting the development of business intelligence services;

64.  Underlines the need to fight propaganda and to expose disinformation and malicious foreign influence; stresses the importance of the EEAS Strategic Communication Task Force and calls for providing it with the necessary financial and personnel resources;

65.  Welcomes the creation of the Rapid Alert System, set up among the Union institutions and Member States to facilitate the sharing of best practices related to disinformation campaigns and coordinate responses based on open-source information provided by academia, fact-checkers, online platforms and international partners; encourages the EEAS to develop a long-term vision for the rapid alert system and foster coordination with Members States and other key partners; further, encourages the EEAS to promote the EUvsDisinfo.eu website, which contains over 5 000 disinformation cases but generated only 1,2 million page views in 2018;

66.  Supports the efforts made by the EEAS in order to reinforce the full range of physical and IT security issues from the staff and buildings security with the purchasing of new security equipment, to the training of regional security officers to preserve the security interests of the EEAS and to provide further security know-how by implementing a formal security risk management, and the cybersecurity challenge and policy; particularly welcomes the launch of the security awareness programme to reduce risks in the headquarters, based on 2018 staff survey, and the security risk management system in the delegations to standardise the reporting of local security threats, including risks regarding health and safety; encourages the EEAS to continue a real policy for the digitalisation of its services;

67.  Welcomes the first follow-up report of the discharge resolution on the EEAS for the financial year 2017 adopted by a majority of Members and the EEAS’s commitment to address the main recommendations and observations raised during the discharge procedure with the aim of further improving the management of Union funds;

68.  Asks the EEAS to provide for a follow-up report for the financial year 2018 in accordance with Article 266 of the Financial Regulation;

69.  Welcomes new initiatives to improve the communication in relation with Union citizens concerning the importance of public diplomacy and strategic communications as an integral aspect of the Union’s external relations; encourages the EEAS to invest in digital communications, through social media and its websites; commends that the EEAS starts engaging multipliers to run Europe-wide public-awareness campaigns; further encourages the use of free open-source self-hosted social network platforms having special regards to users data protection;

70.  Regrets that the EEAS does not yet have an environmental management system; notes that efforts were made to promote the use of video conference; however asks the EEAS to put in place a concrete action plan in order to lower its environmental footprint its headquarters and delegations;

71.  Welcomes the short-term secondment programme between the EEAS and Parliament; highlights its role in enhancing the mutual understanding of each institution’s structures and working methods and thereby improving the cooperation between the two institutions; encourages the EEAS to promote this programme more actively among its staff in order to boost the number of participants; recommends further to expand the Diplomatic Exchange and Secondment Programme between the EEAS and the Member States’ diplomatic services that is aimed at contributing to the evolution of a shared diplomatic culture.

72.  Emphasises the growing importance of the EU Arctic Policy and the need to strengthen the Union’s credibility among partners by ensuring the stability of the EU’s Arctic Ambassador post.

(1) OJ L 57, 28.2.2018.
(2) OJ C 327, 30.9.2019, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 340, 8.10.2019, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(7) Council Decision 2010/427/EU of 26 July 2010 establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) (OJ L 201, 3.8.2010, p. 30).


Discharge 2018: SESAR Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2100(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0095A9-0044/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0066/2019),

–  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 Council Regulation (EC) No 219/2007 of 27 February 2007 on the establishment of a Joint Undertaking to develop the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR)(5), and in particular Article 4b 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(6),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0044/2020),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 SESAR Joint Undertaking, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2100(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(7),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(8) 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 joint undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0066/2019),

–  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(9), 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(10), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 219/2007 of 27 February 2007 on the establishment of a Joint Undertaking to develop the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR)(11), and in particular Article 4b 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(12),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0044/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, 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).

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 for the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 (2019/2100(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the SESAR Joint Undertaking 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 Transport and Tourism,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0044/2020),

A.  whereas the SESAR Joint Undertaking (the 'Joint Undertaking') was set up in February 2007 to run the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) programme, which aims to modernise traffic management in the Union;

B.  whereas, following the adoption of Council Regulation (EU) No 721/2014, the SESAR 2020 extended the lifetime of the Joint Undertaking until 31 December 2024;

C.  whereas the Joint Undertaking was designed as a public-private partnership, with the Union and Eurocontrol as founding members;

D.  whereas the Union contribution for the deployment phase of the SESAR 2020 2014 to 2024 funded by Horizon 2020 is EUR 585 000 000; whereas under the new Horizon 2020 Membership Agreements, the contribution from Eurocontrol is expected to be around EUR 500 000 000, and the other partners from the aviation industry were to contribute with at least EUR 500 000 000, and being around 90 % the in-kind contributions from Eurocontrol and other partners;

General

1.  Observes from the report of the Court of Auditors (the 'Court') on the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts for the year ended 31 December 2018 (the 'Court’s report') present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Joint Undertaking at 31 December 2018, the results of its operations, its cash flows, and the changes in net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its Financial Regulation and with accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Acknowledges that the Court´s report states that the transactions underlying the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 are, in all material respects, legal and regular;

3.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects. Considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking, and the dissemination of information on the value added. Calls upon the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communications policy disseminating the results of its research to the general public, e.g. via social media or other media outlets, and thus aiming to raise public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake.

4.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions. The assessment shall evaluate the design and the robustness of the guidance for the implementation of the in-kind contribution procedure in order to assist in the planning, reporting and certification process of the in-kind contributions.

