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Document L:2022:258:FULL

Official Journal of the European Union, L 258, 5 October 2022


Display all documents published in this Official Journal
 

ISSN 1977-0677

Official Journal

of the European Union

L 258

European flag  

English edition

Legislation

Volume 65
5 October 2022


Contents

 

II   Non-legislative acts

page

 

 

DECISIONS

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1686 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section I – European Parliament

1

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1687 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section I – European Parliament

3

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1688 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section II – European Council and Council

29

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1689 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section II – European Council and Council

30

 

*

Decision (EU, EURATOM) 2022/1690 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission

38

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1691 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (now European Education and Culture Executive Agency) (EACEA) for the financial year 2020

40

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1692 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (now European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency – Eismea) for the financial year 2020

42

 

*

Decision (EU, EURATOM) 2022/1693 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) for the financial year 2020

44

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1694 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA) for the financial year 2020

46

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1695 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Research Executive Agency (now European Research Executive Agency) (REA) for the financial year 2020

48

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1696 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (now European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency – CINEA) for the financial year 2020

50

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1697 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

52

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1698 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission

82

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1699 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section IV – Court of Justice of the European Union

84

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1700 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section IV – Court of Justice of the European Union

85

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1701 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section V – Court of Auditors

94

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1702of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section V – Court of Auditors

95

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1703 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee

108

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1704 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee

109

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1705 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section VII – Committee of the Regions

122

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1706 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section VII – Committee of the Regions

123

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1707 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section VIII – European Ombudsman

133

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1708 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section VIII – European Ombudsman

134

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1709 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor

141

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1710 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor

142

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1711 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section X – European External Action Service

151

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1712 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 2020, Section X – European External Action Service

152

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1713 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh European Development Funds for the financial year 2020

164

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1714 of the European Parliament 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 eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh European Development Funds for the financial year 2020

166

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1715 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh European Development Funds for the financial year 2020

181

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1716 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) for the financial year 2020

183

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1717 of the European Parliament 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 the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) for the financial year 2020

184

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1718 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) for the financial year 2020

188

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1719 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office) for the financial year 2020

189

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1720 of the European Parliament 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 Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office) for the financial year 2020

190

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1721 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office) for the financial year 2020

193

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1722 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT) for the financial year 2020

194

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1723 of the European Parliament 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 Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT) for the financial year 2020

196

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1724 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT) for the financial year 2020

200

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1725 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) for the financial year 2020

202

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1726 of the European Parliament 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 Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) for the financial year 2020

204

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1727 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) for the financial year 2020

208

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1728 of the European Parliament 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

209

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1729 of the European Parliament 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

211

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1730 of the European Parliament 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

216

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1731 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the financial year 2020

218

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1732 of the European Parliament 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 Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the financial year 2020

220

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1733 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the financial year 2020

225

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1734 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office (now European Union Agency for Asylum – EUAA) for the financial year 2020

226

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1735 of the European Parliament 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 Asylum Support Office (now European Union Agency for Asylum – EUAA) for the financial year 2020

228

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1736 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office (now European Union Agency for Asylum – EUAA) for the financial year 2020

233

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1737 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Banking Authority (EBA) for the financial year 2020

234

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1738 of the European Parliament 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 Banking Authority (EBA) for the financial year 2020

235

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1739 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Banking Authority (EBA) for the financial year 2020

240

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1740 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) for the financial year 2020

241

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1741 of the European Parliament 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 Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) for the financial year 2020

242

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1742 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) for the financial year 2020

248

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1743 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for the financial year 2020

250

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1744 of the European Parliament 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 Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for the financial year 2020

252

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1745 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for the financial year 2020

258

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1746 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Environment Agency (EEA) for the financial year 2020

259

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1747 of the European Parliament 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 Environment Agency (EEA) for the financial year 2020

261

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1748 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Environment Agency (EEA) for the financial year 2020

266

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1749 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) for the financial year 2020

268

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1750 of the European Parliament 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 Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) for the financial year 2020

269

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1751 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) for the financial year 2020

273

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1752 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the financial year 2020

274

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1753 of the European Parliament 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 Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the financial year 2020

276

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1754 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the financial year 2020

281

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1755 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) for the financial year 2020

282

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1756 of the European Parliament 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 Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) for the financial year 2020

283

 

 

Decision (EU) 2022/1757 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) for the financial year 2020

288

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1758 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) for the financial year 2020

289

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1759 of the European Parliament 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 Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) for the financial year 2020

290

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1760 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) for the financial year 2020

294

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1761 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for the financial year 2020

295

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1762 of the European Parliament 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 Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for the financial year 2020

297

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1763 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for the financial year 2020

301

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1764 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the financial year 2020

303

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1765 of the European Parliament 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 Medicines Agency (EMA) for the financial year 2020

305

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1766 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the financial year 2020

312

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1767 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) for the financial year 2020

313

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1768 of the European Parliament 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 Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) for the financial year 2020

315

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1769 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) for the financial year 2020

319

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1770 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) for the financial year 2020

320

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1771 of the European Parliament 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 Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) for the financial year 2020

321

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1772 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) for the financial year 2020

326

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1773 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) for the financial year 2020

327

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1774 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) for the financial year 2020

328

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1775 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) for the financial year 2020

332

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1776 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) for the financial year 2020

334

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1777 of the European Parliament 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 Railways (ERA) for the financial year 2020

335

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1778 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) for the financial year 2020

340

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1779 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) for the financial year 2020

341

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1780 of the European Parliament 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 Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) for the financial year 2020

343

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1781 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) for the financial year 2020

348

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1782 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Training Foundation (ETF) for the financial year 2020

349

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1783 of the European Parliament 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 Training Foundation (ETF) for the financial year 2020

351

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1784 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Training Foundation (ETF) for the financial year 2020

355

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1785 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) for the financial year 2020

356

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1786 of the European Parliament 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 the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) for the financial year 2020

358

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1787 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) for the financial year 2020

363

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1788 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) for the financial year 2020

365

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1789 of the European Parliament 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 Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) for the financial year 2020

366

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1790 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) for the financial year 2020

370

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1791 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Euratom Supply Agency for the financial year 2020

371

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1792 of the European Parliament 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 Euratom Supply Agency for the financial year 2020

372

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1793 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Euratom Supply Agency for the financial year 2020

374

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1794 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) for the financial year 2020

375

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1795 of the European Parliament 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 Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) for the financial year 2020

377

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1796 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) for the financial year 2020

382

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1797 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) for the financial year 2020

384

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1798 of the European Parliament 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 Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) for the financial year 2020

385

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1799 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) for the financial year 2020

390

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1800 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) for the financial year 2020

391

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1801 of the European Parliament 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 Cooperation (Europol) for the financial year 2020

393

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1802 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) for the financial year 2020

398

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1803 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) for the financial year 2020

400

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1804 of the European Parliament 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 Fundamental Rights (FRA) for the financial year 2020

401

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1805 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) for the financial year 2020

405

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1806 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) for the financial year 2020

406

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1807 of the European Parliament 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 Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) for the financial year 2020

407

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1808 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) for the financial year 2020

416

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1809 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency (now the European Union Agency for the Space Programme – EUSPA) for the financial year 2020

417

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1810 of the European Parliament 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 GNSS Agency (now the European Union Agency for the Space Programme – EUSPA) for the financial year 2020

419

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1811 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency (now the European Union Agency for the Space Programme – EUSPA) for the financial year 2020

423

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1812 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2020: performance, financial management and control

425

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1813 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (now the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

437

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1814 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (now the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

439

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1815 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (now the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

444

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1816 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

446

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1817 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 (now the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

448

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1818 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

454

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1819 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (now the Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

456

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1820 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (now the Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

458

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1821 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (now the Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

462

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1822 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

464

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1823 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 (now the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

466

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1824 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

470

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1825 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Innovative Health Initiative Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

472

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1826 of the European Parliament 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 Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Innovative Health Initiative Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

474

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1827 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (now the Innovative Health Initiative Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

479

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1828 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (F4E) for the financial year 2020

481

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1829 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 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 (F4E) for the financial year 2020

483

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2022/1830 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (F4E) for the financial year 2020

489

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1831 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the SESAR Joint Undertaking (now the Single European Sky ATM Research 3 Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

490

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1832 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the SESAR Joint Undertaking (now the Single European Sky ATM Research 3 Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

492

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1833 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking (now the Single European Sky ATM Research 3 Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

497

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1834 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (now the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

499

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1835 of the European Parliament 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 Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (now the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

501

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1836 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (now the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking) for the financial year 2020

506

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1837 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2020

508

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2022/1838 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2020

510

 

*

Decision (EU) 2022/1839 of the European Parliament of 4 May 2022 on the closure of the accounts of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2020

514

EN

Acts whose titles are printed in light type are those relating to day-to-day management of agricultural matters, and are generally valid for a limited period.

The titles of all other Acts are printed in bold type and preceded by an asterisk.


II Non-legislative acts

DECISIONS

5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/1


DECISION (EU) 2022/1686 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section I – European Parliament

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021)381 – C9-0259/2021) (2),

having regard to the report on budgetary and financial management for the financial year 2020, Section I – European Parliament (3),

having regard to the Internal Auditor’s annual report for the financial year 2020,

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020, 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 2020, 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) 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 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 (A9-0044/2022),

A.

whereas the President adopted Parliament’s accounts for the financial year 2020 on 9 June 2021;

B.

whereas the Secretary-General, as the principal authorising officer by delegation, certified, on 25 June 2021, 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 Court of Auditors stated in its audit that, in its specific assessment of administrative and other expenditure in 2020, it did not identify any serious weaknesses in the annual activity reports of the institutions and bodies it examined as 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 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 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 Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 281, 13.7.2021, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(5)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 207.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/3


RESOLUTION (EU) 2022/1687 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

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 2020, Section I – European Parliament

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 2020, 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 (A9-0044/2022),

A.

whereas, in his certification of the final accounts, the European Parliament’s (the ‘Parliament’) 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, 191 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, the director of the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (the ‘Authority’) 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 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 2020 totalled EUR 2 038 745 000, or 18,1 % of heading V of the Multiannual Financial Framework (1) set aside for the 2020 administrative expenditure of the Union institutions as a whole, representing a 2,1 % increase over the 2019 budget (EUR 1 996 978 262), but at the same time a 0,4 % decrease in its relative share in the overall budget;

2.

Notes that total revenue entered in the accounts as of 31 December 2020 was EUR 203 449 523 (compared to EUR 207 521 070 in 2019), including EUR 33 567 305 in assigned revenue (compared to EUR 36 566 236 in 2019);

3.

Emphasises that four chapters accounted for 67,6 % of total commitments: Chapter 1 0 (Members of the institution), Chapter 1 2 (Officials and temporary members of staff), Chapter 2 0 (Buildings and associated costs) and Chapter 4 2 (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 2020 were closed, namely:

(a)

Available appropriations (EUR)

appropriations for 2020:

2 038 745 000

non-automatic carry-overs from financial year 2019:

automatic carry-overs from financial year 2019:

274 260 660

appropriations corresponding to assigned revenue for 2020:

33 567 305

carry-overs corresponding to assigned revenue from 2019:

32 413 449

Total:

2 378 986 414

(b)

Utilisation of appropriations in the financial year 2020 (EUR)

commitments:

2 258 910 984

payments made:

1 862 291 046

appropriations carried forward automatically including those arising from assigned revenue:

395 843 062

appropriations carried forward non-automatically:

74 900 000

appropriations cancelled:

44 577 406

(c)

Budgetary receipts (EUR)

received in 2020:

203 449 523

(d)

Total balance sheet at 31 December 2020 (EUR)

1 690 096 152

5.

Points out that 95,7 % of the appropriations entered in Parliament’s budget, amounting to EUR 1 950 750 955, 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 payments totalled EUR 1 590 035 012, resulting in a payment appropriation execution rate of 81,5 %;

6.

Underlines the fact that the cancelled appropriations for the year 2020 amounting to EUR 17 292 007, mainly related to expenditure related to buildings, production and dissemination, as well as to remuneration, computing and telecommunications;

7.

Notes that twelve transfers were approved, in accordance with Articles 31 and 49 of the Financial Regulation, in the financial year 2020, amounting to EUR 183 933 785 or 9 % of final appropriations; observes that 76,4 % of the funds transferred related to Parliament’s buildings policy and for the most part, to fund the purchase of the Wiertz building and the annual payments for the Adenauer II building project;

The Court of Auditor’s opinions on the reliability of the 2020 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 Union institutions; highlights that administrative and related expenditure includes 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;

10.

Notes with concern the specific finding by the Court, in its annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2020, of errors in two payments: (i) an over-payment for IT services caused by an incorrect application of contract terms and (ii) an incorrect payment of a subsistence allowance to a Member, following a mistake in an attendance list; regrets that the control system in place did not prevent nor detect those mistakes; calls on Parliament to explain how those mistakes arose and measures taken to correct them and to ensure that they cannot happen again in the future and to ensure that it only pays daily allowances to Members who qualify for them by the end of 2022;

11.

Notes the response given by Parliament in the adversarial procedure which accepted the Court’s recommendation; notes that in 2019 Parliament launched a project to automate the registration of attendance with biometric technology in the central attendance register and signed a contract for this project at the end of 2020; stresses that the large-scale processing of biometric data should be avoided; asks the Bureau to develop an alternative solution that does not involve the processing of biometric data and ensures that only Members entitled to the daily subsistence allowance actually receive it; regrets the fact that this project was pursued despite the European Data Protection Supervisor’s adverse opinion at the end of March 2021 and reiterated in its Annual Report 2021, where it was stated that Parliament should consider less intrusive alternatives with regard to data protection;

12.

Emphasises that the Court examined more in particular the Union institutions’ public procurement procedures for the purchase of personal protective equipment for their members of staff in 2020; notes that the Court checked three procurement procedures organised by Parliament to purchase protective masks, temperature detectors and COVID-19 tests; regrets the cost caused by successive decisions to purchase and use different models of temperature detectors until the most suitable one for the current needs was found; underlines that the urgent procurement of equipment in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging due to surging demand and competition between contracting authorities and countries; notes that the Court, in one case related to the purchase of fabric masks, found that the requirements set by Parliament in the tender specifications were too broad to allow assessment of compliance, and that the successful bidders did not include full evidence in their offer that all minimum quality requirements were met at the time of contracting, such as evidence related to compliance with technical specifications or to the durability of masks;

The internal auditor’s annual report

13.

Notes that, at the meeting between the committee responsible and the internal auditor held on 30 November 2021, the internal auditor presented his annual report and described the assurance audits he performed and reported on, which in 2020 covered the following topics:

audit of visitor groups (Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM));

audit of financing of European political parties and European political foundations (Directorate-General for Finance (DG FINS));

second report on information systems audit: identity and access management (DG IPOL, DG FINS, DG LINC, DG TRAD and DG ITEC);

preliminary review of Parliament’s data protection framework;

follow-up of open actions from internal audit reports - phases 1 and 2 of 2020;

14.

Welcomes and supports the following actions that the internal auditor has agreed with the directorates-general responsible, as a result of the assurance assignments:

with regard to the audit of visitor groups, increasing the assurance of the regularity of payments and efficiency of implementation of the rules on financial contributions, including better definitions of eligible costs and conditions for their payment and of the eligibility period for each visit; increasing the alignment between the contribution and the real costs directly linked to the visit; finalising ex post controls for 2017 and initiating an annual control programme for all subsequent years to date, and reinforcing ex ante controls over reimbursements; ratifying the contractual obligations of travel agencies to Parliament when they act as heads of groups; clarifying the rules governing the visitor groups to mitigate the risk of assimilating the financial contribution to activities not directly linked to the visitor group’s programme;

with regard to the first phase of the audit of financing of European political parties and European political foundations, acknowledging that the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (the ‘Authority’) had very limited resources at its inception for setting up new management and control procedures; considering that there are still areas of joint or overlapping responsibilities between the Authority and DG FINS that provide scope for further enhancement of the cooperation foreseen by the main legislation governing the registration process, i.e. Regulation (EU) 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council (2), and in particular Article 28 thereof; identifying a number of provisions governing the registration process in the Regulation for which there may be scope to enhance the clarity, comprehensiveness and ease of application;

concerning the second report on information systems audit: identity and access management, reducing to an absolute minimum the provision of privileged access rights to the application database in the production environment; strengthening access controls to the applications’ databases and application-to-application accounts; strengthening the management of the individual access rights in order to define access control rules and better monitor individual access rights;

with regard to the preliminary review of Parliament’s data protection framework, which was adopted on 17 February 2021, reinforcing data controllers’ capacity to comply with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 (3), and increasing awareness among members of staff processing personal data; ensuring that the data protection service is adequately staffed; ensuring an urgent update of Parliament’s central register of processing activities dealing with personal data; enhancing the security level of IT systems that process personal data; improving the management of the removal of access;

15.

Notes that the 2020 follow-up process resulted in the closure of 61 of the 108 open actions analysed and for which the agreed due dates for implementation had expired; notes that among the remaining 47 open actions from audit reports concerned, 15 of those actions address significant risk; regrets that some of the actions mentioned above were recommended several years ago but remain unimplemented; expects the different directorates-general to ensure that the overdue actions are closed without any further delay and that the agreed actions will be implemented in accordance with the due dates set in the internal auditor’s annual report; calls on the Secretary-General to report back to the discharge authority on the closure of the remaining actions in the course of his hearings in Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control in September and November 2022;

16.

Notes that pursuant to Article 118(9) of the Financial Regulation, Parliament’s internal audit reports are not available to the public once the internal auditor has finalised them; notes that in practice they are only published once all recommendations have been implemented; regrets that this results in a de facto delay of publication for several years; also regrets that Members may only read them in the secure reading room for as long as recommended measures have not been implemented; calls on the Bureau to allow Members to have immediate and full access to the internal audit reports; further calls on the Bureau to make each internal audit report available to the public one year after its finalisation, once the internal auditor has validated the actions taken to implement the previous year’s recommendations; recalls that a validation of recommendations does not require all recommendations to be fully implemented;

Follow-up by Parliament’s administration and the Bureau to previous discharge resolutions

17.

Takes note of the written answers to the 2019 discharge resolution provided to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on 17 September 2021, and of the Secretary-General’s presentation addressing the various questions and requests raised in Parliament’s resolution on discharge for 2019 and the exchange of views with Members that followed;

18.

Notes that once the Plenary calls for different rules or measures to be implemented by Parliament, such proposed rules or measures are discussed and voted on by the Bureau, pursuant to Rule 25 of and Annex V to the Rules of Procedure and Articles 6 and 166 of the Financial Regulation, as well as by Parliament’s administration; notes that the Bureau has been mandated by the Plenary to decide all administrative, staff and organisational matters concerning Members; stresses the importance of the discharge procedure and asks that all discharge decisions passed by the Plenary should be thoroughly followed up;

19.

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 demands and recommendations contained in Parliament’s discharge resolutions and to include the actions taken and implemented in the annual monitoring document; asks the Secretary-General and the vice-president responsible for budget to hold regular discussions with Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on issues concerning the implementation of the said action plan;

20.

Reiterates its request to the Bureau to ensure greater visibility in its decision-making process, particularly with regard to the timely publication of relevant documents and information on its website;

21.

Asks the administration to consider approving Bureau minutes in written procedure to prevent a de facto delay of publication of at least one month until the Bureau reconvenes to approve the minutes, and once adopted for the minutes to be made accessible without delay on both Parliament’s intranet and internet site;

22.

Notes that the presence of Parliament’s officials in Union delegations or other bodies aims to strengthen Parliament’s relations with regional organisation; reiterates, however, the concern about the Bureau decision of 11 February 2019 regarding parliamentary support to the European Union Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta, the Delegation of the European Union to the African Union in Addis Ababa and the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York; calls for a thorough cost-benefit analysis to justify any new decision, measurable indicators to assess annual performance, and that Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control be kept informed;

COVID-19

23.

Recalls that the year 2020 was marked by the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in fundamental changes to Parliament’s way of working; welcomes the fact that from the onset of and throughout the pandemic crisis, Parliament has taken often unprecedented decisions aimed at minimising the risk for Members and members of staff, while ensuring that Parliament remains in a position to continue its core activities, while also showing practical solidarity with the host communities;

24.

Welcomes the fact that in 2020 a COVID-19 testing centre was set up in Brussels in Parliament’s premises, and that testing facilities were also created in Luxembourg and Strasbourg;

25.

Welcomes the fact that Parliament has been able to ensure the above through its organisational resilience and ability to apply new working methods, in particular teleworking and remote participation;

26.

Appreciates the remarkable efforts of Parliament and its IT services during 2020 to immediately provide members, staff, accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) and trainees with electronic devices to work remotely; asks, however, to know the buying criteria for the devices and which practical considerations influenced the decision to buy the currently used surface devices; underlines with concern the amount of technical issues with the devices among Members and APAs, such as abrupt disconnections, lost documents, overheating, short battery capacity, and poor connectivity during video calls;

27.

Regrets the situation of the Schuman trainees with a traineeship from March to July 2020, who were teleworking from the second week of their traineeship; notes that the Commission and the Council had given their trainees the option to come back in October to restart a full 5-month traineeship; regrets the decision of the Directorate-General for Personnel (DG PERS) to only give the Schuman trainees that option if they interrupted their current internship; calls on the DG PERS to ensure equal treatment of its trainees in similar situations;

28.

Welcomes the fact that digitalised processes included the organisation of remote meetings and remote voting systems in plenary and parliamentary committees, allowed Parliament to continue its work, including during the Strasbourg part-sessions which were suspended for most of 2020; notes that the suspension of Strasbourg part-sessions contributed to total savings of EUR 26 260 608 according to Parliament’s Secretariat while also significantly reducing Parliament’s carbon footprint; acknowledges the temporary nature of these extraordinary circumstances; calls on the President to allow for the option of remote participation of Members until the COVID-19 pandemic is brought to safe levels;

29.

Welcomes, in terms of remote participation, the fact that the deployment of a complex, multilingual solution, which would normally require months, if not years, was implemented in a few weeks; highlights that a remote voting system was created in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act and the Members’ Statute, and that that system, which has been in place since March 2020, has been constantly upgraded and improved; commends the fact that from March until October 2020 that voting system has allowed for 143 voting sessions and nearly 10 000 voting operations;

30.

Stresses the serious risks of hearing problems as a result of the switch to remote meetings for Parliament’s interpreters having to rely on often very poor sound quality from remote-mode interventions; underlines the efforts made by the interpreters in that regard and calls on the Bureau to remind participants to use adequate speaking equipment in order to minimise the disturbances and sometimes poor quality of connection; recalls that interpreters have in the past rightly refused to interpret if the sound quality did not allow for it;

31.

Underlines that interpretation is vital for the functioning of committees and parliamentary life; recognises that due to the sudden and disruptive changes caused by the pandemic and consequent sanitary restrictions, the administration had to quickly find feasible solutions to provide interpretation services; stresses that some committee sessions did not have all required languages, thus complicating participation of some members and diminishing their options to interact; understands that the three working languages are English, French and German but strongly highlights that any of the 24 official languages should be provided upon request of Members;

32.

Calls on the Secretary-General, in the general context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to require all external companies providing their services in Parliament to guarantee the employment rights and working conditions of their staff and to strictly comply with the measures adopted by the government in the context of the pandemic;

33.

Draws attention to the fact that certain sanitary measures, although necessary, have significantly worsened the working conditions in certain services, with the prominent example of the staff employed in the copy shop working still in isolation from the public after months; calls for the applicable measures in similar future situations to take into account the protection of workers' mental health;

34.

Regrets that voting remotely is currently not provided for under Parliament’s Rules of Procedure unless the President establishes the existence of extraordinary circumstances;

35.

