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Document L:2018:248:FULL

Official Journal of the European Union, L 248, 3 October 2018


Display all documents published in this Official Journal
 

ISSN 1977-0677

Official Journal

of the European Union

L 248

European flag  

English edition

Legislation

Volume 61
3 October 2018


Contents

 

II   Non-legislative acts

page

 

 

DECISIONS

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1309 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section I — European Parliament

1

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1310 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section I — European Parliament

3

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1311 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section II — European Council and Council

23

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1312 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section II — European Council and Council

24

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1313 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section III — Commission

27

 

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Resolution (EU, Euratom) 2018/1314 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section III — Commission and executive agencies

29

 

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Resolution (EU, Euratom) 2018/1315 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the 2016 Commission discharge

71

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1316 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for the financial year 2016

103

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1317 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for the financial year 2016

105

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1318 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency for the financial year 2016

107

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1319 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Research Council Executive Agency for the financial year 2016

109

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1320 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Research Executive Agency for the financial year 2016

111

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1321 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency for the financial year 2016

113

 

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Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1322 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section III — Commission

115

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1323 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section IV — Court of Justice

117

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1324 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section IV — Court of Justice

118

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1325 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section V — Court of Auditors

123

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1326 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section V — Court of Auditors

124

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1327 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section X — European External Action Service

127

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1328 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section X — European External Action Service

128

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1329 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section VI — European Economic and Social Committee

133

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1330 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section VI — European Economic and Social Committee

134

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1331 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section VII — Committee of the Regions

137

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1332 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section VII — Committee of the Regions

138

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1333 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section VIII — European Ombudsman

141

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1334 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section VIII — European Ombudsman

142

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1335 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section IX — European Data Protection Supervisor

145

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1336 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016, Section IX — European Data Protection Supervisor

146

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1337 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh European Development Funds for the financial year 2016

149

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1338 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016

151

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1339 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh European Development Funds for the financial year 2016

160

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1340 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators for the financial year 2016

162

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1341 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators for the financial year 2016

163

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1342 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators for the financial year 2016

166

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1343 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications for the financial year 2016

167

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1344 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications for the financial year 2016

168

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1345 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications for the financial year 2016

171

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1346 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2016

172

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1347 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2016

173

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1348 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union for the financial year 2016

177

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1349 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training for the financial year 2016

178

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1350 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

179

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1351 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training for the financial year 2016

182

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1352 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (before 1 July 2016: European Police College) (CEPOL) for the financial year 2016

183

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1353 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 (before 1 July 2016: European Police College) (CEPOL) for the financial year 2016

184

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1354 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (before 1 July 2016: European Police College) (CEPOL) for the financial year 2016

188

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1355 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Aviation Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

189

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1356 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Aviation Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

190

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1357 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Aviation Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

194

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1358 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2016

195

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1359 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2016

196

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1360 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office for the financial year 2016

202

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1361 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Banking Authority for the financial year 2016

203

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1362 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Banking Authority for the financial year 2016

204

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1363 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Banking Authority for the financial year 2016

208

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1364 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control for the financial year 2016

209

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1365 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

210

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1366 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control for the financial year 2016

214

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1367 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Chemicals Agency for the financial year 2016

215

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1368 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Chemicals Agency for the financial year 2016

216

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1369 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Chemicals Agency for the financial year 2016

221

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1370 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2016

222

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1371 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2016

223

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1372 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Environment Agency for the financial year 2016

227

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1373 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2016

228

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1374 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2016

229

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1375 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2016

233

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1376 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2016

234

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1377 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

235

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1378 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2016

240

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1379 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2016

241

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1380 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

242

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1381 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2016

245

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1382 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2016

246

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1383 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2016

247

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1384 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority for the financial year 2016

251

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1385 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology for the financial year 2016

252

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1386 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

253

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1387 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology for the financial year 2016

257

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1388 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Medicines Agency for the financial year 2016

258

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1389 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Medicines Agency for the financial year 2016

259

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1390 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Medicines Agency for the financial year 2016

265

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1391 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2016

266

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1392 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2016

267

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1393 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the financial year 2016

270

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1394 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

271

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1395 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

272

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1396 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Maritime Safety Agency for the financial year 2016

276

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1397 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security for the financial year 2016

277

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1398 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security for the financial year 2016

278

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1399 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security for the financial year 2016

281

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1400 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Railway Agency (now European Union Agency for Railways) for the financial year 2016

282

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1401 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Railway Agency (now European Union Agency for Railways) for the financial year 2016

283

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1402 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Railway Agency (now European Union Agency for Railways) for the financial year 2016

287

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1403 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Securities and Markets Authority for the financial year 2016

288

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1404 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

289

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1405 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Securities and Markets Authority for the financial year 2016

293

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1406 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2016

294

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1407 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2016

295

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1408 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Training Foundation for the financial year 2016

298

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1409 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Agency for the Οperational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice for the financial year 2016

299

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1410 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Agency for the Οperational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice for the financial year 2016

300

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1411 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Agency for the Οperational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice for the financial year 2016

305

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1412 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work for the financial year 2016

306

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1413 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

307

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1414 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work for the financial year 2016

310

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1415 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Euratom Supply Agency for the financial year 2016

311

 

*

Resolution (EU, Euratom) 2018/1416 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016

312

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1417 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Euratom Supply Agency for the financial year 2016

313

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1418 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions for the financial year 2016

314

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1419 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

315

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1420 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions for the financial year 2016

319

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1421 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of Eurojust for the financial year 2016

320

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1422 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of Eurojust for the financial year 2016

321

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1423 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of Eurojust for the financial year 2016

325

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1424 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Police Office (Europol) for the financial year 2016

326

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1425 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Police Office (Europol) for the financial year 2016

327

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1426 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Police Office (Europol) for the financial year 2016

331

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1427 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2016

332

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1428 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 for the financial year 2016

333

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1429 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for the financial year 2016

337

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1430 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) for the financial year 2016

338

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1431 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 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 2016

339

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1432 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) for the financial year 2016

344

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1433 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2016

345

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1434 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2016

346

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1435 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2016

349

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1436 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

350

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1437 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

351

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1438 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

354

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1439 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

355

 

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Resolution (EU) 2018/1440 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

356

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1441 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

359

 

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Decision (EU) 2018/1442 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

360

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1443 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

361

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1444 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

364

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1445 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

365

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1446 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

366

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1447 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

369

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1448 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

370

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1449 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

371

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1450 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

374

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1451 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2016

375

 

*

Resolution (EU, Euratom) 2018/1452 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2016

376

 

*

Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/1453 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2016

380

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1454 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

381

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1455 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

382

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1456 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

387

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1457 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

388

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1458 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

389

 

*

Decision (EU) 2018/1459 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on the closure of the accounts of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2016

392

 

*

Resolution (EU) 2018/1460 of the European Parliament of 18 April 2018 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union agencies for the financial year 2016: performance, financial management and control

393

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

3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/1


DECISION (EU) 2018/1309 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section I — European Parliament

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (COM(2017) 365 — C8-0248/2017) (2),

having regard to the report on budgetary and financial management for the financial year 2016, Section I — European Parliament (3),

having regard to the Internal Auditor’s annual report for the financial year 2016,

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2016, 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 2016, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to Article 314(10) and Article 318 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (6), and in particular Articles 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

having regard to the Bureau decision of 16 June 2014 on the Internal Rules on the implementation of the European Parliament’s budget (7), and in particular Article 22 thereof,

having regard to Rule 94 and Rule 98(3) of, and Annex IV to, its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0105/2018),

A.

whereas the President adopted Parliament's accounts for the financial year 2016 on 28 June 2017;

B.

whereas the Secretary-General, as principal authorising officer by delegation, certified, on 10 July 2017, 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 the control procedures established give the necessary guarantees concerning the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions;

C.

whereas Article 166(1) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 requires each Union institution to take all appropriate steps to act on the observations accompanying the Parliament’s discharge decision;

1.

Grants its President discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Parliament for the financial year 2016;

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

Antonio TAJANI

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 48, 24.2.2016.

(2)  OJ C 323, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 266, 11.8.2017, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(5)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 10.

(6)  OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(7)  PE 422.541/Bur.


3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/3


RESOLUTION (EU) 2018/1310 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

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 2016, 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 2016, Section I — European Parliament,

having regard to Rule 94 and Rule 98(3) of, and Annex IV to, its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0105/2018),

A.

whereas in his certification of the final accounts, the European Parliament’s accounting officer stated his reasonable assurance that the accounts present fairly, in all material aspects, the financial position, the results of the operations and the cash-flow of the Parliament;

B.

whereas, in accordance with the usual procedure, 141 questions were sent to Parliament’s administration and written replies were received and discussed publicly by the Committee on Budgetary Control, in the presence of the vice-president responsible for the budget, the Secretary-General and the internal auditor;

C.

whereas there is permanent scope for improvement in terms of quality, efficiency and effectiveness in the management of public finances, and scrutiny is necessary to ensure that political leadership and Parliament’s administration are held accountable to Union citizens;

Oversight over Parliament’s budgetary and financial management

1.

Notes that the formal oversight system of Parliament’s budgetary and financial management consists of four main components:

the certification of the final accounts by Parliament’s accounting officer;

the annual reports of the internal auditor and his opinion on the internal control system;

the assessment of administrative and other expenditure for all the Union institutions, including Parliament, by its external auditor, the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’);

the discharge procedure prepared by the Committee on Budgetary Control resulting in a decision of Parliament on granting the President of Parliament discharge;

2.

Welcomes the fact that the Court has increased the sample relating to the number of Parliament's transactions, and encourages the Court to continue on this path, as the reputational risk is relatively high, given that financial and budgetary errors might impact negatively on the standing of the institution;

3.

Encourages the Court to consider issuing more special reports on specific areas of Parliament’s operations, such as its communication policies and its management of the grants for European political parties and foundations with a special focus on performance based budgeting;

4.

Welcomes the follow-up that is given by the administration to strengthen in-house expertise on accounts and auditing by setting up an additional service for Members involved in the discharge procedures relating to Union institutions thus providing help and support on how to understand and interpret the outcome of annual accounting and audit reports;

The Parliament’s budgetary and financial management

5.

Notes that Parliament’s final appropriations for 2016 totalled EUR 1 838 613 983, or 19,39 % of heading 5 of the Multiannual Financial Framework (1) (MFF) set aside for the 2016 administrative expenditure of the Union institutions as a whole, representing a 2,4 % increase over the 2015 budget (EUR 1 794 929 112);

6.

Notes that total revenue entered in the accounts as at 31 December 2016 was EUR 183 381 513 (compared to EUR 176 367 724 in 2015), including EUR 30 589 787 in assigned revenue (compared to EUR 27 988 590 in 2015);

7.

Emphasises that four chapters accounted for 69,92 % of total commitments: Chapter 10 (Members of the institution), Chapter 12 (Officials and temporary staff), Chapter 20 (Buildings and associated costs) and Chapter 42 (Expenditure relating to parliamentary assistance), indicating a high level of rigidity for the major part of the Parliament’s expenditure;

8.

Observes the figures on the basis of which Parliament’s accounts for the financial year 2016 were closed, namely:

(a)

Available appropriations (EUR)

appropriations for 2016:

1 838 613 983

non-automatic carry-overs from financial year 2015:

automatic carry-overs from financial year 2015:

289 323 907

appropriations corresponding to assigned revenue for 2016:

30 589 787

carry-overs corresponding to assigned revenue from 2015:

103 055 269

Total:

2 261 582 946

(b)

Utilisation of appropriations in the financial year 2016 (EUR)

commitments:

2 225 465 435

payments made:

1 900 199 164

appropriations carried forward automatically including those arising from assigned revenue:

324 909 094

appropriations carried forward non-automatically:

appropriations cancelled:

36 094 295

(c)

Budgetary receipts (EUR)

received in 2016:

183 381 513

(d)

Total balance sheet at 31 December 2016 (EUR)

1 574 480 381

9.

Points out that 99,2 % of the appropriations entered in Parliament’s budget, amounting to EUR 1 823 844 172, were committed, with a cancellation rate of 0,8 %; notes with satisfaction that, as in previous years, a very high level of budget implementation was achieved; notes that the payments totalled EUR 1 538 531 527, resulting in an implementation rate of 84,4 % and representing an increase of 0,7 % compared to the previous year;

10.

Underlines the fact that the cancelled appropriations for the year 2016, amounting to EUR 14 769 811, were mainly related to remuneration and other entitlements, as well as, once more, to the expenditure related to buildings;

11.

Notes that in the 2016 financial year, seven transfers were approved in accordance with Articles 27 and 46 of the Financial Regulation (2), which amounted to EUR 66 655 000 or 3,6 % of final appropriations; observes with concern that the majority of such transfers were, once more, related to the Parliament’s buildings policy, and in particular to the Konrad Adenauer building project; considers that level of the ‘mopping-up’ transfer continues to be very high; is of the firm belief that effective budget management should be able to reduce such transfers to the bare minimum necessary; urges that Parliament’s buildings policy be laid down with sufficient clarity, as part of the budgetary strategy;

The Court’s opinions on the reliability of the 2016 accounts and on the legality and regularity of the transactions underlying those accounts

12.

Recalls that the Court performs a specific assessment of administrative and other expenditure as a single policy group for all the European institutions; points out that administrative and related expenditure comprises expenditure on human resources (salaries, allowances and pensions), accounting for 60 % of total administrative expenditure, and expenditure on buildings, equipment, energy, communications and information technology;

13.

Recalls that the audit involved an examination of a representative sample of 100 payment transactions, including a risk-based sample of 20 commitments which have been approved close to the end of the 2016 financial year and automatically carried over to 2017, in order to check the usage of the budget according to the principle of annuality;

14.

Acknowledges from the Court that the overall audit evidence indicates that the spending on ‘administration’ is not affected by a material level of error; notes that, on the basis of the 12 quantified errors, the estimated level of error present in heading 5 of the MFF on administration is 0,2 % (down from 0,6 % in 2015);

Management of funds by the political groups

15.

Recalls that the political groups are responsible to the Parliament for managing the funds allocated to them, within the powers conferred upon them by the Bureau; notes with concern that the Court found weaknesses in checks on the authorisation and settlement of expenditure related to the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group and that payments were being made without being covered by contracts resulting from a procurement procedure; highlights that the external auditor ‘Ernest and Young’ issued a qualified opinion; calls on the Bureau to take appropriate measures, including possible reimbursement, concerning the ENF group;

16.

Notes the specific findings concerning Parliament contained in the annual report of the Court for 2016; notes that for one payment to a political group, the Court found weaknesses in checks on the authorisation and settlement of expenditure made in 2015 but cleared in 2016; notes, in addition, that the Court found that payments were made without being covered by contracts resulting from a procurement procedure; notes, finally, that the Court detected similar shortcomings in a transaction relating to another political group in 2015;

17.

Notes the responses given by Parliament to the Court during the adversarial procedure; asks the Court to keep the responsible committee informed on the implementation of its recommendation to review the framework for monitoring the implementation of budget appropriations allocated to political groups and monitor more effectively how they apply the rules for authorising and settling expenditure, and how they carry out procurement procedures;

18.

Encourages the Parliament’s Secretariat to continue its additional efforts in assisting the political groups in improving their internal financial management and in providing them with better guidance; calls on the political groups to further improve the application of relevant rules for authorising and settling expenditure, as well as to improve and further harmonise how they carry out procurement procedures;

The internal auditor’s annual report

19.

Notes that at the competent open committee meeting with the internal auditor held on 23 January 2018, the internal auditor presented his annual report and described how in 2016 he had performed audits on the following subjects:

Review of the project for the new Financial Management System (FMS) — Phase 3;

Follow-Up of Open Actions from Internal Audit Reports;

Audiovisual Sector;

Recruitment Process for Officials and Temporary Staff;

External expertise on works’ projects in the Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics (DG INLO);

Activity Reporting Process;

Recruitment Process for Contract Staff;

IT Infrastructure & Operations: Data Centre Inventory and Management of External Expertise;

20.

Recalls that the annual activity report is a cornerstone of the Parliament’s governance structure; emphasises that following the audit of the activity reporting process, which focused on the effectiveness of the annual activity reports as a tool for reporting on accountability and performance, the internal auditor made the following recommendations:

an integrated framework for planning and reporting should be adopted; it should cover both the setting of strategic objectives and each directorate-general’s annual operational objectives, establish key result indicators, and enhance reporting on performance in the annual activity reports;

the Secretary-General should appoint a service with an expanded mandate for the coordination and monitoring of the activity reporting process;

the assessment of the Internal Control Framework and the reporting thereon should be enhanced, by appointing an Internal Control Coordinator in each directorate-general, providing suitable guidance and tools to the directorates-general, and ensuring coherent reporting on internal controls in the annual activity reports;

Parliament-specific guidelines for drawing up the Declaration of Assurance and assessing the need for making possible reservations should be adopted;

21.

Notes that the 2016 follow-up process resulted in the closure of 22 of the 48 validated open actions, as well as that the risk profile of the overdue actions continued to be progressively reduced in 2016; notes in particular that at year-end, 10 of the 26 open actions were in the ‘significant risk’ category, and the remaining 16 in the ‘moderate risk’ category;

Follow-up to the discharge resolution for the financial year 2015

22.

Acknowledges the written answers to the discharge resolution for the financial year 2015 provided to the Committee on Budgetary Control on 4 October 2017, as well as the presentation by the Secretary-General on the various questions and requests of Parliament’s discharge resolution for the financial year 2015 and the exchange of views with Members that followed; stresses the importance of having more frequent discussions with the Secretary-General on issues concerning Parliament’s budget and its implementation in the Committee on Budgetary Control;

23.

Stresses once more, in the interests of greater transparency within the institution, and especially concerning its decision-making procedure, the need to facilitate and make more accessible the work of Parliament’s internal decision-making bodies, especially the Bureau and, above all, the decision-making procedure; calls for Bureau agendas to be published on the Intranet in a timely manner and for the minutes of meetings to be published much more promptly; observes that it is not necessary to wait until they are translated into all languages before publishing them; congratulates the College of Quaestors on the progress made in this regard, especially as regards its new policy of disclosing its decisions;

24.

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 respond to the recommendations contained in Parliament’s discharge resolutions and include the results in the annual monitoring document; asks the Secretary-General to report in good time to the Budget and Budgetary Control Committees on all projects with a significant budgetary impact that have been submitted to the Bureau;

25.

Regrets, however, that many of the recommendations in the discharge resolution (3) for the financial year 2015 have not been followed up and that no reason or justification has been given; expresses its deep concern that neither the Bureau, nor the Secretary-General has published a progress report or made sufficient progress on several requests for action or for a decision to be taken by them;

26.