5.  Recalls that SESAR is the technological pillar of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative and its role is to coordinate and implement research to contribute overcoming the fragmentation of SES; points out that one of the main achievements of the Joint Undertaking includes the free routing to reduce flight and fuel emissions; believes therefore that the Joint Undertaking could be further used to contribute to the sustainability of the aviation sector;

6.  Highlights the importance of the work of the Joint Undertaking to help accelerate innovation uptake; stresses moreover its role in the significant development of U-space and the production of a blueprint to enable the safe introduction and use of drones in the low-level airspace, which is the basis for a modern and rapidly growing sector;

Budget and financial management

7.  Notes that in 2018, budget in payment appropriations was EUR 94 800 000 (EUR 90 900 000 in 2017), and budget in commitment appropriations was EUR 129 517 762 (EUR 109 900 000 in 2017); Including the unused appropriations of previous years, which the Joint Undertaking re-entered in the budget of the current year, and assigned revenues, the total available payment budget was EUR 166 465 000 (EUR 213 000 000 in 2017), and the total available commitment budget was EUR 175 918 000 (EUR 130 900 000 in 2017);

8.  Notes that in December 2016, the SESAR 1 was formally closed and the last final grant payment was made in December 2017, and unused payment appropriations of EUR 40 000 000 from previous years were carried over to 2018 for the reimbursement of cash contributions received in excess from the SESAR 1 industry members and for the payment of delayed but still justified cost claims for the Seventh Framework Programme and the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects; notes with concern that at the end of 2018, only EUR 1 800 000 (5 %) of these appropriations could be used for the corrective payments, EUR 20 000 000 (50 %) had to be cancelled, and EUR 18 200 000 (45 %) were carried over to 2019; regrets at the end of 2018 in the closing phase of the SESAR 1, the Joint Undertaking still showed a large amount of open commitments of EUR 61 400 000, and these resources allocated to the Joint Undertaking will not be fully used;

Multiannual budget implementation under the Seventh Framework Programme and TEN-T

9.  Notes that, out of the EUR 1 284 300 000 of in-kind and cash contributions to be made by the other members to the operational and administrative activities of the Joint Undertaking (EUR 700 000 000 from Eurocontrol and EUR 584 300 000 from the air traffic sector members), the Joint Undertaking had, by the end of 2018, validated contributions of EUR 1 099 800 000 (EUR 560 700 000 from Eurocontrol and EUR 539 100 000 from the air traffic sector);

Multiannual budget implementation under Horizon 2020

10.  Notes that out of the EUR 585 000 000 Union subsidy under Horizon 2020, by the end of 2018 the cumulative Union (Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE)) cash contributions to the operational activities of the Joint Undertaking amounted to EUR 216 900 000, and that the other members committed to make in-kind and cash contributions of at least EUR 1 000 000 000 to the Joint Undertaking’s SESAR 2020 operational activities (an estimated amount of EUR 500 000 000 from Eurocontrol matched by estimated EUR 500 000 000 from the air traffic sector); notes, moreover, that, at the end of 2018, the other members had contributed EUR 14 400 000 in cash and had made validated EUR 114 000 000 contribution in kind, while a further EUR 120 200 000 in-kind contribution was reported, but had not yet been validated;

11.  Notes that for SESAR 2020, at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking implemented 81 % and 61 % respectively of the commitment and payment appropriations available for Horizon 2020 projects, and cancelled around EUR 44 600 000 (35 %) of the available Horizon 2020 payment appropriations (the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations in 2017 were respectively 80,24 % and 67,97 %);

12.  Notes the Court’s observations that the low implementation and high cancellation rates for Horizon 2020 payment appropriations available in 2018 were mainly due to the Joint Undertaking ’s conservative budget planning, and not fully taking account of the amount of unused payment appropriations from previous years in its budget planning and monitoring;

Performance

13.  Notes the Joint Undertaking’s key performance indicators in 2018, in particular, forecasted PPP-leverage values at the end of the programme:

   by interim evaluation method: 1,22,
   by refined interim evaluation method: 1,26,
   for Horizon 2020: 2,26, and
   partnership leverage: 1,74;

14.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking met its key policy and operational objectives as outlined in the Single Programming Document for the period 2017-2019;

15.  Reminds the Joint Undertaking of its call to take steps to meet the target leverage effect over the whole 2014-2020 period of 1,41;

16.  Observes that the management cost ratio (administrative/operational budget) remains below the 5%, thus pointing to rather lean and efficient organisational structure of the Joint Undertaking;

17.  Notes that the SESAR Joint Undertaking is one among several Joint Undertakings which saw more operational synergies with Union decentralised agencies operating in their respective areas of research and innovation, in particular, the Joint Undertaking and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency collaborated on drones;

18.  Notes that in the Joint Undertaking's 2018 annual activity report, the information on key performance indicators on gender balance is only given for 2017 and not for 2018; notes that the information for 2017 relates to the Joint Undertaking's calls for proposals regarding the Horizon 2020 programme in 2016, with the figures given for key performance indicators being as follows: percentage of women in Horizon 2020 projects - 15,4 %; percentage of women project coordinators - 12 %; percentage of women in the Commission’s advisory and expert groups, etc. - 33,3 %;

19.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has conducted three major initiatives that have been key in setting the vision for the future of Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Europe in 2018 and that the results of these achievements, recognised by the whole ATM community, have been transferred to the Commission that will take the next steps for their inclusion in the aviation legislative and policy framework;