Notes the fact that there is no system in place to ensure that Members, who are temporarily absent for a justified reason such as maternity and paternity leave, can continue to carry out their core duties; deems this problematic as it can negatively impact citizens’ representation in Parliament; underlines that there is a risk of discrimination against Members and their voters when such arrangements are not provided for; emphasises that a vote for a female member of Parliament should not lead to a lack of representation, which is of concern given that younger, particularly female Members and their voters are disproportionally affected by the lack of maternity and parental leave arrangements in Parliament; recalls that the situation for national members of parliament in these same situations differs between Member States; calls on Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs to provide for feasible, temporarily limited solutions for Members who are absent for justified reasons to speak in debates and vote or be temporarily substituted by revising Parliament’s Rules of Procedure and the European Electoral Law; recalls that daily allowances remain linked to physical presence at Parliament’s places of work;

36.

Welcomes Parliament’s efforts, and particularly the personal engagement of former President Sassoli in this issue, to provide daily solidarity meals and shelters for vulnerable women in the three places of work, as decided by the Bureau; further welcomes the fact that around 65 drivers volunteered to drive doctors, nurses and other medical staff to their night shifts in hospital in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic;

37.

Welcomes the fact that Parliament distributed reusable facial fabric masks to members of staff at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; notes that medical face masks EN14683 or FFP2 respiratory protective devices have been required to be worn while in Parliament’s buildings in order to reinforce the protection of Members and staff as well as to further reduce the release of infectious respiratory particles;

38.

Commends Parliament’s services on their decision to continue facilitating hybrid press conferences after the pandemic since this can facilitate the reporting on European affairs for journalists who are not present in Strasbourg or Brussels; recommends that audio-visual and other facilities in Brussels, Strasbourg and the European Parliament liaison offices be developed further, including by increasing VoxBox capacity and modernising the press conference rooms in Strasbourg and Brussels to make them more suitable for hybrid press conferences;

Environmental footprint of Parliament’s operations

39.

Stresses that Parliament needs to be at the forefront of adopting more digital, flexible and energy-efficient working methods and meeting practices, learning from the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and capitalising on the investments in technology already implemented; notes that on the initiative of former President Sassoli, focus groups on ‘Rethinking Parliamentary Democracy - A stronger European Parliament after Covid-19’ discussed the future of work within Parliament between April and July 2021 pertaining to each of their fields of action: plenary, parliamentary prerogatives, communication, external diplomacy and internal organisation; notes that the focus groups delivered a final report including recommendations, the implementation of which will be discussed by the Bureau;

40.

Calls on Parliament to re-evaluate its Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) targets for 2023 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic; reiterates its call to amend its current CO2 reduction plan for reaching carbon neutrality using an internationally recognised method when it has been validated as, for example, an internal carbon pricing (ICP) mechanism by which companies voluntarily price their carbon footprint and thereby put a value on their greenhouse gas emissions;

41.

Notes that three of Parliament’s buildings in Brussels (Martens, Campoamor and Wayenberg nursery) have recently been awarded an internationally recognised environmental certification on sustainability, a BREEAM Excellence, confirming the long-standing policy and actions by Parliament to gradually transform its buildings portfolio into an environmentally exemplary one; notes that presently, on Parliament’s Brussels site, four buildings (a quarter of the total number of buildings - Spinelli, Campoamor, Arendt, Montoyer-Science) are equipped with photovoltaic panels, and that these installations represent a cumulative surface area of less than 2 % of the total roof surface of Parliament’s buildings in Brussels; notes that three new photovoltaic installations (100 m2 on the Montoyer 70 building, 200 m2 on the Spinelli building and 52 m2 of replacement of the current solar panels by photovoltaic ones on the Brandt building) will be completed by the end of 2022 (and this represents an increase of 64 %, in 2022, of the total surface equipped with photovoltaic panels);

42.

Notes that there are currently no photovoltaic panels on any of Parliament’s buildings in Strasbourg as the emphasis has been placed on more efficient means of saving energy, i.e. by installing new highly efficient heat pumps; notes that the feasibility studies based on which it was decided not to install solar panels on the roofs in Strasbourg date back to 2011 and reiterates that prices for solar panels have decreased by more than 80 % since 2010; invites the Bureau to evaluate the installation of photovoltaic panels by 2023, taking into account technical feasibility and cost effectiveness;

43.

Welcomes the installation of heat pumps and cogeneration in the buildings in Strasbourg and Brussels to produce renewable electricity and heat; further welcomes that the new Adenauer building in Luxembourg was built using the most modern environmental techniques available, including geothermal and solar energy and full use of daylight; calls on Parliament to further increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix and, in particular, energy production, and to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible; calls on Parliament to publish the energy certificates of all Parliament’s buildings;

44.

Recalls that efficient lighting solutions are an essential factor for the sustainability of buildings; welcomes that the replacement of existing lighting with low-energy LED lights is evaluated whenever possible and feasible in Parliament’s buildings; regrets that not all offices in Parliament’s three places of work are equipped with motion detectors and that it appears that the motion detectors in several offices in the Spinelli building do not work; calls on Parliament to ensure that fully functioning motion detectors are installed wherever feasible to reduce energy consumption;

45.

Welcomes the fact that the extension of the Wayenberg nursery in Brussels, completed in September 2020, is the first passive building of Parliament; invites the Bureau to initiate in 2022 technical studies to identify additional possibilities to further reduce energy consumption and increase the production of renewable energy and to implement them as soon as possible;

46.

Recalls that nearly two thirds of Parliament’s carbon footprint originates from the transport of people; calls for a reflection on the expansion of voluntary teleworking to more days and functions, whenever relevant and provided it does not disturb parliamentary work; keeping in mind the importance of physical presence, recalls that Parliament introduced working groups on Parliament’s future work; calls on Parliament to take the focus groups’ conclusions into account; calls to prioritise low-carbon transport modes for missions, where appropriate;

47.

Welcomes the gradual shift to zero-emission vehicles in Parliament’s car service fleet; calls for the service fleet to be fully electric by 2024 at the latest;

48.

Calls for an appropriate increase in the number of electric vehicle chargers in line with present and near future demand; calls for additional bicycle parking spaces; calls for the creation of adequate cargo bike parking spaces to ensure that regular bike parking spaces are accessible for regular bike riders;

49.

Notes that Parliament’s food waste amounted to 0,055-0,068 kg per meal served between 2018 and 2020; welcomes Parliament’s efforts to reduce food waste by gathering and delivering leftover food to ‘front line’ organisations who deliver it to people in need; calls on Parliament to continue to explore ways of reducing food waste even further;

50.

Welcomes the introduction of a wider and more sustainable food choice, including the introduction of a greater variety of vegetarian and vegan products, in Parliament’s canteens; suggests an increase in the variety of vegetarian and vegan meals served in Parliament’s canteens; further requests that at least one fresh gluten-free meal option is available each day and that allergy and diet information is displayed visibly on the food cards next to the counters;

51.

Recalls that according to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Protocol No 6 annexed to the Treaties, Parliament shall have its seat in Strasbourg, where the 12 periods of monthly plenary sessions, including the budget session, shall be held; recalls the support by the vast majority of Parliament for a single seat to ensure efficient spending of Union taxpayers’ money and to assume its institutional responsibility to reduce its carbon footprint; notes that permanent changes would require a Treaty change; recalls that Parliament’s plenary has previously requested a debate on its right to determine its own working arrangements and committed itself to initiating an ordinary Treaty revision procedure under Article 48 of the Treaty on the European Union with a view to proposing changes necessary to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Protocol 6 to allow it to decide on the location of its seat and its internal organisation (4)

52.

Reiterates its call on Parliament to introduce a user-friendly online booking system for the use of Parliament’s car services to travel to Strasbourg to be operational once regular sessions in Strasbourg resume; further calls on Parliament to widen the user group to also include members of staff, group staff and APAs without the requirement for Members to accompany them;

Transparency and ethics

53.

Welcomes the fact that ethical and transparency standards applicable to Parliament are in many respects ahead of those applicable in the Member State equivalents; considers that Parliament should strive to lead by example with regard to setting Europe-wide ethics and transparency standards; supports the strengthening of the existing ethical rules by providing Members with guidance and support;

54.

Notes with satisfaction that, since the start of the 9th parliamentary term, the necessary infrastructure to enable Members to publicise scheduled meetings with interest representatives has been available on Parliament’s website with a view to improving transparency; calls on Parliament’s services to expand the infrastructure to allow APAs and policy advisers to voluntarily publish their meetings with interest representatives; recalls that Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure obliges rapporteurs, shadows and committee chairs to publish their meetings with interest representatives; notes with concern that as of 30 April 2021, only 380 out of the 705 current Members had publicised at least one meeting with an interest representative on Parliament’s website; further notes that 10 out of the 24 committee chairs have published none or just a single meeting with an interest representative since the start of the 9th parliamentary term; recalls that the information, reminder notices and emails on the obligation to publish meetings should be sent to all Members at more regular intervals;

55.

Recalls the President’s written reply dated of April 2020 to the joint letter from Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Intergroup, which, in particular, agreed to implement a number of changes to the tool for publishing Members’ meetings with interest representatives to improve its user-friendliness, first and foremost by linking it to the transparency register and to the legislative observatory; regrets that these practical improvements have not yet been implemented; asks Parliament’s administration to effectively establish this link as soon as it is feasible without undue practical obstacles;

56.

Welcomes the fact that, with effect from July 2021, the 2011 interinstitutional agreement on a common transparency register has been replaced by a new tripartite agreement, in which the Council participates; notes that the quality of entries regarding the activities of interest representatives in the transparency register has improved over recent years and commends, despite limited resources, the role of the joint secretariat in that improvement; regrets, however, that the overall quality of entries remains unsatisfactory, with the Secretariat’s check of around 40 % of entries over the course of 2020 finding that only 43 % of checked entries provided satisfactory data quality, a number similar to 2019; welcomes the allocation of an additional 1,5 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts for the Secretariat; urges the Secretariat to use these for further reducing the number of registrations with sub-optimal data;

57.

Recalls that according to Rule 176(2) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, once a penalty that was imposed by the President upon a Member becomes final, it is to be published prominently on Parliament’s website and shall remain there for the rest of the term, in line with the legal principles of sound conduct of investigation, presumption of innocence, and protection of personal rights; calls for reflection on whether penalties are currently published prominently enough;

58.

Deplores the fact that Members are participating in unofficial election observation missions, as well as the expenditure incurred on these missions, believes such missions jeopardise Parliament’s reputation; notes eight such instances in 2020 were linked to Crimea and Venezuela; calls on the Bureau and democracy support and election coordination group to extend the duration of barring the Members concerned from undertaking official election observation missions from one year to the entire mandate, where this is not already the case;

59.

Calls on Parliament to publish a list of all friendship groups in Parliament on its website;

60.

Reiterates that Article 4 of the Code of Conduct provides, with respect to financial interests and conflicts of interest, that the Members’ declarations of financial interests shall be provided in a detailed manner; repeats its call on the Bureau to review the format of the declarations to require more detail and thus clarity; asks the President to instruct the services to systematically carry out thorough checks of the declarations to ensure that the information provided therein is sufficiently detailed to allow for an assessment of any potential conflict of interest;

61.

Recalls that according to Article 5 of Annex I to the Rules of Procedure relating to the Implementing Measures for the Code of Conduct, Members shall refrain from accepting, in the performance of their duties, any gifts or similar benefits, other than those with an approximate value of less than EUR 150, and that any gifts presented to Members when they are representing Parliament in an official capacity shall be handed over to the President; notes that the Members’ Administration Unit should frequently remind Members of the obligation to notify the President of the receipt of a gift received in an official capacity; calls on the Bureau to introduce a standard form to be filled in at the end of delegation visits by all participating Members, declaring whether they received any personal or delegation gifts and their value;

62.

Is concerned that out of the 459 Members of the 8th parliamentary term that were not re-elected in 2019, Parliament received only one notification on post-mandate employment pursuant to Article 6 of the Code of Conduct; points out that notifications could help to prevent conflicts of interest, while also preventing former Members who engage in professional lobbying or representational activities directly linked to the Union’s decision-making process from benefiting from facilities granted to former Members; calls therefore on Parliament to improve the implementation of the Code of Conduct, in this regard also draws attention to the resolution to the 2019 European Parliament discharge, in which the discharge authority calls for an independent assessment on whether or not post-mandate activities of Members create conflicts of interest; once again calls on Parliament’s services to conduct such an assessment;

63.

Welcomes Parliament’s services’ ongoing project to make plenary voting records available on a dedicated space where users will have access to clear and reader-friendly documents, and notes the new layout for the roll-call votes in which the individual voting record of each Member will be published, giving the option of visualising the distribution of votes according to, inter alia, political group affiliation and/or nationality; regrets that it is not yet technically possible for Parliament’s services to allow for the display of the text of each amendment along with the voting record as it is offered by several private providers; calls on Parliament’s services to make available all amendments and roll-call voting records; also calls on the services to extend the information available to include up-to-date timetables and voting lists, including the final compromises agreed on by the rapporteur and shadows, as per the recommendations from the focus group on strengthening parliamentary prerogatives; further asks Parliament’s services to provide the possibility to Members to test a beta version of the new tool and provide feedback to be taken into account during the development of the tool;

64.

Takes note of 18 investigations carried out by Parliament’s services in 2020 into the misuse of allowances in which the offices of 12 Members were involved (compared to 6 Members previously), with total amounts at risk amounting to EUR 1 318 000 (compared to EUR 560 000 in 2019); commends Parliament’s services for their investigations in this regard, while also pointing to the need to continue monitoring the development of the number and types of cases involved;

65.

Takes note of the fact that there were again no cases of whistleblowing recorded by Parliament in 2020; recalls that the most recent cases of whistleblowing date back to 2016 and that each of the three APAs concerned were subsequently dismissed; recalls that, among others, APAs are in a vulnerable position due to their special employment situation; calls on Parliament to fully adapt its own internal rules contained in the Staff Regulations to Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council (5), including by setting up secure channels for reporting; further notes that whistleblowers deserve proper protection, similar to that of victims of harassment, and that this should also include the establishment of an advisory committee to deal with the protection of whistleblowers; regrets that there is little awareness among staff of the existence of a contact point for whistleblowers in the Secretary General’s cabinet and is of the opinion that this contact point cannot replace a fully-fledged advisory committee; calls on the Bureau to require training for contact points receiving whistleblower disclosures and to adopt clear and legally certain standards regarding which cases require protection to be granted to the whistleblower, including for APAs, and to publish those standards; requests Parliament to raise awareness, where possible, among parliamentary staff of their whistleblower protections;

66.

Notes with concern the unclear rules and obligations pertaining to retention periods of documents for Members, in particular those concerning personal and financial information as well as staff information; calls on the Bureau to establish clear, comprehensible and binding rules that duly take into account the number of documents to be stored and their retention method; strongly stresses that rules must be proportionate, do not increase bureaucracy, and are cost adequate; notes that archive activities are to be financed under the general expenditure allowance expenses;

67.

Recalls that pursuant to Rule 11(4) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, Parliament already provides Members with the possibility of publishing a voluntary audit or confirmation of their general expenditure allowance expenses; notes that five voluntary declarations on the use of the general expenditure allowance were submitted during the calendar year 2020; calls on Parliament’s services to send an annual reminder to Members in relation to this possibility; calls on the Bureau to regularly inform the discharge authority of the number of Members who have followed these recommendations;

68.

Highlights the fact that the 2018 Bureau decision on the general expenditure allowance stipulates that the Bureau will maintain this decision until the end of 2022 and will evaluate it on the basis of the experience gained during the 9th parliamentary term;

69.

Expresses its regret over the fact that the Bureau has not fully implemented the will of the Plenary expressed on several occasions to reform the General Expenditure Allowance (GEA), thereby preventing Union taxpayers' money, which amounts to 40 million Euro per year, from being spent in a more transparent and accountable manner; repeats its call for a reform of the GEA that would establish sample checks by Parliament’s services on 5% of Members’ GEA expenditure, and that would oblige Members to keep all receipts pertaining to the GEA, to annually publish an overview of expenditure by category as well as an independent auditor’s opinion on Parliament’s website, and to return the unspent share of the GEA at the end of the mandate; notes that the requested sample checks would pertain to checking 36 randomly selected Members per year and, based on a calculation by DG FINS, would require a maximum of 4 to 6 FTE posts;

70.

Recalls that the European Ombudsman, in her recommendation of 29 April 2019, in case 1651/2018/THH, found that Parliament’s refusal to grant public access to documents related to the revision of the list of expenses that might be covered by the GEA, constituted maladministration and recommended granting public access to a proposal from the Parliament Bureau’s ad hoc Working Group, including the options listed in that proposal; regrets that Parliament rejected the Ombudsman’s recommendation and urges Parliament’s administration to reconsider granting public access to the documents in question;

Staff, accredited parliamentary assistants and local assistants

71.

Welcomes the fact that the Bureau, at its meeting of 5 July 2021, approved an amendment to Article 40 of its decision of 14 April 2014 on implementing measures for Title VII of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union to enable APAs, at their request, to be paid in euros in any bank within the Union;

72.

Recalls that current rules on the termination of contract for APAs do not foresee the possibility of a termination by ‘mutual consent’, which would be a way to recognise the special political relation between Members and APAs, where both parties can acknowledge the mutual trust no longer exists, and can benefit from a common solution without undermining the APAs’ social rights; regrets that this request has been included in several Parliament discharge resolutions without receiving a satisfactory response, and expects action to be taken as soon as possible;

73.

Reiterates its demand for APAs to receive the same subsistence allowance as the statutory personnel for their missions to attend the part-sessions in Strasbourg; acknowledges that any change to the legal framework, namely the Bureau decision on 2 October 2017, would require a revision of the applicable rules and thus, instructs the Secretary-General to submit this request for decision to the Bureau;

74.

Draws attention to the fact that the allowances for APAs on missions outside the three places of work of the Parliament have not been updated by the Commission since Commission Decision C(2002)98 of 24 January 2002, with a consequent increase in the gap between these allowances and current prices; calls on the Secretary-General to report to the Bureau so that Parliament formally requests the Commission to review the allowances;

75.

Regrets that no follow-up is given to the long-standing request 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 discharge resolutions; calls on the Secretary-General to investigate the budgetary consequences, and the organisation and logistics of these missions;

76.

Rejects the compulsory appointment of APAs as representatives to deal with the Belgian authorities for the processing of the residence permit of third country trainees in Members’ offices; calls for an immediate revision of the applicable rules so that the administration takes over this function;

77.

Commends the exceptional work accomplished by the APA Front Office during 2020 in dealing with the professional difficulties encountered by APAs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Parliament's places of work and in the countries of origin;

78.

Reiterates that APAs should not be compelled to be appointed as heads of visitors' groups and therefore assimilate the responsibility attached to the financial contribution offered by the Parliament to sponsored groups; insists on its demand that APAs be eliminated from the possibilities, leaving only a member of the sponsored group or a professional such as paying agents or travel agencies as heads of groups;

79.

Highlights that, as from mid-March 2020, Parliament’s administration went from an occasional teleworking scheme to teleworking being implemented between 70 % and 100 %, depending on the lockdown measure in force and on the need for physical presence;

80.

Takes note of the efforts of both Parliament and the Commission to ensure former APAs from the British delegations can transfer acquired pension rights to pension funds in the United Kingdom; calls on Parliament to ensure a solution is found;

81.

Calls on the Bureau to establish a system to allow APAs to take unpaid leave under similar rules as those applied to temporary or contract staff, who can take up to twelve months unpaid leave during their career;

82.

Notes that, in June and November 2020, Parliament conducted two institution-wide surveys among its members of staff on the future use of teleworking; recognises that the results of both surveys showed a high level of staff satisfaction with teleworking and that members of staff embrace a broader use of teleworking in the post-pandemic period; requests that as long as risks of infection with COVID-19 remain reasonably high even for vaccinated individuals, members of staff belonging to high risk groups should, upon providing proof of their condition, retain the possibility of teleworking full-time;

83.

Commends Parliament’s introduction of a range of measures to support the work-life balance of staff during the business-continuity teleworking, especially for those with more challenging personal circumstances; notes that the measures included flexibility (in terms of working time and output) for members of staff with demanding family situations, the possibility to work part-time outside the place of employment for members of staff that needed to take care of direct relatives, allowing carers of children with a disability to work 50 % with no corresponding loss of income during the period when schools and facilities for children with a disability were closed, and a temporary derogation from Staff Regulations to allow vulnerable members of staff to telework 100 % from their country of origin; calls on Parliament to ensure that the application procedure for such special schemes is well-communicated and clear and to avoid delays in granting the schemes;

84.

Welcomes the possibility offered by the Secretary-General’s decision of 31 March 2021 to work away from the place of employment; regrets, however, that this was only possible on a part-time basis with a corresponding reduction of salary; regrets that such decision forced staff and APAs out of Belgium at that time to choose between loss of earnings or returning to Parliament’s places of work, at a time when traveling was strongly discouraged; notes with satisfaction that the Bureau, on 17 April 2021, acknowledged the unsound nature of this decision and established a series of criteria under which APAs would be able to telework full time (including medical conditions, travel restrictions and border closures); notes with great concern that the obligation to telework from the place of employment during periods of near-complete lockdown has increased feelings of isolation and fuelled mental health problems among members of staff; calls on the administration to lift the obligation for all categories of staff, including trainees, in the future to telework from their place of employment in such exceptional and time-limited periods such as periods of near-complete lockdowns in place during parts of 2020;

85.

Notes that creating the permanent possibility for members of staff to telework from anywhere, under conditions to be specified, entails a great number of advantages for both members of staff and institutions including the improvement of staff well-being and increasing Parliament’s attractiveness as an employer, financial savings made through, inter alia, a reduced need for office space, a reduced environmental impact from staff commutes and a closer link between the Union institutions and citizens in Member States other than Belgium, France and Luxembourg; calls on Parliament to enter into an inter-institutional discussion with a view to reviewing the decision obliging staff to telework exclusively from their place of employment in exceptional circumstances, e.g. under the condition of temporarily forfeiting their expat allowance;

86.

Commends, at the level of the General Secretariat, Parliament’s support to members of staff through reinforcing existing resources and putting in place new measures, such as two helplines, psychological consultations and group sessions, social assistance, confidential counselling, and a network of mental health first aiders; welcomes the fact that a diverse set of awareness-raising initiatives and psychosocial support resources were offered to members of staff, including free online mindfulness classes for all members of staff from October 2020;

87.

Notes that two directorates-general put in place specific policies framing the right to disconnect while five others raised awareness among managers of the right to disconnect; calls upon Parliament to adopt guidelines on the right to disconnect including every category of staff for every directorate-general and make sure all directorates-general put such guidelines in place;

88.

Welcomes the achievements made so far as a result Parliament’s gender mainstreaming policy, in reaching gender parity at the level of directors, and 41,9 % of heads of unit posts being occupied by women; notes that there is still significant room for improvement at the level of directors-general with currently only 23,1 % of these posts being occupied by women; welcomes the fact that the Bureau approved on 13 January 2020 new and more ambitious targets for gender balance in senior and middle management posts in Parliament’s secretariat to be achieved by 2024: 50 % female heads of unit, 50 % female directors and 40 % female directors-general; reiterates that it is essential for staff representatives to be heard when the Bureau discusses general matters affecting its staff policy, and repeats its request to the Secretary-General to take the appropriate measures to implement this key approach; reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to take further steps to ensure transparency and fairness during senior management appointment procedures, in particular in light of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) of 14 July 2021 in Case T-670/19, Carbajo Ferrero v Parliament (6); notes the limitations through Article 3, fourth paragraph, of Annex III of the Staff Regulations concerning the participation of staff representatives in senior management selection panels; requests, furthermore, to ensure consistency when it comes to external publications of senior management posts and diligence in the publication of these posts as and when they fall vacant;

89.