Reiterates its call on the Bureau to follow-up all discharge decisions as follows from Rule 25 and Annex IV of the Rules of Procedure and Articles 6 and 166 of the Financial Regulation;

27.

Recalls that both Parliament’s discharge resolution for the financial years 2014 (4) and 2015 asked for a technical solution that allows Members to use their individual page on the Parliament’s website for the voluntary publication of meetings with interest representatives; urges the Parliament’s Bureau and the Secretary-General to make this possible without further delay;

28.

Calls on the Secretary-General to inform the Members of progress made with regards to the iPACS Project (whose aim is to strengthen and modernise the security of people, buildings and assets of the Parliament); notes that this project was adopted by Bureau decision on 9 March 2015; underlines the importance of ascertaining whether a project of such prime importance to the Parliament — and that has cost such a large sum of money — is on track;

29.

Calls on the Secretary-General to institute measures to deal with significantly increasing hotel prices in Strasbourg, prices that have increased dramatically from one year to the next with an especially marked peak during the plenary session; recommends facilitating transport between Strasbourg and the German side of the border, where prices are significantly lower (possibly by means of a shuttle bus service between Kehl and the Parliament building);

30.

Welcomes the initiatives of the Secretary-General regarding the review of the Crisis and Business Continuity Strategy in order to build up the resilience of the Parliament to better face any potential major incident (of any nature, but concerning for example IT, security or premises) impacting Parliament’s activities, reflected in a Bureau Decision of 3 May 2016;

Parliament’s 2016 discharge

31.

Notes the exchange of views between the vice-president responsible for the budget, the Secretary-General and the Committee on Budgetary Control in the presence of the internal auditor, on 23 January 2018 in the context of the Parliament discharge for the financial year 2016;

32.

Notes that, following the referendum held on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom the Bureau discussed the consequences in its meeting of 4 July 2016; notes that the position of the President is that, as long as the United Kingdom remains a full member of the Union, British Members and Parliament staff enjoy exactly the same rights and obligations as all other Members and staff of the house; notes that this arrangement needs to be flexible and remain in line with any possible outcomes of the Brexit negotiations; notes that the situation of British Members and Parliament staff might change during the yet to be defined transition period;

33.

Acknowledges that the referendum result had a considerable impact on committee secretariats, research units and horizontal services of the political directorates-general; notes that the Parliament’s services prepared analytical material based on fact-finding work to consider the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal on the policy areas and legislation in their respective fields; acknowledges moreover that future work on this issue is of a very complex legal nature, as well as that the expertise built up in committee secretariats and policy departments is ready to be mobilised during the subsequent phases of the withdrawal process based on the political decisions taken;

34.

Welcomes the improved cooperation in the security field between the Parliament and the national authorities of its host countries, in particular the Belgian authorities;

35.

Encourages the Secretary-General to negotiate with the Belgian railways to offer more direct trains between Brussels-Luxembourg railway station and Zaventem Airport at peak arrival and departure times for Members in order to save travelling time and lower Members’ carbon footprint; asks the secretariat to promote train travel for Members;

36.

Recalls that openness to the public is a hallmark of the Parliament; supports the reorganisation and improvement of entrances to all Parliament buildings at the three places of work on the basis of a new security concept which guarantees a safe working environment for parliamentary activities while retaining Parliament’s openness; notes that these entrances, modernised in 2015, were equipped with new access control systems and have been incorporated into the new central integrated physical access control system; stresses that the entrance of the Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg (LOW) is one of the entrances most used by the Members, Union staff and visitors during the plenary sessions; stresses it is de facto the most visible entrance in Strasbourg; regrets that the ‘temporary’ security check at entrance of the LOW building has become de facto permanent; urges the Secretary-General to propose an alternative to facilitate entrance into the LOW building while keeping the level of security and the attractiveness of this entrance;

37.

Notes that attention paid to performance-based budgeting still varies between the directorates-general, and is still at a preliminary stage in parts of the administration; calls upon the Secretary-General to ensure that clear, measurable targets are set and monitored throughout the administration;

38.

Regrets that, according to the Court, the costs of the geographic dispersion of Parliament amount to EUR 114 million per year; notes the finding, in its resolution of 20 November 2013 on the location of the seats of the Union’s institutions (5), that 78 % of all missions by Parliament staff coming under the Staff Regulations arise as a direct result of the fact that Parliament’s services are geographically dispersed; recalls that the estimate of the environmental impact of that dispersal is between 11 000 to 19 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions; notes with regret that in 2016 the total cost of reimbursements solely for Members’ travel expenses for plenary sessions in Strasbourg amounted to as much as EUR 21 352 262; calls on the Council to find a solution toward a single seat for the European Parliament in order to not waste taxpayers’ money;

39.

Notes the publication of seven ‘Cost of Non-Europe’ reports, as well as five ‘European Added Value Assessments’ which were completed in 2016;

40.

Notes the revision of allowance rates for accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) with respect to their duty travel between Parliament’s three places of work; notes that for officials and other servants of the Parliament, the hotel ceiling for Strasbourg missions is set at EUR 180 and daily allowance at EUR 102, making a daily total of EUR 282; whereas for APAs this amount is reduced to EUR 137, EUR 160 or EUR 183 per day for the same expenses, at the Member’s discretion; recalls, however, that APAs are entitled to the same subsistence allowance as officials and other Parliament staff for missions to destinations other than Strasbourg; calls on the Bureau, for the third year running and for the purposes of equal treatment of workers, to take swift action to bring the daily subsistence allowance for APAs on mission in Strasbourg into line with that for officials and other staff; calls again for the Bureau to fully align allowances between officials, other servants and APAs;

41.

Welcomes the willingness of the Secretary-General to find a solution and reiterates its call to find a workable solution for those APAs who, having worked without interruption for two parliamentary terms, will not be entitled to access the European pension rights scheme when they will reach the pension age at the end of the current Parliamentary term, owing to circumstances beyond their control and that of the Members employing them, since they will not have reached the ten years’ service required due to early elections in 2014 and delays in the validation of their new contracts because of the heavy human-resources workload after the elections of 2009 and 2014; therefore requests that two legislative terms be considered 10 years of active service; calls on the Secretary-General to instruct the Directorate-General for Personnel (DG PERS) to seek possible solutions without delay and keep representatives of the APAs informed of, and involved in, the process; requests that the Commission submit a legislative proposal before 1 September 2018 to solve this issue;

42.

Notes that some missions’ reimbursements are subject to very long delays and suggests that solutions as to bring them within a reasonable timeframe should be explored;

43.

Considers it appropriate to keep the small increase in budget line 422 ‘Expenditure related to parliamentary assistance’, taking into account the higher workload through Brexit, growing number of trilogues and increasing number of temporary and special committees, which has reached a historical record of 25 standing and temporary committees, and the coincidence of the end of legislature with the complex package of legislative MFF proposals;

44.

Asks the Secretary-General to transmit to the Commission the Report on the evaluation of the new Statute of APAs drawn up following the resolution adopted on 28 April 2016 on the discharge for the financial year 2014 and referred to in Article 3 of Council Regulation (EC) No 160/2009 (6);

45.

Encourages the Bureau, when assessing the new rules on visitors’ groups introduced last year, to delete the possibility to appoint APAs as head of a group as it poses professional, legal, ethical and data protection concerns;

46.

Observes that trainees employed by Members have a private-law contract with the Member, which does not entitle them to the same status in Parliament as that of other categories of Parliament staff, or to have scholarships from the Parliament itself (Schuman scholarships); regrets that there is no facility or legal framework within the Directorate-General for Finance (DG FINS) to arrange a scheme for direct advance payments to such trainees prior to missions — although such arrangements are in place for all other staff — given the fact that, for obvious reasons, they can barely afford to pay these expenses up front out of their own pockets; underlines that Members may find an agreement on advance payments with the trainee and the paying agent on a case-by-case basis; however notes that many Members do not use the services of a paying agent to remunerate the trainees they employ, asks the Parliament to evaluate as soon as possible whether such a direct payment scheme could be implemented;

47.

Notes with concern that at this advanced stage in the parliamentary term, the CVs of more than half of the Members are still yet to appear in their profiles on the Parliament’s official website; calls on the Secretary-General to take swift action to ensure that the CVs of all Members appear on the official website;

48.

Recalls that the mandate of the Members of the Parliament is incompatible with a number of offices, including that of a mandate of a national parliament; asks that the necessary rules be drawn up for the next parliamentary term to exclude the possibility for Members to have an additional mandate in a regional parliament of a Member State with legislative powers that requires its members to make similar commitments in terms of working time to a national parliament;

49.

Is of the opinion that in order to receive more independent and reliable opinion and studies there is a need to create rules on conflict of interest for experts hired by the Parliament’s committees;

50.

Recalls that the discharges for the financial years 2014 and 2015 had noted that the Parliament website is not particularly user-friendly and, in this light, calls on the Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) to improve its website and to institute a more efficient search engine as a matter of urgency; stresses that progress still needs to be made with regard to the attractiveness and appeal of the website and that an effort is still required in order to diversify the available social media platforms; calls for a new strategy to be implemented, one that reflects the full capacity of social media in its various manifestations;

51.

Takes note of the updated mission statement for the information offices, from now on ‘liaison offices’ (adopted by the Bureau in November 2017); strongly underlines that their main function is to inform and communicate locally on behalf of the Parliament, in order to provide information about the Union and Union’s policies through the activities of external stakeholders at a local, regional and national level; underlines the need to optimise the use of new communication technologies and models, and take advantage of the liaison offices’ privileged geographical position close to citizens to further intensify activities at local level, such as organising debates with Members and civil society, with a view to listen to people and engage with them; points out that online debate and media attention triggered by these events should contribute to further increasing outreach to citizens; calls for an improvement in the strategy adopted with regard to the information offices of the Parliament and urges DG COMM to confront the problem of the imbalance between the amount of money spent on the building and staff costs as opposed to the key functions of these offices, which is direct communication with local stakeholders and citizens;

Directorate-General for Communication

52.

Recalls that the key performance indicator of DG COMM is the total outreach or exposure attained across the entire range of Parliament’s communication platforms and channels; notes that, with regards to the Parliament’s presence in the media and average coverage per month, there was a 12 % increase compared to 2015, and 7 % increase compared to the election year 2014; acknowledges the improvement in the Parliament’s use of social media, as well as actions related to raising awareness among young people; points out, however, that the Parliament’s communication activities should continue to improve, in particular by increasing outreach on social media, which is currently below the standards expected of a parliamentary institution; underlines that, particularly in light of the European elections in 2019, a comprehensive social media strategy needs to be developed and implemented; stresses that this strategy needs to reflect the amount of work the Parliament accomplishes while taking into account the multi-facetted interests, worries and ideas for the future of Europe that citizens express;

53.

Notes that DG COMM launched a new multi-annual work programme for grants in the area of media and events organisation covering the period 2016-2019; acknowledges that for the award of a grant in the media category, 102 framework partnership agreements were established and 48 grant applications were successful, with a total value of EUR 3,99 million; notes that in the area of events organisation, 18 projects were selected for the award of a grant with a total value of EUR 0,8 million; calls on DG COMM to concentrate on a more active approach towards those who are not automatically interested in Parliament’s activities or who may even be sceptical about its functioning;

54.

Takes note of the major technical and editorial changes made to the Parliament’s public website, particularly with regard to search engine optimisation of the website; congratulates DG COMM on this progress but adds that the rate of progress remains excessively slow; notes that the Responsive Web Design project and the live streaming and video-on-demand platform renewal project — which aim to redesign the website to make it adaptive to all kinds of devices — were launched in 2016 and successfully implemented to parts of the website; calls for a continuation of these projects and their implementation across all sections of the Parliament’s website; notes that much still needs to be done in order to bring an effective website and communication tool into being; underlines that the renewal needs to be accomplished in a timely manner, as visibility of and accessibility to the Parliament should be in place well before, but at the very latest by, the up-coming European elections in 2019; stresses that a transparent and accessible website is key to the involvement of citizens;

55.

Notes a significant increase in the volume of requests submitted to the Citizens’ Enquiries service (AskEP) since 2014, mainly as a result of seemingly coordinated ‘write-in’ campaigns on topical issues; suggests that the Parliament’s replies be advertised to Members who might be unaware of their existence;

56.

Draws attention to the latest Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the Parliament, where a specific question on the image of the Parliament was posed; is pleased that, according to the survey the percentage of citizens who have a positive view of the Parliament is on the rise from 25 % (2016) to 33 % (2017); notes with satisfaction that the increase of Parliament’s positive image directly corresponds to a decline in the ‘negative opinion’ by 7 percentage points from 28 % (2016) to 21 % (2017); points out that, despite clear signs of improvement, much still needs to be done;

57.

Encourages the Bureau, when assessing the new rules on visitors’ groups introduced last year, to delete the possibility to appoint APAs as head of a group;

58.

Calls for a review of the system for calculating the reimbursement of travel expenses for groups of visitors sponsored by Members, with a view both to ensuring equal treatment of all Union citizens and to promoting the use of more environmentally friendly means of transport, given that the current system, based on calculating mileage, fails both to take account of the isolation and geographical barriers afflicting certain areas of the Union and to cover the cost of travelling to places where faster and more environmentally friendly means of transport are available;

59.

Notes that, by 31 December 2016, a total of 5 375 officials and temporary staff were employed within the Secretariat (a decrease of 16 compared with 31 December 2015) and a total of 806 officials and temporary staff were employed within the political groups (an increase of 35 compared with 31 December 2015); notes that, together with contract agents, DG PERS was responsible for 9 617 staff (an increase of 264 compared with 31 December 2015);

60.

Notes that at 1 January 2016, 57 posts were deleted from Parliament’s establishment plan in accordance with the 2014 revision of the Staff Regulations and the MFF for 2014-2020;

Directorate-General for Personnel

61.

Welcomes the fact that promoting equal opportunities remains a key component of Parliament’s human resource management policy; notes that the action plan for the promotion of gender equality and diversity, approved by the Bureau in 2015, continued to be implemented during 2016 together with its specific objectives and all other related measures;

62.

Welcomes the fact that a roadmap for ‘Gender Equality in the European Parliament Secretariat’ has been adopted; notes that the roadmap outlines concrete actions and a clear timeline for specific measures regarding management, professional training, awareness-raising on gender equality, work-life balance measures and a regular monitoring of gender balance through statistics;

63.

Welcomes the fact that gender equality among heads of unit appointed by the Secretary-General increased from 21 % in 2006 to 36 % in 2016 and that the posts that women have obtained tend to show a satisfactory improvement in the quality of the posts attributed to women;

64.

Regrets that the gender balance at the level of director-general fell from 33,3 %/66,7 % in 2015 to 16,7 %/83,3 % in 2016; notes that the gender balance at director level remained steady from 2015 to 2016 at 29,2 %/70,8 % and 29,8 %/70,2 % respectively; considers this move in contradiction with the road map for ‘Gender Equality in the European Parliament Secretariat’;

65.

Recognises that, for certain activities, such as running the canteens and cleaning, outsourcing has been Parliament’s preferred option and that, as a consequence, for certain directorates-general, the number of external staff on Parliament’s premises may even exceed the number of officials;

66.

Reiterates the opinion that external staff should not be used to compensate for the reduction of the number of posts agreed in the context of the 2014 revision of the Staff Regulations and the current MFF;

67.

Notes that, at the end of 2016, there were 1 924 APAs working at the Parliament, compared to 1 791 a year before; calls for special consideration of the rights of APAs and local assistants, as their contracts are directly linked to the mandate of the Members they support, bearing in mind that APAs are members of staff holding Parliament employment contracts, while local assistants are subject to various national legislations;

68.

Reiterates its concern at the alleged practice of Members obliging APAs to undertake missions, particularly to Strasbourg, without mission orders, without mission costs or simply without travel costs; is of opinion that such a practice leaves room for abuse, given that where APAs travel without a mission order they not only have to pay for the costs by their own means, they are also not covered by workplace insurance; calls on the Secretary-General to investigate this alleged practice and to report on this by the end of the year;

69.

Reiterates its call on the Conference of Presidents and the Bureau to reconsider the possibility for APAs, at certain conditions to be set, to accompany Members in official Parliament Delegations and Missions, as already requested by several Members; calls on the Secretary-General to investigate the budgetary consequences, and the organisation and logistics of these missions;

70.

Notes that Parliament is providing a budget to the Staff Committee, calls for a similar budget for the Accredited Parliamentary Assistants Committee, since they fulfil tasks provided by the Statute for Members of the European Parliament and its Implementing Measures which are useful to all institutions and Members;

71.

Calls on the administration to involve the Accredited Parliamentary Assistants Committee in the decision making process of all rules that might concern Accredited Parliamentary Assistants Committee exclusively or commonly with all the other categories of staff represented by the Staff Committee;

72.

Welcomes the interest in keeping staff with British citizenship who have become European civil servants, asks the Secretary-General to report on the potential risks for British staff and on how to ensure that British staff do not become victims of Brexit, and that their statutory, contractual and acquired rights be fully safeguarded;

73.

Acknowledges that, in accordance with the Interinstitutional agreement on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (7), 57 posts were removed from the Parliament’s establishment plan for 2016, in line with the requirement for a 5 % reduction in staff posts; notes that two further posts were removed with a view to them being transferred to the Commission in connection with interinstitutional IT projects; notes moreover that the Parliament was to reduce its establishment plan by a further 76 posts as of 1 January 2017 following the decision of the budgetary authority;

74.

Is of the opinion that in reaction to the #metoo-campaign, the Parliament should achieve zero-tolerance towards violence in any form be it structural, sexual, physical or psychological; demands therefore:

complete accountability of the perpetrators with full exhaustion of available penalties and sanctions;

creation of a central complaints office for reporting harassment cases;

access for all to an independent harassment committee in the Parliament that does not reproduce the internal structures of power by having Members on board;

protection for victims and those reporting such violence which grants them full anonymity and discretion;

psychological support for victims provided by a central office of the Parliament with doctors, social workers, and counsellors;

mandatory training on sexual harassment and mobbing for Members and officials in positions of power;

training and information for staff to help them recognise sexual harassment and to ensure that they know their rights;

75.

Considers that the relatively low number of harassment complaints brought forward in 2016 both to the Advisory Committee on Harassment for staff and by APAs could imply a lack of appropriate channels; stresses that there are two kinds of harassment recognised by the Staff Regulations (psychological and sexual harassment); is of the opinion that the fight against any kind of harassment should be one of the utmost priorities of the Secretary-General; welcomes in this regard the proposal of the Secretary-General to introduce a network of independent confidential counsellors who can be contacted by APAs, trainees working for Members, group staff and all other staff and trainees; acknowledges that these counsellors will be selected for their expertise and inter-personal skills, and will undergo targeted training; encourages revision of the composition of the advisory committees dealing with harassment complaints to ensure equal representation of Members, APAs and staff, and gender balance; invites the Bureau to examine the possibility of appointing an external auditor in order to further improve the internal processes;

76.