20.  Acknowledges that in addition to its results from the Exploratory Research projects, the Joint Undertaking has proven to be a key player in innovation for aviation through the integration of new entrants beyond the traditional actors in ATM research and innovation;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

21.  Notes from the Court’s report that at 31 December 2018, the Joint Undertaking employed 42 staff (2017: 40);

22.  Observes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking signed 48 contracts including 37 specific contracts implementing the Joint Undertaking’s framework contracts and inter-institutional agreements, and there were 12 procurement procedures: five negotiated procedures without prior publication of a contract notice, five very low, low and middle value negotiated procedures, three open calls for tender, and one prize;

23.  Notes that under the DG Move delegation agreement, the Joint Undertaking launched in January 2018 an open call for proposals for studies and demonstrations on drone traffic management in Europe (U-Space Call), the maximum grant amount of EUR 9 500 000 being funded through the Commission’s Connect Europe Facility (CEF) fund; notes with grave concern the Court’s findings that whilst the award criteria of the call respected in general the orientations laid down in Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013(13), there were, according to the Court, several overlaps and inconsistences among award criteria and their sub-criteria, which could put at risk the overall effectiveness of the grant evaluation process and need to be addressed at the call design and preparation phase;

Internal Control

24.  Acknowledges that the ex ante control procedures of the Joint Undertaking are reliable, in particular, for the Seventh Framework Programme interim and final payments, the Joint Undertaking performs ex post audits at the beneficiaries whilst for Horizon 2020 payments the Commission’s Common Audit Service is responsible for the ex post audits; notes that the residual error rates for the ex-post audits reported by the Joint Undertaking at the end of 2018 were 1,29 % for the Seventh Framework Programme and 1,33 % for Horizon 2020;

25.  Acknowledges from the Joint Undertaking’s follow-up of Parliament’s discharge resolution for the financial year 2017 that the Joint Undertaking has taken steps to address Parliament’s concerns, in particular, the Joint Undertaking has appointed a new Head of Budget and Finance team, that the team incorporates a new Finance Officer and Finance Assistant, Joint Undertaking is in process of recruiting a Chief Financial Officer, and a new budget procedure is in place, which has led to a timely preparation of detailed budget;

Internal audits

26.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) issued the final audit report on coordination between the Joint Undertaking and the Common Support Centre (CSC) and implementation of CSC tools and services, leading to three important recommendations; notes that the Joint Undertaking set up a detailed action plan to address the risks underlying these recommendations, which was expected to be implemented in the course of 2019;

27.  Notes that in 2018, the Internal Audit Capability (IAC) performed activities focusing on assurance audits and consulting engagements; notes that the IAC conducted a follow-up audit on recruitment and actively participated in the Risk Assessment exercise of the Joint Undertaking, liaised with the IAS, the Court and other relevant audit actors, monitored the implementation of Joint Undertaking action plans related to past audits and followed-up on the discharge procedure;

28.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking conducted a corporate risk management workshop in July 2018 to report on risk management and validate main changes linked to corporate risks;

Issues concerning the deployment phase of the SESAR project

29.  Observes that in 2019, the Court published Special report no 11/2019 on the Union regulation for the modernisation of air traffic management; notes that in its special report the Court assessed how well the Commission managed the deployment of SESAR since 2011, whether the Union intervention targeted the projects in greatest need of support, and whether it added value to the management of air traffic in the Union; notes the need for effective management of air traffic in the future so as to ensure safety and efficiency;

30.  Notes with concern the Court’s findings that a majority of the projects audited would have been financed without Union funding support, there were weaknesses in the implementation of the funding scheme, in particular, insufficient prioritisation, and ATM performance benefits in an operational environment are still to be demonstrated;

31.  Calls on the Commission to inform the discharge authority of the measures they have taken to mitigate possible conflicts of interest, particularly as regards project selection;

32.  Endorses the Court’s recommendations aiming to address the issues, and notes that the Commission has accepted all of the Court’s recommendations; calls on the Commission to follow up on the implementation of the Courts recommendations;

Transport and Tourism

33.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has presented its budget in two separate sections: (1) SESAR 1 and (2) SESAR 2020; notes further that SESAR 1 was co-financed from TEN-T and the Seventh Research Framework programmes and SESAR 2020 is co‑financed from Horizon 2020;

34.  Notes that the implementation rates were 83 % for commitment appropriations and 47 % for payment appropriations (for SESAR 1: 99 % and 5 % and for SESAR 2020: 81 % and 61 %); notes that the low overall payment implementation rate is mainly due the low rate for SESAR 1, reflecting the financial closure of its projects and winding up of the programme, and also the efforts of the Joint Undertaking to keep the running costs at the minimum necessary;

35.  Stresses that both the further development of European airspace in the SES2+ framework and the incorporation of drones require sufficient financial and human resources;

36.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking ran its operations in full accordance with four different frameworks: the Horizon 2020, the CEF Programme for drone U-space demonstration activities, as well as two specific frameworks for the Active Geo-fencing service call and the study to develop a proposal for the future architecture of the European airspace; recognises that these different legal frameworks mean a high degree of complexity for the Joint Undertaking and therefore commends the Joint Undertaking for successfully implementing innovation projects;

37.  Highlights the importance of the work of the Joint Undertaking in helping to accelerate innovation uptake; stresses moreover its role in the significant development of U-space and the production of a blueprint to enable the safe introduction and use of drones in the low-level airspace, which is the basis for a modern and rapidly growing sector; highlights the importance of the Joint Undertaking in preparing for the update of the European ATM Master Plan toward a Digital European Sky through a holistic and passenger-centric digital transformation of aviation; believes therefore that the role of the Joint Undertaking should be recognised and strengthened within the next Multiannual Financial Framework;