Reiterates its call to the Secretary-General to insist on the importance of all recruitment being based on competency, while also respecting the need for geographical balance of all Member States at all levels of staff; is concerned by the difficulties encountered in recruiting certain nationalities and bringing certain job profiles in-house; requests further efforts to ensure that employment at Parliament is equally attractive to all Union nationalities; calls on Parliament to build its own outreach capacity, with the goal of attracting quality candidates, that Parliament needs, to competitions, in terms of profile, age, gender and nationality and in particular candidates under-represented countries;

90.

Recalls the staff committee’s resolution of 18 October 2021 on a new scheme put in place to offer contract agent posts to trainees; is of the opinion that recruitment procedures must be merit-based, competitive, fair and transparent while there must be no privileged access to contract agent posts or discrimination against staff and APAs; asks the administration to reconsider the new scheme involving the staff representatives in the process;

91.

Proposes that, in line with the fact that promoting equal opportunities remains a key component of Parliament’s human resource management policy, a greater focus is placed on equal opportunities for all, in particular increasing the number of people with disabilities working in Parliament’s administration; notes that within the Bureau a high-level group on gender equality and diversity already exists and requests that it conduct a study of effective measures taken in Member States and internationally to increase 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 and for them to be achieved over a short time frame;

92.

Notes with serious concern that 17 new harassment cases were opened in 2020; stresses that efforts still need to be made to ensure that the two advisory committees dealing with harassment complaints concerning Members and all members of staff gain more trust from victims of harassment, who may fear that their career or position in Parliament would be at stake if they go through the whole harassment procedure, gather evidence and build their case; urges the Bureau and Secretariat to implement the actions as repeatedly called for in the resolutions on harassment of 26 October 2017 (217/2897 (RSP)) (7), 28 November 2019 (2019/2855 (RSP)) (8) and 10 December 2021 (2021/2986 (RSP)) (9), including, notably, publishing the results of an external audit on the current anti-harassment structure in place and making anti-harassment training mandatory for all Members and members of staff, including persons in managerial roles in the different directorates-general and political groups;

93.

Further calls on Parliament to ensure that reimbursement procedures for psychological treatment for any victim of harassment are not overly bureaucratic and are processed quickly;

94.

Recalls that Article 1.7 of the cleaning contract specifies that contractors must comply with social and labour law obligations as provided for by Union law, national law and collective agreements or by international obligations in social and labour law; recalls that where the responsible Parliament services detect or receive any information on possible breaches, and on the condition that the persons concerned have, to no avail, already raised the issue with their managers, the union representatives and the external service for prevention and well-being of the company, the relevant authorities need to be contacted; notes that neither an inspection of the national service 'Contrôle des lois sociales/Direction de Bruxelles' (2020) nor an analysis by the psychosocial department of the external service for prevention and protection at work in Brussels (2020) found any legal breaches related to social laws and working conditions for cleaning staff; calls for an immediate launch of a survey, conducted by an external company to guarantee confidentiality and anonymity for the respondents, that aims to reflect the actual state of the company’s employee satisfaction levels, engagement, commitment, loyalty, motivation, etc. and to identify weaknesses, problems or opportunities for improvement within the current cleaning company; calls on Parliament to take all necessary precautions to ensure that the highest standards of labour law for cleaning staff, are being upheld by external contractors, in particular with regard to psychological pressure and working conditions;

95.

Calls on Parliament to ensure that working plans for members of staff in shift work, including in particular members of staff in the Directorate-General for Security, are communicated well in advance and avoid modifications at short notice wherever possible;

96.

Welcomes the completion of the new wing at the Wayenberg crèche; regrets the successive changes and prolonged closures of sections due to the internal COVID-19 protocol which were communicated with minimal notice and without time to react; calls for a review of the COVID-19 health protocols to bring them in line with national protocols and to ensure that this important service continues to be provided as much as possible; calls on the DG PERS to make sure that changes in the crèche’s working time arrangements are introduced and communicated to parents in due time to allow them to perform their working obligations with minimum interruptions; reiterates its call to DG PERS to conduct a satisfaction survey among both the crèche’s employees and children’s parents to regularly get relevant feedback on the provider; takes note that a new call for tender in relation to the management of the Wayenberg crèche was launched in 2021 and that the new service provider took over on 1 February 2022; calls on DG PERS to closely follow the quality of services of the new provider, which retained existing workers in accordance with Belgian labour law; calls for a constant monitoring to ensure that the new provider offers good working conditions that help retain quality personnel;

97.

Calls for the timetables of Parliament’s staff and APAs to be taken into account in order to adapt the opening hours of the services provided within the Parliament, particularly the Sport Club, to provide service beyond peak working hours and thus allow a greater number of users to access them;

98.

Welcomes Parliament’s efforts to provide daily solidarity meals which have helped to reduce the financial, economic and social impact on its caterers and their employees; notes that Parliament is seeking to save as many jobs as possible that are reasonable from an employment point of view but also justifiable in the context of proper use of Parliament’s budget;

Building policy

99.

Recalls that throughout 2020, the administration continued the implementation of Parliament’s ‘Building Strategy Beyond 2019’ as endorsed by the Bureau in April 2018; observes that that building strategy endorses flexibility as a key principle for allocating offices to both Members and members of staff and allows the space available to be used in an adjustable manner while adapting to all possible situations in the post-COVID-19 period;

100.

Notes that the decision to discontinue the distribution of warm water in Members’ offices in Brussels and Strasbourg was taken by the Quaestors on 24 October 2017 in connection with the health risk posed by the presence of harmful Legionella bacteria within the ageing and deteriorating hydraulic systems of the buildings; stresses that the fight against Legionella bacteria is one of the most important tasks in the field of water treatment and disinfection; asks the Secretariat to call for an in-depth study in order to find adequate solutions to this long-standing issue;

101.

Supports a debate on the space needs of Parliament in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, current and future increase in teleworking and, if appropriate, for the adaptation of its long-term building strategy; encourages the review of the building policy to see if a dedicated office space for each member of staff remains necessary, as a change might result in office space savings; encourages the administration to pool workstations as much as possible in accordance with members of staff’s teleworking, while continuing to guarantee an office space for each member of staff who so requests; points out, in addition, that consideration should be given to the potentially negative effects on health and staff satisfaction of practices such as open spaces, collaborative spaces and ‘hot-desking’; recalls the work done by the focus groups and the working group on buildings and requests their involvement in this debate; invites the Bureau to take the appropriate steps for the implementation of the recommendations of focus group 5, notably concerning the creation of more informal meeting rooms, multi-functional and enhanced video-conferencing rooms in line with Parliament’s environmental policy;

102.

Highlights that the mopping-up practice has favoured savings of more than EUR 100 million in interest payments in recent years and thus constitutes best practice for the use of taxpayers’ money in public institutions; encourages the Bureau to identify additional budget lines that could benefit from this practice; notes that this practice has helped prevent the spending of remaining funds on unnecessary expenses at the end of the year; recalls that the mopping-up transfer supports the long-term building strategy of Parliament of owning buildings instead of renting them; recalls that the ramassage enabled Parliament to buy the strategically important Scholl building in 2020 and pay the full buying price in one transaction thus avoiding further financing costs;

103.

Notes that an important part of Parliament’s building strategy is the new Adenauer building project, which brings all Parliament services operating in Luxembourg under the same roof; observes that the first part of this project (East Wing) was completed in October 2020, and that works to construct the final part - the West Wing - are underway; underlines that as in previous years, Parliament’s Committee on Budgets authorised in 2020 a mopping-up transfer for the pre-financing of the project, and that the part of this transfer dedicated to the new Adenauer building amounted to approximately EUR 63,35 million;

104.

Recalls that, concerning the acquisition of the Scholl building, at its meeting of 5 October 2020, the Bureau approved the launch of a local property market prospection in Brussels and that Parliament’s Committee on Budgets held an exchange of views on this subject at its meeting of 15 October 2020 in the context of Early Information;

105.

Understands that, in Brussels, the decision to purchase the Scholl building in 2020 allowed the completion of another step of Parliament’s building strategy, and that it will further consolidate Parliament real estate, underpinning the interconnectivity of the central buildings and contribute to improved security; stresses that this purchase was also the subject of a mopping-up transfer, using the financial resources saved during 2020 through, inter alia, reduced travel expenses, amounting to EUR 74,9 million;

106.

Notes the purchase of the Scholl building at EUR 74,9 million, while the market price of the building was previously estimated to be between EUR 42 and 65 million; notes that the difference between purchase price and the estimation by the external expert should be analysed against the situation where Parliament would not have acquired the building and would have lost already realised investments; notes that the usufruct contract signed by Parliament in 2009 regretfully did not include an exit clause, which meant that Parliament would have in any case had to pay the full amount for the remaining contractual period (~ EUR 24 million), even if it had not acquired the building;

107.

Highlights that, in Brussels, some buildings either currently occupied by Parliament or of major strategic interest due to their location and the related security aspects, are not part of Parliament’s portfolio, as was the case with the Scholl building before its acquisition; notes that Parliament’s ‘Building Strategy Beyond 2019’ underlines the importance of owning and interconnecting Parliament central buildings and mentions Trèves II as a building that is in Parliament’s interest to acquire; notes that while these criteria are important and should be carefully analysed when proposing the purchase of a new building, they should not be the only criteria considered;

108.

Underlines that staff of political groups have specific needs in term of flexible working arrangements which do not fit with the rules applied to the entry of buildings outside the main one (e.g. access not allowed after a certain time or during the weekend); regrets that after the entry into force of the temperature check requirement, the staff located in the Trèves I building have been obliged for some time to have the test done at the Altiero Spinelli building before being allowed to enter the Trèves I building;

109.

Express concerns about Trèves I building structural problems; underlines the urgent need for the building to be upgraded to the latest energy and environmental norms; underlines the need for urgent measures to fix the unstable heating system, the lack of air conditioning and toilets for persons with reduced mobility, the poor sound proofing, as well as the sewage problem;

110.

Notes that Parliament’s Committee on Budgets is responsible for opinions and decisions concerning building-related projects with significant financial implications according to Annex VI to the Rules of Procedure; notes the competences of the Committee on Budgets under Article 266 of the Financial Regulation in relation to buildings of all institutions, bodies and offices, including Parliament; underlines that this includes early information, information on transparent and detailed planning, scrutiny, and decision making as well as the authorisation of projects;

111.

Calls on the Bureau to take the new health and safety environment, as well as the increase in remote working, into account as criteria for the selection of proposals of renovation and reconstruction of the Paul-Henri Spaak building, given the change in working practices and potential future decrease in physical presence in Parliament;

112.

Expects more transparent and detailed planning and decision-making, including the provision of early information, having due regard to Article 266 of the Financial Regulation, in relation to Parliament’s building policy;

113.

Takes note of the unanimous decision of the Bureau of 23 October 2019 to approve the creation of an IDEA Lab in 2020 with the aim of testing new, innovative solutions in the context of offices and facility management; notes that the decision of the Bureau was not based on any specific cost estimate; further notes that as part of the IDEA Lab, one Member’s office, at a cost of EUR 486 012, and adjacent showroom, at a cost of at least EUR 203 978, were built and equipped over the course of 2020; considers prudent and expedient use of budget allocated to pilot projects of this nature to be important; reminds the Bureau that clear budget lines should be set prior to engaging in such projects and that expenditure should be accounted for transparently; considers the testing of innovative office and facility management solutions useful in general but considers that the costs need to remain reasonable and justifiable; notes that it is important that projects like this benefit from the assessment of a range of Members and APAs in order to guarantee the most valid test results;

114.

Recalls the recommendations of focus group 5 in evaluating the IDEA Lab IT tools, which included more and better equipped meeting rooms, offices with remote/web-streaming meeting facilities and improved videoconferencing with a broader range of features;

115.

Recalls that during the Bureau meetings of 16 December 2019, 22 July 2020, 24 September 2020, 16 December 2020, and 18 January 2021, the members of the Bureau suggested that the IDEA Lab test solutions in the area of environmental performance, energy efficiency, security(especially electronic locks), IT and teleworking as well as ICT innovation strategy;

116.

Notes that as part of the IDEA Lab, the area of and around one office on the 15th floor serves as test area and that this area was substantially adapted at a cost of EUR 629 259 over the course of 2020; recalls that the removal of modular bathrooms in Members’ offices has been tested in the IDEA Lab and is considered a potential space gain that could be achieved in all offices during the coming 5-10 years; recalls that only on the 15th floor is it possible to cut and isolate the existing water pipes and adjust the ventilation ducts without permanent water cuts for the other floors;

117.

Stresses that currently 20 % of the space is not properly used, such as the copy rooms or space initially intended as server rooms; further notes that the findings of the IDEA Lab will deliver data and experience for future renovation works not only in the Paul-Henri Spaak Building, but also in the Altiero Spinelli building which will be usable for another 20-25 years;

118.

Underlines that the Bureau in its constitutive meeting of 26 January 2022 renewed the support for the IDEA Lab; welcomes that the IDEA Lab is now entering a phase in which the reflections that have existed from the beginning can be implemented, namely to integrate the costs of testing and applications on one budget line for the project management of the IDEA Lab on the one hand, and on corresponding budget lines in the directorates-general in charge of the individual applications on the other;

119.

Welcomes the fact that the extension of the Wayenberg nursery in Brussels was completed in September 2020; regrets that the works have continued while children and their families have been attending school, in some cases having to pass very close to the works, considering the danger that this entailed; invites the Bureau to initiate in 2022 technical studies to identify additional possibilities to further reduce energy consumption and increase the production of renewable energy, and to implement them as soon as possible;

120.

Welcomes the fact that the strategic approach related to the implementation of Europa Experiences in all Member States by the end of 2024, as decided by the Bureau in November 2019, was reinforced in November 2020 with the adoption by the Bureau of a timeline for the deployment of the facilities in all Member States; strongly expresses the view that European Parliament liaison offices and Europa Experiences are some of the best soft tools the Union and Parliament have to promote the work of the institutions and benefits of the Union for citizens; encourages Parliament and the Commission to continue to establish new Europa Experiences in all capitals and locations of strategic importance in view of the next European elections 2024; supports a formalised contract to split the costs for all Europa Experience between the Commission and Parliament to ensure sound long-term financing of the venues;

Cybersecurity

121.

Recalls the added-value of free and open-source software in improving security since they make it possible for Parliament to identify and fix weaknesses, keep control over the data by hosting in its servers and designing solutions according to its own specifications, while being able to avoid vendor lock-in effects;

122.

Recalls its preference for free and open-source software solutions instead of proprietary ones when considering new internal applications; asks for situations to be reported to the ICT governing bodies when open-source solutions are not chosen;

123.

In line with the previous Parliament discharge resolution and in order to significantly increase the confidentiality of its internal communication, asks the relevant services to test the integration and deployment of solutions for instant messaging and virtual meetings that are open source based, hosted in the Parliament’s servers, and which enable secure communication such as Matrix and Jitsi;

124.

Appreciates the fact that Parliament’s services are working to further improve the quality and accessibility of the publicly available data of the institution by adopting open data principles for re-use and redistribution, which were presented to the Bureau working group on ICT Innovation in April 2021; welcomes Parliament’s open data portal initiative, which aims to accommodate publicly available datasets in an easily accessible and user-friendly way, as well as provide data in an interoperable, machine-readable format and thus put into practice the open data principles on technical, legal, practical and social openness;

125.

Notes that the number of cybersecurity attacks is rising sharply and that those attacks can cause considerable damage to Parliament’s IT systems, to the extent that they affect the institution’s ability to function; welcomes the fact that the Security-General adopted an information security policy in June 2020, identifying the different categories of data and establishing the related conditions that must be observed for their handling and storage, based on a data protection impact assessment and security assessment; notes with concern the critical issues raised by the Secretary-General regarding cybersecurity, including understaffing; encourages Parliament to quickly take all appropriate measures to bolster both its IT structure and its cybersecurity staff;

126.

Notes that a number of Members and their assistants frequently encounter problems when connecting to the Member’s mail account on their mobile devices after changing the password of the Member’s mail account; calls on Parliament to take all necessary measures to ensure that such technical difficulties do not occur;

Voluntary pension scheme

127.

Recalls that as of 31 December 2020, the actuarial deficit of the voluntary pension fund amounted to EUR 371,3 million, compared to EUR 328,6 million as of 31 December 2019;

128.

Recalls that the fund was set up in 1990 to provide Members with an additional pension scheme on a voluntary basis; recalls that before the Members’ Statute was introduced in 2009, Members were already eligible for a pension equivalent to that of their colleagues in the national parliaments, with the exception of Italian, French and Luxembourgish Members, who could therefore contribute to special pension schemes of the European Parliament, which were created in 1981 solely for the needs of the aforementioned three nationalities; recalls therefore that the voluntary pension fund has always constituted a purely supplementary pension (10);

129.

Recalls that, at its meeting of 10 December 2018, 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 improving its sustainability, to addressing the increasing liquidity problem and to reducing the actuarial deficit and the negative consequences for Union taxpayers; recalls that the Bureau decision of 10 December 2018 applies only to pensions established after 1 January 2019, and that as such, it does not affect beneficiaries who retired before that date;

130.

Points out that the Bureau’s decision was challenged before the Court of Justice by a number of members of the fund; stresses that in its judgements of 15 September 2021 in joined cases T-720/19 to T-725/19 (11), Richard Ashworth and Others v Parliament, the Court of Justice concluded that already acquired rights were not impacted by the contested Bureau decision and that the Court of Justice further confirmed the Bureau’s competence to adopt decisions aiming to improve the sustainability of the fund; notes that the Court of Justice also concluded that the Bureau decision of 10 December 2018 respected the principle of proportionality; notes that the judgments were delivered on 15 September 2021, and that Parliament is in the process of examining their implications with a view to submitting additional proposals to improve the sustainability of the fund to the Bureau;

131.

Observes with concern that the Court of Justice estimates that the fund will be insolvent by 2024, while the fund’s last payouts are estimated to be made only by 2091; reiterates that the Bureau’s own commitment to guaranteeing the fund does not constitute a legal obligation to guarantee particular levels of payouts of the fund as no contract between the fund and Parliament exists; appeals to the Bureau, the board of directors and the members of the voluntary pension fund to support measures aiming at limiting the deficit of the voluntary pension fund, while considering any further measures in this light;

132.

Notes with interest that, according to Parliament’s Legal Service, it follows from the two judgments that the Court of Justice confirms that acquired rights as such, of Members who have already fulfilled all the necessary conditions for the acquisition of the right to the additional voluntary pension, are fully protected under the general principles of Union law; notes, however, that the judgments also confirm that this does not prevent the Bureau from modifying the conditions as well as modalities of this group of Members on the condition that the principle of proportionality is duly respected, as well as for those Members who have not yet fulfilled all the conditions for the acquisition of pension rights and who therefore only hold future entitlements under the pension scheme, a situation which is further confirmed by the judgement of the Court of Justice of 24 September 2020 in Case C-223/19, YS v NK (12); asks the administration and the Bureau to guarantee that no taxpayer money is used for any future bail-out; considers that a review of the financial model of the fund would not be sufficient to prevent additional taxpayer money from being used for future payments; urges the Secretary-General therefore to also propose measures on adjusting the modalities of the fund, including a further increase of the retirement age and a reduction of pension benefits paid out;

133.

Notes that the Court’s audit work on the general budget and financial statements of the Union includes an examination of pension liabilities, including the voluntary pension scheme for Members; once again invites the Court to present a new opinion on the voluntary pension funds, investigating all possible options to limit its deficit, considering that this could help in further investigating measures to manage the funds;

134.

Recalls that the 2017 Parliament discharge resolution called for the Secretary-General to come forward with any findings in response to the investigation into the legal foundations of the scheme; underlines that this investigation should be carried out by an independent party;

135.

Stresses that Article 27(2) of the statute for Members states that Members who contributed to the fund acquired rights and future entitlements, which shall be maintained in full, and thus, do not cease if the fund terminates; recalls, moreover, that Parliament paid two thirds of the total contributions of the defined benefit pension scheme on a monthly basis, thus underlining its regular participation in the fund; stresses that Members who paid contributions to the voluntary pension fund and acquired rights and future entitlements did so in good faith, thus relying on Parliament to honour its financial obligations;

Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme

136.

Notes with concern the lack of understanding within the decision-making and approval forums of the joint sickness insurance scheme (JSIS) when it comes to new treatments, medical trends and not yet approved drugs particularly linked to novel appearances of nervous diseases, autoimmune disorders as well cancer diseases; requests that the relevant bodies within JSIS duly and regularly take into account recent medical developments and knowledge gains when updating the list of eligible treatments and drugs; requests JSIS to show more flexibility when assessing clinical pictures as well as subsequent treatment and therapies that might help a patient; recommends the introduction of expert groups, which can assess and approve not-yet approved treatments, pharmaceutical drugs, and medications to improve the treatment quality of applicants, decrease bureaucratic burden, and accommodate the most recent medical information when handling reimbursement claims;

137.

Calls on the Bureau to ensure that JSIS shall provide a coherent and individual explanation for declining a reimbursement request; regrets the culture of declining a reimbursement request in pdf format without the possibility to challenge the decision in person; calls on the Bureau to introduce the possibility for local doctors in charge of the treatment of an applicant to talk to the responsible JSIS unit or expert group to explain the treatment and medical benefits; further expresses its wish to improve the user-friendliness of the application enabling a quicker and more direct follow-up of individual requests;

Annual report on contracts awarded

138.

Recalls that the Financial Regulation specifies 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 Regulation requires publication of 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;

139.

Notes that, of a total of 198 contracts awarded in 2020, 60 were based on open or restricted procedures, with a value of EUR 405,2 million, and 136 were based on negotiated procedures, with a value of EUR 179,1 million; notes that the total number of contracts awarded by negotiated procedures increased in terms of value as a percentage of the total value of contracts awarded from 26 % in 2019 to 31 % in 2020 but declined in terms of volume from EUR 208,53 million in 2019 to EUR 179,1 million in 2020;

140.

Notes the following breakdown of contracts by type awarded in 2019 and 2020, including building contracts:

Type of contract

2020

2019

Number

Percentage

(%)

Number

Percentage

(%)

Services

Supply

Works

Building

161

21

13

3

81

10

7

2

17 733

13

2

78

15

6

1

Total

198

100

225

100

Type of contract

2020

2019

Value (EUR)

Percentage

(%)

Value (EUR)

Percentage

(%)

Services

Supply

Works

Building

457 940 293

14 143 825

28 291 234

86 812 000

77

3

5

15

581 610 182

85 741 237

135 211 526

4 260 000

72

10

17

1

Total

587 187 352

100

806 822 945

100

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2020, p. 6)

141.

Notes the following breakdown of contracts awarded in 2020 and 2019 by type of procedure used, in terms of number and value:

Type of procedure

2020

2019

Number

Percentage

(%)

Number

Percentage

(%)

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

CEI list

Exceptional

Innovation partnership

57

3

135

1

1

1

29

2

68

0

0

1

82

1

141

0

1

36,44

0,44

62,68

0,44

0

Total

198

100

225

100

Type of procedure

2020

2019

Value (EUR)

Percentage

(%)

Value (EUR)

Percentage

(%)

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

CEI list

Exception

Innovation Partnership

400 464 868

4 722 196

179 199 392

27 000

16 000

2 757 876

68

1

31

0

0

0

595 584 380

1 735 269

208 533 296

970 000

74

0

26

0

Total

407 987 960

100

806 822 945

100

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2020, p. 7-8)

142.

Notes the fact that 72 % of exceptional negotiated procedures launched in 2020 by Parliament for contracts with a value of more than EUR 15 000 use Point 11.1(b) of Annex I to the Financial Regulation as their legal basis, referring to the use of a single economic operator for technical or artistic reasons, or for reasons connected with the protection of exclusive rights, and that 20 % used Point 11.1(c) of Annex I to the Financial Regulation as their legal basis, which relates to cases of extreme urgency for reasons not attributable to the contracting authority and 2 % (one procedure) used Point 11.1(a) as their legal basis, which relates to services where no tenders or no suitable tenders were submitted; observes, for instance, that the 26 exceptional negotiated procedures used by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services in 2020 are based on point 11.1(b) of Annex I to the Financial Regulation relating to a single economic operator and the protection of exclusive rights concerned subscriptions to online databases or press agencies;

143.

