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Procedure : 2021/2120(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A9-0093/2022

Texts tabled :

A9-0093/2022

Debates :

PV 04/05/2022 - 6
CRE 04/05/2022 - 6

Votes :

PV 04/05/2022 - 8.30

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2022)0170

Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 4 May 2022 - Strasbourg
Discharge 2020: European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL)
P9_TA(2022)0170A9-0093/2022
Decision
 Decision
 Resolution

1. European Parliament decision of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020 (2021/2120(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2020, 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 2020, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 28 February 2022 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06003/2022 – C9‑0075/2022),

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

–  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(3), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/2219 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2005/681/JHA(4), and in particular Article 20 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(5), 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 (A9-0093/2022),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency's budget for the financial year 2020;

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 Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3. ECA annual report on EU agencies for the 2020 financial year: https://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=59697.
(2) OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3. ECA annual report on EU agencies for the 2020 financial year: https://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=59697.
(3) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 319, 4.12.2015, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.


2. European Parliament decision of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020 (2021/2120(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on EU agencies for the financial year 2020, 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 2020, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 28 February 2022 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06003/2022 – C9‑0075/2022),

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

–  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(3), and in particular Article 70 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/2219 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2005/681/JHA(4), and in particular Article 20 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(5), 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 (A9-0093/2022),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3. ECA annual report on EU agencies for the 2020 financial year: https://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=59697.
(2) OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3. ECA annual report on EU agencies for the 2020 financial year: https://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=59697.
(3) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 319, 4.12.2015, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1.


3. European Parliament resolution of 4 May 2022 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 Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020 (2021/2120(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 Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) for the financial year 2020,

–  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 (A9-0093/2022),

A.  whereas, according to its statement of revenue and expenditure(1), the final budget of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) (the 'Agency') for the financial year 2020 was EUR 30 602 017, representing an increase of 67,52 % compared to 2019, caused by an increase of title 5 ‘other projects’; whereas the Agency is financed by a contribution from the Union (34,48 %) and external assigned revenue for specific projects (65,10 %);

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the 'Court'), in its report on the annual accounts of the Agency for the financial year 2020 (the 'Court’s report'), states that it has obtained reasonable assurance that the Agency’s annual accounts are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular;

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes that the budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2020 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 91,70 %, representing a decrease of 6,28 % compared to 2019; notes that the payment appropriations execution rate was 74,19 %, representing a decrease of 2,32 % compared to the previous year;

2.  Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s report, the Agency paid a cancellation fee for a hotel booking for a training event in Budapest due to the COVID-19 restrictions; highlights the Court’s finding that if the Agency had invoked the "force majeure" clause in the framework contract instead, it could have cancelled the reservation without cost; notes in addition that the event had been planned on 29 June 2020, when the situation in Hungary was already uncertain; regrets that the Agency did not take the necessary steps to protect the financial interests of the Union and that the related payment is therefore deemed irregular by the Court;

Performance

3.  Notes that the Agency uses key performance indicators to improve its budget management and to measure its training activities and their impact, in particular the satisfaction level of the participants, in order to assess the added value provided by those activities;

4.  Welcomes the fact that, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the Agency continued to increase its outreach with the number of training participants increasing by 13%; notes that, on 30 April 2020, the Agency launched a new Law Enforcement Education (LEEd) platform; notes that the pilot CEPOL Knowledge Centre on Counter Terrorism was set up, having the mandate to elaborate a comprehensive multiannual training portfolio;

5.  Stresses the importance that the experts contributing to the new initiatives launched by the Agency have sound expertise in the area of fundamental rights, in particular anti-racism and anti-discrimination;

6.  Observes that the Agency completed the first EU Strategic Training Needs Assessment (EU-STNA) in 2018, identifying training priorities for law enforcement officials for the period of 2018-2021; notes that in 2020, an independent provider contracted by the Agency conducted a process and impact evaluation of the first EU-STNA; notes that the outcome of that evaluation fed into the review of the EU-STNA methodology that the Agency used to launch the new EU-STNA that will define strategic training priorities on Union level for the next policy cycle 2022-2025;