38.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking continued the financial and administrative closure of SESAR 1; notes that the actual overall programme execution rate is 89,9 %; notes that the Joint Undertaking has EUR 30,7 million on its virtual bank account to cover all remaining obligations of SESAR 1 and that according to payments and recoveries forecasts the Joint Undertaking should close SESAR 1 with an estimate cash surplus of EUR 30,6 million; reminds that the accumulated budget results for the SESAR 1 will be used to reimburse the surplus cash contributions of the members of the Joint Undertaking and the remaining unused amount will be paid back to the Union;

39.  Notes that 2018 was the first year of SESAR 2020 without SESAR 1 projects; further notes that out of EUR 96,0 million in revenue received by SESAR 2020 in 2018, the contribution from the Union was EUR 88,2 million and from Eurocontrol EUR 5,2 million;

40.  Notes that unused payment appropriations in 2018 resulted in a surplus of EUR 19,3 million that remains within the Joint Undertaking (of which EUR 0,05 million for SESAR 1 and EUR 19,25 million for the SESAR 2020) and that the cumulative surplus amounts to EUR 77,24 million (of which EUR 30,93 million for SESAR 1 and EUR 46,31 million for SESAR 2020);

41.  Notes that the last audits of SESAR 1 regarding payments made in 2017 were launched in 2018 and the 4th cycle of audits consisting of 23 audit exercises in eight Members was completed; is concerned by the residual error rate for the year 2018 of 5,07 %;

42.  Notes the results of the 2018 Human Resources benchmarking exercise: 61,67 % operational posts, 28,57 % administrative and 9,76 % of neutral posts;

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 26.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 64, 2.3.2007, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 26.
(9) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 64, 2.3.2007, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(13) Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010 (OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129).


Discharge 2018: European Training Foundation
PDF 157kWORD 51k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2018 (2019/2075(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0096A9-0047/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Training Foundation 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 – C9‑0042/2020),

–  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 (EC) No 1339/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 establishing a European Training Foundation(5), and in particular Article 17 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(6), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7), 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 (A9-0047/2020),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Training Foundation 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 Director of the European Training Foundation, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2018 (2019/2075(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Training Foundation 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(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 – C9‑0042/2020),

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1339/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 establishing a European Training Foundation(12), and in particular Article 17 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(13), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14), 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 (A9-0047/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the European Training Foundation, 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).

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 Training Foundation for the financial year 2018 (2019/2075(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Training Foundation 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 (A9-0047/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(15), the final budget of the European Training Foundation (the ‘Foundation’) for the financial year 2018 was EUR 20 144 018, representing almost the same amount as in 2017 (with a very slight decrease); whereas the budget of the Foundation derives entirely 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 budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a high budget implementation rate of 99,99 %, representing a slight increase of 0,06 % compared to 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 98,07 %, representing an increase of 0,10 % compared to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes that the Foundation uses certain key performance indicators (KPIs) in addition to other productivity and quality indicators to assess the added value provided by its activities and to improve its budget management;

3.  Notes that the Foundation achieved a 91 % activity completion rate of which 94% were completed on time; notes that for 14 out of the 15 KPIs, the Foundation was above the target;

4.  Welcomes the Foundation’s agreements and annual action plans on cooperation in areas of policy overlap with the European Foundation for the Improvements of Living and Working Conditions and with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training; appreciates the fact that the Foundation became the leader of the inter-Agency contract for the provision of benchmarked staff engagement surveys; commends this practice as an example worth following; strongly encourages the Foundation to actively seek further and broader cooperation with all of the Union agencies;

5.  Notes that the Foundation has been involved in the identification, formulation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the Union external programmes in skills and human capital development and employment; appreciates the fact that the Foundation is the only Union agency with a mandate to work outside the Union in supporting the Union’s external action in the area of education, vocational training, skills and labour market systems and human capital development in the Union’s partner countries to improve the employability and employment prospects of their citizens;

6.  Welcomes the work of the Foundation with the Union’s neighbouring countries, candidate countries and Central Asian countries and its contribution to the Union’s Pan-African policies and programmes with a view to promoting employability and socio-economic inclusion and strongly supports the Foundation’s objective to improve its Vocational and Educational Training (VET) policy-making globally;

7.  Encourages the Foundation’s work in the area of digital skills and competences, and in supporting countries to improve their qualifications and qualifications systems to modernise VET for lifelong learning, employability and future competitiveness of those regions and countries; acknowledges that 86 % of the countries where the Foundation has been active showed progress in the areas of qualifications, governance, employability, VET provision, entrepreneurial learning, and policy analysis;

8.  Reiterates that lifelong learning has been identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Consensus on Development, and the ILO’s Global Report on the future of work, as being essential to sustainable growth and an inclusive stable society and recommends that it should remain central to the Foundation’s work;

9.  Notes with regret from the Court’s report that there was no evidence that the procurement procedure through which five interim workers worked for the Foundation led to the award of the best value for money contract; endorses the Court’s observation in this regard that the Foundation should use award criteria which focus on competitive price elements;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the Foundation implemented actions which led to the formal closure of all recommendations issued by the Commission’s Internal Audit Service from the 2017 audit of progress monitoring in VET and that the rate of implementation of internal audits recommendations is 100 % for a third year in a row;