Welcomes Parliament’s intention to introduce sustainability reporting, which will include social aspects of procurement, calls on Parliament to monitor developments in the field of social and sustainable public procurement, such as the OECD work on public procurement and responsible business conduct, as well as the upcoming Union legislation on corporate due diligence; believes that by incorporating responsible business standards in its procurement and purchasing policies, Parliament can lead by example, safeguard public interest and ensure the accountability of public spending; commends the responsible Parliament services for extending Parliament’s environmental management system to cover other sustainability elements, as well as the setting up of a working group on socially responsible public procurement;

144.

Welcomes the complete removal of thermal cameras produced by Hikvision used on Parliament’s premises; calls on Parliament to prevent the purchase and use of products that may have been produced in violation of sustainability standards and human rights in future; is convinced this can be achieved primarily by incorporating human rights and environmental due diligence standards and practices in Parliament’s procurement procedures;

145.

Notes that there were 1 415 single bidder tenders in 2020, 89 of which concerned contracts above the threshold of EUR 15 000, compared to 1 369 single bidder tenders in 2019, 102 of which concerned contracts above the threshold of EUR 15 000; reiterates that single bidder tenders carry a significant risk to the principle of competition and achieving the best value for public money; reiterates its call on Parliament to investigate the reasons for the apparent lack of competition and to take the necessary measures to reduce the number of single bidder tenders in future procedures;

Political groups (budget item 4 0 0)

146.

Notes that, in 2020, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 0, attributed to the political groups and non-attached Members, were used as follows (13):

Group

2020

2019  (14)

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)

17 239

4 448

11 489

66,65

10 198

17 139

4 253

16 993

99,15

4 399

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

13 609

5 734

9 533

70,05

9 809

14 611

4 807

13 705

93,80

5 710

Renew Europe (former Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE))

9 230

3 847

4 063

44,02

6 922

7 721

1 627

5 510

71,37

3 838

The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA)

6 381

2 376

4 054

63,53

4 703

5 573

1 388

4 585

82,27

2 376

Identity and Democracy (ID)  (15)

7 121

1 616

3 976

55,84

4 761

3 244

0

1 629

50,22

1 615

European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)

5 851

2 272

4 145

70,85

3 978

6 053

1 946

5 730

94,66

2 270

European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)

3 790

1 536

3 060

80,72

2 266

4 156

1 110

3 731

89,77

1 535

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD)  (16)

0

0

0

0,00

0

1 851

1 915

1 508

81,45

0

Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF)  (16)

0

0

0

0,00

0

1 620

653

1 609

99,34

0

Non-attached Members

1 726

738

429

24,82

1 041

2 019

367

481

23,84

738

Total

64 947

22 568

40 749

62,74

43 678

63 987

18 067

55 481

86,71

22 482

147.

Welcomes the fact that independent external auditors for the political groups issued only unqualified opinions for the financial year 2020;

European political parties and European political foundations

148.

Observes that, pursuant to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, in 2019 the Authority reviewed for the first time the accounts of European political parties and foundations relating to the financial year 2018; welcomes the fact that the second review of the financial accounts of European political parties and political foundations relating to the financial year 2019 showed that they increasingly rely on formats and templates provided by the Authority, which increases the comparability and accuracy of the information submitted;

149.

Notes that the vast majority of European political parties’ funding comes from public sources and, therefore, requires the highest level of transparency and accountability; underlines that the Authority should provide information covering the registration and financial situation of European political parties and foundations to the greatest extent possible; welcomes the efforts made by the Authority to make a wide array of information accessible to citizens on its website; calls on the Authority to make sure that the documents published in its website are user-friendly, complete and updated and recognises the announcement of the Authority during its hearing to complete a website accessibility benchmarking exercise;

150.

Points out that the Authority has limited powers with regard to verifying whether a registered party or foundation is in breach of the Union’s core values and has never triggered the complex values compliance procedure thus far; calls for the strengthening of the current administrative set-up of the Authority in order to better monitor its compliance with the relevant rules and the implementation of sanctions, as well as to ensure its complete independence and neutrality;

151.

Notes that, in 2020, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 2 were used as follows (17):

Party (2020)

Abbreviation

Own resources

EP final contribution  (18)

Total revenue

EP contribution as % of reimbursable expenditure (max. 90 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserve or loss)

European People's Party

EPP

1 229 780

6 603 847

7 833 627

90

552 688

Party of European Socialists

PES

1 067 410

5 102 420

6 169 830

90

555 149

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party

ALDE

568 429

3 069 202

3 637 631

90

964 177

European Green Party

EGP

545 613

2 476 829

3 022 442

90

536 571

Party of the European Left

EL

289 330

1 163 617

1 452 947

90

98 874

European Democratic Party

PDE

102 152

289 080

391 232

90

102 842

European Free Alliance

EFA

125 543

695 550

821 093

90

91 784

European Conservatives and Reformists Party

ECR Party

335 408

1 632 616

1 968 024

82

European Christian Political Movement

ECPM

84 026

557 375

641 401

90

3 465

Identity and Democracy party

ID Party

154 160

604 526

758 686

90

26 779

Total

 

4 501 851

22 195 062

26 696 913

 

2 932 329

152.

Notes that, in 2020, the appropriations entered under budget item 403 were used as follows (19):

Foundation (2020)

Abbreviation

Affiliated to party

Own resources

EP final grant

Total revenue

EP grant as % of eligible costs (max. 95 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserve or loss)

Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

WMCES

EPP

296 292

3 947 722

4 244 014

95

23 529

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

FEPS

PES

328 973

4 555 512

4 884 485

95

35 590

European Liberal Forum

ELF

ALDE

298 273

2 710 157

3 008 430

95

136 821

Green European Foundation

GEF

EGP

116 727

1 965 047

2 081 774

95

7 093

Transform Europe

TE

EL

69 685

1 102 913

1 172 598

95

6 805

Institute of European Democrats

IED

PDE

25 517

448 110

473 627

95

0

Coppieters Foundation

Coppieters

EFA

63 243

515 401

578 644

95

19 056

New Direction - Foundation for European Reform

ND

ECR Party

183 131

1 678 350

1 861 481

95

61 993

Sallux

SALLUX

ECPM

21 278

299 291

320 569

95

3 307

Association pour l'Identite et Democratie Fondation

ID Foundation

ID Party

35 501

456 075

491 576

95

Total

 

 

1 438 620

17 678 578

19 117 198

 

294 193

153.

Recalls that, in accordance with Article 38 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, Parliament adopted its report on the application of that regulation on 26 October 2021 (20); welcomes the Commission legislative proposal of 25 November 2021 to amend the regulation (21);

154.

Believes that European political parties and foundations should make greater use of new technologies in order to improve the transparency and traceability of donations and expenditure.

 


(1)  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).

(2)  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).

(3)  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).

(4)  Report A7-0350/2013 available at https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-7-2013-0350_EN.pdf

(5)  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).

(6)  Judgment of the General Court of 14 July 2021, T-670/19, Fernando Carbajo Ferrero v European Parliament, ECLI:EU:T:2021:435.

(7)  Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0417.

(8)  Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0080.

(9)  Texts adopted, P9_TA(2021)0514.

(10)  https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/659763/IPOL_STU(2021)659763_EN.pdf

(11)  Judgment of the General Court of 15 September 2021, Richard Ashworth and Others v European Parliament, T-720/19 to T-725/19, ECLI:EU:T:2021:580.

(12)  Judgment of the Court of Justice of 24 September 2020, YS v NK, C-223/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:753.

(13)  All amounts in thousands of EUR.

(14)  2019 was an electoral year; accounts were submitted by political groups based on semesters. For political groups that continued their activity after the 2019 European elections, the figures for annual appropriations and expenditures refer to the sum of both semesters.

(15)  For political groups that did not exist before the 2019 European elections, figures are for the second semester only.

(16)  For political groups dissolved after the 2019 European elections, figures are for the first semester only.

(17)  All amounts in thousands of EUR.

(18)  Composed of second part of 2019 final funding and first part of 2020 final funding according to the Bureau Decision of 14 February 2022.

(19)  All amounts in thousands of EUR.

(20)  Texts adopted, P9_TA(2021)0454.

(21)  COM(2021) 734.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/29


DECISION (EU) 2022/1688 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section II – European Council and Council

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021)381 – C9-0260/2021) (2),

having regard to the Council’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020,

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2020, 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 2020, 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) 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 (5), 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 (A9-0067/2022),

 

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 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 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(4)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 207.

(5)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/30


RESOLUTION (EU) 2022/1689 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

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 2020, Section II – European Council and Council

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 2020, Section II – European Council and Council,

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 (A9-0067/2022),

A.

whereas, under Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Parliament has the sole responsibility of granting discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the Union, and whereas the budget of the European Council and of the Council is a section of the Union budget;

B.

Whereas, pursuant to Article 15(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the European Council is not to exercise legislative functions;

C.

whereas, under Article 317 TFEU, the Commission is to implement the Union budget on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management, and whereas, under the framework in place, the Commission is to confer on the other Union institutions the requisite powers for the implementation of the sections of the budget relating to them;

D.

whereas, under Articles 235(4) and 240(2) TFEU, the European Council and the Council (the ‘Council’) are assisted by the General Secretariat of the Council (the ‘GSC’), and whereas the Secretary-General is wholly responsible for the sound management of the appropriations entered in Section II of the Union budget;

E.

whereas, over the course of almost twenty years, Parliament has been implementing the well-established and respected practice of granting discharge to all Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, and whereas the Commission supports that the practice of giving discharge to each Union institution, body, office and agency for its administrative expenditure should continue to be pursued;

F.

whereas, since 2009, the Council’s lack of cooperation in the discharge procedure has compelled Parliament to refuse to grant discharge to the Secretary-General of the Council;

G.

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;

H.

whereas the European Council and the Council, as Union institutions and as recipients of the general budget of the Union, should be transparent and democratically accountable to the citizens of the Union and subject to democratic scrutiny of the spending of public funds;

I.

whereas the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union confirms the right of taxpayers and of the public to be kept informed about the use of public revenue;

J.

whereas the recommendation of the European Ombudsman (the ‘Ombudsman’) in Case OI/2/2017/TE indicated that the Council’s practice with regard to transparency in the legislative process constituted maladministration and should be addressed in order to enable citizens to follow the Union legislative process;

1.

Notes with satisfaction that the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) identified no significant weaknesses in respect of the audited topics relating to human resources and procurement for the Council;

2.

Emphasises the fact that, on the basis of its audit work, the Court concluded that the payments as a whole for the administrative expenditure of the Union Institutions, including that of the Council, for the financial year 2020 were free from material error;

3.

Welcomes the fact that no specific issues were detected by the Court on the regularity of the transactions or following examination of the supervisory and control system of the Council;

4.

Is aware that Chapter 9 ‘Administration’ of the Annual Report of the Court is focused on expenditure on human resources, buildings, equipment, energy, communication and information technology, and that the Court indicates that this spending is low risk;

Budgetary and financial management

5.

Notes that in 2020 the Council had an overall budget of EUR 590 633 000 (compared to EUR 581 895 459 in 2019); observes a budget increase of 1,5 % compared to 2019 which confirms a downward trend in the annual budget increase (1,6 % in 2019, 2 % in 2018 and 3 % in 2017); notes that the Council share under Heading 5 of the Multiannual Financial Framework has decreased from 6,3 % in 2015 to 5,8 % in 2020; notes a high global implementation rate of 93,15 % (compared to 92,3 % in 2019);

6.

Understands that the Council’s budget is mostly administrative with a large part of it being used for expenditure in relation to staff, buildings (including furniture and equipment) and miscellaneous running costs; reiterates its call, made in previous resolutions on the budget, for separate budgets for the European Council and the Council in order to improve transparency, accountability and expenditure efficiency for both institutions;

7.

Recalls that appropriations carried over from 2019 to 2020 amounted to a total of EUR 52 543 491 (compared to EUR 56 599 584 from 2018 to 2019) and welcomes the fact that implementation amounted to 86,4 % (EUR 45 375 664), concentrated mainly on buildings, computer systems, interpretation and technical equipment;

8.

Notes an increase in the carry-over of appropriations from 2020 to 2021 (12,6 % in comparison to 9,8 % from 2019 to 2020); reminds the Council that carry-overs are exceptions to the principle of annuality of the Union budget and could be an indicator of budget over-estimations, and calls on the Council to step up its efforts to prevent budget overestimates;

9.

Observes that in 2020 the Council’s payments represented 5,2 % of the Union budget; notes that the average payment time for invoices to the GSC was 20 days in 2020 (compared to 19 in 2019) while the maximum time limit is 30 calendar days as stipulated by Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (1);

10.

Notes that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the 2020 budget implementation; observes that fewer physical meetings led to lower spending on delegates’ travel expenses and interpretation costs; notes that this underspending was compensated at budgetary level by an increased spending on IT in order to rapidly develop the capacity for remote working and to guarantee business continuity; observes that such expenditure covered the relevant areas of new software acquisitions, external assistance and provision of hardware to facilitate home working;

11.

Notes that in 2020 the appropriations were reallocated by 46 transfers under Article 29 of the Financial Regulation; observes that those transfers aimed to reinforce the Council’s teleworking capabilities and videoconference infrastructure, including the purchase of additional IT equipment, licenses and communication tools; notes that, overall, the transfers were done from the budget lines for interpreting costs, cleaning and maintenance, buildings security and surveillance, and miscellaneous expenditure on internal meetings to the budget lines for installation works, acquisition of equipment and software, and assistance for the operation and development of computer systems;

12.

Notes that in 2020 the Court examined, without remarks, the public procurement procedures organised by the Council and three other Union institutions to acquire personal protective equipment for their staff and that the procurement included strict minimum requirements in the tender specification such as European reference quality standards; is aware that in four cases the successful bidder did not include full evidence that all minimum quality requirements were met at the time of contracting, leading the Council to organise laboratory tests that showed that the personal protective equipment was, indeed, compliant;

Internal management, performance, internal control

13.

Notes that the unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent exceptional situation required immediate action and organisational measures to ensure business continuity; notes with satisfaction that the Council’s timely and effective reaction to that crisis resulted in a number of structured measures in several areas to safeguard staff and to guarantee business continuity;

14.

Observes that the Council uses meetings, administrative modernisation and legislative activities as quantitative indicators of the level of activities carried out during the year; observes that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a decrease of 54,1 % (4 148) in the overall number of meetings that took place in 2020 compared to 2019; notes that in 2020 the GSC organised 3 086 institutional meetings and meetings with third countries (compared to 3 983 in 2019) and 434 other meetings (compared to 3 685 in 2019) and that 39,2 % of the meetings took place in remote or hybrid format;

15.

Welcomes the improvements in the GSC’s internal organisation, focusing in particular on dealing with the working limitations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as an increase in the platforms and bandwidth for teleworking activities and the installation of appropriate videoconferencing equipment in small meeting rooms to facilitate hybrid meetings;

16.

Notes that in 2020 the Council maintained its legislative activity at the same level as in 2019 despite the challenging working conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1 328 legal acts published in the Official Journal of the European Union in 2020 compared to 1 326 in 2019;

17.

Acknowledges that an internal control framework is in place at the Council to provide reasonable assurance of achievement of objectives; is aware that risk management is carried out by keeping registers of the risks identified which are then assessed together with the impact of the mitigating measures adopted;

18.

Is aware that the Council’s internal auditor has performed a number of audits in the framework of the Council’s three-year risk-based strategic plan without issuing recommendations with high priority;

19.

Recalls that key performance indicators are a widely recognised tool for measuring achievement against targets set; calls on the Council to provide summaries of its key performance indicators and the related results in its management reports;

Human resources, equality and staff well-being

20.

Notes that the establishment plan for 2020 was fixed at 3 029 posts (compared to 3 033 in 2019) out of which 2 905 were occupied on 31 December 2020; observes that the occupation rate is close to 96 %;

21.

Regrets the lack of information on the implementation of the Council’s gender action plan and the measures taken to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities at the Council as a workplace; calls on the Council to provide information to the budgetary authority on gender balance, geographical distribution and disabilities of its members of staff and on the related internal policies in force;

22.

Recalls its resolution of 17 December 2020 on the need for a dedicated Council configuration on gender equality as a dedicated institutional forum to ensure stronger integration of gender equality in Union strategies, coordination of all related policies and progress in the main files related to gender equality, as well as harmonisation of the protection of women’s rights and gender equality; regrets that the Council has thus far ignored this call by Parliament;

23.

Recalls that according to Article 286(2) TFEU the Council appoints the members of the Court after consultation with Parliament and understands the difficulties in achieving gender balance as nomination of candidates is the sole responsibility of the Member States and each Member State can only nominate one candidate at a time; finds it unacceptable, however, that the Court has had only 16 female members out of a total of 112 members since its establishment in 1977 (85,7 % male and 14,3 % female) and that in 2020 the Court had only 8 female members compared to 18 male members; calls on the Council to consider the overall composition of the Court so that gender balance, in particular, is considered in the nomination decisions, as well as to tackle this problem with concrete actions, such as presenting Parliament with at least two candidates from each Member State, one being a woman and one being a man;

24.

Notes that the internal psychosocial risk prevention plan 2020-2022 was adopted with a main focus on burnout prevention and good relations at work; observes that the plan was fully integrated into the GSC’s COVID-19 response with psychosocial risk surveys, dedicated information and training sessions, and various interventions by the social service; notes with appreciation the extensive support offered to staff, teams and managers by the organisational and clinical psychologists and social workers whose interventions in 2020 were significantly linked to COVID-19;

25.

Notes that in 2020 a total of 385 people (in active service as well as retired) called on the social service, with a total of 4 425 interventions, some of which were linked to the management of stress generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the internal psychologist processed a total of 164 individual requests; appreciates the fact that psychologists and social workers are an integral part of the psychosocial intervention plan in the event of a critical incident;

26.

Notes that the traineeships office processed more than 10 000 traineeship applications, out of which 110 trainees were selected, including a number of trainees with disabilities under the new positive action programme; reiterates the call on the Council to make sure that all of its trainees receive a decent remuneration;

Ethical framework and transparency

27.

Notes that awareness-raising actions on ethics and expected behaviours were pursued; notes that the next ethics strategy was in preparation at the end of 2020, and that work advanced on developing a new user-centred ethics hub on the Council intranet; regrets, nevertheless, not having received information about the code of conduct applicable to all members of staff;

28.

Welcomes the political agreement on the Transparency Register for interest representatives, reached by Parliament, the Council and the Commission on 15 December 2020 (2); regrets, however, the limitations considered in Article 5 of Parliament’s decision of 27 April 2021 on the conclusion of an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission on a mandatory transparency register (3), such as the fact that the Transparency Register applies to the Member States’ Permanent Representatives only under voluntary schemes; insists that all Permanent Representations should take an active part in it through voluntary schemes during and after their Member State’s Council presidency; calls on the Council, including the Member State representatives, to harmonise, improve and enforce the existing ethics rules, in particular with regard to conflicts of interest, revolving doors and lobby transparency rules; expresses its concern that legislative files are escalated to the European Council on an increasing basis, which has neither a legislative nor an executive function, does not apply the same transparency standards as the Council and is not being held accountable;

29.

Regrets the use of corporate sponsorship to cover some of the expenses incurred by Member States to finance their Council presidency; reiterates its concern that such practice has caused and might cause reputational damage in the future because any actual or perceived conflict of interests jeopardises the reputation of the Council and the Union as a whole; recalls the petitions launched by organisations active in the areas of transparency and accountability, asking the rotating Council presidencies to decline any sponsorship; regrets that a common set of clear, concrete and binding rules was not set out in the guidance on sponsorship included in the Council’s Presidency Handbook in 2021; understands that the financial resources from national budgets vary significantly among Member States and that each Member State, independent of its size and budgetary means, should have equal opportunities to organise a successful Council presidency and therefore, reiterates its call on the Council to examine budgeting the Council Presidency in order to ensure continuity and efficiency of the working process;

30.

Is aware of the Council’s key role in nomination and appointment procedures for the Union institutions and bodies, in particular the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the Members of the Court, and the Members of both the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee; strongly recommends a review of the exercise of that prerogative with a view to guaranteeing and strengthening the democratic participation of relevant stakeholders; regrets that the Council repeatedly failed to take into consideration the recommendations of Parliament in its consultative role regarding the appointment of the members of the Court;

31.

Is reminded of the Court’s statement in its ‘Special Report No 13/2019: The ethical frameworks of the audited EU institutions: scope for improvement’ that ethical conduct ‘contributes to sounder financial management and increased public trust, which is indispensable if public policies are to succeed’ and, in particular, that ‘any unethical behaviour by staff and Members of the Union (EU) institutions and bodies attracts high levels of public interest and reduces trust in the EU’; makes a strong call on the Council, therefore, to respect the opinions of Parliament and reject the appointment of candidates who could potentially damage the credibility of the Union, for instance due to insufficient professional competence or established unethical behaviour;

32.

Reiterates its full endorsement of the Ombudsman’s recommendations on transparency of the Council legislative process following its strategic inquiry (Case OI/2/2017/TE), in particular making the Member States’ positions more accessible, in a machine-readable format, which has already been established in 2013 by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its case-law (4) on transparency and access to documents; believes that compliance with the Ombudsman’s recommendations would enable citizens to be more involved and to better understand Union law making; welcomes the measures adopted by the Council in July 2020 to strengthen legislative transparency in line with the Ombudsman’s recommendations, including the proactive publication of progress reports on negotiations on draft legislative acts as well as the Council mandate for negotiations with Parliament; regrets, however, that the decision-making process in the Council is still far from fully transparent; calls on the Council to take all the necessary measures to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations and the relevant rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union;

33.

Reiterates its deep concern with respect to the confirmed conflicts of interest of Member State representatives involved in policy and budget decision-making processes; follows up Parliament’s previous strong calls on the Council to ensure that Member State representatives who stand to benefit directly from Union subsidies through the businesses they own do not participate in related policy or budgetary discussions and votes; requests the Council to provide Parliament with information on the necessary measures put in place to avoid conflicts of interest;

34.

Shares the Court’s concern about the absence of a common Union ethical framework governing the work of Member State representatives in the Council, expressed in the Court’s Special Report No 13/2019; recalls the Council’s obligation to deal with and resolve high-level conflicts of interest and revolving door issues and to extend the existing mandatory lobby transparency rules;

35.

Strongly reiterates its call on the Council to bring the code of conduct for the President of the European Council in line with those of Parliament and the Commission in order to have rules in place to approve activities related to Union legislation after the President of the European Council leaves his or her post;

Digitalisation, cybersecurity, data protection

36.

Notes that the final budget appropriations made available to the Directorate-General for Digital Services increased substantially at the mid-term and year-end reviews by EUR 10,6 million, reaching a final amount of EUR 54 675 000 and achieving an execution rate of 99,99 %;

37.

Reiterates its call on the Council to use open-source technology in order to prevent vendor lock-in, to retain control over its own technical systems, to provide stronger safeguards for the privacy and data protection of its users, and to increase security and transparency for the public;

Buildings and security

38.

Observes that the Council’s buildings policy since 2004 has aimed to ultimately accommodate all its activities in Brussels in geographically concentrated buildings under its ownership; encourages the Council to adjust its building strategy in order to take into account the working arrangements that will likely become part of long-lasting or permanent working modes, in particular with regard to shared spaces or multipurpose areas;

Environment and sustainability

39.

Welcomes the efforts by the Council to reduce its environmental footprint across its buildings which have been registered under the European eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) since 2016; welcomes the publishing of a detailed environmental statement in October 2020, based on 2019 data;

40.