7.  Calls on the Agency to ensure, in all its activities, including those with third countries, full transparency and full respect of fundamental rights; notes that the two-step residential activity on Fundamental Rights, Police Ethics and Management of Diversity was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; calls on the Agency to increase the number of training activities in this field;

8.  Notes the Agency’s commitment to enhancing its international presence through the successful implementation of two international projects, namely the EU/MENA Counter-Terrorism Training Partnership 2 and the Financial Investigation In-Service Training programme in the Western Balkans, as well as through the negotiation of a EUR 23.5 million project portfolio in the Union enlargement and neighbourhood policy areas;

9.  Notes that, in cooperation with the European Council and the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), the Agency completed an ad-hoc training needs analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on crime patterns, operations and on the training needs of law enforcement officials in the area of serious and organised crime; notes that, in August 2020, the Agency completed a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence; notes that outcomes of both analyses are used to develop training products as a response to altered training needs due to COVID-19;

10.  Expresses its satisfaction that the Agency's training activities are closely aligned with the requirements voiced by the EU Policy Cycle EMPACT groups, while expertise was secured from Member States, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Judicial Training Network, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European Asylum Support Office, the European Cybercrime Centre, the European Cybercrime Training and Education Group, the International Criminal Police Organization and other stakeholders;

11.  Welcomes the fact that the Agency continues to explore the possibilities of sharing resources on overlapping tasks (such as IT and other services) with other bodies, offices and agencies such as the European Institute of Innovation and Technology; welcomes the fact that the Agency intends to contact the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Labour Authority to jointly analyse options to create synergies; notes that the joint exchange programme with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency related to borders and coast guard activities was enhanced and that the programme with the European Judicial Training Network was further extended;

Staff policy

12.  Notes that, on 31 December 2020, the establishment plan was 94% implemented, with 31 temporary agents appointed out of 33 temporary agents authorised under the Union budget (compared to 32 authorised posts in 2019); notes that, in addition, 46 contract agents (of which 16 were for regular activities and 30 for externally financed capacity building projects) and seven seconded national experts (six financed from the Agency’s budget and one financed under the Counter-Terrorism Training Partnership 2) worked for the Agency in 2020;

13.  Notes that the Agency reported to have 3 men (50%) and 3 women (50%) in its senior management and, among its staff overall, a gender balance of 35 men (41,7 %), and 49 women (58,3 %);

14.  Observes that there were 16 resignations in 2020 (versus 6 in 2019) due to the closure of the Western Balkans project or to new job opportunities in and outside the Agency; reiterates its concern that the Agency continues to suffer from a high staff turnover and a limited number of applications from Member States other than the host Member State; notes that the higher staff fluctuation had a significant impact on the organisation, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that interim staff and seconded national experts have been contracted to cover for staff absences and to cope with an increased workload in peak periods; calls on the Commission to engage in an active dialogue with the Agency in order to address those issues;

15.  Underlines that insufficient office space and uncertainty about the Agency's headquarters premises creates further operational difficulties; calls on the Commission to engage in an active dialogue with the Agency and the host Member State in order to address those shortcomings;

16.  Observes that the Agency is considering to follow the suggestion of the Court from 2019 to publish vacancy notices in all the official languages of the Union, with a link to the full text in English language only, on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office in order to increase publicity;

Procurement

17.  Notes that the Agency has advanced its digitalisation initiatives regarding e-procurement by implementing e-submission, e-tendering and e-invoicing in 2020; notes that the Agency has performed open calls for tender using both e-tendering and e-submission;

18.  Notes with satisfaction that in 2020 the Agency, following the recommendation from the 2019 discharge, changed its policy to ensure proper documentation on potential abnormally low prices for a winning tender, including a specific paragraph to request and analyse the reasons for potential abnormally low tenders;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest, and transparency

19.  Welcomes the Agency’s existing measures and ongoing efforts to secure transparency and the prevention and management of conflicts of interest; expresses satisfaction that the Agency has set up and implemented a code of administrative behaviour in 2019, the Anti-Fraud Sub-Strategy and Policy on Management of Conflict of Interest in 2020; notes with satisfaction that declarations of interests and CV’s of management board members and senior management are published on the Agency’s website; notes that the declarations on conflicts of interest and confidentiality for the remunerated experts are collected and screened before the signature of a contract;