11.  Highlights the fact 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; observes 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

12.  Notes that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 98,84 % executed, with 85 temporary agents appointed out of 86 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared to 88 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 39 contract agents and 1 seconded national expert worked for the Foundation in 2018;

13.  Notes that further efforts are needed to achieve a better gender balance among senior managers (3 men and 1 woman); notes with satisfaction, however, that gender balance has been achieved on the management board (14 men and 14 women);

14.  Notes that the Foundation has several anti-harassment measures in place and that all newcomers attend an information session presented by counsellors, whose tasks are performed in confidence;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

15.  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;

16.  Notes that the Foundation developed its own anti-fraud strategy, on the basis of methodology developed by OLAF, and has implemented it since 2014;

Internal controls

17.  Notes that 2018 was the first full year of implementation of the Foundation’s 17 Internal Control Principles, following their adoption by the governing board in November 2017 and that in January 2018 the Foundation developed a methodology and set of indicators to support and strengthen the regular monitoring and annual assessment of internal controls; calls on the Foundation to report to the discharge authority on the measures taken in order to improve the situation;

18.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, an external evaluation of the Union agencies under the remit of Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (the Foundation, EU-OSHA, Eurofound and Cedefop) 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 that evaluation;

19.  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;

20.  Encourages the Foundation to make further use of innovative digital solutions, including e-procurement;

o
o   o

21.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(16) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 354, 31.12.2008, p. 82.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p.1.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 354, 31.12.2008, p. 82.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 120, 29.3.2019, p.182.
(16) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: Eurojust
PDF 162kWORD 55k
Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of Eurojust (now European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2074(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0097A9-0048/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of Eurojust for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018, together with 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 Eurojust in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0041/2020),

–  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 Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime(5), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2002/187/JHA(6), and in particular Article 63 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) 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0048/2020),

1.  Grants the Administrative Director of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) discharge in respect of the implementation of Eurojust’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 Administrative Director of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of Eurojust (now European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2074(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of Eurojust for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018, together with agencies’ replies(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Eurojust in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0041/2020),

–  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(11), 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(12), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime(13), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2002/187/JHA(14), and in particular Article 63 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(15), and in particular Article 108 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(16), 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0048/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of Eurojust for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Administrative Director of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), 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).

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 Eurojust (now European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2074(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of Eurojust 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0048/2020),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(17), the final budget of Eurojust for the financial year 2018 was EUR 38 606 737, representing a decrease of 20,71 % compared to 2017; whereas the budget decrease relates to reduction in budgetary needs in title 2; whereas the entire budget of Eurojust derives from the Union budget;

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2018 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 99,94 %, representing a slight decrease of 0,03 % compared to 2017; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 86,91 %, representing an increase of 2,96 % in comparison to 2017;

Performance

2.  Notes with satisfaction that Eurojust uses quantitative and qualitative key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the achievements of its objectives for its annual activities and impact, including outcome indicators, activity/output indicators and business/ technical/ operational indicators, as well as support/ management/ governance indicators in order to improve its budget management; notes that Eurojust was able to measure and assess the achievement of 98 of the 119 KPIs (82 %) set for 2018, of which 72 % of the initial targets were achieved or exceeded; notes that Eurojust introduced a number of new indicators in the 2018 Annual Work Programme for which a baseline figure does not exist, and that consequently 15 % of KPIs could not be assessed; calls on Eurojust to address this issue and ensure that all indicators can be properly assessed, and to report to the discharge authority on the progress achieved by June 2020;

3.  Notes that Phase II of Eurojust’s organisational restructuring, refining the operational function and redesigning the administrative and support services, was developed during 2018;

4.  Encourages Eurojust to pursue the digitalisation of its services;

5.  Welcomes the fact that Eurojust continues to develop strong operational cooperation with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and with other justice and home affairs partners as well as with third countries; notes that in 2018 Eurojust started negotiations for a cooperation agreement with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency; notes that Eurojust also cooperated with the European Anti-Fraud Office and encourages national authorities to consider involving both bodies where appropriate; and furthermore encourages Eurojust to participate in joint procurement procedures with Europol and the European Medicines Agency;

6.  Calls on Eurojust to look into the possibility of sharing resources for overlapping tasks among other agencies with similar activities; strongly encourages Eurojust to actively seek further and broader cooperation with other Union agencies;

7.  Recalls the fact that the number of new cases as well as the number of ongoing cases (i.e. cases requiring complex investigations that can last several years) has grown over recent years and that the workload is expected to increase further due to the new mandate which entered into force at the end of 2019, also bearing in mind the additional resources required to allow Eurojust to support the work of the European Public Prosecutor's Office; underlines that, in addition to arrests, successful prosecutions in the area of serious cross-border crime are essential for the security of citizens in the Union; further recalls that the number of coordination centres held in 2018 was 17, the same amount as in 2017, demonstrating the popularity and utility of this operational tool; stresses the essential role that Eurojust plays in the Union security chain and that its budget should match its tasks and priorities in order to enable it to fulfil its mandate; is therefore extremely concerned by the severe budgetary cuts proposed by the Commission for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework which would undermine the work of Eurojust and therefore present security risks within Member States; calls on Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to invite the administrative director of Eurojust to present the anticipated long-term funding needs of Eurojust, addressing the extent to which anticipated future tasks could be covered through gains in efficiency, and also addressing the operational gaps which would result from insufficient funding and their anticipated impact on the fight against cross-border crime;