Notes that on 31 December 2020 the Council was in possession of 3 469 Green Energy Certificates; is aware that such certificates are allocated by the regional energy market regulator based on the energy produced in 2020 by solar panels located on the roof of Council buildings, and that, following the appropriate sales procedures, these will be sold on the open market in 2021;

41.

Calls on the Council to explicitly engage in a ‘zero paper campaign’ and to adopt a structured approach to enhance the sustainable mobility of members of staff; encourages the Council to engage in sustainability reporting on energy management in buildings, thus making it possible to take precise actions towards the reduction of energy consumption;

Communication and multilingualism

42.

Notes the increased audience on several social media platforms from 2019 to 2020 with approximately 443 000 followers on Facebook (an increase of 8 %), approximately 561 000 followers on Twitter (an increase of 22 %) and approximately 167 000 followers on Instagram (an increase of 37 %); observes an increase of 39 % in visits to the Council’s website, reaching more than 16 million visits in 2020; encourages the Council to establish a presence on open-source social media networks to achieve further transparency and broader outreach to Union citizens;

43.

Notes that, in the context of its increased cooperation with the Member States on COVID-19 communication, the Council worked with the European External Action Service to set up the Communicators’ Portal, a secure platform used to share reusable digital content with Member States;

44.

Is aware that the Council was the first Union institution to create a COVID-19 information hub on its website with the aim of explaining, in a regular and comprehensive manner, the response of the Union in general and the Council in particular to the COVID-19 pandemic;

Interinstitutional cooperation

45.

Calls on the Council to comply fully with the obligations set out in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 16 December 2020 between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management, as well as on new own resources, including a roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources (5);

46.

Expresses its belief that the Conference on the Future of Europe can provide the opportunity for Union citizens and civil society organisations to express their views and to discuss proposals to enhance transparency and democratic accountability with regard to the Union budget and, in particular, proposals to improve the transparency and readability of the Council’s budget;

State of play in the discharge procedure

47.

Emphasises Parliament’s prerogative to grant discharge pursuant to Article 319 TFEU as well as the applicable provisions of the Financial Regulation and Parliament’s Rules of Procedure in line with current interpretation and practice, namely, the power to grant discharge in order to maintain transparency and to ensure democratic accountability towards Union taxpayers;

48.

Stresses the well-established and respected practice followed by Parliament over the course of almost twenty years of granting discharge to all Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies; recalls that the Commission has declared its inability to oversee the implementation of the budgets of the other Union institutions; stresses the reiterated view of the Commission that the practice of giving discharge to each Union institution for their administrative expenditure should continue to be pursued directly by Parliament;

49.

Stresses that the current situation, where Parliament can only check the reports of the Court and of the Ombudsman as well as the information on the Council’s website but does not receive written or oral answers from the Council during the annual discharge procedure, i.e. the Council refuses to collaborate with Parliament in the context of the annual discharge procedure, makes it impossible for Parliament to make an informed decision on granting discharge;

50.

Deplores that the Council for more than a decade has shown that it does not have any political willingness to collaborate with Parliament in the context of the annual discharge procedure, which makes it impossible for Parliament to make an informed decision on granting discharge; underlines that this attitude has had a lasting negative effect on both institutions and has discredited the management and democratic scrutiny of the Union budget and on the trust of citizens in the Union as a transparent entity; deeply regrets the Council’s continuing refusal to engage in loyal cooperation in the framework of the discharge procedure that has lasted for more than a decade;

51.

Stresses that, while the current situation has to be improved through better interinstitutional cooperation within the framework of the Treaties, a revision of the Treaties could render the discharge procedure clearer and more transparent by giving Parliament the explicit competence to grant discharge to all Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies individually;

52.

Recalls that the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union supports the right of taxpayers and the public to be kept informed about the use of public revenues; demands, therefore, full respect for Parliament’s prerogative and role as guarantor of the democratic accountability principle; calls on the Council to duly follow up on the recommendations adopted by Parliament in the context of the discharge procedure;

53.

Considers it unacceptable that the COVID-19 pandemic and the exceptional situation experienced have been used as an excuse for not resuming interinstitutional negotiations on the discharge procedure; remains, nevertheless, convinced that an agreement on this matter is possible if the Council were to show any political willingness to collaborate; calls, therefore, on the Council to resume negotiations with Parliament without undue delay in order to find a solution in the current framework of the discharge procedure if it is interested in showing Union citizens that it takes proper budget control and transparency seriously while respecting the respective roles of Parliament and the Council in the discharge procedure.

 


(1)  Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions (OJ L 48, 23.2.2011, p. 1).

(2)  Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 May 2021 between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on a mandatory transparency register (OJ L 207, 11.6.2021, p. 1).

(3)  OJ C 506, 15.12.2021, p. 127.

(4)  Judgment of the Court of Justice of 17 October 2013, Council of the European Union v Access Info Europe, C-280/11 P, ECLI:EU:C:2013:671.

(5)  OJ L 433 I, 22.12.2020, p. 28.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/38


DECISION (EU, EURATOM) 2022/1690 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s 2020 Annual Management and Performance Report for the EU Budget (COM(2021) 301),

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020, together with the institutions’ replies (3), the Court of Auditors’ report on the performance of the EU budget – Status at the end of 2020, together with the institutions’ replies (4) and to the Court of Auditors’ special reports,

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 2020, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06001/2022 – C9-0061/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, and the resolution forming an integral part of it, to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors, and to the national parliaments and the national and regional audit institutions of the Member States, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020, p. 1.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(4)  OJ C 458, 12.11.2021, p. 21.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/40


DECISION (EU, Euratom) 2022/1691 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (now European Education and Culture Executive Agency) (EACEA) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021)405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/776/EU of 18 December 2013 establishing the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2009/336/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (10),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the European Education and Culture Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Education and Culture Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 10.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 343, 19.12.2013, p. 46.

(10)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/42


DECISION (EU, Euratom) 2022/1692 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (now European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency – Eismea) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3)thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/771/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and repealing Decisions 2004/20/EC and 2007/372/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (10),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 23.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 341, 18.12.2013, p. 73.

(10)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/44


DECISION (EU, EURATOM) 2022/1693 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/770/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2004/858/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2014/927/EU of 17 December 2014 amending Implementing Decision 2013/770/EU in order to transform the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency into the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (10),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (11),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 7.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 341, 18.12.2013, p. 69.

(10)  OJ L 363, 18.12.2014, p. 183.

(11)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/46


DECISION (EU, Euratom) 2022/1694 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Research Council Executive Agency for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/779/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the European Research Council Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2008/37/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (10),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the European Research Council Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Research Council Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 30.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 346, 20.12.2013, p. 58.

(10)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/48


DECISION (EU, Euratom) 2022/1695 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Research Executive Agency (now European Research Executive Agency) (REA) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the Research Executive Agency for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/778/EU of 13 December 2013 establishing the Research Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2008/46/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (10),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the European Research Executive Agency discharge in relation to the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Research Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 48.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 346, 20.12.2013, p. 54.

(10)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/50


DECISION (EU, Euratom) 2022/1696 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (now European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency – CINEA) for the financial year 2020

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2020 (COM(2021) 381 – C9-0258/2021) (2),

having regard to the final annual accounts of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency for the financial year 2020 (3),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405), and to the detailed replies to the specific requests made by the European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2020 (COM(2021) 292), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2021) 132),

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

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 15 March 2022 on discharge to be given to the executive agencies in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2020 (06004/2022 – C9-0103/2022),

having regard to Articles 317, 318 and 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) 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 69, 260, 261 and 262 thereof,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (7), and in particular Article 14(3) thereof,

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1653/2004 of 21 September 2004 on a standard financial regulation for the executive agencies pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes (8), and in particular the first and second paragraphs of Article 66 thereof,

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/801/EU of 23 December 2013 establishing the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency and repealing Decision 2007/60/EC as amended by Decision 2008/593/EC (9),

having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173 of 12 February 2021 establishing the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency, the European Research Executive Agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, the European Research Council Executive Agency, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency and repealing Implementing Decisions 2013/801/EU, 2013/771/EU, 2013/778/EU, 2013/779/EU, 2013/776/EU and 2013/770/EU (10),

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

 

1.

Grants the Director of the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2020;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision, the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and the resolution forming an integral part of those decisions, to the Director of the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive 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).

 

The President

Roberta METSOLA

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 57, 27.2.2020.

(2)  OJ C 436, 28.10.2021, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 459, 12.11.2021, p. 47.

(4)  OJ C 439, 29.10.2021, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 430, 25.10.2021, p. 7.

(6)  OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(7)  OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, p. 1.

(8)  OJ L 297, 22.9.2004, p. 6.

(9)  OJ L 352, 24.12.2013, p. 65.

(10)  OJ L 50, 15.2.2021, p. 9.


5.10.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 258/52


RESOLUTION (EU) 2022/1697 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 4 May 2022

with observations forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2020, Section III – Commission and executive agencies

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 2020, Section III – Commission,

having regard to its decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budgets of the executive agencies for the financial year 2020,

having regard to Rule 99 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality,

having regard to the letter from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0127/2022),

A.

whereas the Union budget is a significant instrument for achieving common policy objectives, and on average represents 1,1 % of Union gross national income or 2,4 % of the Member States’ general government expenditure and total public spending in the Union;

B.

whereas, when the Parliament grants discharge to the Commission, it verifies and evaluates whether or not funds have been used correctly and policy goals have been achieved after internal and external audits, thus confirming the regularity and the performance in terms of value for money of the Commission’s spending;

Political priorities

1.

Recalls its strong commitment to the fundamental principles enshrined in the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), including sound financial management as set out in Article 317 and the combating of fraud as set out in Article 325;

2.

Highlights the importance of the Union budget for achieving the Union’s political priorities, as well as its role in assisting Member States in unforeseen situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences; stresses that sound and timely implementation of the budget contributes to addressing more efficiently and effectively the needs and challenges in different policy areas; warns that the implementation of the budget under time pressure may lead to an increase in errors and irregularities;

3.

Underlines the relevance of reporting on the performance of the Union budget’s programmes for the discharge procedure; draws attention to the fact that the added value of the invested resources is closely linked to the results achieved and their contribution to improving the daily life of Union citizens;

4.

Reiterates its deep concerns regarding the situation concerning the rule of law in a number of Member States, which is deeply worrying in its own right and leads to serious losses for the Union budget and underlines its requests to the Commission to use all available tools to halt the ongoing severe violations of the rule of law and limit the risk of such losses. This should include the immediate and full application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council (1) on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget (the ‘Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation’) by sending a written notification under Article 6(1) of that Regulation to the Member States concerned;

5.

Stresses that, in its resolution on the Commission’s 2020 Rule of Law Report, Parliament already called on the Commission to take immediate action under the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation and to make full use of its existing investigation tools without further delay in order to address rule of law deficiencies in Member States that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget; notes the recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) confirming that the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation is in accordance with the EU Treaties and in particular, pointing out that compliance with the common values on which the European Union is founded cannot be reduced to an obligation to accede to the Union and which it may disregard after accession; notes with deep concern that despite the recent ruling of the Court of Justice, and numerous calls from Parliament, the Commission did not yet apply the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation; notes that the Commission has at last announced in April 2022 the triggering of the Conditionality Mechanism for the first time and recalls the importance of protecting the rights of the final recipients and beneficiaries of EU funding; is of the opinion that by not applying that Regulation, the Commission delays to perform its duty as Guardian of the Treaties;

6.

Believes that the Commission’s annual Rule of Law report is a useful tool to monitor and assess the state of the Rule of Law in all Member States and on similar grounds; expresses its concerns, however, that the report will fail to improve the situation in the Member States without clear and specific recommendations to EU governments; stresses as well that the annual reports need to make a clear distinction between isolated shortcomings and systemic Rule of Law deficiencies; calls on the Commission to implement the recommendations contained in the Parliament’s Resolution of 24 June 2021 on the Commission’s 2020 Rule of Law report;

7.

Insists that the Commission ensures that all organisations (Union or international) delivering external aid respect the rule of law and human rights in countries receiving that aid; stresses, in particular, the need to guarantee that no Union funds, by third parties and/or natural persons are allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalisation;

8.

Underlines that further initiatives to ensure the protection of the Union budget have become even more essential with the entry into force of the NextGenerationEU instrument, through which the total disbursements from the Union budget will become much larger during the coming years; highlights that, on this backdrop, the Commission should also ensure that OLAF, the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’) and EPPO have the necessary means and staff to investigate potential cases of fraud against the Union budget; notes that OLAF transferred 9 staff in 2020 and an additional 9 staff in 2021 to EPPO; is concerned that this significant reduction in staff could compromise the capacity of OLAF to efficiently fulfil its mandate due to lack of staff and overburdening; calls therefore for an increase in the establishment plan (particularly forensic and IT experts) of OLAF to compensate for the staff transfers to EPPO;

9.

Notes that, based on Article 22 of the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation (2) (RRF Regulation), the Member States are responsible for ensuring the protection of the financial interests of the Union; notes that the Commission plays an important role in ensuring that national audit systems provide for credible, reliable and relevant information; stresses that the Member States and the Commission's administrative capacities need to be scaled up to ensure sound financial management, which includes the effective prevention, detection and correction of fraud, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as avoiding double funding; notes that the Commission is responsible for providing technical assistance and advisory services to improve the respective administrative capacities of the Member States; calls on the Commission to provide the discharge authority with an overview of the specific measures that have been taken to ensure appropriate staffing in the Commission and the relevant institutions (namely the Court, OLAF, EPPO, Europol and Eurojust) to carry out their respective responsibilities; calls on the Commission to provide a statement of assurance on the performance data for the implementation of the Facility in its Annual Management and Performance Report (AMPR);

10.

Urges the Commission to promptly use the means at its disposal, such as the use of suspension instruments in cases where it has been confirmed that serious deficiencies in management and control systems exist;

11.

Underlines that the fact that the Commission, after repeated demands from the Parliament to do so, still cannot present a list of the recipients who receive the largest share of Union funds under shared management, presents a major obstacle to both the assessment of Union expenditure-related risks as well as the overall transparency of its spending; finds the answers and explanations on this issue offered to the Parliament by the Commission as inadequate and the Commission’s efforts to establish such a database inefficient and unsuccessful;

12.

Regards the long-lasting dispute on the conflict of interest between the Commission and Andrej Babis, the former Prime Minister of Czechia, as inefficient and unduly long; reiterates that no decisive action on Prime Minister Babis’ conflict of interest was taken and that the fact that in the end, the elections ended his conflict of interest, doesn’t reflect positively on the Commission; points to the fact that Prime Minister Babis has meanwhile negotiated the MFF and Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) on behalf of Czechia;

13.

Stresses the serious risk that the amount of outstanding commitments (RAL) continued to rise at the end of 2020 and that they reached a new record high of EUR 303,2 billion; acknowledges that a certain level of outstanding commitments is a natural consequence of the Union budget system with commitment appropriations and payment appropriations but underlines that an amount of outstanding commitments, which equals two full years of payment appropriations, creates a risk for the smooth operation of the budget in the future, which would be put under serious pressure, and could possibly create a serious risk to the liquidity of the Union budget; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the progress of implementation in Member States, in particular in cases of under-implementation and low absorption rates and to deliver a country-by-country analysis to the discharge authority, identifying the recurrent problems, as well as the measures taken to optimise the situation; regards the regular annual increase of outstanding commitments, in the light of upcoming NextGenerationEU instrument and much increased Union spending, a matter of priority for the Commission to prepare a detailed plan of actions in order to reduce the amount of outstanding commitments; calls on the Commission to present that plan to the discharge authority;

14.

Regrets that, at the end of 2020, despite the experience gained from the previous MFF and the help and cooperation provided by the Commission through technical assistance, the cumulative absorption rate from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) continues to be approximately 7 % lower than under the previous 2007-2013 MFF; encourages the Commission to continue its work with Member States, including through technical assistance in order to increase the ability of Member States to make use of the funds allocated to them and to intensify the effort to increase the absorption rate of the ESIF without compromising the quality of projects and the efforts made to avoid misuse and fraud of Union funds; calls on the Commission to assist countries, where necessary, to find eligible projects, especially those with clear European added-value; asks the Commission to relaunch the task force for better implementation (TFBI) to increase the absorption rate and to develop best practices among the Member States;

15.

Underlines its strong and repeated requests to the Commission and executive agencies to ensure the protection of the Union budget by making global and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit; remarks that this should include the establishment of a mandatory single interoperable database containing beneficiaries of funds from all Union programmes; acknowledges that the Commission proposed to make the use of a single data-mining and risk-scoring tool obligatory for funds under shared management and RRF; notes that this has not been retained in the adopted texts; highlights that such a system should build on unique identifiers for all recipients including information about their ultimate beneficiaries and should also automatically ensure the use of systems including, but not limited to, the data-mining tool, ARACHNE, in order to provide for the best possible protection of Union finances; underlines that this integrated and interoperable system must enable the aggregation of all individual amounts received by the same beneficiary or beneficial owner into one total sum; notes that this digitalisation is overdue and indispensable given the cross-border nature of misuse of funds, fraud, misappropriations, conflicts of interest, double-funding and other systemic problems; underlines that this single data-mining tool should be easily searchable and available for OLAF, EPPO and the Commission, in order to enhance the protection of the Union budget and NextGenerationEU against irregularities, fraud and conflicts of interest;

16.

Stresses the need to enlarge the areas where the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) is used beyond direct management and requests the Commission to use it for all Union funds including funds under shared management: notes that, the EDES has to be used systematically to ensure that companies and beneficial owners who have been convicted in relation to fraud, corruption or other serious economic criminal activities cannot benefit from Union funds; stresses the need to harmonise the indicators in ARACHNE with the exclusion grounds of EDES to ensure that excluded economic operators are also visible in ARACHNE; calls for maximum interoperability between ARACHNE, EDES and other software to reduce the need to insert information items into various IT systems multiple times and keep the administrative burden as low as possible;

17.

Requests the Commission to follow up on Parliament’s initiative report concerning the revision of the Financial Regulation (3) and Parliament’s legislative initiative report (INL) on digitalisation of the European reporting, monitoring and audit (4), which entails specific suggestions for revision of the Financial Regulation;

18.

Welcomes the publication of the guide on avoidance of conflicts of interest under the Financial Regulation in April 2021 – after distribution to Member States in August 2020 – which promotes the uniform interpretation of the rules across all management modes; reiterates its call on the Commission to ensure proper evaluation of the preventive measures taken by the Member States to avoid conflicts of interest; emphasises that all forms of conflicts of interest are to be tackled efficiently and effectively including within the Union institutions;

19.

Recalls that Commission’s audit reports, including for conflict of interest cases, should be published in a reasonable timeframe, helping to ensure that the recommended corrective and follow-up actions are implemented by the audited; recalls the stance of the Budgetary Control Committee, that even prior to the finalisation of an audit, the Commission has to share information with Parliament upon request in order to allow Parliament to exercise its function of political scrutiny;

20.

Notes that the COVID-19 pandemic justified considerable changes to the 2020 budget in the form of transfers and amending budgets in order for the Union to give robust input in order to help alleviate the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, not least through the rapid development of vaccines; furthermore, notes that the COVID-19 pandemic meant that audits mainly had to be done remotely; welcomes the increase in digitalisation in the audit procedures, efficiency gains and cost savings from remote audits, but underlines that remote audits cannot fully substitute on-the-spot controls; also notes that the Commission, on the basis of its specific COVID-19-related risk assessment carried out in 2020, considers that the level of assurance was safeguarded and that its estimated risk at payment and risk at closure are representative of the level of error in the financial transactions;

21.

Notes that both 2019 and 2020 Court annual reports attest ‘pervasive error in expenditure’ and give an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of expenditure; recalls the repeated finding by the Court that the control mechanisms of the Commission and Member States are simply not reliable enough;

22.

Acknowledges the gradual transition of the decommitment rules for the 2021-2027 programming period from the N+3 (2021-2026) to the N+2 (2027) for the shared management funds under the Common Provisions Regulation (5) (CPR), as supported by Parliament; asks the Commission to cooperate and assists Member States in the timely implementation of their programmes; underlines that the current N+3 rule should not be used to slow down or delay the implementation, but to ensure sufficient time for projects to be realised;

23.

Calls on the Commission and the budgetary authority to ensure the provision of sufficient funding for audits and controls of Union funds in light of the massive increase of funds to be disbursed during the coming years under the combined MFF and NextGenerationEU instrument; notes that the Commission will assess the control systems of the Member States and provide guidance to put in place sound monitoring and control systems; calls on the Commission to provide the discharge authority with detailed assessments of the audit and control systems for each Member State;

24.

Reiterates its concern that the Commission only audits the achievement of milestones and targets before paying out RRF funds while leaving it to the Member States to ensure that public procurement or State aid rules have been complied with; notes that the Commission will carry out system audits to ensure that the Member States have put in place strong controls for the protection of the Union’s financial interests against conflicts of interest or serious irregularities; is, however, of the opinion that the Commission, as Guardian of the Treaties, should not only rely on Member States’ audits on compliance with applicable rules to ensure an equal playing field for investments under the RRF; therefore calls on the Commission to extend its audit activities beyond system audits to include checks on public procurement and State aid rules following its risk-based approach; recalls in this regard the severe loopholes in the national legislation in certain Member States regarding efficient controls and prevention of conflicts of interest;

25.

Reiterates the need to better balance the further simplification of rules and procedures with better controls over the most repeated areas of irregular spending, develop training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all others relevant stakeholders; acknowledges progress made through the 2018 revision of the Financial Regulation and the improvements introduced for the 2021-2027 spending programmes;

26.

Stresses the increased importance of performance indicators, including the selection of indicators, definition of targets and milestones and monitoring and reporting in light of the new delivery models for the RRF and the reformed Common Agricultural Policy; welcomes in this regard the Commission's work to improve monitoring and reporting on performance of the Union budget with more streamlined and qualitative indicators, as reflected in the adopted basic acts of the 2021-2027 spending programmes; notes that milestones and targets as well as output indicators are different in nature; notes that the RRF further differentiates between investments and reforms; stresses that performance auditing is a new tool for the respective audit authorities; calls on the Commission to provide an overview of the complete audit cycle within the Member States, the Commission as well as an overview of the cooperation with the respective audit authorities including the Court, as well as OLAF and EPPO;

27.

Encourages the Commission, the Court and the Council to work towards accelerating the discharge process to N+1, reminding them that this should not undermine the quality of the process;

28.

Calls on the Commission to continue promoting gender balance and a gender budgeting approach in all areas of Union spending in a concise and concrete manner; welcomes the Commission’s progress towards gender mainstreaming methodology and the development of a pilot methodology for the tracking of gender-related expenditure under the MFF 2021-2027; asks the Commission to inform Parliament about its feasibility test on Union funding programmes in the context of the draft budget 2023;

29.

Reiterates the need to step up the efforts in the fight against fraud both at Union and Member State level, in close cooperation with EPPO and OLAF; appreciates the remarkable efforts and stresses the role of EPPO in the investigation and prosecution of fraud and other criminal offences affecting the financial interests of the Union; recalls the importance of providing EPPO and OLAF with sufficient financial and human resources;

30.

Welcomes the establishment of new own revenues in order to repay, from 2028, the loans granted under NextGenerationEU (about EUR 15 billion per year until 2050) with a view to ensuring a better protection of the Union budget; notes that by doing so, the Union’s debt burden will not be borne by future generations and essential Union programmes such as Horizon Europe, ESF+, Erasmus+, will not have to be reduced;

31.

Is particularly concerned by the Court’s repeated findings that the work of some national audit authorities or certifying bodies is considered too error-prone and therefore unreliable, which compromises the reliability of data for the AMPR; regrets that the Commission has not followed up on this specific comment, which was included in the 2019 Commission discharge resolution; expect the Commission to provide clarifications on this aspect;

The Court’s statement of assurance and budgetary and financial management

32.