Expresses the need to establish an independent disclosure, advice and referral body with sufficient budgetary resources, in order to help whistle-blowers use the right channels to disclose information on possible irregularities affecting the financial interests of the Union, while protecting their confidentiality and offering needed support and advice;

77.

Reiterates the vulnerable position APAs and interns employed by Members hold in respect to internal whistle-blower protection rules; cautions the Secretary-General against potential financial consequences for the Parliament’s continued failure to provide the requisite whistleblower protection for APAs who report wrongdoing by Members; urges the Secretary-General to address this situation immediately;

78.

Calls for weeks to be set aside for external parliamentary activity, to be used for training courses, particularly for Members’ assistants, including intensive language courses;

79.

Points out once again that Parliament is practically the only institution that has not introduced flexitime in its working arrangements, something that almost all the institutions, particularly the Commission, did years ago, with the proven outcome of increased productivity and improved quality of life for staff; calls for flexitime to be incorporated into Parliament’s working arrangements as soon as possible and for the Committee on Budgetary Control to be kept informed of progress made towards achieving this objective;

80.

Reiterates — as adopted in the Parliament’s discharge resolution for the financial year 2015 (paragraph 90) — that, in light of their income, scholarship students should be entitled to greater price reductions in Parliament’s restaurants;

81.

Notes with great concern the fall in demand from Members for individual language courses in French and, especially, Spanish and Italian, particularly since 2009; notes that only in English and German classes have numbers remained steady, and even improved; reminds the Secretary-General of the importance of multilingualism in the process of European integration and the role that the administration should play in promoting language learning among Union citizens’ elected representatives given that languages are also an essential tool for understanding and communication in the exercise of their parliamentary duties; calls on the administration to keep Members regularly informed by appropriate means, in addition to the existing brochure and the information available online, of all the opportunities offered to them by Parliament, with particular emphasis on classes with in-house language teachers in Brussels and Strasbourg, since this is the most flexible and compatible solution with their needs and working conditions and also offers the best value for money; further urges the Secretary-General to come up with the necessary means to promote multilingualism in this area, including by improving the availability of in-house language teachers and putting an end to the job insecurity that they face; notes the transfer of the Members’ Professional Training Unit from DG FINS to DG PERS with a view to creating greater synergy with the staff training unit already within DG PERS; asks the Secretary-General to keep it informed of the specific results it intends to obtain from this development;

82.

Calls on the Secretary-General to develop a voluntary and transparent mobility policy that takes interests and skills of staff into account in the framework of a genuine career development strategy;

Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics

83.

Notes that the updated proposal for the Parliament’s medium-term building strategy, taking into account recent developments on the Luxembourg and Strasbourg premises, should be focused on the Brussels premises and in particular on the future of the Paul-Henri Spaak building; invites in addition the Bureau to evaluate the age of the infrastructure in the Salvador de Madariaga building in Strasbourg; notes in addition that crucial Brexit-related factors defining the future of the building policy, such as the potential consequences of Brexit on multilingualism, on the number of posts for officials in the establishment plan and on the number of Members, are still unknown; acknowledges that reliable planning can be done only after the Brexit process has come to its conclusion; invites the Bureau to develop risk mitigating strategies, taking into account the need to counteract any possible disruptions that may be caused by future developments in the Brexit negotiations; asks the Secretary-General to propose a detailed plan on where staff housed in the buildings will be handled in the case of the buildings’ renovation or reconstruction;

84.

Urges the responsible services to clarify how they plan to implement the statement by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the exemplary role of their buildings (8) in the context of the Energy Efficiency Directive, given the approaching 2020 deadline;

85.

Acknowledges that the Bureau mandated the Secretary-General to work out detailed proposals on possible options for the refurbishment of the Paul-Henri Spaak building; notes in addition that these proposals should address all possible options, including no action, renovation or reconstruction, and that the proposals should be accompanied by detailed assessments on the feasibility of the projects and address any relevant legal matters; notes that the detailed proposals being prepared by DG INLO were to be presented to the Bureau at the beginning of 2018;

86.

Notes that most of Parliament’s buildings were not designed and constructed taking into account the Eurocodes requirements for structural integrity, as those norms did not exist at the time of their construction; notes that the only buildings compliant with Eurocodes standards for structural integrity are the Willy Brandt and the Wilfried Martens buildings; acknowledges that the risk generated by the potential vulnerability of the structures of the different buildings is mitigated partly by operational measures taken by DG INLO and the Directorate-General for Security and Safety (DG SAFE), and that further organisational changes are foreseen to address this issue;

87.

Recalls that the Bureau adopted a proposal for bringing the Members’ transport service in-house at its meeting of 11 April 2016; notes with satisfaction that the procedure for bringing the drivers’ service in-house resulted in a qualitative and quantitative increase of the services provided to Members, as well as for an effective and efficient response to unforeseeable emergency situations or sudden increases in demand; regrets that the principle of gender balance was not respected in the recruitment process for the transport service at the Parliament; calls on the Secretary-General to come up with a proposal to improve the current situation; is, moreover, concerned by the diverging remuneration grades among drivers and asks the Bureau whether it plans to consider a harmonisation to counteract possible unfair remuneration schemes;

88.

Welcomes the introduction of the test project for digital transmission of supporting documents between DG INLO’s initiating service and the ex ante service for the expenditure commitments of the Strasbourg Maintenance Unit; notes with satisfaction that, on the basis of positive experiences, the project was extended to the Strasbourg Projects Unit; encourages DG INLO to continue with the implementation of the digital transmission of documents wherever possible, in order to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of related services;

89.

Notes that the revision of prices in Parliament’s self-service canteen was required in order to move away from subsidised services and towards a concession type of contract, where the catering provider bears the full economic and commercial risk; welcomes the fact that trainees in the Parliament continue to be entitled to a discount of EUR 0,50 on the main dishes in all self-service restaurants in Brussels and Luxembourg and EUR 0,80 in Strasburg; asks DG INLO to monitor future price increases to ensure the services remain appropriately and fairly priced;

90.

Takes note of the rules of 13 December 2013 on parking facilities in the European Parliament, and of the European Parliament’s increased commitment to the environment; considers therefore that the policy on parking for employees’ own bicycles at all the Parliament’s places of work ought to offer more benefits than the aforesaid rules do at present; asks the Secretary-General to take steps along these lines and, particularly in the case of Strasbourg, allow bicycles owned by employees seconded there to be parked in Parliament’s car park outside part-session periods, as well as during them, and for a suitable safe area to be set aside for bicycle parking;

91.

Reiterates its deep regret regarding the decision to change the furniture in the offices of Members and their assistants in Brussels; notes that most of the furniture is perfectly serviceable and presentable, and that there is therefore absolutely no need to change it; considers that feedback from a number of Members — as opposed to a general survey — is not, on its own, sufficient justification for the change, and that arguments put forward by the administration on matters of taste, fashion or outdated style are equally inadequate; individual items of furniture should only be changed if there are clear signs of deterioration, major wear and tear or to avoid a health risk in the workplace of a specific or general nature (such as the possible development of more ergonomic office desks or chairs);

92.

Reminds the Secretary-General of the outcome of the survey of the Staff Committee, regarding shared offices for staff, that resulted in 3 000 reactions and 80 % of the staff expressing that they are against shared offices; calls on the Secretary-General to prepare a plan for the consultation of staff and to follow up on the results of the survey;

Directorate-General for Interpretation and Conferences

93.

Acknowledges that, in relation to the new output benchmarks for interpreters, an average of 11 hours per week was set as the lowest delivery and 17 hours as the highest average delivery; notes that the overall average number of hours per week staff interpreters spent delivering interpretation services in their booth increased from 11 hours and 54 minutes in 2014 to 13 hours and 25 minutes in 2016; notes that 2014 was an electoral year with less need for interpretation; underlines that the increase from 2014 to 2016 is due to the Parliament returning to its regular rhythm of committee, group, Strasbourg and turquoise weeks; recalls that, when the Staff Regulations were revised in 2013, the weekly working time for all staff of the European institutions increased from 37,5 to 40-42 hours which resulted in an increase in the weekly working time in the interpretation service as well; encourages future cooperation between the trade unions and the Secretary-General that should focus on fair working conditions, while ensuring the smooth running of parliamentary work at the same time; points out that on-going conferral between the Secretary-General and the Staff Committee is underway and urges all parties to come to an agreement; notes that the increase in the committed appropriations for ‘other staff’ was partly explained by the increased need for external interpretation in 2016 (EUR 2,2 million up over 2015); notes moreover, that for meetings of political groups and committee meetings, there is a lack of interpretation for all languages due to the assignments rules; observes, finally, that changes to the scheduling of committee meetings which have resulted in many being held at irregular hours is partly caused by limited flexibility in the efficient use of interpretation capacity;

94.

Notes with satisfaction that the Bureau adopted a ‘Strategy for the Modernisation of Conference Management’ in the Parliament, submitted to it by the Secretary-General; acknowledges that the strategy foresees a single point of contact and support for conference organisers and should be supported by an integrated conference service using a customised IT platform; acknowledges furthermore that one-stop assistance while an event is in progress and one-stop management and support are to be progressively put in place for technical meeting room facilities;

Directorate-General for Finance

95.

Recalls that the Bureau endorsed at its meeting of 26 October 2015 a new approach with the goal of enhancing client orientation and reducing the administrative burden for Members by introducing two new instruments, ‘the MEP’s Portal’ and the ‘e-Portal’; welcomes the implementation of ‘the MEP’s Portal’, a single front desk integrating all services related to financial and social entitlement formalities, which became fully operational in July 2016; notes that the electronic on-line version of ‘the MEP’s Portal’, ‘the e-Portal’, has been accessible since January 2015 with concise information regarding the rules in force and the status of Members’ rights; underlines that any administrative simplification should not only be achieved by shifting part of the work from the administrative staff to Members and their offices;

96.

Calls for the simplification of recruitment procedures and reimbursements for missions and travel costs for local assistants; regrets that these processes are often complex and lengthy resulting in significant delays; calls on DG FINS to address this issue as a priority;

97.

Notes that the current contract with the Parliament’s travel service expires at the end of 2018 and that an open call for tender is under preparation with a view to selecting a new travel agency to assist the Parliament in the handling and organisation of work-related travel; requests that the new contract contain strengthened conditions, in particular with regard to ticket pricing and the availability at all times of the travel service’s call centre, including at weekends; underlines the importance of a simple and user-friendly complaints mechanism to quickly highlight shortfalls, which allows for a speedy improvement of any problems; emphasises that greater attention needs to be paid to the specific requirements of Members and their need for tailor-made services;

98.

Encourages the successor travel agency to strive to achieve the most competitive prices for the Parliament’s work-related travels;

Voluntary Pension Fund

99.

Notes that the voluntary pension fund was established in 1990 by the Bureau’s Rules governing the additional (voluntary) pension scheme and Members were able to join it until the end of the sixth parliamentary term (13 July 2009); notes that the fund was set up to provide Members with a pension scheme because one had previously been lacking;

100.

Recalls that the Court of Justice ruled in 2013 that the Bureau decision to increase the age of retirement for Fund subscribers from 60 to 63 years in order to avoid the early exhaustion of the capital and to align it with the new statute for Members was valid;

101.

Notes that the voluntary pension fund has increased its estimated actuarial deficit from EUR 286 million at the end of 2015 to EUR 326,2 million at the end of 2016; further notes that at the end of 2016, the value of net assets to be taken into account and of the actuarial commitment amount to EUR 146,4 million and EUR 472,6 million respectively; observes that these projected future liabilities are spread over several decades but notes that the total amount paid in 2016 by the voluntary pension fund amounts to EUR 16,6 million;

102.

Points out that for the next five years, of the number of Members who will reach the age of retirement and who will be entitled to pay-outs given that they have contributed to the fund, and assuming that no beneficiary is (re)elected in 2019 or otherwise takes up a vacant European mandate, the number of new pensioners will be 21 in 2018, 74 in 2019, 21 in 2020, 12 in 2021 and 17 in 2022;

103.

Regrets that an assessment of the current situation of the voluntary pension fund is still unavailable; recalls paragraph 109 of the discharge resolution for the financial year 2015 and paragraph 112 of the discharge resolution for the financial year 2014 which call for an assessment of the current situation of the voluntary pension fund; calls on the Bureau to make an assessment as soon as possible and at the latest by 30 June 2018 of the current situation of the voluntary pension fund;

104.

Reiterates the continuing problems regarding the voluntary pension fund and asks the Bureau and the Secretary-General to take action, in order to prevent its early insolvency while avoiding any impact on the budget of the Parliament;

105.

Notes that Parliament is the guarantor for the payment of pension rights when and if this fund is unable to meet its obligations; welcomes the Secretary-General’s announcement that he has submitted to the Bureau a plan of action;

106.

Observes that, considering the fund’s current level of financial assets, combined with its future yearly payment obligations and the evolution of the rate of return of its investments on the financial markets, the estimated date of insolvency of the voluntary pension fund is estimated to occur between 2024 and 2026;

General Expenditure Allowance

107.

Welcomes the decision of the Bureau to create an ad hoc working group for defining and publishing the rules concerning the use of the general expenditure allowance; recalls the expectations articulated by Parliament in its resolutions of 5 April 2017 (9) and of 25 October 2017 (10) on the 2018 budget, which call for greater transparency regarding the general expenditure allowance and a need to work on a definition of more precise rules regarding the accountability of the expenditure authorised under this allowance, without generating additional costs to Parliament; reiterates its call on the Bureau to make the following concrete changes concerning the general expenditure allowance swiftly:

that the general expenditure allowance be handled in all cases in a separate bank account;

that all receipts pertaining to the general expenditure allowance be kept by Members;

that the unspent share of the general expenditure allowance be returned at the end of a Member’s mandate;

108.

Recalls the principle of the independence of a Member’s mandate; underlines that it is the responsibility of elected Members to use the expenditures for parliamentary activities and that it is possible for Members — who wish to do so — to publish their spending record of the general expenditure allowance on their personal webpages;

109.

Believes that any revision of the general expenditure allowance should take into account previously adopted plenary recommendations concerning transparency and financial accountability;

Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support

110.

Recalls that a key strategic pillar for Parliament in a world of open communication is strengthening ICT security; acknowledges that, in the framework of the cybersecurity action plan, the ‘cybersecurity culture’ pillar focuses on awareness-raising and training activities to ensure that the Parliament’s ICT users are informed of the risks and contribute to its first line of defence in this regard; takes note of the awareness-raising campaign concerning cybersecurity risks, which includes visual reminders throughout the Parliament’s premises, articles published on the Parliament’s internal newsletter concerning cybersecurity and information sessions for Members, assistants and staff; however, expresses its concern regarding the threats against cyber security; welcomes the appointment of the chief information security officer, the creation of an ICT Security Unit with a security management and a security operations team; calls on the Secretary-General to investigate the possibility of adopting a 100 % in-house expertise system, also in order to avoid a high turnover rate;

111.

Considers that the first priority for the IT services should be to secure good access to the internet, and that there are currently too many crashes;

112.

Takes note of the project ‘ICT4MEPs’ which should improve ICT services offered to Members and their staff while working in their constituencies; observes that the first phase of the project was implemented in October 2016, providing access management for local assistants; notes however, that the project still leaves room for improvement; calls on the relevant services to continue with the implementation project taking into account the needs of the users;

113.

Welcomes the implementation of Wi-Fi access for the Parliament’s visitors, which is another step towards a digitally more inclusive Parliament; points out, however, that ICT security should remain paramount and that the Parliament’s internal network should be shielded from potential malicious external attacks; stresses the need for dramatic improvement in the nature of the service provided, particularly in Strasbourg, and looks forward to the necessary measures being taken in the near future;

114.

Invites the Bureau, in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support (DG ITEC), to come up with risk mitigating measures to ensure a smooth running of parliamentary work in the case of system damages or blackouts; underlines the importance of a priority list of services, according to which order services must be restored as quickly as possible so a skeleton service is still functioning in the case of a cyber attack; invites the Bureau to develop a contingency plan for long-time system blackouts; recommends that data centres diversify the sites on which their servers are located to improve security and continuity of the IT systems of the Parliament;

115.

Reiterates the call in its discharge resolutions for the financial years 2014 and 2015 for the creation of an emergency rapid alert system which allows DG ITEC, in collaboration with DG SAFE, to send swift communications by SMS or email to Members and staff who agree to their contact details being included on a communication list for use in specific emergency situations;

Directorate-General for Security and Safety

116.

Acknowledges the new optimised system for organising security tasks which the Secretary-General presented to the Bureau in January 2018; acknowledges moreover that this new system takes into account the specificity of the role and function of security agents; hopes that an open dialogue can be maintained in order to remain attentive to the requirements of this group of staff working in a very tense security context;

117.

Welcomes the continuous efforts to work on safety and security in and around Parliament’s premises; acknowledges that safety within Parliament must seek to achieve a delicate balance between taking a number of protective measures into account, and introducing an overly security conscious regime that slows down the activity of Parliament; nevertheless, insists that Parliament’s security should be further reinforced, and reiterates its call on the Secretary-General to ensure that staff are correctly trained and able to perform their tasks professionally, including in emergency situations;

118.

Calls on DG SAFE’s security staff to carefully check the entire building for which they are responsible in the case of evacuations, to ensure that is has been evacuated and to provide assistance to persons who are hearing-impaired or who have any other form of disability, when people have to be evacuated;

Environmentally-friendly Parliament

119.

Recalls that the Bureau launched the Environmental Management System project in Parliament on 19 April 2004; notes that a revised environmental policy was adopted by the Bureau in 2016 which retains and reaffirms the commitment of Parliament to continuous environmentally-focused improvements;

120.

Commends the Parliament’s commitment to green public procurement; notes that the ‘EP Implementation Guide on Green Public Procurement’, which is designed to help authorising officers at the Parliament to successfully launch green purchasing policy and procedures, was approved in June 2016; welcomes the installation of the inter-institutional Green Public Procurement Helpdesk; calls for an evaluation of the introduction of criteria for a mandatory consultation of the Green Public Procurement for public tenders above a certain financial threshold and for specific product categories; notes the construction of a plant wall in the Altiero Spinelli building and takes the view that its benefits in no way justify its cost; calls on the Environmental Management System to seek solutions that, in addition to the ecological dimension, take account of cost-benefit ratios;

121.