8.  Welcomes the adoption by the College of an updated anti-fraud strategy and action plan in November 2018;

9.  Highlights the reorganisation of Eurojust’s governance structure, including the clear separation of executive and operational matters, which was initiated at the end of 2018 with a view to complying with Regulation (EU) 2018/1727(18) (the new Eurojust Regulation) that entered into force in December 2019; notes that the proposal for implementation of the revised Internal Control Framework was planned to be adopted by the end of 2019 and implemented by the end of 2020;

Staff policy

10.  Appreciates the fact that, on 31 December 2018, the establishment plan was 99,04 % executed, with 207 temporary agents appointed out of 209 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared to 208 authorised posts in 2017); notes that, in addition, 15 contract agents and 16 seconded national experts worked for Eurojust in 2018;

11.  Notes with concern that the reported figures for gender balance within the management board for 2018 are 20 male members and 8 female members;

12.  Notes with appreciation that, following the Court’s suggestion from previous years, Eurojust has, since June 2019, been advertising vacancies on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office, making use of the possibility of publishing the titles of such vacancies in all of the Union’s official languages with a link to the full text in the English language only; encourages Eurojust, in relation to lower-ranking staff, to consider the possibility of sharing staff and resources with other Union agencies;

13.  Notes with satisfaction that, in light of the observations of the discharge authority, Eurojust will consider adopting a fundamental rights strategy, including a reference to fundamental rights in a code of conduct that could define the duties of its staff and training for staff, and that it will do so in consultation with the Commission and other Union agencies in order to ensure a coordinated approach;

Procurement

14.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, Eurojust signed an IT framework contract with a company which provided the same service under a previous framework contract, without prior publication of a contract notice during the negotiated procurement procedure; notes that all payments made under that framework contract and all related specific contracts are irregular and that a simplified procedure is only acceptable under specific circumstances which were not substantiated by Eurojust; acknowledges that, according to Eurojust’s reply, the negotiated procedure was carried out on the basis of point (f) of the second subparagraph of Article 134(1) of Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012(19), which allows this procedure to be used where a change of supplier would result in incompatibility or disproportionate technical difficulties in operation and maintenance, and that, therefore, that solution was considered to be the most cost-effective; calls on Eurojust to ensure compliance with public procurement rules;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

15.  Appreciates Eurojust’s existing measures and its ongoing efforts to secure transparency, prevention and management of conflicts of interests; notes that Eurojust adopted College Decision 2019-02 in relation to Eurojust’s guidelines on whistleblowing, which are applicable to all staff; notes that, according to Eurojust, training on such rules was provided during 2019, as required;

16.  Welcomes the fact that, in light of the observations of the discharge authority, the publication of declarations of interests in the draft Code of Ethics for the College of Eurojust are at present being addressed by the project team on Rules of Procedure; notes that for the time being Eurojust has published declarations of absence of conflicts of interests; calls on Eurojust to also publish the CVs of the management board members and of its executive leadership; notes that Eurojust adopted the updated anti-fraud strategy through College Decision 2018-19 of 6 November 2018;

Internal Control

17.  Notes that the Internal Audit Service (IAS), in the framework of its Strategic Internal Audit Plan 2018-2020 for Eurojust in 2018, issued six outstanding recommendations from the audit on ‘Monitoring and Reporting/Building Blocks of Assurance’, with Eurojust closing five of them; notes with satisfaction that Eurojust’s risk management policy was adopted in 2018 and that the implementation plan and risk register were to be developed in 2019 and are to be implemented from 2020;

Other comments

18.  Acknowledges that, following the successful completion of the move to its new premises in June 2017, the carry-over of EUR 2 339 809 predominantly concerned costs to be invoiced retroactively by the Host State in 2018; notes furthermore that in 2018 all but EUR 73 000 of those carried over commitments were delivered and paid and that the most significant part of that figure related to planned changes that were not executed by the Host State;

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

o
o   o

20.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 14 May 2020(20) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(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 63, 6.3.2002, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 295, 21.11.2018, p. 138.
(7) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 417, 11.12.2019, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 63, 6.3.2002, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 295, 21.11.2018, p. 138.
(15) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(16) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(17) OJ C 108, 22.3.2018, p. 82.
(18) Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2002/187/JHA (OJ L 295, 21.11.2018, p. 138).
(19) Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 of 29 October 2012 on the rules of application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (OJ L 362, 31.12.2012, p. 1).
(20) Texts adopted, P9_TA-PROV(2020)0121.


Discharge 2018: European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018 (2019/2099(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0098A9-0049/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0065/2019),

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

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom of 27 March 2007 establishing the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it(5), and in particular Article 5(3) 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(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0049/2020),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’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 Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018 (2019/2099(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the EU Joint Undertakings for the financial year 2018, together with the Joint Undertakings’ replies(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) 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 Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05763/2019 – C9‑0065/2019),

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

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  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(10), 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(11), and in particular Article 70,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom of 27 March 2007 establishing the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it(12), and in particular Article 5(3) 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(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 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(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0049/2020),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy, 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).