Internal control

20.  Notes the Agency’s assessment of its internal control system and its conclusion, that it is effective, present and functioning well, and that only minor improvements are needed; calls on the Agency to explicitly incorporate the observations of the Court and the related recommendations in its assessment;

21.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, there are several weaknesses in the Agency’s internal control system, notably in relation to the management of budgetary commitments; notes that the Agency signed three legal commitments before the respective budgetary commitments had been approved, in doing so violating Article 73 of Regulation (EU) 2019/715(2);

22.  Notes that, according to the Court’s report, on one occasion, the Agency signed two different specific contracts that were linked to the same individual budgetary commitment, violating Article 112(1), first subparagraph, point (a), of the Financial Regulation; notes the Court’s conclusion that that type of violation reduces the transparency of the monitoring of the respective contracts in ABAC, the financial management system;

23.  Welcomes the fact that the Agency has performed a staff engagement survey in 2019 with the aim to measure soft controls (integrity, leadership, competencies, openness and motivation); notes that the results were analysed by the management with the assistance of a task force in 2020, indicating room for improvement in leadership, staff motivation and morale; acknowledges that the next staff engagement survey was launched in 2021 and will be used for the next self-assessment of the relevant internal control indicators; calls on the Agency to inform the discharge authority on the results of the staff engagement survey and how the Agency has addressed the identified areas for improvement;

24.  Notes from internal audit findings that the Agency does not have enough office space and room for operational activities and that the Cyber Training Academy was relocated to Hungarian premises and additional space for external projects was rented in the close proximity; acknowledges that discussions with the Hungarian government are taking place in order to find sufficient office space that will allow the Agency to operate from a single location and thus facilitate a simplified document workflow and business continuity with a long-term perspective; calls on the Agency to keep the discharge authority informed about the developments as regards its premises and progress made in the discussions with the host Member State;

COVID-19 response and business continuity

25.  Notes the creation of a COVID-19 task force by the Agency on 30 March 2020, that aimed to support to the Member States and partner bodies, offices and agencies in the context of the COVID-19 crisis; acknowledges the role of the Agency’s e-learning team in creating a remote the infrastructure, together with the Agency’s ICT team, and in upskilling and preparing members of staff for remote working in order to ensure a smooth transition and business continuity; welcomes the fact that the Agency provided to its partners advice on the possibilities for using e-infrastructure, such as webinars and online courses, and offered technical and administrative support; welcomes the digitalisation of the Agency’s processes that guaranteed the business continuity in a remote environment;

Other comments

26.  Notes that the first ISO 9001:2015 certificate expired on 1 February 2020 and that, at the end of the 3-year certification cycle, the Agency successfully passed the recertification audit in January 2020, with no non-conformities identified; notes that the Agency maintained the additional certification for the relevant ISO 29993:2017 standard for learning services;

27.  Regrets that the Agency does not have a policy regarding cyber security and the protection of the digital records; notes with concern that the Agency was subject to a cyberattack that led to a temporary shutdown of online training activities for approximately 3 weeks; calls on the Agency to inform the discharge authority regarding its efforts in the area of cyber security;

28.  Welcomes the introduction of new IT tools, namely SPEEDWELL for financial workflow, SYSPER for human resources and ARES for document management, in an effort to increase administrative efficiency;

29.  Notes the Agency’s efforts to ensure a cost-effective and environment-friendly work-place; points out that the Agency does not have a carbon off-setting scheme in place and acknowledges, on the basis of the Agency’s reply to the standard questionnaire, that the cost of participating in such a scheme cannot be covered from its limited financial resources;

30.  Notes that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) launched an investigation in 2020 into a case of external fraud in the Agency; notes that this investigation was launched at the request of the Agency and that following the investigation conclusions from early 2021, the Agency has already started to implement the recommendations of OLAF;

o
o   o

31.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 4 May 2022(3) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 114, 31.3.2021, p. 110.
(2) 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 (OJ L 122, 10.5.2019, p. 1).
(3) Texts adopted, P9_TA(2022)0196.

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