Welcomes the installation of water fountains and the new system of reusable glass jars; notes that the water fountains are poorly advertised and not yet installed in office areas; regrets, despite tender specifications to reduce plastic waste, that an increased number of meals in disposable packaging were sold by Parliament’s catering facilities; calls for transparency on plastic waste generated by catering facilities; notes that the brand of bottled drinking water distributed in Parliament meetings has changed three times in less than two years, which does not seem in line with earlier announced tender durations and is still plastic based; recognises that the Commission has scrapped plastic bottles for drinking water and calls on the Parliament to lay out a plan to follow it, especially given its exemplary role and in the light of a European Plastic Strategy policy initiative;

122.

Notes that the Bureau endorsed a road-map, proposed by the Secretary-General, to move towards an electric car fleet; acknowledges that by the end of 2017, half of all cars and minibuses in the Parliament’s car fleet should be electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as that from 2018, any car newly acquired for the Parliament’s car fleet should be a plug-in hybrid or electric; notes that in 2020, all cars in the Parliament’s car fleet should be electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles, while in 2021 this should also apply to all of the Parliament’s minibuses; strongly underlines that a cost-benefit analysis should be conducted before every major renewal of the car fleet and that the Budgetary Control Committee should be familiarised with the cost-benefit analysis that proceeded the implementation of the road-map towards an electric car fleet; calls for increased efforts for the promotion of active mobility, including by offering more attractive, accessible and secured bike parking spaces;

123.

Calls on the Bureau to not limit itself to electric cars as a more environmentally-friendly solution since there are concerns regarding their production (including the sufficient availability of the necessary resources) and the disposal of batteries at the end of their life-cycle; regrets that Members were not informed of an analysis regarding alternative fuels such as bio fuels, synthetic fuels or hydrogen fuel cells; underlines that diversification of an environmentally friendly car-fleet would lessen dependence on one supplier and could counteract possible future supply shortages;

124.

Notes that the Parliament has to conform with applicable regional and local laws and calls on the Parliament services to detail how it has implemented the Brussels regional law, the Code Bruxellois de l’air, du climat et de la maîtrise de l’énergie, especially in the area of car parking spaces offered to employees;

125.

Welcomes, in the context of the energy and climate policy of the Union for 2030 and beyond, additional measures to offset unavoidable emissions; calls on the Parliament to develop further CO2 offsetting policies;

Annual report on contracts awarded

126.

Recalls that the Financial Regulation and its Rules of Application (11) lay down the information to be provided to the budgetary authority, and to the public, concerning the award of contracts by the institution; notes that the Financial Regulation requires publication of the contracts awarded with a value of more than EUR 15 000, a value that corresponds to the threshold above which a competitive tendering becomes compulsory;

127.

Notes that of a total of 219 contracts awarded in 2016, 77 were based on open or restricted procedures, with a value of EUR 436 million, and 141 on negotiated procedures, with a total value of EUR 64 million; notes that the total number of contracts awarded by negotiated procedures was 14 % lower in 2016 (141 against 151 in 2015) with a reduction in value of 29 % (EUR 64 million against EUR 90 million in 2015);

128.

Notes the following breakdown of contracts by type awarded in 2016 and 2015:

Type of contract

2016

2015

Number

Percentage (%)

Number

Percentage (%)

Services

Supply

Works

Building

169

36

13

1

77

16

6

1

194

34

18

8

77

13

7

3

Total

219

100

254

100


Type of contract

2016

2015

Value (EUR)

Percentage (%)

Value (EUR)

Percentage (%)

Services

244 881 189

49

539 463 943

70

Supply

155 805 940

31

78 424 245

11

Works

97 640 851

19

92 889 168

12

Building

1 583 213

1

55 804 154

7

Total

499 911 194

100

766 581 510

100

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2016, p. 6)

129.

Notes the following breakdown of contracts awarded in 2016 and 2015 by type of procedure used:

Type of procedure

2016

2015

Number

Percentage (%)

Number

Percentage (%)

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exceptional

70

7

141

1

32

3

64

1

93

10

151

37

4

59

Total

219

100

254

100


Type of procedure

2016

2015

Value (EUR)

Percentage (%)

Value (EUR)

Percentage (%)

Open

Restricted

Negotiated

Competition

Exception

406 408 732

29 190 756

64 284 705

27 000

81

6

13

0

636 333 284

40 487 367

89 760 859

83

5

12

Total

499 911 194

100

766 581 510

100

(Annual report on the contracts awarded by the European Parliament, 2016, p. 8)

Political groups (budget item 4 0 0)

130.

Notes that, in 2016, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 0, attributed to the political groups and non-attached Members, were used as follows:

Group

2016

2015

Annual appropriations

Own resources and carried-over appropriations (*1)

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

EPP

17 400

8 907

18 303

105,19

8 005

17 440

10 198

17 101

98,06

8 745

S&D

15 327

5 802

15 713

102,51

5 417

15 256

5 748

15 379

100,81

7 633

ECR

6 125

2 518

5 835

95,25

2 809

5 959

1 614

5 065

84,99

2 779

ALDE

5 759

2 366

6 448

111,98

1 676

5 692

2 517

5 865

103,03

2 839

GUE/NGL

4 340

1 729

4 662

107,43

1 407

4 305

1 256

3 832

89,02

2 156

Greens/EFA

4 180

1 557

3 921

93,82

1 815

4 153

1 293

3 890

93,67

2 078

EFDD

3 820

1 873

2 945

77,10

1 910

3 843

1 643

3 629

94,45

1 919

ENF (*2)

1 587

0

827

52,09

793

Non-attached Members

772

216

616

79,90

257

1 627

533

1 001

61,51

214

Total  (*3)

57 723

24 968

58 443

101,25

23 296

59 860

24 803

56 588

94,53

29 155

131.

Notes with concern that, in the case of one political group, the independent external auditor issued a qualified audit opinion; is particularly concerned that the auditor identified non-compliance with the ‘Rules on the use of appropriations from budget item 400’ in the instances of costs for which adequate supporting documentation could not be obtained, as well as in the instance of procurement obligations not having been met for 10 service providers;

132.

Expresses its concern at the reputational risk for Parliament that any such irregularities constitute and is convinced of the need for quick and effective action to prevent and address any similar irregularities in the future;

European political parties and European political foundations

133.

Notes that, in 2016, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 2, attributed to the political parties were used as follows (12):

Party

Abbreviation

Own resources

EP grant

Total revenue (1)

EP grant as % of eligible expenditure (max. 85 %)

Revenue surplus (transfer to reserves) or loss

European People’s Party

EPP

1 734

6 918

10 650

85

304

Party of European Socialists

PES

1 408

7 154

9 512

85

12

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party

ALDE

611

2 337

3 162

85

88

European Green Party

EGP

502

1 795

2 587

85

78

Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists

AECR

472

2 292

3 232

85

– 240

Party of the European Left

EL

335

1 594

2 119

85

25

European Democratic Party

PDE

107

518

625

85

4

EUDemocrats

EUD

54

238

341

85

11

European Free Alliance

EFA

158

777

1 008

85

5

European Christian Political Movement

ECPM

109

493

665

85

0

European Alliance for Freedom

EAF

68

391

459

85

– 40

European Alliance of National Movements

AEMN

61

229

391

85

0

Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy

MENL

189

785

1 020

85

0

Alliance for Peace and Freedom

APF

62

329

391

85

– 5

Total

 

5 870

25 850

36 160

85

242

 

134.

Notes that, in 2016, the appropriations entered under budget item 4 0 3, attributed to the political foundations were used as follows (13):

Foundation

Abbreviation

Affiliated to party

Own resources

EP final grant

Total revenue

EP grant as % of eligible expenditure (max. 85 %)

Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

WMCES

EPP

965 665

4 878 174

5 843 839

85

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

FEPS

PES

1 041 910

4 430 253

5 472 163

84

European Liberal Forum

ELF

ALDE

248 996

1 126 430

1 375 426

85

Green European Foundation

GEF

EGP

204 866

1 090 124

1 294 990

85

Transform Europe

TE

EL

217 209

901 484

1 118 693

85

Institute of European Democrats

IED

PDE

50 690

272 033

322 724

85

Centre Maurits Coppieters

CMC

EFA

71 952

318 411

390 362

85

New Direction — Foundation for European Reform

ND

AECR

316 916

1 503 964

1 820 880

85

European Foundation for Freedom

EFF

EAF

41 923

226 828

268 751

85

Organisation For European Interstate Cooperation (*4)

OEIC

EUD

21 702

126 727

148 429

99

Christian Political Foundation for Europe

SALLUX

ECPM

61 024

326 023

387 047

85

Identités & Traditions européennes

ITE

AEMN

37 896

184 685

222 581

85

Foundation for a Europe of Nations and Freedom

FENL

MENL

96 726

549 357

646 084

85

Europa Terra Nostra

ETN

APF

37 461

151 403

188 864

85

Total  (*5)

 

 

3 414 937

16 085 895

19 500 832

85

135.

Is concerned at the recently identified irregularities which have occurred in relation to the expenditure and own resources of a number of European political parties and foundations;

136.

Expresses its concern at the reputational risk for Parliament any such irregularities constitute and is convinced of the need for quick and effective action to prevent and address any similar irregularities in the future; considers however that these irregularities are limited to a modest number of political parties and foundations; is of the opinion that these irregularities should not bring into question the financial management of the other political parties and foundations; takes the view that Parliament’s internal control mechanisms need to be strengthened;

137.

Calls on the Secretary-General to report, by 1 May 2018, to the committees responsible on all measures taken to combat the abuse of granted subsidies;

138.

Requests that the newly established Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations submit a progress report to Parliament after its first year of activity, namely 2017; calls on the Secretary-General to ensure that the authority will have at its disposal all necessary resources to fulfil its tasks;

139.

Considers that, where people are employed by parties and foundations, the labour law and social legislation of the Member State where the work is carried out must be fully complied with; calls for internal audits to include analysis of this aspect.

(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 966/2012.

(3)  OJ L 252, 29.9.2017, p. 3.

(4)  OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 3.

(5)  OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 2.

(6)  Council Regulation (EC) No 160/2009 of 23 February 2009 amending the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities (OJ L 55, 27.2.2009, p. 1).

(7)  OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.

(8)  OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 177.

(9)  Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0114.

(10)  Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0408.

(11)  Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 of 29 October 2012 on the rules of application of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (OJ L 362, 31.12.2012, p. 1).

(*1)  all amounts in thousands EUR.

(*2)  the final amounts of eligible expenses relating to the ENF group will be established at a later stage.

(*3)  the total does not include amounts related to the ENF group.

(12)  All amounts in thousands of EUR.

(1)  Total revenue includes previous year’s carry-over in accordance with Article 125(6) of the Financial Regulation.

(13)  All amounts in thousands of EUR.

(*4)  the final grant for OEIC represents 99 % of the expenditure, because some of them were reclassified to non-eligible expenditure thereby lowering the total eligible expenditure.

(*5)  the table does not include the figures for the IDDE due to 2016 grant termination procedure. Grant decision ongoing.


3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/23


DECISION (EU) 2018/1311 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section II — European Council and Council

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (COM(2017) 365 — C8-0249/2017) (2),

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2016, 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 2016, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (5), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0116/2018),

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 2016;

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, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

The President

Antonio TAJANI

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 48, 24.2.2016.

(2)  OJ C 323, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 10.

(5)  OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.


3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/24


RESOLUTION (EU) 2018/1312 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

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 2016, 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 2016, Section II — European Council and Council,

having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0116/2018),

A.

whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority stresses the particular importance of further strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions by improving transparency and accountability, and implementing the concept of performance-based budgeting and good governance of human resources;

1.

Notes that in its 2016 annual report, the Court of Auditors observed that no significant weaknesses had been identified with respect to the audited topics related to human resources and procurement for the European Council and Council;

2.

Notes that in 2016, the European Council and the Council had an overall budget of EUR 545 054 000 (compared to EUR 541 791 500 in 2015), with an implementation rate on average of 93,5 %; notes the increase of EUR 3,3 million (equivalent to 0,6 %) in the 2016 budget of the European Council and the Council;

3.

Reiterates that the budget of the European Council and the Council should be separated in order to contribute to the transparency of the financial management of the institutions and to improve the accountability of both institutions;

4.

Expresses its support for the successful paradigm shift towards performance-based budgeting in the Commission’s budget planning introduced by Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva in September 2015 as part of the ‘EU Budget Focused on Results’ initiative; encourages the European Council and the Council to apply the method to their own budget-planning procedure;

5.

Regrets that the European Ombudsman found in its strategic inquiry on the ‘Transparency of the Council legislative process’ (OI/2/2017/TE), concluded on 9 February 2018, that the current practice of the Council which inhibits the scrutiny of draft Union legislation constitutes maladministration; urges the Council to comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendations and suggestions for improvement to facilitate the public’s access to documents; underlines the importance of transparency for the Council to be accountable to Union citizens in its role as a Union legislator; asks to be informed of the Council’s reply and the progress of the procedure;

6.

Notes that travel expenses of delegations and interpretation still accounted for substantial under-spending in 2016 within DG Administration; takes note of a new policy being negotiated with the Member States to overcome this issue;

7.

Calls on the Council to provide full details on the human resources and facilities at the disposal of the ATHENA mechanism to guarantee the maximum level of transparency with respect to that mechanism;

8.

Maintains its concern with respect to the very high amount of appropriations being carried over from 2016 to 2017, particularly those for technical furniture, equipment and computer systems; reminds the Council that carry-overs are exceptions to the principle of annuality and should reflect actual needs;

9.

Reiterates its call for the overview of human resources to be broken down by category, grade, gender, nationality and vocational training;

10.

Notes the existence of a gender balance policy in the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC); welcomes the positive trend of women’s representation in management posts, which had reached 31 % at the end of 2016; calls on the Council to continue with the gender balance policy toward a truly balanced presentation of both genders in management posts;

11.

Welcomes the information regarding the occupational activities of former senior officials of the GSC who left the service (1) in 2016;

12.

Notes that in 2016 the Secretary-General of the Council published his Decision 3/2016 adopting internal rules for reporting serious irregularities — Procedures for the implementation of Articles 22a, 22b and 22c of the Staff Regulations (‘Whistleblowing’); recalls that the protection of whistleblowers is an issue taken seriously within the public administration of the Union, which must always be considered carefully;

13.

Expresses the need to establish an independent disclosure, advice and referral body with sufficient budgetary resources in order to help whistleblowers use the right channels to disclose information on possible irregularities affecting the financial interests of the Union, while protecting their confidentiality and offering needed support and advice;

14.

Observes that the objective of the Council’s establishment plan to comply with the interinstitutional agreement to reduce staff by 5 % over the period of five years was achieved on 1 January 2017;

15.

Notes with concern that the late delivery of the Europa building had a significant impact on the 2016 budget of the European Council and of the Council; asks to be informed of the overall financial impact of the delay; regrets that there is still a lack of information on the buildings policy and related expenditures, which should be public as a sign of transparency for the European citizens;

16.

Reiterates its call for the building policy of the European Council and of the Council to be provided to the discharge authority; notes with satisfaction that the GSC obtained an EMAS certification in 2016 for its buildings;

17.

Regrets that the Council has still not joined the Union transparency register despite being one of the most important institutions involved in the Union’s decision-making process; therefore calls for a successful outcome of the interinstitutional negotiations between the Council presidency and representatives of the Parliament and the Commission that will lead the Council to finally join the transparency register;

18.

Regrets the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Union; observes that at this point no predictions can be made about the financial, administrative, human and other consequences related to the withdrawal, asks the European Council and the Council to perform impact assessments and inform the Parliament of the results by the end of the year 2018;

State of play

19.

Notes that failure to grant discharge has so far not led to consequences of any kind; stresses that the situation should be resolved as rapidly as possible in the interest of the citizens of the Union; recalls that the Parliament is the only institution directly elected by Union citizens and that its role in the discharge procedure is directly connected with the citizens' right to be informed of how public money is spent;

20.

Notes that a proposal to negotiate an agreement with the Council on the budget discharge procedure was submitted by Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) to the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (CoP) on 11 September 2017;

21.

Notes that on 19 October 2017 the CoP approved the request to mandate the CONT Chair and coordinators of the political groups to enter into negotiations on behalf of the Parliament with a view to achieving a mutually satisfactory agreement on the cooperation between the Parliament and the Council with respect to the discharge procedure in full respect of the different role of the two institutions in the discharge procedure;

22.

Notes also that on 9 November 2017 a letter was sent to the Secretary-General of the Council, inviting submission of the Parliament’s proposal to the responsible body of the Council in order to launch negotiations under the terms approved by the CoP;

23.

Notes that in the meantime the Secretary-General of the Council was invited by CONT to attend the exchange of views with the secretaries-general of the other institutions, which took place on 4 December 2017, and that a written questionnaire was sent to the Secretary-General of the Council on 26 November 2017; deeply regrets that the Council reiterates its position of non-attendance to the exchange of views and that the questionnaire sent to the Council services with questions from the Members of Parliament remains unanswered;

24.

Recalls that the procedure of giving discharge separately to the individual Union institutions and bodies is a long-standing practice accepted by all the other institutions except the Council, and that this procedure has been developed to guarantee transparency and democratic accountability towards Union citizens;

25.

Reiterates that the Council must take part fully and in good faith in the annual discharge procedure, just as the other institutions do, and regrets the difficulties encountered in the discharge procedures to date;

26.

Underlines that, pursuant to the Treaties, Parliament is the only discharge authority of the Union, and that, in full acknowledgment of Council’s role as an institution giving recommendations in the discharge procedure, a distinction must be maintained in respect of the different roles of Parliament and Council in order to comply with the institutional framework laid down in the Treaties and in the Financial Regulation;

27.

Recalls that Parliament grants discharge to the other institutions after considering the documents provided, the replies given to the questions and after hearing the secretaries-general of the other institutions; regrets that Parliament repeatedly encounters difficulties in receiving answers from Council;

28.

Considers that effective supervision of the Union's budget implementation requires cooperation between Parliament and Council and looks forward to starting negotiations with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement.

29.

Notes that the nomination of the members of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the responsibility of the Member States under Articles 253 and 254 TFEU; highlights the importance of a timely nomination and appointment of judges for the performance of the CJEU; asks for a new rule setting a specific deadline for the (re)nomination of a judge well before the end of a judge’s mandate and calls on the Council to weigh cost against benefits when appointing new judges to the CJEU; criticises the irregular nomination, without a call for applications, of two judges for the Civil Service Tribunal for a mandate which moreover lasted only from 14 April 2016 until 31 August 2016; notes with regret the costs associated with one of those judges taking up and ending his ‘4 month mandate’, amounting to EUR 69 498,25 in addition to the salary received by the judge; condemns such a waste of Union taxpayers’ money;

30.