Welcomes that, for the year 2020, the Court finds that the accounts of the Union are reliable, in accordance with the Financial Regulation and that, the revenue side of the budget is free from material error;

33.

Regrets that, for the year 2020, the Court has again issued an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of the expenditure side of the budget and at the same time stresses that the level of error at 2,7 % in 2020, which is the same as for the year 2019, may only be the minimal level of error due to the detection risk linked to the fact that the Court was not able to perform any on-the-spot checks because of the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; underlines, however, that an error rate does not automatically imply fraud and notes that, in 2020, six possible fraud cases were reported by the Court to the Union’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) compared to nine in 2019; reiterates the need to step-up efforts in the fight against fraud both at Union and Member State level, in close cooperation with EPPO and OLAF;

34.

Notes that the Court audited transactions of EUR 147,8 billion compared to the actual spending of EUR 173,3 billion and that high-risk expenditure, which is primarily based on reimbursement, represented EUR 87,2 billion of the audit population while low-risk expenditure, which is primarily entitlement-based expenditure, represented EUR 60,6 billion;

35.

Notes with concern that based on 728 audited transactions checked by the Court, the estimated level of error for high-risk expenditure continues to be well above the materiality threshold at 4,0 % while the estimated level of error is below the materiality threshold for low-risk expenditure;

36.

Reiterates the requests made by Parliament to the Court in the discharge resolutions in recent years, namely to define the error rate also for low-risks payments, and for each expenditure in the MFF, to expand the chapter on ‘Administration’ in order to have a more in-depth analysis on all institutions and to qualify the impact of the corrective measures on the overall level of error;

37.

Notes with growing concern that the Union balance sheet shows that the total liabilities at the end of 2020 were EUR 313,5 billion, an increase of EUR 62,0 billion or 24,7 % compared to the previous year (EUR 251,5 billion);

38.

Notes that the United Kingdom left the Union on 1 February 2020 and that the Union accounts on 31 December 2020 showed a net receivable due from the United Kingdom of EUR 47,5 billion, based on the obligations defined in the Withdrawal Agreement;

39.

Notes that 2020 was the last year of the 2014-2020 MFF; highlights that the budget for 2020 and the amending budgets amounted to a total of EUR 173,9 billion in commitments out of which EUR 172,9 billion was actually committed while the budget and the amending budgets amounted to EUR 164,1 billion in payments out of which EUR 161,8 was actually spent; notes, furthermore, that payments of EUR 9,9 billion in assigned revenue and EUR 1,6 billion in carry-overs were made, bringing the total payments to EUR 172,4 billion;

40.

Notes with a concern that there seems to be little progress in the cumulative absorption rate for ESIF funds, which was still only 55 % (7 % lower than at the end of the last year of the previous MFF), although the annual absorption rate in 2020 was the same as the final year of the previous 2007-2013 MFF (15 %). Notes that, at the end of 2020, 45 % of the total commitments under the ESIF funds for the period 2014-2020 equal to EUR 209 billion have not paid out and constitute the main part of the total outstanding commitments (RAL) of EUR 303 billion;

41.

Takes note of the detailed replies to the specific requests made by Parliament complementing the report from the Commission on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2019 financial year (COM(2021) 405 final);

Special circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic

42.

Notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the relaxation of applicable rules to provide additional liquidity, as well as exceptional and necessary flexibility for COVID-19-related expenditure, including at the level of administrative rules and controls in the interest of rapid reaction; is concerned that this increases the risk of non-transparent procedures, misuse and fraud by criminal structures attempting to abuse the crisis situation; notes information from OLAF on criminal activities concerning personal health and safety equipment and fake vaccine offers; stresses the need for ex post controls and audits in this regard;

43.

Notes that according to non-published information provided to the Court, the Commission provided EUR 12,9 billion in commitments under direct and indirect management and EUR 34,2 billion in commitments under shared management for purposes related to the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020; regrets that the Commission has not yet published a report on COVID-19-related expenditure;

44.

Regrets that the COVID-19 pandemic made it much more difficult to carry out on-the-spot checks and audits; notes however that the Commission, on the basis of its specific COVID-19-related risk assessment carried out in 2020, considers that the level of assurance was safeguarded and that its estimated risk at payment and risk at closure are representative of the level of error in the financial transactions; underlines the need for more in-person audit visits in the coming period to ensure sound audit management;

Special circumstances due to the NextGenerationEU instrument

45.

Notes that the NextGeneration EU instrument along with the 2021-2027 MFF will significantly increase the combined funding allocation to more than EUR 1 800 billion;

46.

Notes furthermore that much of the regulation for the underlying spending programmes for the new MFF period has been adopted comparably later than during the previous MFFs, which will inevitably lead to delays in programming and implementation;

47.

Stresses that the combined effect of the new NextGenerationEU instrument and the delays in adoption of legislation risks putting serious pressure on administrative capacities in Member States and the Commission, which again may lead to more errors, less control and potential losses for the Union budget;

48.

Notes that the use of data-mining and risk assessment instruments such as ARACHNE can help prevent and safeguard against conflicts of interest, fraud, corruption and double funding. Notes that the information on the beneficiaries of the programme as well as data on the beneficial owner needs to be collected by the Member States. The Anti-Money Laundering Directive requires a central Union platform, which has been set up, but not all Member States have connected to it yet; notes that central registers of beneficiary data exist in Member States, but not all contain beneficial owner data;

49.

Notes that monitoring tools are essential for the audit of the implementation of milestones and targets; notes that Member States are required to use the FENIX system developed and made available by the Commission; welcomes the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard set up by the Commission to provide a visual and user-friendly overview of the progress made in the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility which fosters the transparency, public scrutiny and accountability of the Facility;

50.

Notes that, according to Article 60 of the RRF Regulation, the Commission should transmit, subject to clearance of sensitive or confidential information, or to appropriate confidentiality arrangements if necessary, relevant documents and information simultaneously and on equal terms to Parliament and to the Council;

51.

Notes that the European Parliament set up a RRF working group, which establishes a dialogue between Members of the respective Committees and the Commission; notes that the involvement of Parliament and the Council is crucial to ensuring democratic oversight and scrutiny; stresses that the early and complete transmission of documents to Parliament and the Council will be an important and decisive element in the discharge procedure;

52.

Notes that, according to Article 31 of the RRF Regulation, the Commission should present an annual report on the implementation of the Facility to the Parliament and to the Council by 31 July 2022;

53.

Notes that the Court estimates that the total exposure of the Union budget due to the NextGenerationEU instrument will increase significantly over the coming years and might reach EUR 940 billion by the end of 2023, which represents a huge increase from EUR 132 billion at the end of 2020;

54.

Requests the Commission to identify additional possibilities to further strengthen the absorption capacities of the Member States by investing in the administrative capacities, trainings and digitalisation of fund management;

Recommendations

55.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

carry out analysis for each individual Member State of the funds received and status of implementation, at the latest in May for the previous budgetary year, in the context of an annual report foreseen under Article 31 of the RRF Regulation; expects the Commission to publish the annual report for the first time early in the second half of 2022 and to promptly inform the discharge authority about the findings;

(b)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish a compulsory integrated and interoperable system building on, but not limited to, existing tools and databases in the context of the upcoming revisions of the Financial Regulation; develop the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard to ensure that the description of milestones and that the target and outcome of the audit are transparent; ensure that all Member States use the systems and central registers to report on beneficial owners and end beneficiaries;

(c)

carry out a series of ex post on-the-spot checks and controls of national public procurements using Union funds and take note of the audits or media reports already carried out, which point out a considerable risk to legality of these procedures;

(d)

to transmit, subject to clearance of sensitive or confidential information, or to appropriate confidentiality arrangements if necessary, relevant documents such as the Summary of Audits (SoA) and information to the discharge authority in a timely manner;

(e)

simplify rules and procedures, develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants , in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all relevant stakeholders; provide the discharge authority with an overview of the trainings conducted;

(f)

follow-up on the recommendations issued by the Court, including a comprehensive and standardised report on expenditure related to the COVID-19 pandemic;

(g)

share the outcomes on budgetary control contents in light of the review report with the discharge authority by conducting a meeting with the respective committee;

(h)

intensify its work to ensure that the funds under the RRF are used for projects that lead to structural reforms and investments which achieve Union added value and that double funding of projects is avoided; urges the Commission to not only rely on compliance audits by the Member States concerning applicable rules such as public procurement and State aid rules, but to extend its audit activity beyond system audits in a risk-based approach;

(i)

ensure that its reporting on the total financial exposure of the Union budget is clear and timely in order for the audit authorities and the public in general to have a clear picture of how the exposure develops in the coming years;

(j)

develop a methodology and multiply ex post controls and on-the-spot missions regarding the use of NextGenerationEU funds and their impacts on the Member States’ recovery;

(k)

increase the administrative capacity of the Commission and Member States and propose adequate budget lines for the Court, EPPO and OLAF in relation to the implementation of the new upcoming tasks related to the NextGenerationEU instrument in order to protect Union finances;

(l)

to finalise a concise and concrete gender mainstreaming methodology for use across the budget through targeted and effective incentives by the end of 2022 at the latest, and to follow the recommendations of the Court in its Special Report on gender mainstreaming in the Union Budget;

Annual management and performance report and performance of the Union budget

56.

Notes that the Court bases its AMPR on the information retrieved from several reports by the Commission; notes that the Court supplements this information with recent findings from its own audit and review work; notes that the Court reviews the Commission’s performance information for plausibility and consistency with their findings, but not for its reliability;

57.

Takes note that, for 2020, out of 51 directors-general (or equivalent), 11 directors-general issued a total of 19 reservations and that the total financial impact of the reservations was EUR 1 219 million;

58.

Underlines that auditing the performance of the Union budget is equally as important as compliance auditing in order to get a comprehensive view, not only of the legality of spending as well as the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the spending, but also of the results achieved and the priorities and targets met; points to the numerous recommendations issued by the Court, as well as the discharge authority, that the Commission should pay much more attention to assessing the results, outcomes and impacts of its policies and programmes (effectiveness), beyond presenting sheer numbers of funds spent or people involved in individual programmes (efficiency);

59.

Notes that the better regulation approach helps the Commission in identifying lessons learnt from past implementation of policies and programmes; highlights that all spending programmes should be reviewed by the Commission, points out that cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses are important tools in budget control to review the spending; calls on the Commission to include more qualitative information that shows the Union added value of spending programmes; welcomes that the Regulatory Scrutiny Board contributes to improving the quality of evaluations and impact assessments; calls on the Commission to implement the recommendations given by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board and to sufficiently justify when comments have not been taken into account;

60.

Notes that the CPR for the seven shared management funds for the period 2021-2027, was not subject to an impact assessment, since the CPR sets common rules and delivery mechanisms for other policies; welcomes that funds-related regulations were accompanied by their own impact assessments; notes that important evaluations of the CAP were not available before the impact assessment was made concerning the CAP reform;

61.

Underlines that it is important that the Commission continues to draw lessons from the performance of the programmes also after the end of the MFF period because some results and impacts may only be evident several years after the end of the MFF period especially for programmes with large amounts of outstanding commitments and include these observations and conclusions in its reports to be shared with the discharge authority;

62.

Takes note that the Court, in this year’s Annual report, reviewed the Commission’s reporting on financial corrections and recoveries and is worried that it found it to be complex and not always clear; call on the commission to make sure that its reporting gives a clear idea of the amount of irregular expenditure corrected and returned to the Union budget;

63.

Calls on the Commission to do a more accurate follow up on the recommendations issued by the Court and engage with Parliament’s reliable scrutiny and discharge processes in order to better control the implementation of the new delivery models, as well as the RRF and the reformed Common Agricultural Policy;

64.

Reiterates its concerns about the Court’s assessment that the monitoring data from Member States, on which the AMPR and the programmes statements are based, is not fully reliable; regrets, in particular, the Court’s reiterated evaluation on the AMPR in the Cohesion areas, because of shortcomings of the audit authorities work and the issues identified regarding the residual error rates reported in the Annual Activity Reports (AARs) of DG EMPL and DG REGIO;

65.

Takes note of the Commission’s statement that it is not required to align its methodology to the one used by the Court, but regrets that it leads to very different figures, in particular in the competitiveness area, where the Commission’s estimate of the risk at payment for this MFF heading is even below the Court’s range for the estimated level of error; calls on the Commission to step away from a strictly legal requirement and seriously engage in a reflection process on its methodology to ensure that the Court and Commission figures may be more comparable;

66.

Underlines its strong and repeated requests to ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit; urges the Commission to establish an integrated and interoperable system building on but not limited to existing tools and databases;

Revenue

67.

Takes note that revenue accounted for EUR 174,3 billion in 2020: of this amount, EUR 123 billion (70,6 %) comprised gross national income-based own resources, EUR 19,9 billion (11,4 %) traditional own resources (TOR), EUR 17,2 billion (9,9 %) value added tax-based own resources, EUR 8,2 billion (4,7 %) contributions and refunds connected with Union agreements and programmes, EUR 3,2 billion (1,8 %) surplus from the previous year, and EUR 2,8 billion (1,6 %) other revenue;

68.

Notes that the Court examined a sample of 55 Commission recovery orders, designed to be representative of all sources of revenue, as well as the Commission’s systems, the TOR accounting in three Member States, and the AARs of the Directorate-General for Budget (DG BUDG) and Eurostat; welcomes that none of the sample elements were affected by a quantifiable error; welcomes that for revenue, the Court has found that that the level of error was not material and that the revenue-related systems were generally effective;

69.

Underlines the evaded amounts not captured in Member States’ TOR accounting systems do not fall within the scope of the Court’s audit opinion on revenue; takes note that since the difference between the theoretical level of import duty that should be collected for the economy as a whole and actual import duty collected (the ‘customs gap’) may affect the amounts of duties established by the Member States, the Court has assessed, for the second year in a row, the Union action taken to reduce the gap and mitigate the risk that TOR are not complete;

70.

Notes with great concern that the Court found that in 2020, the Commission closed its verification cycle in respect of GNI data for own resources from the year 2010, a 10-year gap; highlights that as a result of the verification cycle closure, the Commission set a large number of GNI reservations in respect of specific compilation procedures in the Member States that called for improvement; remarks that this significantly increases budgetary uncertainty in the national budgets in relation to the GNI-based contribution; is concerned by the Court finding that the impact of globalisation on GNI is not properly addressed and the Union revenue could be affected as a result;

71.

Notes with concern that there is insufficient harmonisation of control systems to safeguard the Union’s financial interests mainly due to weaknesses that allow the Member States to differ significantly in the way they implement them; notes that the Court has found persistent weaknesses in the effectiveness of control systems at the level of both the Commission and the Member States, the most important of which affect the Commission’s closure of the GNI verification cycle and the reliability of the TOR statements in one Member State;

72.

Is concerned that despite improvements, the number of VAT reservations and TOR open points remains high, and that weaknesses persist in Member States’ accounting and management of TOR; notes with concern that the Court has found a lack of systematic monitoring of import data and insufficiently harmonised customs controls at Union level;

73.

Notes with concern that for the fifth year in a row, DG BUDG has maintained the reservation that the TOR amounts transferred to the Union budget are inaccurate as a result of an undervaluation of textiles and shoes imported from China during the period from 2011 to 2017; notes the Court of Justice’s judgement of 8 March 2022 declaring that the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil its obligations by failing to apply effective customs control measures and by failing to make the correct amount of traditional own resources available to the Commission, in respect of the imports concerned;

74.

Notes that the Court partly rejected the Commission’s calculation due to considerable uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the amounts of own resources claimed by the Commission and the Commission has not established the full amounts to the requisite legal standard; notes that the Court approved the method used by the Commission for estimating the amount of TOR losses for part of the infringement period and stated that it is for the Commission to recalculate the losses of Union own resources that are still due; calls on the Commission to explain to the discharge authority what the errors in the calculation consisted of, how it intends to remedy the error in the calculation of the losses to the requisite legal standard and inform the discharge authority about the result of the new calculations;

Recommendations

75.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

ensure the uniform application of customs controls, and to develop and implement a fully-fledged analysis and coordination capacity at Union level;

(b)

review and update its approach to verifying Member States’ GNI data in future multiannual cycles to further streamline the process and reduce the period over which GNI data remain open after the end of the cycle;

(c)

in cooperation with the Member States, continue to improve the capture of globalisation in national accounts to address the GNI reservation in this area for the years 2018 onwards, and if needed, to reassess the quality of the GNI data of previous years, to inform the budgetary authority of the possible implications of the resulting revised statistics for the revenue budget since 2010;

(d)

ensure that for all Member States their monthly and quarterly TOR statements are reliable, by solving weaknesses in their customs IT system in relation to the lack of audit trail, the risk of double entries, and the incorrect allocation of partial payments;

(e)

take action in the fight against fraud in e-commerce and VAT collection, particularly by making use of the additional benefits of digital means available for tracking invoices and VAT payments;

(f)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on but not limited to existing tools and databases;

Competitiveness for growth and jobs

76.

Notes that the MFF subheading 1a ‘Competitiveness for growth and jobs’ accounts for 13,9 % or EUR 24,1 billion of the Union budget: of this amount, EUR 13,6 billion (56,4 %) is spent on research, EUR 3,1 billion (12,8 %) on education, training, youth and sport, EUR 2,4 billion (10,2 %) on transport and energy, EUR 1,6 billion (6,5 %) on space, and the rest on other actions and programmes; recalls the total planned expenditure under this sub-heading of the 2014-2020 MFF is EUR 142 billion, of which EUR 104,6 billion had been paid out by the end of 2020;

77.

Recognises that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have to be at the heart of any considerations concerning the competitiveness for growth and jobs, as SMEs provide 6 out of 10 jobs and 8 out of 10 apprenticeships in some Member States, and are responsible for close to 60 % of the added value created in the Union;

78.

Notes that the Court examined a sample of 133 transactions, designed to be representative of the full range of spending under this MFF subheading; notes that the Court also examined the regularity of information in the AARs of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) and the Innovation and Network Executive Agency (INEA), which the Commission then included in its AMPR;

79.

Notes with concern that the Court has estimated the level of error to be 3,9 %, mainly derived from errors related to ineligible costs, absence of essential supporting documents, or issues with the contract notices on tender documents; underlines that the Court has found that FP7 and H2020 spending remains higher-risk and is the main source of errors;

80.

Notes with concern that personnel costs continue to constitute the principal source of error, notably in research expenditure; regrets that the rules for declaring personnel costs under H2020 remain complex, despite simplification efforts; welcomes a number of simplifications specifically targeting SMEs under Horizon 2020, such as a single flat rate for indirect costs, including personnel costs;

81.

Notes that beneficiaries can only claim personnel costs for tasks carried out by a natural person working under a direct contract, while costs for subcontracted tasks are not eligible; notes the Court’s observation that SMEs, who do not have enough own staff, are particularly error-prone to claiming the costs of external consultant’s services or freelancers as personnel costs;

82.

Notes that the Commission has reinforced its information campaign targeting error-prone beneficiaries, such as SMEs and first-time applicants with limited experience and resources for the application process; notes that the Commission held six webinars in 2020 reaching around 7 500 direct participants; is of the opinion that the Commission can further extend its information activities; underlines the importance of providing information to potential applicants in their native language, particularly on complex rules such as personnel costs and subcontracting costs;

83.

Recalls that the Commission set out to establish a stronger role for the Union as a leading actor in the space sector during the 2021-2027 MFF; highlights the importance of SMEs and start-ups in all aspects of space policy, in particular launcher infrastructure, rockets, satellites as well as up and downstream services; is concerned by tenders launched in the field of space policy, particularly concerning the union’s satellite-based connectivity system that excluded SMEs by introducing exceptionally high burdens that no small enterprise could fulfil; requests the Commission to provide an overview of (a) the outcomes of all tenders in 2020; (b) how many tenders were partially or totally won by SMEs or start-ups; (c) how many tenders were won without any participation from SMEs or start-ups; (d) how many tenders were won by large companies; and (e) an overview of all tenders in 2020 that excluded SMEs by design of the tender;

84.

Draws attention to the fact that approximately 20 % of ex post audits of the entire H2020 family are carried out by DG RTD’s Common Audit Service (CAS), and 80 % are carried out on its behalf by private audit firms; notes with concern that the Court found that sampling at the level of the cost statements audited was not always in line with established procedures, highlights that despite the improvements introduced by the Commission, the representative error rate is potentially understated; expresses concerns that weaknesses in the ex post audits by the CAS still persist;

85.

Regrets that the level of excellence in research continues to differ significantly across Member States; notes that studies have recommended that researchers, experts and other national actors from institutions of lower levels of excellence be encouraged to participate actively in joint research teams including researchers and institutions with the highest level of excellence; is aware that the main responsibility lies with the Member States and their investment in education, but underlines that the Commission can contribute to spreading excellence; welcomes the increased budget for widening activities for Horizon Europe;

86.

Takes note that the audit work on FP7 is complete; regrets that the AARs of DG RTD and DG CONNECT confirm that the cumulative residual error rate for FP7 is above 2 %; acknowledges that because of the de minimis threshold for financial reservations introduced in 2019, neither DG reported a quantified reservation;

87.

Notes with concern that with regard to H2020, DG RTD reported an expected representative error rate of 2,95 % for all DGs and other Union bodies managing Union research spending; takes note that the residual error rate is 2,24 % for DG RTD and 2,20 % for DG CONNECT; notes with concern that the Commission does not consider that a reservation needs to be set for Horizon 2020 expenditure; takes note that the implementing bodies strive to provide reasonable assurances of a risk of error within a range of 2-5 %;

88.

Welcomes the Court’s report on the performance of Erasmus+, which represents 13,3 % of the total payments made by the end of 2020 for this MFF heading, based on the 2020 AMPR, the programme statements for the 2022 draft budget, and key evaluations and other reports;

89.

Welcomes the Court’s assessment that the scale and scope of Erasmus+ created added value and that its efficiency has been improved by its simplification compared to predecessor programmes; notes the Court’s view that the Commission has not taken gender equality into account across all aspects of Erasmus+, and that the programme statement for Erasmus+ did not provide a financial estimate of the programme’s contribution to gender equality; recalls that while there are significant gender differences between study fields, 58 % of the total number of participants in the programme are women;

90.

Notes with concern that female researchers are underrepresented in Horizon 2020 representing only 36 % of researchers (28 % in projects from the European Research Council (ERC), 42 % in Marie Skłodowska-Curie grants and 31 % in the other parts of the Programme);

91.

Appreciates that the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to an Horizon 2020-funded researcher, who was the 10th participant funded by this programme to be honoured with a Nobel Prize to date;

92.

Notes that, in 2020, 1 173 projects were funded through the ERC programme in Horizon 2020 and 1 255 principal investigators received funding; also notes that currently among the hosting institutions there are institutions from 25 Member States and among the principal investigators there are nationals of 23 Member States; notes further that since 2014 the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions have supported the mobility and training of around 69 000 researchers thus exceeding its target of 65 000 researchers;

93.

Welcomes that the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) deployed digital service infrastructures that ensure the cross-border interoperability of online services for citizens, businesses and public administrations in the Union; underlines that almost EUR 630 million has been invested in the Union-wide interoperability of specific digital services such as eHealth, public open data, electronic identification and cybersecurity;

94.

Underlines the importance of investing in sustainable transport networks to enable the necessary shift towards more sustainable modes of transport; encourages CEF 2021-2027 to strive to emulate the great results achieved by CEF; notes the need to improve the level of awareness of the CEF eligibility rules among beneficiaries;

95.