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 for the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018 (2019/2099(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0049/2020),

A.  whereas the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (the ‘Joint Undertaking’) was established in March 2007 for a period of 35 years by Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom(15);

B.  whereas the members of the Joint Undertaking are Euratom, represented by the Commission, the member states of Euratom, and third countries which have concluded a cooperation agreement with Euratom in the field of controlled nuclear fusion;

C.  whereas the objectives of the Joint Undertaking are to provide the Union’s contribution to the ITER international fusion energy project, to implement the broader approach agreement between Euratom and Japan, and to prepare for the construction of a demonstration fusion reactor;

D.  whereas the Joint Undertaking started to work autonomously in March 2008;

General

1.  Notes that the report of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) on the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts for the financial year 2018 (the ‘Court’s report’) finds the annual accounts to be presented fairly, in all material respects, with regard to the Joint Undertaking’s financial position on 31 December 2018 and the results of its operations, its cash flows and the changes in its net assets for the year then ended, in accordance with its financial regulation and with the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Acknowledges the fact that the transactions underlying the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2018 are, in all material respects, legal and regular;

3.  Highlights the fact that the Joint Undertaking recalculated its contribution to the project construction phase EUR 12 000 000 000, up from the EUR 6 600 000 000 approved by the Council in 2010; notes that figure does not include contingencies, even though the Commission suggested that a contingency of up to 24 months in terms of schedule and 10 to 20 % in terms of budget would be appropriate;

4.  Notes that in November 2016, the ITER Organization Council (ITER Council) approved a new ITER project baseline; notes that the new ITER baseline estimates the achievement of ‘first plasma’ and the start of the operational phase in 2025 with the completion of the construction phase in 2035, but observes that the previous 2010 baseline estimated the completion of the construction phase in 2020; however, notes that the new baseline is considered to be the earliest possible technically achievable date;

5.  Notes that in March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the Council of its decision to withdraw from the Union and from Euratom; notes with concern that this may have effects on the post-2020 activities of the Joint Undertaking and the ITER project;

6.  Welcomes the fact that in April 2018 the Council mandated the Commission to approve the new ITER baseline on behalf of Euratom and reaffirmed the commitment to make resources available within the limits of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) without prejudice to any subsequent MFF negotiations, which will determine the details of the future funding(16);

7.  Highlights the fact that in addition to the construction phase, the Joint Undertaking will have to contribute to the ITER operational phase after 2035 and to the subsequent ITER deactivation and decommissioning phases; takes note of the fact that the contribution to the deactivation and the decommissioning phases were estimated to be EUR 95 540 000 and EUR 180 200 000 respectively; notes that the ITER project will continue to operate until the expiry of the ITER Agreement in 2042 and that the Union will continue to contribute to the ITER costs until then; notes that these additional costs comprise the final year of cash contributions towards the operations and decommissioning phases and the full costs of the deactivation phase;

8.  Notes that there remains a risk of further cost increases and delays in project implementation compared to the current approved baseline although positive steps have been taken to improve management and control of the Joint Undertaking’s contribution to the project construction phase; calls on the Joint Undertaking not to exceed the current approved baseline for total costs of the project;

9.  Notes that effective communication is an essential component of successful Union-financed projects; considers it to be important to increase the visibility of the achievements of the Joint Undertaking and to disseminate information on their added value; calls on the Joint Undertaking to pursue a proactive communication policy by disseminating the results of its research to the public, such as by means of social media or other media outlets, thus raising public awareness of the impact of Union support, with particular regard to market uptake;

10.  Asks the Court to assess the soundness and reliability of the methodology for calculating and valuing in-kind contributions;

Budget and financial management

11.  Notes that the final 2018 budget available for implementation included commitment appropriations of EUR 706 230 231 and payment appropriations of EUR 847 366 988; notes that the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations were 98,4 % and 96,1 % respectively (compared to 99,9 % and 96,3% in 2017);

12.  Notes that, due to shortcomings in the budget planning process in 2017, the payment appropriations needed in 2017 and 2018 exceeded the payment appropriations of the initial budget; observes that the additional payment appropriations needed by the Joint Undertaking amounted to EUR 160 700 000, 25 % above the initial budget; takes note of the Joint Undertaking’s reply which states that the Joint Undertaking is grateful to Euratom for the additional contribution to the 2018 budget and that the Joint Undertaking would like to report that the lack of payment appropriations would have had no impact or risk, as EUR 137 000 000 were paid to the ITER Organization as advance on the 2019 in-cash contribution; notes that the payment forecasting system has been totally redesigned and integrated in the new financial management tool, and that this, together with the new organisational structure, ensures that correct budgetary planning is in place and has already been used to determine the revenue of the 2019 budget;

13.  Welcomes the fact that out of EUR 706 200 000 available for commitment appropriations, 98,4 % was implemented through direct individual commitments (compared to 96,5 % in 2017);

14.  Notes that in 2018 the balance of the budget outturn amounted to EUR 1 316 734 (compared to EUR 17 236 192 in 2017);

15.  Observes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking made a regulation payment transferring EUR 1 000 000 of authorised and verified payments relating to staff duty travel costs from the administrative budget to the operational budget; notes, however, the budget principle of specification was not respected by the regularisation payment; takes note of the Joint Undertaking’s reply which states that it considers that the payment of regularisation implemented for a global amount and undifferentiated items was not the optimum tool for the assignment of expenditure due to its perceived lack of transparency; however, expects the improvements that were achieved by the Joint Undertaking’s commercial department in the course of 2019 to be confirmed by the Court in its annual report for 2019;

16.  Notes that in 2018 the Joint Undertaking achieved six of the milestones established by the ITER Council and governing board for that year, with a scheduled performance index of 93 % (compared to 91 % in 2017, 70 % in 2016 and 75 % in 2015); notes also the announcement of the ITER Organization in December 2018 confirming that 60 % of total scheduled construction work for the 2025 first plasma (compared to 50 % in 2017) had been completed;