Notes furthermore that the General Court (Appeal Chamber, judgment of 23 January 2018 in Case T-639/16 P) (2) has considered a Second Chamber of the Civil Service Tribunal of the European Union constituted to include one of the ‘4 month mandate’ judges to be irregular, which invalidated the decision referred to in the said judgment as well as all further decisions of the Second Chamber in that composition; asks the CJEU which decisions of the Second Chamber in that composition are affected by the General Court ruling; demands that the Council comment on this failure and clarify where responsibility lies for it.

(1)  Third and fourth paragraphs of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union.

(2)  ECLI:EU:T:2018:22.


3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/27


DECISION (EU, EURATOM) 2018/1313 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, Section III — Commission

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (1),

having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (COM(2017) 365 — C8-0247/2017) (2),

having regard to the Commission’s report on the follow-up to the discharge for the 2015 financial year (COM(2017) 379),

having regard to the Commission's 2016 Annual Management and Performance Report for the EU Budget (COM(2017) 351),

having regard to the Commission’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2016 (COM(2017) 497), and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2017) 306),

having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2016, together with the institutions’ replies (3), and to the Court of Auditors’ special reports,

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 2016, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 20 February 2018 on discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2016 (05940/2018 — C8-0042/2018),

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) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (5) and in particular Articles 62, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0137/2018),

A.

whereas, under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission is to execute the budget and manage programmes and, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to implement the budget in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principles of sound financial management;

1.

Grants the Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016;

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 2016, Section III — Commission and executive agencies, and in its resolution of 18 April 2018 on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge for the financial year 2016 (6);

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 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

Antonio TAJANI

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 48, 24.2.2016.

(2)  OJ C 323, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 10.

(5)  OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(6)  Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0122 (see page 71 of this Official Journal).


3.10.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 248/29


RESOLUTION (EU, EURATOM) 2018/1314 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 18 April 2018

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 2016, 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 2016, 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 2016,

having regard to Rule 93 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0137/2018),

A.

Whereas Union spending is a significant instrument for achieving policy objectives and on average represents 1,9 % of Member States’ general government expenditure;

B.

Whereas when Parliament grants discharge to the Commission it checks whether or not funds have been used correctly and policy goals achieved;

C.

Whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, the discharge authority stresses 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;

D.

Whereas budgetary principles of unity, budgetary accuracy, annuality, equilibrium, universality, specification, sound financial management and transparency must be respected when the Union budget is implemented;

E.

Whereas expenditure under the Union budget aims to improve the living conditions and quality of life of its citizens and therefore needs to close the gaps in its social policies;

F.

Whereas the Union budget has to take into account the implementation of a social pillar;

G.

Whereas cohesion policy is a source of public investment aiming to bring a clear added value and improve the quality of life of Union citizens,

Political priorities

1.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to align the Union’s policy objectives and financial cycles, the legislative period of the Parliament and the mandate of the Commission;

2.

Calls on the Commission to provide the Parliament with a mid-term evaluation of the current financial period and an evaluation of the past financial periods, to identify which programmes have not shown any clear added value and then carry out a spending review;

3.

Recalls that the Commission should take into account in its proposals for a new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that some policy areas, like cohesion or research, often rely on longer-term programming and need more time to achieve political objectives than other policy areas; considers that nevertheless, suitable flexibility should be given in emergency situations;

4.

Insists that the Union budget, as a consequence of the ‘budget focused on results initiative’, be presented according to the Union's political objectives for the MFF; reminds, also in the light of the post-2020 MFF, that the Union budget should be a true European added value budget, aimed for common Union objectives promoting sustainable economic and social development of the whole Union, which cannot be achieved by individual Member States on their own and therefore should not be seen merely as a net balance or benefit of single Member States;

5.

Expresses the need to establish an independent disclosure, advice and referral body in order to help whistleblowers use the right channels to disclose information on possible irregularities while protecting their confidentiality and offering needed support and advice;

6.

Calls on the Commission to commit itself to fundamentally reviewing the young farmers’ and greening schemes for the next MFF in light of the findings of the Court of Auditors (the ‘Court’);

7.

Calls on the Commission to include in its performance reports assessments on the quality of the data used and a declaration on the quality of the performance information;

8.

Calls on the Commission to provide the Parliament and the Court with more balanced reporting, by including in its performance reports more transparent information on challenges, pitfalls and failures;

9.

Calls on the Commission to speed up the delivery of cohesion policy programmes and related payments with a view to reducing the length of the implementation period, initially, to year n+2;

10.

Calls on the Commission to fulfil the original 20 % spending target in integrating climate action into the various Union spending programmes;

11.

Insists that the Commission finally instruct all its directorates-general to publish their proposals for country specific recommendations in their respective annual activity reports (AARs), as called for by Parliament;

12.

Calls on the Commission to improve the transparency of migration policy financing as recommended by the Court in its annual report for 2016 and to actively monitor public procurement procedures when they are held in emergency situations;

13.

Also calls on the Commission to improve the transparency of research and rural development policies with the aim of identifying and correcting the causes of particularly high and persistent error rates, as indicated in the Court’s annual reports;

14.

Calls on the Commission to improve transparency for trust funds and for the external assistance management reports, regularly providing all data at its disposal;

15.

Calls on the Commission to negotiate a reduction in the fees charged by the European Investment Bank for creating and administering financial instruments and to present information about the beneficiaries and the results achieved by means of these instruments regularly;

16.

Calls on the Commission to speed up the preparation of the Union accounts, to ensure that reliable information from Member States on shared management spending is obtained in a more timely manner and to present the management's view on Union spending earlier and together with the accounts, with the view to adopting a discharge decision in year n+1, while ensuring high data quality and sound financial management;

The Court’s Statement of assurance

17.

Welcomes the fact that the Court has given a clean opinion on the reliability of the accounts for 2016, as it had done since 2007, and that the Court concluded that revenue was free from material error in 2016; notes with satisfaction that the commitments underlying the accounts for the year ended 31 December 2016 are legal and regular in all material respects;

18.

Welcomes the positive trend of the most likely error rate issued by the Court compared to that of recent years since the payments are affected in 2016 by a most likely error rate of 3,1 %; recalls that the most likely error rate for payments was estimated in the financial years 2015 at 3,8 %, 2014 at 4,4 %, 2013 at 4,7 %, 2012 at 4,8 %, 2011 at 3,9 %, 2010 at 3,7 %, 2009 at 3,3 %; 2008 at 5,2 %, and 2007 at 6,9 %; as the Court’s s estimated error rate is not final, considers it important that Commission's residual error rate be taken into account when assessing the efficiency of Union funding;

19.

Stresses that, due to the different methodology required for its calculation, the estimated level of error for cohesion does not include a quantification of 2016 disbursements to financial instruments amounting to EUR 2,5 billion that the Court considers to be outside the eligibility period defined in Article 56(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (1); notes that if the Court had quantified this irregularity, the most likely error rate would have been considerably higher; deplores the Commission’s unilateral decision to accept expenditures up to 31 March 2017; points out that the Commission should have prepared the necessary legislative proposal to put an end to this irregularity;

20.

Regrets that the increased use of financial instruments to decrease the value of the Union budget involves higher risks for accountability and the coordination of Union policies and operations;

21.

Points out that there is not enough information available for an appropriate evaluation of financial instruments, in particular with regard to their social and environmental impact; emphasises that financial instruments can supplement grants but should not replace them;

22.

Notes with satisfaction that for the first time in 23 years, the Court has issued a qualified (rather than an adverse) opinion on the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts, which means that in the Court’s view, there has been an important improvement in the management of Union finances, as well as that material error was confined mainly to reimbursement-based expenditure, representing around half of the audited payments;

23.

Regrets that for the 23rd year in a row, payments are materially affected by error because of the fact that the management and control systems are only partially effective at ensuring sound financial management and timely payment;

24.

Notes with concern that if the corrective measures taken by the Member States and the Commission had not been applied to the payments audited by the Court, the overall estimated level of error would have been 4,3 % rather than 3,1 % (i.e. the same level as in 2015; see Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 1.34);

25.

Notes that the type of management has a limited impact on the level of error as the Court finds the same estimated level of error under shared management with the Member States and for all other forms of operational expenditure managed directly by the Commission, namely 3,3 %;

26.

Points out that the Court found the highest estimated levels of error in spending for rural development, environment, climate action and fisheries (4,9 %), for economic, social and territorial cohesion (4,8 %) and for competitiveness for growth and jobs (4,1 %), whilst administrative expenditure had the lowest estimated level of error (0,2 %);

27.

Notes that according to the findings of the Court, the different risk patterns of reimbursement schemes and entitlement schemes have had a major influence on the levels of error in the different spending areas; where the Union reimburses eligible costs for eligible activities on the basis of cost declarations made by beneficiaries, the level of error is 4,8 % (5,2 % in 2015), whilst where payments are made on meeting conditions rather than reimbursing costs, the error rate is 1,3 % (1,9 % in 2015);

Annual Management and Performance Report (AMPR) (2) : management achievements

28.

Points out that beyond the appearance of convergent conclusions made by the Commission and the Court, the statement made by the Court in its annual report and the analysis put forward by the Commission in its 2016 AMPR are partially divergent;

29.

Notes, in particular, that the Commission points out in its 2016 AMPR that the reservations issued by the directors general in their AARs have increased and amount to EUR 35,3 billion, which corresponds to 26 % of the payments (in 2015 it was EUR 29,8 billion and 21 % of payments);

30.

Points out that according to the Commission, the actual financial impact in terms of amount at risk at reporting has also increased in 2016 to EUR 1,6 billion (in 2015 it was EUR 1,3 billion);

31.

Points out that the Commission notes in its 2016 AMPR a deterioration of the financial management indicators in terms of AARs reservations and explains it by the difficulties of putting in place new and more demanding schemes, notably greening (3), while the Court points out a clear amelioration in this very precise policy area;

32.

Notes in particular that the Court states that the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) ‘is at 1,7 % “free from material error”, which is a real improvement by comparison with 2015, when it was 2,2 %, and estimates the level of error for entitlement-based expenditure at 1,3 %, while observing that the biggest part of first pillar of the CAP is included in this kind of expenditure;

33.

Takes note of the Court’s assertion that in expenditure the error is not “pervasive” (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 1.8); calls on the Commission and the Court to align their methods using the international audit standards before issuing the next annual report or AAR;

34.

Stresses that the Commission finds in its 2016 AMPR that spending is affected by a material level of error, given that the Commission’s overall average error rate is estimated to be between 2,1 % and 2,6 % (having been in 2015 between 2,3 % and 3,1 %) of total relevant expenditure, and the related estimated overall amount at risk at payment is between EUR 2,9 and 3,6 billion (while in 2015 it was between EUR 3,3 and 4,5 billion);

35.

Notes that this decrease is, according to the Commission, mainly due to cohesion’s lower inherent risk of error for programmes of the current MFF; is surprised by this explanation given the very low level of budget implementation in this area; calls on the Commission to further explain the matter;

36.

Points out that this low rate of implementation can be explained by the fact that in cohesion no expenditure was certified in the annual accounts submitted to the Commission in 2016, nor were any financial corrections imposed by the Commission following its audit activity (4);

37.

Notes that the Commission estimates that it will in the future years identify and correct errors for between EUR 2,0 and 2,1 billion, or between 1,5 % and 1,6 %;

38.

Shares the view of the Court that the Commission’s methodology for estimating its amount at risk error has improved over the years but that “individual DGs” estimations of the level of irregular spending are not based on a consistent methodology’; calls on the Commission to use the same methodology to estimate its amount at risk error for all DGs and to inform the discharge authority of its progress;

39.

Notes that despite improvements, the Commission has not eliminated the risk that the impact of corrective actions is overstated;

40.

Points out in particular that for more than three quarters of 2016 expenditure, Commission directorates general base their estimates of amount at risk on data provided by national authorities, whilst it — regrettably — appears from the AARs of the concerned Commission directorates-general (in particular DG AGRI and DG REGIO) that while Member States’ control reports reflect the error detected by the Member State, the reliability of some management and control systems remains a challenge; stresses the importance of Member States’ data reliability;

41.

Points out that, owing to the specificity of multi-annual programming and the fact that errors can be corrected more than 10 years after they have occurred, it is insufficient and artificial to base the estimated impact of future corrections upon recorded corrections over the last six years;

42.

Points out that in the Financial Statement Discussion and Analysis (FSDA) the Commission reports total implemented financial corrections and recoveries amounting to EUR 3,4 billion (3,9 in 2015), that around EUR 0,6 billion (1,2 billion in 2015) of the corrections and recoveries were at source (applied before the Commission accepted expenditure) and that of the remaining EUR 2,8 billion, around EUR 0,6 billion represents withdrawals by Member States applied after accepting expenditure by replacing ineligible amounts with new cohesion projects;

43.

Strongly reiterates its call on the Commission and the Member States to put in place sound procedures to confirm the timing, the origin and the amount of corrective measures and to provide information reconciling, as far as possible, the year in which payments are made, the year in which the related error is detected and the year in which recoveries or financial corrections are disclosed in the notes to the accounts;

Commission internal governance tools

44.

Recalls the opinion expressed by the Court in its Special Report No 27/2016 that the distinction introduced by the Kinnock-Prodi reform between the ‘political responsibility of Commissioners’ and the operational responsibility of directors-general means that it has not always been made clear whether ‘political responsibility’ encompasses assuming responsibility for budget implementation for the directorates-general, or is distinct from it;

45.

Points out that the College of Commissioners does not produce an annual statement on governance, in line with best practice and the common practice of Member States; calls on the Commission to produce an annual statement on governance in order to provide for a higher transparency and accountability of its College;

46.

Asks the Commission to implement recommendation number 2 of the Court's Special Report No 27/2016 and, in addition, accompany its financial statements with an annual statement on governance and on internal control covering in particular:

(a)

a description of the internal governance tools of the Commission,

(b)

an assessment of the operational and strategic risk activities during the year and a mid- and long-term fiscal sustainability statement;

Political reservations

47.

Endorses the reservations issued by the directors general of DG REGIO, EMPL, MARE, HOME, DEVCO and AGRI, in their AAR; is of the opinion that those reservations demonstrate that the control procedures put in place in the Commission and the Member States can give the necessary guarantees concerning the legality and regularity of all the underlying transactions in the corresponding policy areas if necessary correction procedures are implemented successfully;

Budgetary and financial management

48.

Points out that the delays in the implementation of programmes in the first three years of the current MFF due to the late adoption of the 2014-2020 MFF and considerable novelties introduced for the 2014-2020 period which caused administrative difficulties despite efforts at simplification, led to the transfer of commitment appropriations from 2014, mainly to 2015 and 2016, and to low payments in 2016 (and implementation of the Union budget at 7 % in 2014-2016 period of the current MFF); however points out that 2017 was the first year when the implementation of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI funds) programmes accelerated; expects that this trend will continue in 2018 and 2019; believes that sufficient levels of payment and appropriations for commitments should be provided in order for implementation to proceed smoothly;

49.

Notes with concern the complicated web of arrangements within and around the Union budget as this hampers accountability, transparency, public scrutiny and democratic oversight of the Union budget and financial arrangements linked to it; regrets, in this regard, the lack of the unity of the Union budget, and fully shares the Court’s concern as regards the complexity of the Union budget;

50.

Fears that despite the extensive use of special instruments (the Emergency Aid reserve, the European Union Solidarity Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Flexibility Instrument) and margins, the amounts left may not be sufficient to fund unexpected events that may still occur before 2020;

51.

Notes with concern that a record level of outstanding commitments has been created, reaching by the end of 2016 an all-time high of EUR 238 billion, 72 % higher than in 2007 and equivalent to 2,9 years of payments compared to 2,2 years in 2007; considers that this has increased the amounts owed by the Union and thus the financial exposure of the Union budget;

52.

Regrets that the overall financial exposure of the Union budget has grown, with significant long-term liabilities, guarantees and legal obligations implying that careful management needs to be applied in the future;

53.

Recalls that the Union is making increasing use of financial instruments and regrets that the establishment of European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) creates new governance arrangements with a level of public scrutiny that remains unsatisfactory, thus requiring more careful surveillance by Parliament; highlights that any legislative proposal should improve significantly the geographical coverage of the EFSI; recalls that the EFSI should remain an additional tool for boosting investments as cohesion policy should remain the investment policy of the Union; notes, however, the successful implementation and the high amount of private capita leveraged by the fund, and acknowledges the further enhancements agreed on its transparency during negotiations for the extension of the duration of EFSI, referred to as EFSI 2.0; calls on the Court to strengthen its overview of the planning and the spending phase of the ESI funds;

54.

Recalls that the revision of the Financial Regulation represents a big step forward in this regard, as it proposes, thanks to input from the Parliament, a more efficient presentation of financial instruments and, for the first time, provides budgetary guarantees and financial assistance within that framework;

55.

Points out that, in line with the principles of cohesion policy, Union funds form a significant share of some Member States’ expenditure, and in particular that in nine Member States (Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Estonia, Slovakia,) outstanding commitments on ESI funds represent financial support of more than 15 % of general government spending; calls on the Commission to also prepare a positive advertising campaign with a view to informing citizens of these countries in more detail about the direct benefits of their membership;

56.

Fears that Member States where ESI funds represent a significant percentage of general government expenditure may find it challenging to identify sufficiently high quality projects on which to spend the available Union funds or to provide co-financing; calls on the Commission and the Court to pay greater attention to the sustainability aspect of the proposed investment projects and to critically assess their adequacy;

57.

Is concerned at the reasons why, three years after the start of the 2014-2020 period, Member States had designated only 77 % of the programme authorities responsible for implementing ESI funds; is satisfied, however, that at present this figure stands at 99 %; questions the need to modify procedures at the beginning of each programming period; calls on the Commission to analyse carefully why some regions still have a low fund absorption rate and to take specific actions aimed at resolving the structural problems;

58.

Stresses that the volume of Union funds and timing of their receipt can have a considerable macroeconomic impact, such as on investment, growth and jobs;

59.

Stresses that public investment is necessary in order to close the investment gap and to boost jobs and growth and to ensure social standards within the Union;

60.

Notes that the Commission mobilised various resources to deal with the refugee and migration crisis, but regrets that it did not establish a reporting structure to enable it to report comprehensively on the use of the funds involved; deplores the fact that it is currently impossible to know how much is spent on each migrant or refugee;

61.

Notes that — as to the financial instruments in cohesion policy — payments to final recipients were reported as EUR 15 192,18 million at closure (31 March 2017), out of which EUR 10 124,68 million were structural funds, reaching a disbursement rate to final recipients of almost 93 % of the operational programme amounts paid to financial engineering instruments, i.e. a 20 % increase compared to what was reported at the end of 2015;

62.

Notes that disbursement rates to final recipients reported varied widely between financial engineering instruments, with variations not only between Member States ranging from 60 % to 99 % but also between areas of intervention;

63.