Welcomes the fact that in the 2014-2020 period, CEF Transport co-funding amounting to EUR 23,03 billion was allocated to 959 actions, while addressing infrastructure along both the core and the comprehensive network of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the programme focused its support on the core network, with more than 170 sections concerned;

Recommendations

96.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

extend the scope of the certificates on financial statements to include unit cost categories for the new research framework programme, Horizon Europe, in order to increase the level of detection and correction of errors in unit costs; calls for the simplification of the rules on personnel costs under Horizon Europe;

(b)

implement actions, including a periodical review of the main causes of error in financial statements, provide guidance on complex issues such as subcontracting rules, and conduct information campaigns in order to reduce the error rate for H2020;

(c)

further improve the quality of ex post audits by addressing the weaknesses in the sampling procedures at the level of cost statements and apply the corrections to the error calculation method for Horizon Europe;

(d)

continue working towards achieving a level of error below 2 % in this area of expenditure;

(e)

simplify rules and procedures, develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all other relevant stakeholders; develop a digital compendium for European SMEs and mid-cap companies for regulatory information on jobs and growth opportunities support within the MFF and RRF framework similar to the Access2Markets Trade Assistant;

(f)

take a better approach to gender balance in relation to beneficiaries of the Horizon Europe funds, and to geographical balance from underrepresented Member States and provide better support to research and cooperation in universities in all Members States; report to Parliament about the proportion of the male and female researchers participating in the programme;

(g)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit; and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on, but not limited to, existing tools and databases;

(h)

manage expectations by setting realistic and achievable objectives and targets; considers that the new reinforced EU Youth Guarantee should have more positive results on young people’s access to the labour market; calls on the Commission to cooperate better with member states to develop Erasmus+ for professional training, especially for certain technical professions, artisans, etc.; calls on the Commission to encourage the UK to rejoin the Erasmus programme; also calls for the development of student and scientific exchanges for the Eastern Partnership countries, especially Ukraine; further increase its widening activities to improve access to excellence throughout the Union and report back to the discharge authority;

(i)

create a new budgetary line for tourism, to support the recovery of a sector severely hit by the COVID-19 crisis, making it resilient for the future, digitalised and sustainable;

(j)

continue its action on the grouped purchase of vaccines to protect against COVID-19 which allows savings and develops the Union's sovereign autonomy in the field of health and which can be extended to other areas such as energy, semiconductor or rare earth elements;

(k)

ensure that sufficient resources are available for Horizon Europe and its pillars, IPCEIs and other funding instruments and projects also in relation to job creation, ensuring synergies with the national recovery plans in order to promote research and develop a growth strategy and launch new Union partnerships in areas such as clean hydrogen, fuel cells, wind energy, electric traction, photovoltaic energy, robotics, drones, 3D printing batteries, clean aviation, rail, connected and automated mobility, zero-emission road and waterborne transport and abroad range of digital technologies, in particular for the Work Programme 2021-2022 and welcomes the progress of Horizon Europe in this sense; stresses the need to support projects that contribute, in particular, to a future-proof, sustainable, smart, competitive, affordable and climate-friendly European transport network;

(l)

propose a new result-oriented mechanism including short, mid and long-term planning and technical assistance, as well as to enhance the link between funding and the achievement of project milestones, to increase the added value of Union Funds and to ensure that Member States meet the 2030 and 2050 completion targets for the core and comprehensive TEN-T networks respectively;

Economic, social and territorial cohesion

97.

Notes that MFF sub-heading 1b ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’ accounts for 34,3 % or EUR 59,5 billion of the Union budget: of this amount, EUR 32,4 billion (54,5 %) is spent on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), EUR 10,2 billion (17,1 %) on the Cohesion Fund (CF), EUR 14,7 billion (24,7 %) on the European Social Fund (ESF), and EUR 2,2 billion (3,7 %) on other actions;

98.

Recalls the important role of the spending under MFF heading 1b ‘economic, social and territorial cohesion’, which focuses on reducing development disparities between the different Member States and regions of the Union and strengthening the competitiveness of all regions;

99.

Notes that the Court has examined a sample of 227 transactions, designed to be statistically representative of the full range of spending under this MFF sub-heading; notes that the Court also examined the regularity of information given in the annual activity reports of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) as well as the AMPR;

100.

Notes with concern that taking account of the errors previously identified by audit authorities and corrections applied by programme authorities, the Court has estimated the level of error to be 3,5 %, well above materiality; welcomes that this nevertheless represents a reduction in the error rate when compared with the reported 4,4 % error rate in the 2019 exercise; takes note that the errors detected concern ineligible costs, public procurement, accounting and calculation errors, State aid, and missing supporting documents;

101.

Notes with concern the data presented in the Single Market Scoreboard for 2020 on public procurement, which shows that the proportion of contracts awarded with just a single bidder is particularly alarming: 19 Member States reached or exceeded the threshold of 20 % and six Member States (Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia) had a level of 39-51 %; notes that the proportion of procurement contracts negotiated with a company without any call for bids reached or exceeded the threshold of 10 % in 8 Member States with four (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Slovenia) reaching levels of 22-29 %; notes that the proportion of contracts awarded after a call for tender whose name and condition were not clear was above the threshold of 3 % in ten Member States with levels between 8-9 % in four Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Malta and Slovenia);

102.

Is deeply concerned by these observations as they indicate severe and systemic weaknesses in the public procurement procedures in several Member States, which are likely to also impact the management and spending of Union funds; notes in this regard the Court’s observation on an early preventive system audit on the management verifications of public procurement in Hungary, which resulted in a 10 % flat-rate correction to all contracts affected covering a period of four years amounting to around EUR 770 000 000;

103.

Is concerned that 72 % of errors result from ineligible projects and costs and 27 % from infringements of internal market rules (in particular non-compliance with State aid rules); notes that five projects infringed the Union’s State aid rules; takes note that the Court is of the opinion that two projects should have obtained no public funding from the Union and/or the Member State; highlights that these projects accounted for 1,0 percentage points of the estimated level of error;

104.

Welcomes the fact that, in 2020, the 2019 multiannual call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility was successfully completed, selecting 125 projects with an overall contribution of more than EUR 2 billion; notes that more than 90 % of the CEF contribution was allocated to projects expected to address climate-related objectives and in particular railway, inland waterways and maritime port infrastructures and deployment of alternative fuel infrastructures;

105.

Takes note that DG REGIO has reported a weighted average error rate of 2,1 % and a ‘maximum rate’ of 2,6 %, and DG EMPL reported a weighted average error rate of 1,4 % and a ‘maximum rate’ of 1,9 %; points out that according to the Court, DG EMPL did not take full account of possible errors beyond those detected, in which case the maximum rate would have been 2,1 %; emphasises the Court finding that the overall residual error rate reported by the Commission should be considered a minimum rate; highlights that future corrections might not be sufficient to ensure that no material level of error remains at closure;

106.

Expresses its concern that the number and impact of the errors detected demonstrate that the controls in place do not yet sufficiently mitigate the high inherent risk of error in this area; is concerned that this concerns, in particular, managing authorities whose verifications are ineffective in preventing or detecting irregularities in expenditure declared by beneficiaries; notes with concern that the Court also considers that other errors are the result of decisions taken by managing authorities themselves;

107.

Notes with concern that the Court has concluded that the residual error rates that audit authorities reported were not always reliable and that shortcomings remain in the way audit authorities perform and document their work; underlines the Court's finding that audit authorities need to keep better track of the risk of fraud in their audits of operations;

108.

Reiterates its deep disapproval of the practice in some Member States to systematically overbook programmes and shift problematic or illegal projects over into the national budget after the Commission or OLAF have detected irregularities or misuse; condemns that the national tax payers are left with the burden of paying for projects that suffer from conflicts of interest, fraud or other shortcomings;

109.

Takes note that the Court, in its Special Report 07/2020 ‘Implementing Cohesion policy: comparatively low costs, but insufficient information to assess simplification savings’ found that overall costs reported for implementing the Cohesion Policy funds are comparatively low, but were based on insufficiently complete and incoherent data; notes with concern that the Court found that the cost information available was not adequate in order to assess the impact of simplifying Union rules;

110.

Takes note that the Court found, in its Special Report 24/2021 ‘Performance-based financing in Cohesion policy: worthy ambitions, but obstacles remained in the 2014-2020 period’ that the 2014-2020 CPR provided for an explicit ‘performance framework’ for Member States’ operational programmes, including milestones and targets to attain ESIF investments;

111.

Underlines the performance reserve that the new performance framework has foreseen which entails 6 % of the resources to be frozen and consequently allocated on the basis of a performance review after the annual implementation report in 2019, to the programmes which have achieved their set milestones, so that Member States are incentivised to optimise their use of funding; regrets that, according to recent data, the Commission and the Member States were found to be only partially successful in making the financing of Cohesion policy more performance-based; is worried that the Member States were found to show very limited interest in using some of the new performance-based funding models, i.e. 'joint action plans' and 'financing not linked to costs'; encourages wider use of the simplified cost options which the Court considers have the potential to reduce beneficiaries’ administrative burden and are considered less prone to error;

112.

Recalls the contribution of cohesion policy in providing support to Member States to alleviate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow for a rapid re-direction of the available 2014-2020 funding to the most severely affected sectors and proposing considerable simplifications (CRII and CRII+ Initiatives for 2020); notes further that 179 Operational Programmes used these Initiatives to support healthcare, small businesses and workers which amounted to EUR 12,9 billion (EUR 6,2 billion in 2020 and EUR 6,7 billion in 2021); takes note that CRII and CRII+ Initiatives have accelerated the implementation of the ESIF funds and contributed to reducing the RAL;

113.

Takes note that the Court, in its Special Report 26/2021 ‘Regularity of spending in EU Cohesion policy: Commission discloses annually a minimum estimated level of error that is not final’ found that the new legal provisions for the programming period 2021-2027 address some limitations in the acceptance of accounts; regrets that nevertheless, the Court found that some risks remain at the time of releasing the payment retention;

114.

Notes the Court’s findings that the Commission's desk reviews are not designed to detect additional ineligible expenditure, which limits their contribution to confirming the regularity of the underlying transactions and the validity of the Residual Total Error Rate (RTER) reported by the audit authorities; notes further that for programmes with a confirmed track-record of low error rates, such desk reviews are an efficient tool to confirm the reported error rates and audit opinions from the audit authorities; notes with concern that both the compliance audits of the Commission and of the Court found material errors that the desk reviews could not have detected;

115.

Takes note that the Court found that the Commission did not always follow its risk-based approach for selecting the riskiest audit authorities for compliance audits and that while the Commission detects irregular expenditure in its compliance audits, it often revises their final results in the follow-up phase with the Member States;

116.

Is deeply concerned by reports about severe and systematic corruption and misuse of Union cohesion funds in the ITI Danube Delta instrument in Romania worth EUR 1,1 billion across 8 Romanian programmes; notes that these funds are earmarked for poverty reduction, nature conservation and environmental protection projects along the Danube Delta in Romania, financed by 5 different ESIF; notes that the allegations of irregularities are concentrated in one programme, the regional operational programme, concerning 3 calls for projects under one priority axis supporting mostly SMEs and micro-enterprises amounting to EUR 104 000 000 funding 347 projects; notes that, in May 2021, OLAF opened an investigation related to allegations of fraud and other irregularities related to a specific project financed by the ITI Danube Delta in Romania;

117.

Is concerned by media revelations that one Romanian national authority was corrupt and contributed to the authorisation of projects with politicians involved in a conflict of interest and who were not residing along the Danube delta;

118.

Notes that following media reports on severe allegations of fraud, conflicts of interest and embezzlement, the Commission has issued in June 2021 an interruption of payments, blocking any Union reimbursement to the 347 risky projects pending the results of the verifications by the Romanian authorities; notes that the Romanian authorities selected 73 projects for verification leading to 35 of these projects being notified to the national anti-fraud body or prosecutor office for further investigation due to fraud suspicions; notes that the Romanian managing authorities carried out checks on an additional 22 operations to verify their regularity and whether they contribute to the development of the Danube region, resulting in one additional potential irregularity being identified;

119.

Notes that the Commission agreed with the Romanian authorities that the managing authority provides the results of its verifications to the audit authority for an independent review on the adequacy of the risk-assessment method to select operations to be reviewed and checks carried out, and for confirmation of the results; notes that these conclusions will feed into the preparation of the targeted audit that the Commission plans to also carry out at the beginning of 2022 to verify on-the-spot the effectiveness of the actions undertaken by the Romanian authorities; urges the Commission to keep the discharge authority informed about any new developments and particularly about any financial corrections;

120.

Is concerned that once again the information on such severe allegations was revealed by journalists and not by a Commission audit; recalls that the journalists pointed out that severe weaknesses and loopholes exist in the Romanian laws in relation to conflicts of interest; underlines that these laws urgently need to be brought in line with the requirements of the Union Financial Regulation; recalls that clear and unambiguous legislation against conflicts of interest at national level is an important precondition for the prevention, detection and fight against misuse, corruption and fraud;

121.

Regrets that, as indicated in the Court’s Special Report 10/2021 ‘Gender mainstreaming in the EU budget: time to turn words into action’, the significant potential of Union structural and investment funds to contribute to gender equality is unexploited and that gender mainstreaming is not adequately implemented at all stages of the budgetary process; is of the opinion that gender mainstreaming must be addressed in a non-bureaucratic and concise manner through targeted and effective incentives;

122.

Welcomes the Court’s report on the performance of ESF, representing 25,9 % of all 2014-2020 cohesion policy payments made by the end of 2020; notes that the ESF expenses increased from EUR 11,2 billion in 2019 to EUR 13,7 billion in 2020 due to increased implementation; takes note that the work done by the Court is based on the Commission’s performance information, which comprised of, in particular, the 2020 AMPR, the programme statements for the 2022 draft budget, and key Commission evaluations, as well as the 7th Cohesion Report;

123.

Recalls the vital importance of the ESF, Erasmus+ and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), EGF as the Union's main tools in fostering increased employment and labour mobility, education and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning and promoting social inclusion, combatting poverty and discrimination; welcomes that the Court has found that the performance framework of the ESF is well developed and that the Commission compiles an ‘achievement ratio’ for indicators with targets; regrets that the Court found that while the ESF’s performance framework increased the availability of performance information, the focus remained on financial inputs and outputs, and focused insufficiently on results and that while evaluations cover most areas of the ESF, more methodological efforts are required to assess the impact of policies in terms of reaching people who are disconnected from the labour market;

124.

Takes note that indicators show that the Member States are making good progress against targets set, that the Commission released 85 % of the performance reserve for ESF programmes, and that the 2021-2027 ESF+ proposal aims for further simplification and synergies;

125.

Regrets that due to data limitations and the fact that many operations were still ongoing at the time of the Court's audit, it was not in a position to draw an overall conclusion on the actual performance of ESF expenditure during the 2014-2020 period;

126.

Notes with appreciation that, by the end of 2020, 45,4 million participants were supported by the ESF and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and 5,4 million people found a job (including self-employed) under both programmes as reported by the Commission;

127.

Welcomes the impact of the temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) as reported by the Commission in its second report; notes that SURE has been successful in cushioning the severe socio-economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; notes that in 2020 SURE supported approximately 31 million people in the 19 beneficiary Member States, of which 22,5 million are employees and 8,5 million self-employed, as well as that around 2,5 million firms affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have benefitted from SURE, allowing them to retain workers;

128.

Welcomes the increase in implementation of the financial instruments under all ESI funds in 2020 leading to EUR 10,3 billion in cumulative payments to final recipients (EUR 4,7 billion in 2019);

129.

Notes that the construction of the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia with cohesion funds was completed by a Chinese state-owned company, which may have benefited from support from the Chinese government and lower and inadequate labour standards which would imply a competitive advantage over Union companies bidding for the same call; is of the opinion that the Commission as Guardian of the Treaties must ensure a level playing field between Union and third-country companies in public calls and tenders; is therefore of the opinion that strong provisions on Union-level standards of social and labour rights should feature in calls for public procurement and construction;

130.

Is concerned about reports that the Hungarian government intended to nationalise the ‘Ferenc Liszt’ airport near Budapest and declared its intention to use Union cohesion funds to develop infrastructure to decrease the value of the airport with the aim of lowering the cost of its expropriation, harming its current owners; is deeply concerned by the insecurity such threats constitute for international investors; recalls that Union cohesion funds were used to co-finance the airport, which would benefit oligarchic structures in case of a forced or involuntary sale of the airport; notes that the government has imposed extremely bureaucratic obstacles and additional requirements on the airport operator; is astonished by inferior purchase offers for the airport by oligarchs in direct and close contact with the Prime Minister;

131.

Is concerned that the price hike in construction and raw materials may change the total budget for many projects and could lead to underbudgeting, missed milestones, impossible implementations and could therefore undermine the completion of the TEN-T core network;

132.

Notes with concern the acquisition of 88 % of shares in Euronews by Portuguese venture capital firm Alpac Capital, which reportedly has close ties with the Hungarian Prime Minister; notes that Euronews’ editorial board now includes three people selected by Alpac and is therefore concerned that this might have an impact on its full editorial independence; notes that in 2020 Euronews received EUR 18,12 million from the Union budget; urges the Commission to ensure that this money is in fact used for objective and fact-based news coverage by independent journalists;

Recommendations

133.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

provide an error rate at payment and not a residual error rate in order to improve the evaluation of the scrutiny undertaken;

(b)

continue its cooperation with the Court in order to further harmonise data standards and align the interpretation of legal texts;

(c)

encourage and closely monitor the Member States using its standard scale of unit costs, as further simplification of rules and procedures can contribute to a more efficient use of funds and a reduced error rate, while ensuring that the scheme does not result in excessive imbalances in favour of Member States;

(d)

encourage audit authorities explicitly to introduce specific questions in their checklists on fraud risks and document the steps taken to address any such risks discovered in the course of an audit; pay increased attention, and allocate increased technical support, to Member States, whose management and control systems are only partially reliable, or not reliable at all, where there is an increased risk of fraud and corruption related to funds;

(e)

make the use of IT tools such as EDES and Arachne mandatory and systematic for all Union funds including shared management and ensure better use of new technology in order to increase controls and protect the Union budget against fraud and misuse of funds;

(f)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on, but not limited to, existing tools and databases;

(g)

ensure that the Member States take into account and promote the implementation of the partnership principle and of gender equality throughout the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all programmes as laid down in Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (6) and Regulation (EU) 2021/1060;

(h)

ensure sound financial management in the use of funds, including respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, as essential preconditions for sound financial management and effective funding;

(i)

ensure that the Member States make sufficient information available in the annual summary on conclusions and follow-up of operations for which they have withdrawn amounts from accounts that are still under an ongoing regularity assessment;

(j)

put forward a legislative proposal linked to the upcoming revision of the Financial Regulation to ensure that the payment retention is adequately protected before it is released, to improve its audit work, audit documentation and review process, to strengthen the main elements of the regularity of information provided in the AARs, and to ensure that the College of Commissioners provide relevant and reliable information in the AMPR; underlines that the proposal should have a clear, limited scope, in order not to negatively affect the performance of the funds;

(k)

improve the approach taken in relation to studies of administrative costs by announcing what will be examined and when, as well as to assess whether estimated administrative cost savings have materialised;

(l)

in the context of performance-based financing in Cohesion policy, to make the best use of enabling conditions in the 2021-2027 period, to prepare the ground early for an effective mid-term review, and to clarify the rules and the approach for providing assurance on Union funding in the 'financing not linked to costs' funding model;

(m)

simplify rules and procedures, encourage Member States and the Commission to develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all other relevant stakeholders;

(n)

provide guidance and controls that ensure that adequate minimum standards of social and labour rights are requirements in calls for public procurement, particularly in construction tenders, to avoid putting Union companies at a competitive disadvantage compared to third-country bidders; calls on the Commission to ensure that only companies from third countries that allow Union companies to participate in their public calls and tenders to participate in European public calls and tenders to ensure a level-playing field and equal access among Union and third-country companies;

(o)

Facilitate the adoption of the European Cross-Border Mechanism which has the potential to positively impact the pace of implementation of cross-border transport projects and ultimately increase the efficiency of transport services in these areas;

Natural resources

134.

Notes that the MFF heading 2 ‘Natural resources‘ accounts for 35 % or EUR 60,6 billion of the Union budget: of this amount, EUR 41,6 billion (68,7 %) is spent on direct payments under the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF), EUR 2,6 billion (4,3 %) on market-related expenditure under the EAGF, EUR 14,6 billion (24,1 %) on the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF), EUR 0,9 billion (1,4 %) on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the rest on other areas;

135.

Notes that the Court has examined a sample of 218 transactions, covering 19 Member States and the United Kingdom, designed to be representative of the full range of spending under this MFF heading; notes that the Court also examined the AARs of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) and the Directorate-General for the Environment (DG ENV) of the European Commission, as well as the AMPR;

136.

Notes with satisfaction that the work of the Court supports the conclusion that direct payments as a whole were free from material error, accounting for 69 % of expenditure under that MFF heading; notes that direct payments to farmers are entitlement-based and that such payments carry a lower risk of error provided that the attached conditions are not complex; acknowledges that according to the Court, the main management tools for direct payments, the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) and the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), form an effective management and control system; notes that the post-2022 reform of the CAP should no longer be compliance-based but performance-based; hopes this fundamental change will have a positive impact on the error rate of the direct payments;

137.

Notes with concern the errors detected by the Court in rural development, market measures and other ‘Natural resources’ spending areas, which represent 31 % of the spending; is worried about the Court assessment that more complex eligibility conditions increase the risk of error; regrets that the level of error is considered material in this area;

138.

Acknowledges that DG AGRI has calculated the risk at payment to be around 1,9 % for CAP spending as a whole in 2020; notes that the Court estimates the level of error at 2 %, which represents an increase of 0,1 % compared to 2019; regrets that the level of error in spending on ‘Natural resources’ is close to materiality;

139.

Welcomes the use of new technologies such as checks by monitoring, using automated processes based on the EU Copernicus Programme’s Sentinel satellite data to check compliance with certain CAP rules; welcomes the fact that these changes were also approved for the CAP post-2022 and encourages the Member States to use these opportunities to the maximum;

140.

Welcomes that the Commission has committed to providing support to the Member States in developing the new approach with regard to checks by monitoring; notes that since 2018, Member State paying agencies may perform these kinds of checks, but regrets its limited coverage in 2020; supports the Court recommendation to the Commission to promote checks by monitoring as a key control system for the post-2020 CAP;

141.

Strongly regrets the fact that the Commission’s failure to gather reliable data on final beneficiaries of CAP funds leaves many unresolved cases for recovery of funds by Member States; notes with concern that the use of reporting and monitoring tools, such as ARACHNE, is only being used optionally;

142.

Regrets the recurrent weaknesses identified by the Court on the risk at payment affecting spending on ‘Natural Resources’, related to the Members States’ controls, which is reflected in their control statistics;

143.

Reminds the weakness identified by the Court on the CAP anti-fraud policies and procedures both by the Commission and the Member States; recalls the recommendation to the Commission in last year’s annual report and takes note that DEG AGRI updated its Anti-Fraud strategy in 2020; awaits the Court’s Special Report on CAP and anti-fraud measures, delayed to the second quarter of 2022, for an in-depth analysis of the current situation;

144.

Notes with concern 29 OLAF cases concerning structural and agricultural funds in Bulgaria; is concerned by the findings of the study on the impact of organised crime on the EU’s financial interests that most violations in Bulgaria have been identified in the area of agricultural funding, especially in the area of subsidies for agricultural crops, as well as the construction of ‘fake’ guest houses that are in fact used as private homes; is aware that the issue of EU co-financed ‘fake’ guest houses is not limited to Bulgaria as similar issues were identified also in Slovakia and Czechia; notes that the Commission is monitoring the situation and expects the Commission to take swift and decisive action against this kind of subsidy fraud; notes further that the Bulgarian authorities have not included financing for similar measures in the current programming period 2021-2027;

145.

Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s Special Report 16/2021, ‘Common Agricultural Policy and climate: Half of EU climate spending but farm emissions are not decreasing’, the CAP has not reduced livestock emissions, that emissions from fertilisers and manure on soils are increasing, that the CAP measures did not lead to an overall increase in the carbon content stored in soils and plants, and that the 2014-2020 changes to the CAP did not reflect its new climate ambition;

146.