Performance

17.  Notes from the Court’s report that the director’s decision to change the place of employment of a newly recruited senior manager from Barcelona to Cadarache was not supported by adequate documentation to justify the additional salary costs due to the different correction coefficient; welcomes the fact that the Joint Undertaking recognises in its reply that the change of the place of employment was not adequately documented, as it was within the power of the appointing authority; observes that the Joint Undertaking was facing some risks in the poloidal field (PF) coils project that required attention from a senior manager; notes that the director therefore decided to ask the candidate to start in Cadarache immediately in order to fully focus on the PF crisis;

18.  Notes with satisfaction that the Joint Undertaking has implemented the earned value management instead of the ITER credit system to monitor the project progress based on the ad-hoc group proposal, the results of which are now being routinely submitted;

19.  Notes the progress on the ITER construction regarding the completion of the huge bio-shield encircling the tokamak pit and the instalment of the first components in the tokamak complex;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

20.  Notes that in 2017 the Joint Undertaking’s governing board continued implementing the public procurement part of the anti-fraud strategy; notes that the Joint Undertaking adopted a checklist based in its own set of procurement fraud risk indicators, namely, red flags, considered a prerequisite to the development of the anti-fraud IT tool, having developed them internally; acknowledges that the anti-fraud and ethics officer continued coordinating the implementation of Joint Undertaking’s anti-fraud strategy in close cooperation with all respective units and notes with appreciation that a working group had continued to develop the anti-fraud Strategy at the end of 2018;

Staff and recruitment

21.  Notes that significant shortcomings were found by the Court in relation to the recruitment of key management staff; takes note of the fact that in its reply, the Joint Undertaking’s states that following the Court finding and using the six sigma methodology to analyse, identify and implement the enhancements, the Joint Undertaking enhanced the robustness of its selection process as well as the additional ongoing measures; asks the Joint Undertaking to avoid any future irregularities and shortcomings;

22.  Notes that, at the end of 2018, the Joint Undertaking had 162 women and 284 men on its establishment plan, with men occupying the majority of posts in three out of the five staff categories, while over 50 % of Union contract agents and officials in assistant posts are women; notes also that 22 Member States were represented among the Joint Undertaking’s staff, that most members of staff came from three Member States, and that four members of staff each came from a further four Member States; urges the Joint Undertaking to seek a more balanced geographical representation, while acknowledging that this depends on applicants for vacancies and those responding to requests for expression of interest;

Internal control

23.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking has not consistently followed up on the declarations of interests from senior management; notes with appreciation that the Joint Undertaking has elaborated and put in place some documents with regard to the management of general declaration of interest of all managers and in accordance with Article 13 of the Joint Undertaking’s conflicts of interests rules; furthermore, observes that in January 2019 the ethics officer gave a presentation session on this topic to all managers;

24.  Observes that on 25 January 2018, the General Court delivered its judgement annulling the results of the selection procedure including the decisions to appoint successful candidates from the reserve lists of selection procedure; notes that although the Advocate General’s opinion on 29 January 2019 supported the Joint Undertaking’s appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) in April 2018 and suggested that the Court of Justice overturn the General Court’s judgement with regard to the annulment of decisions to appoint successful candidates but not the reserve list, the Court of Justice upheld the General Court’s judgment(17); asks the Joint Undertaking to comply with the rules of the selection procedure in order to avoid any future litigation;

25.  Notes that shortcomings in the internal communication strategies did not ensure the dissemination of appropriate information on the estimated costs of the decommissioning phase within the organisation and, therefore, the Joint Undertaking disclosed no provision for such liability in the accounts of the previous years, which have been estimated in EUR 85 200 000; however, welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s reply that the shortcomings have been already addressed by two actions; that the senior management transmits to the accounting officer any relevant information and that the internal process ‘PM-76 Annual Accounts-opening/closure of financial year’ was updated in May 2019;

Operational procurement and grants

26.  Notes that during 2018, 55 operational procurement procedures were launched, and 69 operational procurement contracts were signed, while one grant procedure was launched and two were signed.

(1) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 90, 30.3.2007, p. 58.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 426, 18.12.2019, p. 24.
(10) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 90, 30.3.2007, p. 58.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(14) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.
(15) Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom of 27 March 2007 establishing a Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it (OJ L 90, 30.3.2007, p. 58).
(16) Council of the European Union 7881/18 adopted on 12 April 2018.
(17) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 8 May 2019, European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy v Yosu Galocha, C-243/18 P ECLI:EU:C:2019:378.


Discharge 2018: Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office)
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Agency for Support for BEREC (before 20 December 2018: Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2094(DEC))
P9_TA-PROV(2020)0099A9-0050/2020

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Agency for Support for BEREC 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0061/2020),

–  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 (EC) No 1211/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Office(5), and in particular Article 13 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2018/1971 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office), amending Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1211/2009(6), and in particular Article 28 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) 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 report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0050/2020),

1.  Grants the Director of the Agency for Support for BEREC discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’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 Director of the Agency for Support for BEREC, 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).

2. European Parliament decision of 13 May 2020 on the closure of the accounts of the Agency for Support for BEREC (before 20 December 2018: Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) for the financial year 2018 (2019/2094(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the Agency for Support for BEREC for the financial year 2018,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2018 for the financial year 2018, together with the agencies’ replies(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) 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 Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2018 (05761/2020 – C9‑0061/2020),

–  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(11), 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 appl