Fears that a backlog of payments may develop towards the end of the current MFF and in the first few years of the next MFF; considers that financing the new MFF will require realistic budgetary appropriations to cover projected outstanding commitments;

Measures to be taken

64.

Calls on the Commission:

(a)

to take into account the growth in outstanding commitments in its forecast of payment appropriations for the next MFF, in order to help ensure an orderly balance between commitment and payment appropriations;

(b)

to make proposals to the Parliament and the Council, ensuring a consistent approach to the issue of whether or not special instruments are counted within the ceilings for payment appropriations in the MFF;

(c)

for management and reporting purposes, to establish a way of recording Union budgetary expenditure that will make it possible to report on all funding related to the refugee and migration crisis;

(d)

to provide the Parliament in the context of discharge with a comprehensive report about the indirect managed and implemented Union budget resources by the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group (EIB and European Investment Fund (EIF)) apart from its external mandate starting with financial year 2017;

(e)

in the context of the debate on the future of Europe, to consider how the Union budgetary system could be reformed to provide an adequate budget to guarantee funding for the planned policies, a better balance between predictability and responsiveness as well as how best to ensure overall funding arrangements are no more complex than necessary to meet Union policy objectives and guarantee accountability;

(f)

to consider as well the possibility to enable authorities designated or accredited to fulfil management, certification and audit functions during the period 2014-2020, which have proven their capacity, to continue implementing such functions in the next programming period without interruption or delay;

(g)

Requests once again that the Commission establish annually an updated long-term cash-flow forecast, spanning a seven to ten year time horizon covering budgetary ceilings, payments needs, capacity constraints and potential de-commitments in order to better match payment needs and available funds;

(h)

to proactively assist Member States which encounter difficulties with timely and smooth absorption of available Union funding by using the available resources for technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission;

Getting results from the Union budget

65.

Notes with concern that the Commission uses two sets of objectives and indicators to measure the performance of its services and of spending programmes with hardly any cross-references, which hampers comparability between different types of performance documents; regrets the virtual non-existence of usable and efficient impact and outcome indicators to measure, and to distribute information about, the performance of Union expenditure;

66.

Points out that the AARs of the directors general report on the annual payments of directorates-general by type of activity or spending programme, whilst on performance they report on the achievement of general and specific objectives with no indication of the corresponding expenditure; disagrees with Commission’s explanation that it is not possible to assess how much was spent on pursuing the set objectives; calls on the Commission to fully implement the performance-based budgeting principle of budget planning, implementation and reporting, which will allow ex post reporting on the funds spent in pursuit of objectives;

67.

Recalls that, in 2016, the OECD carried out a performance budgeting survey in OECD countries and at the Commission; in this regard, welcomes the OECD’s acknowledgement of the quality of the data and of the implementation of the Union’s budget; recalls that the OECD considered the Commission’s performance framework to be the most extensive, which may partly be explained by the number of legal requirements in the Union;

68.

Notes that the OECD chart indicates that the use and consequences of the framework for decision-making do not reflect this higher level of specification (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 3.21);

69.

Notes that the programme statements for the Union’s 2017 draft general budget contain 294 objectives and 709 indicators, which are particularly highly concentrated under MFF headings 1a, 3, 4, and that through the ‘budget focused on results’ initiative, the Commission is currently undertaking a review of its indicators to provide input for the next generation of spending programmes; stresses that the Commission should mainly use results indicators that have a value relevant to performance;

70.

Stresses the need for a transparent and democratic process of establishing performance indicators involving all the Union institutions, partners and stakeholders concerned in order to make the indicators adequate for measuring the implementation of the Union budget, as well as to meet the expectations of Union citizens;

71.

Calls on the Commission to consult academics with a view to defining the proper performance indicators needed for the ‘budget focused on results’ measurements and, on that basis, prioritise investment in public goods with the aim of addressing citizens’ concerns;

72.

Regrets that the AARs of the directors general of the Commission reviewed by the Court contained limited information on the performance shortfalls and challenges relating to the objectives of the directorates-general (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 3.26);

73.

Regrets that the AMPRs for 2015 and 2016 did not provide comprehensive coverage of performance and were overly positive, the only shortfalls to which they refer being implementation delays; regrets that the reports also:

(a)

provided limited insight into the results of the Europe 2020 strategy, whereas this was requested by the Parliament in its 2014 discharge decision;

(b)

did not always clearly explain the influence of external factors on results;

(c)

were published too late to be reviewed by the Court in its annual report;

74.

Endorses the view expressed by the Court (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 3.38) that the evaluators should make recommendations for consideration by the Commission including action plans addressing weaknesses;

75.

Deplores the fact that the Commission has not carried out a study on its use of evaluation results, or had one carried out, since 2005;

76.

Points out that the Commission has no documented institutional system for the regular follow-up of evaluations;

77.

Points out, in particular, that in practice the 2016 management plans of the directorates-general established no basis for monitoring the follow-up on evaluation;

78.

Furthermore, regrets that as the Commission does not have an overview of the conclusions, recommendations or action plans resulting from its evaluations, or track their implementation at institutional or directorate-general level, it cannot inform stakeholders about the positive impact of evaluations;

79.

Regrets that AARs do not include a declaration on the quality of the reported performance data, and that consequently in adopting the AMPR, the College of Commissioners takes overall political responsibility for the management of the Union budget but not for the information on performance and results;

80.

Welcomes and takes a careful note of the Court’s observations on performance frameworks and reporting by entities within and outside the Union, especially as regards performance data quality and declarations on the quality of performance data;

81.

Notes that there is no central performance website with information from all Commission departments on every area of the Union budget;

82.

Shares the opinion of the Court that the performance reporting framework applied by the Commission could benefit from adopting international good practices;

Measures to be taken

83.

Asks the Commission to:

(a)

streamline performance reporting by:

further reducing the number of objectives and indicators it uses for its various performance reports and focusing on those which best measure the performance of the Union budget; in preparing the next MFF, the Commission should propose fewer and more appropriate outcome and impact indicators for the legal framework of the next generation of programmes; in this context, it should also consider the relevance of indicators for which information cannot be obtained until several years have elapsed;

presenting financial information in a manner that makes it comparable with performance information so that the link between spending and performance is clear;

explaining and improving the overall coherence between its two sets of objectives and indicators for programmes on the one hand and directorates-general on the other;

(b)

better balance performance reporting by clearly presenting information on the main challenges still to be achieved;

(c)

better demonstrate that evaluation results are well used by requiring in particular that evaluations always include conclusions or recommendations, which the Commission should subsequently follow up;

(d)

take overall political responsibility in the AMPR for the information on performance and results and indicate, to the best of its knowledge, whether the performance information provided is of sufficient quality;

(e)

make performance information more easily accessible by developing a dedicated web portal and search engine;

Presentation of the Union budget

84.

Notes that the budget of the Union is presented in sections corresponding to activities led by the institutions (activity-based budgeting); considers that this presentation does not ensure a clear and rapid understanding of the objectives pursued; by contrast notes that the MFF is presented by headings corresponding to policy areas;

85.

Notes that the operational programmes accompanying the draft budget make the link between each budget line and the political objectives pursued;

86.

Asks the Commission to present the Union budget according to the political objectives of the MFF;

Revenue

87.

Welcomes the fact that the Court’s overall audit evidence indicates that revenue is not affected by a material level of error and that the examined systems for revenue-related systems are overall effective; but notes that for the traditional own resources, the key internal controls in certain Member States visited by the Court were nevertheless only partially effective;

88.

Notes with concern that European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) concluded in early 2017 an investigation on a case of fraud in the United Kingdom which involves a possible loss of EUR 1,987 billion to the Union budget in terms of customs duties due on textiles and shoes imported from China through the United Kingdom in the period 2013-2016; points out that the investigation also revealed substantial VAT evasion in connection with imports through the United Kingdom through abuse of the suspension of VAT payments (customs procedure 42);

89.

Notes with concern that as to the revenue for 2016, the director general of DG Budget has issued a reservation for the traditional own resources revenue, in view of the OLAF’s fraud case related to United Kingdom customs duties;

90.

Points out that for 2016 the revenue affected by the quantified reservation is approximately EUR 517 million against a total amount of EUR 20,1 billion of traditional own resources: i.e. 2,5 % of traditional own resources or 0,38 % of all resources; calls on the Commission to provide precise information on this fraud case, which may also indirectly affect the Value Added Tax basis of some Member States and thus Value Added Tax-related resources plus the Gross National Income-related balancing of the Commission (5);

91.

Regrets the Commission’s findings that by October 2017, the United Kingdom authorities had not introduced remedial measures to prevent continued traditional own resource losses; notes that from 12 October 2017 the United Kingdom authorities started to apply temporarily value thresholds at clearance to certain traders (so called Customs Operation Swift Arrow) with immediate result that the traditional own resources losses incurred in the United Kingdom decreased dramatically;

92.

Regrets the discrepancies in the level of customs checks between the various Member States; highlights the importance of harmonising checks at all points of entry into the customs union and calls on the Member States to ensure a coordinated, uniform and efficient implementation of the border system that discourages diverging practices between Member States to reduce the number of existing loopholes in customs check systems; calls on the Commission, in this respect, to examine different customs check practices in the Union and their impact on the deviation of trade, focusing in particular on Union customs practices at external borders, and to develop reference analyses and information on customs operations and the procedures used in the Member States;

93.

Calls on the Commission to develop an action plan to ensure the full and timely implementation of the VAT regulations in each and every Member State in order to secure this source of Union own resources;

94.

Recalls that the new decision on the Union’s own resources system (6), which entered into force on 1 October 2016, with retroactive effect from 1 January 2014, stipulated that when considering GNI for own resources purposes, the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA 2010) accounting framework should be used, and that this foresees that research and development spending be considered as an investment (instead of current expenditure under the preceding ESA 95 scheme); notes that in the case of other programmes with high added value for the Union such as the CEF, this same consideration should be applied;

95.

Notes that Ireland’s reported GNI increased very significantly in 2015 because of multinational companies relocating R&D assets to the country;

96.

Points out that the Commission has to carry out additional work to ascertain the potential implications of multinational activities for national accounts, in terms both of methodology and of the verification process and that it could trigger adjustments for the Member States’ GNI contributions;

97.

Points out, as to the management of traditional own resources, that the Court and the Commission found inefficiencies in the management of the amounts receivable (known as the B accounts) in some Member States;

98.

Stresses that the Court found that in Belgium, post-clearance controls were selected based on the characteristics of individual transactions instead of on the risk profiles of companies and that post-clearance audits were not generally carried out (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 4.18);

99.

Regrets that the Commission noted that six Member States — Belgium, Estonia, Italy, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia — either did not carry out any post-clearance audits or did not provide any information on these audits;

Measures to be taken

100.

Requests that the Commission:

(a)

take all the necessary measures to ensure the recovery of Union own resources that have failed to be collected by the United Kingdom authorities as to the import of textiles and shoes from China and put an end to VAT evasion;

(b)

consider launching a timely infringement proceedings as to the United Kingdom customs duties case fraud;

(c)

analyse, in cooperation with Member States, all the potential implications of multinational activities on the estimation of GNI, and provide guidance to them on how to deal with these activities when compiling national accounts;

(d)

confirm, during the GNI verification cycle, that R&D assets have been correctly captured in Member States’ national accounts, paying particular attention to the valuation of R&D assets and to residency criteria in cases where multinational activities have relocated;

(e)

bring forward proposals for new own resources in order to ensure the stability of the Union budget;

Competitiveness for growth and jobs

The findings of the Court

101.

Notes that the Court issued, for the first time, a qualified opinion on the legality and regularity of payments underlying the accounts; stresses that reimbursement schemes remain more error prone than entitlement schemes; points out, however, that the data recorded under the chapter ‘Competitiveness for growth and jobs’ did not fundamentally change compared to previous years;

102.

Recalls that research and innovation accounts for 59 % of spending, via the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development 2007-2013 (the ‘Seventh Research Framework Programme’) and Horizon 2020 — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2014-2020 (‘Horizon 2020’);

103.

Notes that the Court estimated the error rate to be 4,1 %; that ineligible direct personnel costs accounted for 44 %, ineligible other direct costs for 12 %, indirect costs for 16 % and that ineligible projects or beneficiaries accounted for 16 %; observes, however, that in 19 cases where quantifiable errors were made by beneficiaries, the Commission or independent auditors had sufficient information to prevent, or to detect and correct the error before accepting the expenditure;

104.

Observes that if the Commission or independent auditors had made proper use of all the information at their disposal, the estimated level of error for this chapter would have been 1,2 % lower;

105.

Appreciates that the Commission has invested considerable efforts in simplification leading to reduction of administrative complexity, by introducing a new definition of additional remuneration for researchers, streamlining the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2018-2020, providing targeted support for start-ups and innovators and making wider use of simplified cost options; notes, however, that the Court sees both opportunities and risks in further simplifying the legal framework;

106.

Acknowledges that the Court looked into performance issues in research and innovation projects; is however of the opinion that the results, looking at outcome, costs and dissemination, should be considered preliminary;

The AAR of Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG R&I)

107.

Notes that, in line with the EU 2020 strategy, according to the ‘Strategic Plan for 2016-2020’, DG R&I pursued four objectives:

(a)

a new boost for jobs, growth and investment;

(b)

a connected digital single market;

(c)

a resilient energy union with a forward looking climate-change policy; and

(d)

becoming stronger global actor;

108.

Welcomes the fact that in pursuing these objectives, Commissioner Moedas has established three priorities, namely ‘open innovation’, ‘open science’ and ‘open to the world’;

109.

Notes that in order to measure progress towards the fixed objectives, DG R&I used five key performance indicators (KPI):

(a)

the share of funds allocated to small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in Horizon 2020 to address societal challenges and promote enabling and industrial technologies and the share of the Union financial contribution being allocated through the SME instrument;

(b)

the share of newcomers among successful applicants in Horizon 2020;

(c)

climate-related and sustainability-related expenditure in Horizon 2020;

(d)

the share of third-country participation in Horizon 2020;

(e)

the share of grants signed with a time-to-grant within 245 days;

110.

Acknowledges that DG R&I, in its replies to written questions, published a list of countries concerned by DG R&I’s country specific recommendations; urges DG R&I to publish the directorate’s proposals for the country specific recommendation directly in its AAR, in line with Parliament’s repeated requests;

111.

Recalls that the evaluation of the Seventh Research Framework Programme was dealt with in the previous discharge resolution (7);

112.

Welcomes the progress made in achieving the directorate’s general KPIs for Horizon 2020:

(a)

23,9 % of Union financial contribution went to SMEs (the target for 2020 being 20 %);

(b)

55 % of successful applicants were newcomers (the target for 2020 being 70 %);

(c)

26 % of Union financial contributions were climate related (the target for 2020 being 25 %);

(d)

54,9 % of Union financial contributions were sustainability related (the target for 2020 being 60 %);

(e)

third countries participate in 3,6 % of the Horizon 2020 projects (the target for 2020 being 4,73 %);

(f)

in 91 % of the cases DG R&I respected the time-to-grant period of 245 days (the target for 2020 being 100 %);

113.

Pinpoints that the territorial distribution of Horizon 2020 is conspicuously limited given that 72,5 % (12 121 million) of Horizon 2020 funding goes to Germany (EUR 3 464 million), to the United Kingdom (EUR 3 083 million), to France (EUR 2 097 million), to Spain (EUR 1 813 million) and to Italy (EUR 1 664 million);

114.

Notes that 183 grant agreements for Horizon 2020 were signed with participants from third countries in 2016; points out that EUR 299,5 million have been committed to participants from Switzerland in grant agreements signed in 2016 while the contribution of Switzerland to Horizon 2020 amounted to EUR 180,9 million; refuses to grant a ‘net recipient status’ to one of the wealthiest countries in the world; calls on the Commission to put forward regulation to compensate such an imbalance;

115.

Acknowledges the success of the common support centre and its contribution to delivering simplification and legal and technical advice; asks DG R&I which simplification measures it intends to propose for the period post-2020;

116.

Takes note of the payment appropriations for DG R&I in 2016:

Payment appropriations for DG R&I including EFTA contribution

Management mode

Execution

In EUR million

Percentage points

Co-delegated or sub-delegated to other DGs

161,20

5,34

DG R&I directly

1 878,28

62,17

DG R&I to Article 185 bodies

86,40

2,86

DG R&I to EIB

312,72

10,35

DG R&I to Joint Undertakings

582,37

19,28

Total

3 020,97

100 %

117.

Highlights that 14,39 % of the budget equalling almost EUR 444 million was implemented via financial instruments;

118.

Highlights also that 39,36 % (against 28,14 % in 2015) of the DG R&I’s budget was entrusted to other entities outside the Commission, mostly to implement parts of the framework programmes under (indirect) grant management and financial instruments’ control systems;

119.

Was interested to learn that DG R&I has established a supervision strategy for financial instruments and would therefore like to know how DG R&I establishes whether financial and research-related objectives have been achieved;

120.

Notes that DG R&I estimated the overall detected error rate at 4,42 %, with a residual error rate of 3,03 %;

121.

Observes that the Commission estimated the overall amount at risk at closure to be between EUR 73,5 and EUR 104 million;

122.

Welcomes DG R&I’s examination of the cost-effectiveness of direct and indirect grant management;

123.

Regrets that DG R&I again issued a horizontal reservation concerning the rate of the residual error within cost claims in the Seventh Research Framework Programme, implemented directly by it;

124.

Recalls its view, expressed in paragraph 76 of its 2015 Commission discharge resolution, that the Commission should: ‘develop, at long last, a more meaningful, risk based approach and use specific reservations when needed’;

Measures to be taken

125.

Calls on DG R&I to publish the directorate’s proposals for country specific recommendations in its AAR;

126.

Calls on DG R&I to follow up the recommendations of the Internal Audit Service (IAS) which found weaknesses in ensuring a consistent project monitoring approach across the Horizon 2020 implementing bodies;

127.

Calls on DG R&I to report on the progress made by the Common Audit Service in increasing the maturity of its internal processes;

128.

Calls on DG R&I to report to Parliament’s competent committee on its supervision strategy for financial instruments and on how DG R&I establishes whether financial and research-related objectives were achieved;

129.

Calls on DG R&I to explain to Parliament’s competent committee which measures it has taken to avoid horizontal reservations concerning the rate of the residual error within cost claims;

130.

Considers that in research and innovation projects as well as coordination and support actions, standards and standardisation support the impact of research results on different technology readiness levels as they enhance the marketability and transferability of innovative products and solutions; notes furthermore that standards and related activities support the dissemination of Horizon 2020 project results by spreading knowledge even after projects are finished by making it publicly available; calls on the Commission to enhance the involvement of standardisation in upcoming calls and to develop KPIs which take standardisation activities into account;

Economic, social and territorial cohesion

Introduction

131.