Regrets that according to the Court’s findings in its Special Report 20/2021 ‘Sustainable water use in agriculture: CAP funds more likely to promote greater rather than more efficient water use’, CAP direct payments do not significantly encourage efficient water use, and that rural development funds and market measures do not significantly promote sustainable water use;

147.

Notes with concern that, according to the Court’s Special Report 13/2020 ‘Biodiversity on farmland: CAP contribution has not halted the decline’, there are shortcomings in the design of the EU biodiversity strategy, its coordination with the CAP and its monitoring; regrets that the Court has concluded that most CAP funding has little positive impact on biodiversity;

148.

Recalls the importance of a fair CAP allocation, which from one side should avoid any misuse of funds in particular by political prominent wealthy individuals, elites and big conglomerates, and on the other concentrate on active farmers; points out that the study (7) on the implementation of the CAP funds revealed that the disbursement of Union agriculture funds is a highly problematic issue in at least five Member States (8) and that there is a clear inequality between fund allocations for big and small farmers, with systemic advantages for the big farms whose beneficiaries have close ties to the ruling political parties or are themselves members of these in their countries (9);

149.

Notes with concern that the Court found that the Commission’s performance information concentrates on inputs, outputs and financial contribution rather than results; welcomes that the economic viability of fisheries is increasing; regrets that data on aquaculture is less conclusive;

150.

Takes note that the Commission reports on the EMFF spending for environmental objectives; regrets that the link between this and key environmental indicators is not well defined; regrets that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) conservation objective is unlikely to be met;

151.

Takes note that by the end of 2020 ESI funds supported over 2 million projects in the agricultural sector and rural areas and contributed to maintaining 31 500 jobs and creating 4 000 new jobs in the maritime and fisheries sector; notes, in addition, that more than 54 000 new jobs have been created through projects supported by rural development programmes and that 131 000 young farmers benefited from the business start-up support;

Recommendations

152.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

simplify rules and procedures, encourages Member States to develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for young farmers, SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all other relevant stakeholders;

(b)

make better use and encourage the use of AI and data from new technologies such as the EU-owned Copernicus Sentinel satellites to monitor and control the correct use of CAP funds;

(c)

make the use of the IT tools, Arachne and EDES, mandatory and systematic for paying agencies, as an important tool that can be used to identify projects, beneficiaries and contractors at risk of fraud;

(d)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on but not limited to existing tools and databases;

(e)

focus its performance information on results and establish a clear link between programme contributions and the achievements declared in order to assess the effectiveness of the programmes;

(f)

promote the ‘checks by monitoring’ approach as a key control system for paying agencies; make global and systematic use of new technologies for monitoring environmental and biodiversity targets and climate requirements in the framework of the Green Deal; provide adequate financial and human resources to executive agencies such as the European Medicines Agency, the European Environment Agency and the European Chemicals Agency, that are facing an increased workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Green Deal action programme;

(g)

take action so that the CAP reduces emissions from agriculture, reduces emissions from cultivated drained organic soils, and reports regularly on the CAP’s contribution to climate mitigation; welcomes that in the meantime the new CAP reform, and the F2F (Farm to Fork) communication were adopted;

(h)

request justifications for exemptions to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in agriculture, tie CAP payments to compliance with environmental standards, and use Union funds to improve the quantitative status of water bodies;

(i)

improve the coordination and design of the post-2020 biodiversity strategy and track expenditure more accurately, enhance the contribution of direct payments and rural development to farmland biodiversity, and demonstrate the impact of CAP measures on such biodiversity;

(j)

pursue the development of organic farms; highlight that only 8 % of European agricultural land is dedicated to organic food with only 303 000 organic food farmers out of the 7 million farmers that benefit from CAP funds;

(k)

ensure that accessibility of land is a priority in order to maintain the family farm model and allow young farmers to develop their activities;

(l)

Increase CAP efficiency by concentrating its support to active farmers whose main activity is farming;

(m)

promote investments that contribute to a more resilient and digital economic recovery in line with the Green Deal and that are fundamental to the social and economic development of rural areas;

Security and citizenship

153.

Notes that the MFF heading 3 ‘Security and citizenship’ accounts for 3,7 % or EUR 6,3 billion of the Union budget: of this amount EUR 2,6 billion (40,5 %) is spent on the instrument for Emergency Support within the Union, EUR 1,6 billion (25,3 %) on migration and security, EUR 1,2 billion (18,5 %) on decentralised agencies, EUR 0,2 billion (3,7 %) on Food and Feed, EUR 0,2 billion (3,8 %) on Creative Europe, and the rest on other areas;

154.

Takes note that the most significant area of expenditure concerns the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), set up in April 2020 to help Member States address the COVID-19 pandemic by funding, among other things, the cross-border transfer and transport of patients, medical staff and essential medical items, research and production of vaccines and treatments and the development, purchase and distribution of testing supplies;

155.

Is concerned that the Court, in its Special Report 10/2021, found that the Commission has not adequately applied gender mainstreaming in the Union Budget; calls on the Commission to urgently develop gender mainstreaming methodology in order to integrate a gender equality perspective in all policy areas, including the use of gender-disaggregated data and indicators; recalls that the need for gender mainstreaming is ever more urgent in the light of the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;

156.

Regrets that the cultural and creative sectors were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020; notes that even though flexible measures were introduced and the media subprogramme provided additional support for Europa Cinemas’ members suffering from forced closures (amounting to EUR 16 million), the subprogramme underperformed in relation to some indicators, in particular in terms of the size of in-person audiences at events;

157.

Notes that the Court examined a sample of 27 transactions, designed to contribute to the overall statement of assurance rather than to be representative of spending under this MFF heading; takes note that the Court examined the annual activity reports of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) and the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) and included in the AMPR;

158.

Notes that the Court was unable to estimate the error rate; notes with concern that of the 27 transactions examined by the Court, 8 (30 %) were affected by errors; highlights that the Court also found cases of non-compliance with legal and financial provisions, but without a financial impact on the Union budget; notes that the errors concern the selection of projects and the application of procurement rules, the submission of incomplete documentation in support of cost claims, and the defective functioning of an IT system;

159.

Regrets that the limited sample of 27 transactions for 2020 made it impossible for the Court to compare its audit results with the information reported by DG HOME and DG CONNECT on the regularity of spending; invites the Court to extend its sample and make it more representative of this spending area, in order to have a deeper evaluation of this heading;

160.

Welcomes the Court’s report on the performance of the Internal Security Fund – Borders and Visa (ISF-Borders and Visa), which represents 8,1 % of the total payments made until the end of 2020 for this MFF heading, based on the 2020 AMPR, the programme statements for the 2022 draft budget, key evaluations and other reports;

161.

Notes with concern that the Court found marked differences in the implementation of national programmes and that there are gaps in ISF-Borders and Visa’s performance information; highlights that the ISF-Borders and Visa contribution to effective border management is dependent on Member States entering reliable, relevant and up-to-date information in IT systems; is concerned that effective border management is hampered by insufficient quality of data and training of border guards; notes that performance indicators published in the AMPR give an optimistic picture of ISF-Borders and Visa performance;

162.

Notes the Court’s conclusion that the programme has contributed insufficiently to the consistent application of the acquis through training; notes the Court’s findings that ISF-Borders and Visa has contributed to efficient visa-processing by funding the upgrading of 2 680 consulates (290 % of the 2020 target); notes however that 4 322 staff (38 % of the 2020 target) have been trained in the common visa policy to date, which, according to the Court ,could increase the risk that Schengen visa applications will not be processed in a harmonised manner;

163.

Welcomes the success under the effective integration and legal migration’ strand of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and notes with appreciation that the target of 2,6 million persons for the 2014-2020 period have been considerably surpassed as almost 6 million persons in the target group have received integration assistance;

164.

Underlines that particularly in the area of security and citizenship, NGOs are important and valuable implementing partners of the Commission; notes that funds may be paid out to umbrella organisations that distribute and pass on the funding to member organisations or partner NGOs on the ground; is concerned that the Commission only has a limited overview of the final recipients of the funding; is deeply concerned that Union funds may unintentionally end up benefitting organisations that incite terrorism or extremism; is of the opinion that rules are needed for umbrella organisations that pass on Union funding to their member organisations or partner NGOs that are similar to the provisions on the transparency of final beneficiaries, beneficial owners and sub-contractors as agreed in Annex XVII to the new CPR ;

Recommendations

165.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

develop better cooperation with all Member States, recalling that the challenges related to security and migration management are a priority for the Union; recognises the efforts of the Commission in this respect;

(b)

Issue a clear legal guidance to ensure transparent, accurate and complete information provided by the Member States on border management; recalls the need to set out binding rules and issue more guidance on the border management IT systems to ensure fast and effective border management; report to the discharge authority, at regular intervals, about improvements in terms of up-to-date data quality and sufficient training in each of the respective Member States;

(c)

simplify rules and procedures, develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants and improve the assistance and guidelines for all the stakeholders, administration and payment agencies;

(d)

carefully check the eligibility of the costs submitted by the beneficiaries of ESI actions and, in particular, the regularity of procurement procedures;

(e)

provide guidance to the Member State authorities responsible for implementing DG HOME funds, in both the 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 MFFs, on documenting the completeness and quality of services when funding is based on standard unit costs;

(f)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on but not limited to existing tools and databases;

(g)

propose rules on the transparency of umbrella organisations or partner NGOs that pass on Union funding to their member organisations that are similar to the provisions concerning final beneficiaries, beneficial owners and sub-contractors in Annex XVII of the Common Provisions Regulation;

(h)

increase resources dedicated to preventing and combating gender-based violence in relation to citizens, equality, rights and values, especially in light of the escalation of violence against women;

(i)

support Parliament’s pilot projects that address young people’s needs and that ensure intergenerational justice;

(j)

encourage Member States to develop special initiatives that enable and simplify access to culture and mobility for Europe’s youth, and to seek innovative solutions to make travelling by environmentally friendly transport across the Union more affordable;

(k)

investigate where exactly the Union funds have been invested in the AMIF programmes and which specific improvements they brought about; requests a corresponding report from the Commission for each of the Member States concerned;

(l)

implement measures to ensure complementarity and better coordination between AMIF and EASO/Frontex (e.g. in the area of forced returns or support to asylum authorities);

(m)

use development aid as a tool to facilitate better cooperation with migrants’ countries of origin;

(n)

thoroughly verify the use of Union funds by third entities, their affiliates, and/or natural persons to ensure that no funds are allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalisation; make sure that individuals or groups affiliated, linked to or supporting terrorist organisations are excluded from Union funding; ensure that those Union funds are proactively recovered, and recipients involved are excluded from future Union funding;

(o)

immediately freeze and place part of the Union funds in a reserve in the event that an irregularity is discovered by the Union with regard to any eligible entity, affiliate and/or natural person being linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalisation, and only release these Union funds from the reserve when sufficient evidence has been gathered by the Union to ensure compliance with Union regulations;

(p)

provide increased disclosure and transparency on any investigations it or its entities like the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) conducts following irregularities with regard to Union funding, in particular when such investigation concerns Union funding being linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalisation;

Global Europe

166.

Notes that the MFF heading 4 ‘Global Europe’ accounts for 6,6 % or EUR 11,4 billion of the Union budget: of this amount, EUR 3 billion (26,7 %) is spent on the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), EUR 2,7 billion (23,2 %) on the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), EUR 1,9 billion (16,9 %) on the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), EUR 1,9 billion (16,8 %) on Humanitarian Aid, and the rest on other actions and programmes;

167.

Notes that the Court examined a sample of 75 transactions, designed to contribute to the overall statement of assurance rather than to be representative of spending under this MFF heading; notes that the Court also examined the regularity of information in the AARs of the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) and the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), as well as the AMPR;

168.

Takes note that the Court did not audit sufficient transactions to estimate the level of error for this MFF heading; is worried that of the 75 transactions examined, 28 (37,3 %) were affected by errors; notes with concern that some international organisations provided only limited access to documents, and some questioned the Court’s mandate;

169.

Notes with concern that the general categories of findings for ‘Global Europe’ are ineligible costs, costs not incurred, public procurement errors and absence of supporting documents; is worried that the Court has again detected several major factors that distorted DG NEAR’s residual error rate (RER) study; criticises that the regulatory framework governing the RER study and the contract between DG NEAR and the RER contractor do not address or mention the risk of fraud; notes with concern that there is no procedure requiring the contractor to report to the Commission cases of suspected fraud against the Union budget detected during its RER work;

170.

Welcomes the Court’s report on the performance of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance II (IPA II), representing 12,6 % (EUR 5,6 billion) of the total payments made up until the end of 2020 for this MFF heading; based on the Commission’s performance information, including the 2020 AMPR, programme statements for the 2022 draft budget, and the 2020 AAR of DG NEAR; and key evaluations and other reports;

171.

Notes with great concern that most indicators are either not on track or their progress is unclear; underlines that the sector approach was a strategic choice in order to improve IPA II’s performance; regrets that it could not be applied consistently; regrets that indirect management by beneficiary countries sometimes had an adverse effect on operational efficiency;

172.

Welcomes that IPA II has responded flexibly to help mitigate crises; notes with concern that there are some gaps in IPA II’s performance information; notes the Court’s observation that the implementation of political reforms is generally slow, as well as its conclusion that their progress depends not only on IPA II support, but also on other contextual factors such as the political will of the IPA II beneficiary concerned; notes with concern that the Court has found that Union support has been more effective in promoting fundamental reforms than in securing their implementation;

173.

Recalls that development and cooperation policy aim to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality and that funds should reach only their intended beneficiaries;

174.

Insists on the importance of Parliament’s active participation in the development of partnership and cooperation agreements with third countries; stresses that future partnership agreements should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and based on the principles of solidarity, shared responsibility, respect for human rights, the rule of law and international humanitarian law;

175.

Deplores that problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed and is concerned about the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in school textbooks and especially in the newly created study cards; reiterates its position that all text books and materials supported by Union Funds which are used in schools must be in line with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence and non-violence; moreover, insists that salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants that are financed from Union funds such as PEGASE be used for drafting and teaching curricula which reflect the UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence, as was decided upon by Union education ministers in Paris on 17 March 2015; and Parliament decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial years 2016, 2018 and 2019; requests therefore the Commission to closely scrutinise that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and relevant experts to modify the curriculum expeditiously;

Recommendations

176.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

take steps so that international organisations provide the Court with complete, unlimited and timely access to documents necessary to carry out its task in accordance with the TFEU;

(b)

establish a procedure to ensure that partner organisations base their allocation of shared costs on expenditure actually incurred;

(c)

develop the ex post controls by a better implementation of new technologies and IT tools as well as increasing the on-the-spot missions;

(d)

ensure the protection of the Union budget by making general and systematic use of digital and automated systems for reporting, monitoring and audit and urgently establish an integrated and interoperable system building on but not limited to existing tools and databases;

(e)

establish obligations for the RER study contractor to report to the Commission any suspected fraud against the Union budget detected during its work on the RER study;

(f)

encourages the further development of balanced trade agreements and to remain attentive to investments made by foreign powers;

(g)

pay close attention to the complicated situation in Belarus; underlines the importance of reviewing Union funding and ensuring that it is not directed to the Lukashenko regime, but towards supporting civil society in Belarus;

(h)

fully introduce the principle of conditionality and regular ex ante and ex post checks on the regularity and performance of the Union’s funds supporting third countries and ensure a legal framework that provides for these support instruments to allow for full recovery of funds in case any irregularities are discovered;

(i)

continue to support the COVAX programme in order to speed up vaccination against COVID-19 in developing countries;

(j)

ensure that the delivery of external aid is subject to the rule of law and respect for human rights in recipient countries;

(k)

simplify rules and procedures, develop compulsory training sessions and practical information for applicants, in particular new applicants, and improve the assistance and guidelines for SMEs, universities, NGOs, spin-offs, start-ups, administration and payment agencies and all other relevant stakeholders;

(l)

ensure that the applicable provisions of the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation are strictly applied to the new IPA III funds and Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, as an indispensable part for distribution of funds in the 2021-2027 period;

(m)

draw up a financial support plan for Ukraine to enable it to recover from the illegal aggression by Vladimir Putin’s regime;

Administration

177.

Notes that payments under MFF heading 5 on ‘administration’ amounted to EUR 10,3 billion in 2020 (6,0 % of the MFF). The Commission represents EUR 6,3 billion (60,0 % of the payments under this heading) with expenditure on human resources representing 68 % of this amount;

178.

Notes that the Court examined only 48 transactions designed to represent the full range of spending under this heading spread over a number of institutions and also examined a selection of supervisory and control systems of the European Ombudsman and the Council;

179.

Notes that the Court also examines the regularity of the information in the annual activity reports of the Commission, including those of its directorates-general and offices primarily responsible for administrative expenditure; notes with satisfaction that the Court estimates that the level of error in spending on ‘administration’ was not material;

180.

Notes that the Court found five errors in their sample for the Commission, out of which four related to allowances to staff and one concerned a minor overpayment for software licences;

181.

Recalls that the Paymaster Office (PMO) of the Commission is responsible on the basis of a service-level agreement for the verification of the legal conditions for the installation allowance and the payment authorisation of both installation and residence allowance of EU high-level public office holders provided for in the Council Regulation (EU) 2016/300 (10) determining the emoluments of EU high-level public office holders;

182.

Expresses its concern over the very high approval rate of transfer requests into private sector positions for former Commission staff, as this increases the likelihood of the occurrence of conflicts of interest; urges the Commission to review its policy in this regard;

183.

Notes that in 2020 the Commission received 8 001 initial and 309 confirmatory applications for access to documents, as well as that fully or partially access was granted in 81 % of the initial cases, and wider or even full access was further granted in more than 37 % of the cases reviewed at confirmatory stage;

184.

Notes that the Union institutions have different rules for the use of official vehicles; is of the opinion that these rules should be harmonised and the own contribution of the users should be adequately increased in relation to the costs and to properly reflect the monetary advantage of such use;

185.

Invites the Commission to take appropriate measures to implement all of the Court’s recommendations and to report to Parliament on the developments by 30 June 2022;

186.

Notes with concern the lack of understanding within the decision-making and approval forums at the health insurance scheme JSIS when it comes to new treatments, medical trends and not-yet-approved drugs particularly linked to novel appearances of nervous system diseases, autoimmune disorders as well cancer diseases; requests that the relevant bodies within JSIS duly and regularly take into account recent medical developments and knowledge gains when updating the list of eligible treatments and drugs; requests JSIS to show more flexibility when assessing clinical pictures as well as subsequent treatment and therapies that might help a patient; recommends the introduction of expert groups, which can assess and approve not-yet-approved treatments, drugs, and medications to improve the treatment quality of applicants, decrease bureaucratic burden, and accommodate the most recent medical information when handling reimbursement claims; underlines that the Union is at the forefront of medical innovation and technology and is therefore of the opinion that this standard should also be applied for the medical treatment of persons under JSIS;

187.

Is concerned, however, about the serious lack of transparency from the Commission regarding buying and distributing of vaccines in the Union during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020; notes with regret the case of the Commission refusal of public access to text messages exchanged between the Commission President and the CEO of a pharmaceutical company on the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine; draws attention that based on its findings during the inquiry on this case, the Ombudsman considers that it constituted maladministration;

188.

Takes note that as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic the Commission spent less budget amounts on missions, conferences and meetings as well as training in 2020 than the amounts budgeted for in the 2020 budget; takes note that part of the savings as well as appropriations from other areas of administrative expenditure were redirected to pandemic-related needs such as ICT equipment, including for the provision of home office equipment to all staff, and expenditure of the medical service for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including sanitary measures in the childcare centres;

189.

Stresses that all Union institutions, and especially the Commission, must respect the highest data protection criteria both in the processing of public tenders and in the good or service to be procured, which requires specialised knowledge on the part of the officials in charge;

European Schools

190.

Notes with satisfaction that the Court did not find material errors in the final consolidated annual accounts for 2020; notes furthermore with satisfaction that the Court notes that the quality of the schools’ accounts has improved compared to previous years even if the external auditor continues to find issues;

191.

Is however concerned, that the Court still finds weaknesses in the internal control systems, both in the area of recruitment and in the area of procurement;

192.

Urges the European Schools to swiftly follow up on the recommendations of the Court concerning the specific weakness found in procurement and recruitment;

193.

Emphasises, with regard to the European schools, the importance of respecting the annuality principle and of respecting payment deadlines, procurement rules and transparency in recruitment procedures;

Human resources

194.

Welcomes the initiatives taken by the Commission to ensure gender equality and recalls the Commission President’s commitment to reach gender equality at all levels of management by the end of the current Commission mandate, which is fully supported by Parliament;

195.

Underlines its request for the Commission to ensure a fair geographical balance of its members of staff at all levels, especially at middle and senior management levels where strong imbalances persist, while at the same time fulfilling the requirements in the Staff Regulation in relation to competences and merits of candidates;

196.

Echoes the difficulties encountered by the Union institutions installed in Luxembourg to recruit staff according to their needs and recalls the Eurostat study showing that the disparity in purchasing power between Luxembourg and Brussels (25,4 %) exceeded the 5 % threshold even when housing was excluded from the calculations;

197.

Insists that Commission implements a more transparent appointment procedure for all posts especially management related posts, particularly in the context of the new HR Strategy;

198.

Reminds the Commission of the potential risks of Commissioners engaging in new activities and calls for the Commission to keep a clear attention on those cases;

199.

Acknowledges that, during 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the internal functioning and the management of the Commission’s budget;

200.

Echoes the Court’s conclusion that ‘any unethical behaviour by staff and members of EU institutions and bodies is unacceptable. Such behaviour – even if it is only alleged – attracts high levels of public interest and reduces trust in the Union. Unethical behaviour is also linked to the risk of corruption and fraud’;

201.

Reiterates Parliament’s concern regarding the termination of the contract with the restaurant service provider, which led to the layoff of 400 workers;

202.

Recall Parliament’s concerns about the increasing number of contract staff hired in the Commission, and the risks related to the transfer and then loss of knowledge when their contracts expire, without forgetting the perspective and job security of the contract agents;

Recommendations

203.

Calls on the Commission to:

(a)

follow up on the Court’s recommendation to improve its system for managing statutory family allowances, including through reinforced consistency checks on staff declarations of allowances received from other sources;

(b)

review the mechanism for verifying the legal conditions of the installation allowance to request other documents as evidence to the greatest extent possible with respect to proportionality and privacy, based on the opinion that a rental contract for or a purchase contract of a property shall not be considered sufficient evidence in the sense of Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2016/300, as such property may be destined for other uses than primary residence;

(c)

continue its work in order to ensure gender equality at all levels of management by the end of the current Commission mandate and to report gender-disaggregated data;

(d)

continue its work to ensure a fair geographical balance of its staff at all levels while at the same time fulfilling the requirements in the staff regulation regarding competences and merits of candidates;

(e)

continue to build a more diverse and inclusive work environment and culture by taking actions in favour of people with disabilities and to assess the possibilities of further strengthening and integrating the principle of equal opportunity in recruitment, training, career development and working conditions as well as raising staff awareness of these aspects;

(f)

follow up on the possible reasonable improvements and modifications that could be made to institutions’ buildings (access, adequate office equipment) for people with reduced mobility or other disabilities;

(g)

propose a harmonised set of rules for the use of official vehicles for all Union institutions, bodies and organs including an adequate increase of the own contribution of the users in relation to the costs, which properly reflects the monetary advantage of such use;

(h)

implement the Ombudsman’s recommendation in the case of the Commission's refusal to allow public access to text messages exchanged between the Commission President and the CEO of a pharmaceutical company on the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine (Case 1316/2021/MIG);

(i)

address the long-standing and serious problem of salary indexation in Luxembourg by adopting a delegated act to correct the relevant provision of the staff regulation;