Learnt from the ‘Seventh Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion“(COM(2017) 583 that, on the one hand, convergence is a fragile process which can easily be halted and reversed by economic crises, but that, on the other hand, public investments may reduce the impact of the crises;

132.

Is pleased that the employment rate in 2016 reached again the 2008 pre-crisis level of 71 %, but the situation varies markedly across the Union and this rate is well below the Europe 2020 target of 75 %; notes with concern that unemployment rates still remain too high, in particular among young people and long-term unemployed;

133.

Welcomes that in reply to Parliament’s questions, DG REGIO detailed its country specific recommendations;

134.

Is aware that some provisions of the revised Financial Regulation concerning cohesion policy are supposed to enter into force retroactively;

135.

Is concerned that such modifications may become a source of additional errors, as programmes and projects were selected on the basis of regulations which entered into force on 1 January 2014;

The findings of the Court

136.

Notes that the Court issued, for the first time, a qualified opinion on the legality and regularity of payments underlying the accounts; stresses that reimbursement schemes remain more error prone than entitlement schemes; points out, however, that the data recorded, under the chapter “Economic, social and territorial cohesion” did not fundamentally change compared to previous year;

137.

Recalls that in 2016 the available amount under the chapter “Economic, social and territorial cohesion” amounted to EUR 51,25 billion, representing 33 % of the Union budget;

138.

Notes that the Court estimated the level of error in this policy area at 4,8 %; furthermore that the Court observed that the estimated level of error for cohesion did not include a quantification of 2016 disbursements to financial instruments, amounting to EUR 2,5 billion, that the Court considered to be outside the eligibility period defined in Article 56(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraphs 6.20 to 6.21); observes that these disbursements would represent an estimated level of error of 2,0 % to overall Union expenditure (Court’s annual report 2016, box 1.2, footnote 1);

139.

Points out that the errors in cohesion contributed to 43 % of the overall estimated level of error of 3,1 %; notes that one of the reasons for the high error rate is the complexity of Union and Member States regulation;

140.

Notes that the Court analysed a sample of 180 transactions coming from 54 interim payments for 2007-2013, and related to 92 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) projects, 36 Cohesion Fund (CF) projects, 40 European Social Fund (ESF) projects, 11 ERDF financial instruments and one ESF financial instrument;

141.

Calls on the Commission to duly take into account the remarks of the Court, which found inaccuracies in the analysis of the performance of at least four of the 12 ERDF and ESF financial instruments examined in the Court’s annual report 2016; shares the concern of the Court, which highlights that these errors have the effect of overstating performance and, if not corrected, could artificially increase the declared amount of eligible expenditure at closure, especially in the case of guarantee funds;

142.

Notes also that 42 % of the errors were caused by ineligible casts included in expenditure declarations, 30 % relate to serious failure to respect public procurement rules, and 28 % relate to ineligible projects, activities or beneficiaries;

143.

Notes with regret that one of the main sources of expenditure-related errors under the chapter “Economic, social and territorial cohesion” continues to be breaches of the rules on public procurement; points out that serious breaches of the rules on public procurement include the direct award of additional contracts or additional works or services for which no justification is given, the illegal exclusion of bidders, conflicts of interest and discriminatory selection criteria; regards as essential a policy of complete transparency in respect of information concerning contractors and subcontractors, with a view to addressing errors and abuses of the rules;

144.

Welcomes that the Court emphasised that projects using the simplified cost options are less error-prone than reimbursements of actual costs;

145.

Is concerned that the sample comprised also three “major projects”, which required the approval of the Commission, and for which Member State authorities had not submitted the necessary application by the 31 March 2017 closure deadline; notes that the Commission should therefore recover the expenditures;

146.

Is dissatisfied that, as in previous years, the error rate could have been 3,7 points lower, that is to say 1,1 %, had Member States used the information available to them to prevent, or to detect and correct, the errors in first level checks before declaring the expenditure to the Commission;

147.

Is worried that years after the start of the 2014-2020 period, Member States have designated only 77 % of the programme authorities responsible for cohesion policy funds; as of 1 March 2017 the Commission received final accounts with expenditure covering just 0,7 % of the budget allocated for the entire programming period; as of mid-2017, the delays in budget implementation were greater than they were at the same point in the 2007-2013 period; notes that consequently, the outstanding commitments at the end of the current financing period could be even higher than in the previous one;

148.

Appreciates that the chapter on “Economic, social and territorial cohesion” also contains a section on performance of projects; regrets however that this section largely concentrates on quantitative information, i.e. the number of performance measurement systems in place;

Financial engineering instruments

149.

Recalls that the summary of data on the progress made in financing and implementing financial engineering instruments in 2016 was only published on 20 September 2017, and that therefore the Court could not comment on the document;

150.

Notes that the key figures for 2016 are the following:

(a)

there are 25 Member States using financial engineering instruments, with 25 using them for enterprise support, 11 for urban development and 9 for energy efficiency and renewable energies;

(b)

there are 1 058 financial engineering instruments across the Union, comprised of 77 holding funds and 981 specific funds;

(c)

89 % of these financial engineering instruments are providing support for enterprises, 7 % for urban development, 4 % for energy efficiency and renewable energies;

(d)

payments into financial engineering instruments amount to EUR 16,4 billion, including EUR 11,3 billion in structural funds;

(e)

payments to final recipients amount to EUR 15,2 billion, including EUR 10,1 billion in structural funds, i.e. 93 % of total payments to financial engineering instruments;

(f)

based on the 81 % of financial engineering instruments that reported, management costs and fees totalled EUR 0,9 billion or 6,7 % of total payments to the financial engineering instruments concerned;

(g)

EUR 8,5 billion of resources were returned;

(h)

314 000 final recipients were supported;

151.

Points out that over the years and financing periods the use of financial engineering instruments has increased dramatically, rendering structural fund funding more complex and thereby creating risks for democratic accountability; notes that it is expected that EUR 20,1 billion of ERDF and CF will be delivered through financial instruments by the end of 2020;

152.

Is concerned, in this context, that the national audit authorities did not sufficiently cover implementation of financial engineering instruments;

153.

Determines that 63 % (675) of the financial engineering instruments were launched in Poland (247), France (152), Hungary (139) and Italy (137);

154.

Regrets that 6,7 % of total payments to the financial engineering instruments concerned (EUR 900 million) went into management costs and fees; considers this amount to be inappropriately high;

155.

Notes that a number of errors and discrepancies remain in the reporting of data; these include small but significant amounts of operational programme resources committed in the funding agreements but not paid to financial engineering instruments at closure, an increase in both committed amounts payments to a number of financial engineering instruments after 31 December 2015 and, in some cases, higher amounts paid to final recipients than to the financial engineering instruments (8);

The AAR of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO)

156.

Takes note that the ERDF-CF ex post evaluation indicates that although regional convergence over the 2007-2013 programming period was insufficient, without the cohesion policy there would have been divergence, because the financial crisis of 2007-2008 created a poor climate for investment and convergence;

157.

Underlines that any conclusions with regard to performance remain limited, as this would require a more comprehensive review of performance data reported by 2007-2013 programmes, which was supposed only to be finalised by August 2017; calls on the Commission to inform the Committee on Budgetary Control on the outcome of the review;

158.

Observes that the Commission reports, for the implementation of the 2014-2020 financing period, that more than 50 000 projects were selected corresponding to EUR 64,1 billion of total investment, that 45 000 cooperation projects of enterprises with research institutions have been created, that more than 380 000 SME have received support from cohesion funding, resulting in more than 1 000 000 jobs;

159.

Observes that the Commission reports also, for the same financing period, that more than EUR 75 billion from the ERDF and from the CF support energy union objectives and climate change adaptations; in addition, more than 5 000 projects were selected on the ground to support the low-carbon economy;

160.

Notes that the table below shows the total commitment and payment appropriations authorised in 2016:

2016 in EUR million

Commitment appropriations authorised

Payment appropriations authorised

Administrative expenditure of the “Regional and urban policy” policy area

16,75

24,52

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and other regional operations

27 163,16

22 911,83

Cohesion Fund (CF)

8 775,98

7 456,71

Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance — Regional development and regional and territorial cooperation

54,14

522,95

Solidarity Fund

81,48

68,48

Total

36 091,51

30 984,47

161.

Remarks however that these statistical data give little information on the sustainability and performance of these projects;

162.

Recalls the great importance attributed to ex ante conditionalities for setting out sector-specific and horizontal conditions to ensure effective spending of ESI funds; once ex ante conditionalities are fulfilled and with the 10 % retention from payments foreseen by the revised regulation in place, implementation of projects should be easier and less error-prone; notes, however, the Court’s Special Report No 15/2017 questioning to what extent this has effectively led to changes on the ground;

163.

Regrets that only 87 % (181 of 209) of the certifying authorities had been designated by the end of 2016, and that no authority had been designated for 28 mainstream programmes (in Austria, an authority was designated for only 1 programme, in Belgium, for only 2, in Germany, for only 8, in Finland, for only 1, in France, for only 2, in Ireland, for only 2, in Italy, for only 6, in Romania, for only 4, in Slovakia, for only 1, in the United Kingdom, for only 1);

164.

Notes with surprise that the main difficulties identified in the designation process related to the set-up of IT systems to feature the new elements of the 2014-2020 period in terms of reporting and the design of procedures to ensure a robust supervision of managing authorities over intermediate bodies;

165.

Regrets furthermore that in general only 26,1 % of projects were selected, and only 3,7 % of the available structural funds absorbed at the end of 2016 and whereas the selection process accelerated in 2017; considers that the slow start may lead to a high number of outstanding commitments at the end of the current financing period; calls on the Commission to guarantee further efforts to strengthen the administrative capacity of national, regional and local authorities;

166.

Emphasises that project selection was particularly slow in Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Austria, in the Czech Republic, in Croatia and Slovakia;

167.

Notes that, consequently, for most of the operational programmes (247 out of 295) no amounts were certified in the accounts (there were “zero accounts”) since no expenditure was declared until 31 July 2016;

168.

Is satisfied that the Commission, on the basis of preliminary audit opinions on the received assurance packages, detected no material inconsistencies;

169.

Is concerned however that 7 of 9 Commission audits into high risk operational programmes or areas revealed significant deficiencies (in Hungary, the transport, electronic administration and implementation operational programmes; in Italy, the Reti e mobilità, istruzione priority 3 and technical assistance operational programmes; in Romania, the competitiveness and environment operational programmes);

170.

Notes that 278 of 322 management and control systems received an unqualified or a “qualified with moderate impact” opinion; whereas in 40 cases the Commission issued a qualified opinion with significant impact;

171.

Notes that the Commission calculated the overall amount at risk at payment to amount to between EUR 644,7 and EUR 1 257,3 million, and that the Commission implemented financial corrections, as a result of its supervisory role, of EUR 481 million in 2016;

172.

Notes that the Commission estimated the overall average error rate for 2016 payments for the 2007-2013 ERDF/CF programmes to be in the range of 2,2 % to 4,2 %, and the residual error rate at closure to be approximately 0,4 %; stresses that once again, “Cohesion” was the biggest contributor to the estimated level of error for 2016, followed by “Natural resources”, “Competitiveness” and “Global Europe”; calls on the Commission to keep working with Member States to improve their management and control systems and to continue to use available legal supervisory tools to ensure that all material errors are corrected;

173.

Notes that the Commission recorded 68 reservations for the past and 2 reservations for the current financing period;

Specific issues

Greece

174.

Welcomes DG REGIO’s efforts to make progress with the priority project list in Greece;

175.

In this context, welcomes:

(a)

the establishment of four highway concessions (Athens-Thessaloniki, Korinthos-Tripoli-Kalamata, Korinthos-Patras and Patras-Ioannina; covering between them more than 1 000 km of road), which are now operational and very much appreciated by users,

(b)

the programme “energy savings in households” (combination of financial engineering instruments with grants), which improved energy efficiency in 46 000 households and created 6 000 jobs; demand was so high that a successor programme for 2014-2020 was immediately created,

(c)

financial instruments, notably JEREMIE, allowing the creation or safeguarding of more than 20 000 jobs,

(d)

the e-prescription for medicines project, which manages monthly more than 5,5 million electronic prescriptions and 2,4 million diagnostic referrals, with the involvement of 13 000 pharmacies and 50 000 doctors, and has led to considerable cost savings for the Greek public health budget;

176.

Regrets on the other hand that:

(a)

the metro projects in Athens (line 3 extension to Piraeus) and Thessaloniki (base line) have incurred serious delays which necessitated their phasing into the 2014-2020 programming period;

(b)

some key projects in the railway, digital and energy sectors were cancelled or are delayed, and that as a consequence they have been phased or transferred in their entirety to the 2014-2020 programming period;

(c)

a large part of the waste water and solid waste management infrastructures remain to be completed;

177.

Welcomes the fact that the OLAF has completed its administrative investigation into the Czech “stork nest” project; takes note that the OLAF case file has been publicised by the Czech media; regrets that OLAF found serious irregularities;

178.

Calls on DG REGIO to recover the Union co-financing involved, i.e. EUR 1,67 million, and to apply necessary sanctions;

179.

Notes that the “Stork Nest” project was withdrawn from Union funding by the Czech Republic as of 25 January 2018 and that, respecting the principle of subsidiarity, the project is already under judicial review in the Czech Republic;

180.

Is concerned at the Commission’s observation that the share of awarded contracts that received only a single bid is in Hungary at 36 %; notes that the Union average is 17 %; calls on the Commission to promote competition in bidding processes;

181.

Welcomes the positive assessment of the 10 years” Cooperation and Verifications Mechanism (CVM) for Bulgaria and Romania (9); is worried about the recent step backwards in the fight against high level corruption in Bulgaria and Romania; calls on the Commission to support and encourage the law enforcement and anti-corruption authorities in both Member States; highlights the impressive track record of the anti-corruption agency in Romania in terms of solving medium and high-level corruption cases; underlines that maintaining this effort is of upmost importance to consolidate the fight against corruption;

182.

Condemns the recent crime against a Slovakian journalist, which may be related to his investigative work; urges the Commission to inform the Parliament about Union agriculture funds in Slovakia;

183.

Notes that OLAF has also completed an administrative investigation into a loan granted to the Volkswagen Group by the EIB;

184.

Takes note of a statement made by the EIB President, Werner Hoyer, stating that: “We still cannot exclude that one of our loans, the EUR 400 million loan “Volkswagen Antrieb RDI”, was linked to emission control technologies developed at the time the defeat software was designed and used. We will now review OLAF’s conclusions and consider all available and appropriate action. […]We are very disappointed at what is asserted by the OLAF investigation, namely that the EIB was misled, by Volkswagen about the use of the defeat device.”;

The AAR of Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL)

185.

Notes that DG EMPL highlights as follows its contribution to the Union 2020 objectives:

(a)

the Union employment rate for 20 to 64 year-olds reached 71,2 % in the third quarter of 2016; this rate is now above that seen in 2008 (70,3 %) for the first time and the target rate of the Europe 2020 strategy may be reached if the trend continues;

(b)

total unemployment continues to decline and it is now below 10 % for both the Union and the euro area; however, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment remain major challenges for the Union, despite the respective observed decline from 19,5 % in December 2015 to 18,6 % in December 2016, and from 4,3 % in the third quarter of 2015 to 3,8 % in the third quarter of 2016;

(c)

the economic recovery that started in 2013 has also been accompanied by a continuous, albeit insufficient, reduction in poverty, measured by the rate of people at risk of poverty dropping from 24,7 % in 2012 to 23,7 % in 2015, however, the recovery is still not reaching all parts of society and there were 118 million people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2016 (1,7 million people above the 2008 level), which is far from reaching the Europe 2020 poverty and social exclusion target;

(d)

investments to improve the conditions for geographic and professional mobility while tackling risks of distortions and abuses have contributed to a progressive increase in the mobility rate within the Union, which reached 3,6 % of the population in 2015;

186.

Regrets however, that the disparity in income distribution increased between 2013 and 2014 and, even though it has remained stable since then, in some cases it has continued to grow; is concerned that the richest 20 % of the population possessed disposable income that was around five times higher than that of the poorest 20 % in 2016, with large disparities across countries (and an increase in inequality in some);

187.

Welcomes the ex post evaluation of the ESF 2007-2013 programming period, which was finalised on 12 December 2016; notes that it found that, at the end of 2014, at least 9,4 million European residents had found a job with support from the ESF, 8,7 million had gained a qualification or certificate and other positive results, such as increased skills levels, were reported by 13,7 million participants; notes that the ESF has also had a positive impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 28 Member States (0,25 % increase) and productivity, according to macroeconomic simulations;

188.

Observes that such quantitative data do show indeed a positive trend but say little about performance and sustainability of the measures;

189.

Strongly criticises DG EMPL for not having published the directorate’s proposals for country specific recommendations, although Parliament has repeatedly asked for it to do so;

190.

Notes that the table below shows the total commitment and payment appropriations authorised in 2016:

2016 in EUR million

Commitment appropriations authorised

Payment appropriations authorised

The European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)

12 438,2

8 132

The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)

534,7

278

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

27,6

27,6

The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance — Human Resources Development (IPA-HRD)

0

82,3

Direct Management (Programme for Employment and Social Innovation, Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, Erasmus+) and agencies

289

275

Total

13 290

8 795

191.

Welcomes the fact that the DG EMPL has developed a methodology to assess yearly the performance of programmes, but has doubts about the information value of criteria such as “good”, “acceptable” or “poor”;

192.

Is concerned that, by March 2017, only 87 % of certifying authorities had been designated;

193.

Welcomes the fact that DG EMPL had received, by 15 February 2017, a full assurance package including the accounts, the annual control report and the audit opinions on the accounts, the management and control system and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions, and the assurance declaration and annual summary for all programmes; notes that in general, DG EMPL had only minor observations and accepted the annual accounts;

194.

Welcomes also the fact that by the end of 2016, DG EMPL had completed its multiannual audit plan, as a result of which 89 audit authorities of 92 had been audited covering 115 of the 118 operational programmes;

195.

Notes that in 2016, DG EMPL implemented financial corrections amounting to EUR 255,8 million; that the total cumulative accepted or decided amount of financial corrections for the 2007-2013 programming period stands at the end of 2016 at EUR 1 454 million; and that for the same period Member States reported financial corrections worth EUR 2 253,8 million;

196.

Regrets that DG EMPL maintained or issued the following reservations, concerning:

(a)

management and control systems for one ESF operational programme in Italy for the programming period 2000-2006 (reputational reserve);

(b)

management and control systems for 23 specific ESF operational programmes for the 2007-2013 programming period; and

(c)

management and control systems for 3 ESF or YEI and 1 FEAD operational programmes for the programming period 2014-2020;

197.

Notes that the estimated overall amount at risk for the 2016 relevant expenditure is EUR 279 million;

Specific Issues

Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)

198.

Was informed of the first findings of a study into the implementation of the YEI, which reported that:

(a)

by end of 2016, the number of young persons not in employment, education or training (NEET) that have participated in YEI-supported projects that boost their skills or allow them to have a working experience tripled compared to end of 2015 (1,3 against 0,5 million people);

(b)

among them, 712 000 unemployed and inactive participants not in education or training have completed a YEI-funded intervention; more than half of them, (around 346 000 unemployed and inactive participants not in education or training) have achieved a positive outcome since they have moved into education/training, or gained a qualification, or are in employment (including self-employment), upon leaving the intervention;

(c)

in Italy, a counter-factual evaluation showed that new innovative policies largely supported by the YEI increased the occupational chances of young people by 7,8 %, despite significant regional differences which show there are greater difficulties in the areas with the highest youth unemployment rates;

199.

Notes furthermore, that:

(a)

Italy and Spain have mobilised a significant number of NEETs through YEI actions despite the still high youth unemployment in the countries;

(b)

Slovakia has shifted the focus away from public works schemes for young people towards more effective measures such as increased provision of professional training;

(c)

in Italy, a counter-factual evaluation showed that new innovative policies largely supported by the YEI increased the occupational chances of young people by 7,8 %, despite significant regional differences;

(d)

in Portugal, YEI co-financed entrepreneurship programmes proved more successful than higher education measures;

(e)

Greece has identified the need to review its voucher system for youth employment and training;

(f)

in Poland, 62 % of YEI participants received an offer of employment, training, or education, with an overall high level of participants’ satisfaction;

200.

Regrets nevertheless that barely 30 % of the available funds have been used, which reflect initial pre-financing and interim payments;

201.

Welcomes that, by October 2017, all Member States to which the ex ante conditionality on Roma applied (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) had fulfilled it and therefore had a national Roma integration strategy;

202.

Notes that for the 2014-2020 programming period, two ESF investment priorities address directly non-discrimination and Roma integration (see table below)

Investment priority (IP)

Member States who have selected the IP

Financial allocation (EUR million)

Combating all forms of discrimination and promoting equal opportunity

11 Member States (BE, CY, CZ, DE, ES, FR, GR, IE, PL, PT and SK).

447

Socioeconomic integration of marginalised communities such as Roma

12 Member States (AT, BE, BG, CZ, ES, FR, GR, HU, IT, PL, RO and SK).

1 600

The majority of funding (EUR 1,2  million EUR) is concentrated in the following countries: BG, CZ, HU and RO

203.

Notes that, while having a maximum annual budget of EUR 150 million, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund mobilised only EUR 28 million for commitments from the reserve in 2016, benefitting eight Member States;

Measures to be taken

204.

Calls therefore on Member States and the Commission to pay more attention, under the post 2020 financial period, to:

(a)

creating Union added-value with cohesion policy;

(b)

building stronger coordination between cohesion, economic governance and the European semester considering, among others, positive incentives to strengthen achievement of cohesion policy objectives for overcoming disparities and inequalities as spelled out in the Treaties, within its three dimensions — economic, social and territorial;

(c)

devising a system which allows concentration of cohesion funding on regions which need it most;

(d)

providing strategic administrative support for those regions finding it difficult to absorb the funding;

(e)

drafting a single set of rules for structural funds;

(f)

making progress towards implementing the single audit principle;

(g)

faster implementation of programmes and projects, with a view to respecting the seven year financial period (no n+3);

(h)

enabling national audit authorities to audit financial instruments under the Union budget, reduce the number of financial instruments, and introduce more stringent rules for reporting by funds managers, including by the EIB Group and other international financial institutions regarding performance and results achieved, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability;

(i)

taking into account lessons drawn from the current period and the need for more simplification in order to establish a balanced system ensuring achievement of results and sound financial management without an excessive administrative burden that would discourage potential beneficiaries and lead to more errors;

(j)

the geographic and social balance to ensure that investments are made where they are most needed;

205.

Insists that DG REGIO and DG EMPL publish their proposals for the country specific recommendations in their respective AAR, as repeatedly requested by the Parliament;

206.

Calls on DG REGIO:

(a)

to report back to Parliament’s committee responsible about the different pending OLAF files when related legal proceedings have been completed;

(b)

to report back to Parliament’s committee responsible, in the 2016 Commission discharge follow-up, on progress made with all above-mentioned projects;

207.

Calls on the EIB to review urgently the OLAF findings and draw the necessary conclusion; calls on the EIB to inform the Parliament of its conclusions and the measures taken;

208.

Calls on the Commission to encourage the use of the simplified cost options introduced by the revision of the Financial Regulation;

209.

Calls on DG EMPL to put in place the recommendation of the IAS with regard to the early implementation of the control strategy for the ESI funds and to inform the Parliament of its completion;

210.

Calls on the Commission to provide for further simplification of the rules and a reduction of the administrative burden in order to help decrease the error rate even more;

Natural resources

Key performance indicators (KPI) and fair CAP

211.

Points out that according to the AAR of DG AGRI (page 15 — KPI 1: agricultural factor income per full-time worker), the sector’s value added and productivity dipped slightly again in 2016 and that, for the DG AGRI, it is difficult ‘to pinpoint what exactly caused the overall decline in factor income since 2013’;

212.

Recalls that KPI 4 on the employment rate in rural development is not relevant, as the employment rate in rural development is not solely influenced by CAP measures;

213.

Regrets that the Commission did not follow up the recommendations issued by the Parliament in its resolution accompanying the discharge for the financial year 2015 to redefine KPI 4 ‘in order to stress the specific impact of the CAP measures on the employment in those areas’;

214.

Points out that in 2016 51 % of the beneficiaries of direct payments were granted less than EUR 1 250 amounting to a total of 4 % of the total direct payments (10);

215.

Recalls its remarks (11) on the unsustainable structure of CAP expenditure: 44,7 % of all Union farms had an annual income of less than EUR 4 000, and in 2016 on average the upper 10 % of the beneficiaries of CAP direct support received around 60 % of the payments (12); notes that the distribution of direct payment largely reflects the concentration of land, 20 % of farmers also owning 80 % of the land; (reply to written question 17 at the hearing of Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control with Mr Hogan on 28 November 2017); is concerned at the high concentration of beneficiaries and stresses that a better balance of large and small beneficiaries needs to be found;

216.

Notes that about 72 % of aid is paid to farms of between 5 and 250 hectares, which are generally family-owned;

217.

Asks that DG AGRI define objectives accompanied with indicators to reduce the income inequalities between farms in the next MFF;

218.

Reiterates its view that direct payments may not fully play their role as a safety net mechanism for stabilising farm income, particularly for smaller farms given the unbalanced distribution of payments;

219.

Is of the opinion that larger farm incomes do not necessarily need the same degree of support for stabilising farm incomes as smaller farms in times of income volatility since they may benefit from economies of scale which are likely to make them more resilient, and thus recommends that the Commission should mandate a sliding scale to correct this imbalance, with subsidies decreasing as farm sizes increase;

220.

Calls on the Commission to provide for a genuine simplification of the procedure, including in the documentation requested in order to have access to funding, without neglecting the principles of control and monitoring; calls for special attention to be paid to administrative support for small-scale producers, for whom the funding is a vital prerequisite for their business survival;

Error rate

221.

Points out that the Court has estimated that the level of error for the natural resource chapter as a whole is 2,5 % (2,9 % in 2015 and 3,6 % in 2014); welcomes the positive evolution of the error rate whilst noting that the 2016 figure is above the materiality threshold;

222.

Welcomes the fact that the assessment of the Court as to the EAGF finds that market and direct support payments are free from material error in 2016, the most likely error rate being estimated by the Court at 1,7 % (2,2 % in 2015);

223.

Stresses that the Court noted fewer errors due to overstated or ineligible land claimed by the farmer which is due to the introduction of a new more flexible definition of permanent grassland, the achievement of action plans to improve the quality of data in Land Parcel Identification Systems (LPIS) and the new online geo-spatial system to submit applications;

224.

Notes that the greening payments have been a source of errors impacting 17 % of the level of error estimated by the Court and that the errors were found mainly to be related to the ecological focus area requirements, although the error rate for EAGF was below materiality; welcomes in this regard the fall in the error rate for EAGF to 1,7 %;

225.

Points out that the Court also found weaknesses in the protection of permanent grassland, the Czech Republic and Poland not having the historical data to check compliance with the obligation of having arable land covered with grass for five consecutive years whilst Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom had not classified permanent grassland in a fully reliable way;

226.

Underlines the positive trend in the error rates issued by the Court despite the evolution of the amounts at risks reported by DG AGRI in its AARs, namely from 1,38 % in 2015 to 1,996 % in 2016 (the market measures with an error rate of 2,85 % being not included) and 4 % for both financial years in rural development; understands that this is not reflecting statistically significant deviations;

227.

Regrets that the payments in rural development, environment, climate action and fisheries are not free from material error in 2016, the most likely error rate being estimated at 4,9 % (5,3 % in 2015); notes that if all the information held by the national authorities had been used to correct errors the estimated level of error would have been 1,5 percentage points lower;

228.

Notes that in rural development, three of the largest eligibility errors involved beneficiaries who did not disclose that they were controlled by, applying jointly with, or purchasing from linked companies in breach of Union or national rules (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 7.26);

Management and control systems

229.

Points out that in its AAR, the director general of DG AGRI issued a reservation in direct payments concerning 18 paying agencies comprising 12 Member States and that the amount managed by the paying agencies with a reservation and put under reinforced scrutiny is EUR 13 618,6 million, the actual amount at risk for the expenditure under reservation being EUR 541,2 million;

230.

Stresses that weaknesses were detected in particular in the management and control system of Hungary (concerning late management declaration by the paying agency and deficiencies in greening payments), Bulgaria (concerning greening and the organic status of farmers), Poland (concerning greening payments) and Italy (concerning deficiencies in correctly establishing the eligibility of land and an active farmer);

231.

Regrets the recent cases of fraud relating to paying agencies in Italy; calls on the Commission to actively monitor the situation and provide the relevant details to Parliament in the follow-up to the discharge procedure;

232.

Asks the Commission to speed up the conformity clearance procedure opened on 8 January 2016 to get detailed and precise information on the risk of conflicts of interest concerning the State’s Agricultural Intervention Fund in the Czech Republic; takes note that a failure to remedy a conflict of interest may ultimately result in withdrawal of the accreditation of the paying agency by the competent authority or in the imposition of financial corrections by the Commission; asks the Commission to inform the Parliament without delay if at the end of the conformity clearance procedure information related to possible cases of fraud, corruption or any illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the Union are transmitted by OLAF to DG AGRI;

Reliability of the data communicated by the Member States

233.

Points out that since the management and control systems of some Member States are affected by deficiencies, DG AGRI adjusts the reported control statistics based mainly on the Commission’s and the Court’s audits carried out in the last three years as well as on the opinion of the Certification Body for the financial year in question;

234.

Points out that despite the fact that since 2015 the certification bodies of the Member States have a duty to check the legality and regularity of the transactions:

(a)

for market measures, DG AGRI has made adjustments to a total of 32 schemes (i.e. less than 20 % of the total number of schemes for which expenditure was declared in 2016);

(b)

for direct payments, adjustments were made in 52 cases (out of 69) whilst the majority of these adjustments were of less than 1 %, 7 were of between 1 % and 2 % and 9 were of more than 2 %;

(c)

for rural development, top ups have been applied for 39 paying agencies out of 72 with 21 adjustments of more than 1 % and 16 above 2 %;

Performance issues in rural development

235.

Welcomes the fact that the Court has examined performance related issues for sampled rural development transactions over the last three years; notes with satisfaction that 95 % of projects completed at the time of the audit had been carried out as planned, but regrets that there was insufficient evidence that the costs were reasonable;

236.

Stresses that almost all the projects audited by the Court used a system which reimbursed the cost incurred and notes that in the 2014-2020 programming period, Member States may, as an alternative, use a system of simplified cost options involving standard scales of unit costs, lump sums and flat -rate financing, which effectively limits the risk of excessive prices;

Greening

237.

Notes that the Court reported in its annual report 2016 (paragraph 7.17) in relation to the greening payments made to 63 farms visited by it that:

(a)

all those subject to the crop diversification requirement were compliant;

(b)

most of the greening errors concerned non-compliance with Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirements whilst;

(c)

the parcels were correctly recorded in the LPIS as to the maintenance of existing permanent grassland;

(d)

not all permanent grassland had been properly recorded as such;

238.

Is however particularly concerned by the first conclusions drawn by the Commission in its staff working document on ‘Review of greening after one year’ SWD(2016) 218 second part page 14 that: ‘Overall farmers would have to change crops on less than 1 % of the total arable land in the Union in order to comply with the crop diversification requirement, and since the vast majority of arable land in the Union is subject to the crop diversification obligation this limited impact appears to reflect current practices by farmers who already are compliant’;

239.

Stresses that the Court confirms in its annual report (paragraphs 7.43 to 7.54) the analysis made by the Commission pointing out that the crop diversification and the EFA scheme led to no changes for the majority of the farms that it visited (89 % for the crop diversification and 67 % for the EFA);

240.

Is particularly concerned that according to the Court’s Special Report No 21/2017 entitled ‘Greening: a more complex income support scheme, not yet environmentally effective’; ‘Greening is unlikely to provide significant benefits for the environment and climate (…) because greening requirements are generally undemanding and largely reflect normal farming practice’;

241.

Furthermore, points out that the Court states that due to extensive exemptions, most farmers (65 %) are able to benefit from the green payment without actually being subject to greening obligations; as a result, greening leads to a positive change in farming practices on only a very limited share of Union farmland;

242.

Regrets that the greening schemes are more an instrument for supporting farmers’ income than to enhance the CAP’s environmental and climate performance; considers that for agricultural programmes to address environmental and climate needs, they should include performance targets and funding which reflect the costs incurred and the income lost as a result of activities going beyond the environmental baseline;

243.

Deplores the fact that, as they are part of area-based payments, the greening schemes in the actual design of the programme could increase the imbalances in the distribution of CAP support; calls in this direction on the Commission to consider following the recommendations made by the Court in Special Report No 21/2017;

244.

Notes that according to the Commission: ‘the actual impact (of the greening schemes) on environmental outcomes depends on the choices made by Member States and farmers and that so far few Member States made use of the possibilities to limit the use of pesticides and fertilisers in the ecological focus areas’;

245.

Stresses that for public administration, the burden of greening essentially lies with the development of new management tools such as the EFA layer of the LPIS, which partly explains why DG AGRI has increased the number of reservations and action plans imposed on Member States;

246.

Takes note the fact that greening adds significant complexity to the CAP due to overlaps with the CAP’s other environmental instruments (cross-compliance and the Pillar II environmental measures); in this regard takes note of the Court’s Special Report No 21/2017 on greening, which states that ‘the Commission and Member States mitigate the related risk of deadweight and double funding’;

Young farmer scheme

247.

Points out that with huge disparities in the development of the farming sector across the Union, a major problem is the demographic challenge, requiring policies to address the shortage of young farmers in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of agriculture in the Union;

248.

Stresses that young farmers face specific difficulties in accessing finance and low turnover in the first years of business, combined with slow generational renewal and difficulty in accessing agricultural land;

249.

Points out that the falling number of young people in the sector makes generational renewal more difficult and can mean the loss of valuable skills and knowledge as older, experienced people, retire; as a consequence, insists that support is needed for both retiring farmers and young successors taking over a farm;

250.

Is particularly concerned by the fact that in its Special Report No 10/2017 on support for young farmers, the Court notes that for direct payments, the aid to young farmers:

(a)

is not based on a sound needs assessment;

(b)

does not reflect the general objective of encouraging generational renewal;

(c)

is not even always provided to young farmers in need; and

(d)

is sometimes provided to holdings where young farmers play only a minor role;

251.

Regrets that, as to the support to young farmers via rural development schemes, the Court concluded that the measures are generally based on a vague needs assessment and that there is no real coordination between Pillar I payments with Pillar 2 support to young farmers;

Measures to be taken

252.

Calls on:

(a)

the Commission to carefully analyse the causes of the overall decline in factor income since 2013 and to define a new key performance objective for the next MFF, accompanied with outcome and impact indicators, aiming at mitigating the income inequalities between famers;

(b)

the Member States to make further efforts to include more reliable and up-to date information in their LPIS database;

(c)

the Commission to review the approach taken by paying agencies to classifying and updating land categories in their LPIS and to perform the required cross-checks in order to reduce the risk of error in greening payments;

(d)

the Commission to take appropriate measures to require that Member States’ action plans in rural development include remedial actions addressing frequently found cases of error;

(e)

the Commission to provide guidance and disseminate best practices among national authorities, and among the beneficiaries and their associations, to ensure that their checks identify links between applicants and other stakeholders involved in supported projects of rural development;

(f)

the Commission to continue to be vigilant as to the checks performed and the data communicated by the Member States’ authorities, and to take these findings into account when allocating its audit burden based on risk-evaluations;

(g)

the Member States as well as the beneficiaries and their associations to fully exploit the possibilities offered by the system of simplified cost options in rural development;

(h)

the Commission to prepare and develop, for the next CAP reform, a complete intervention logic for Union environmental and climate-related action regarding agriculture, including specific targets and based on an up-to-date scientific understanding of the phenomena concerned;

253.

Calls on the Commission to be guided by the following principles in the building of a new proposal concerning greening:

(a)

Farmers should benefit from CAP payments if they meet a single set of basic environmental norms including Good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs) and greening requirements which go beyond the requirements of environmental legislation; welcomes in this regard the logic of the Commission’s ‘budget focused on results’ approach; considers that a future delivery system should be more results-driven;

(b)

Specific, local environmental and climate-related needs can be appropriately addressed through more effective targeted programmed action regarding agriculture;

(c)

When Member States are given options to choose from in their implementation of the CAP, they should be required to demonstrate, prior to implementation, that the options they select are effective and efficient in terms of achieving policy objectives, and in particular those of food safety, food quality and their impact on health, greening, land and countryside management and the fight against depopulation in the Union;

254.

Calls on the Commission:

(a)

to perform a comprehensive evaluation of all the existing CAP policies and tools which can be combined to help young farmers and to identify the obstacles to providing access to existing farms or establishing new farms for young farmers which can be addressed in the future revision of the CAP;

(b)

to make sure that, as a component of agricultural reform, further improvements are made to the rural-development framework as set forth, inter alia, in the Cork 2.0 Declaration, with a view to ensuring that the support programmes for young farmers are a success;

(c)

to insert in the legislation for the post-2020 CAP (or require Member States to indicate, in line with the shared management provisions) a clear intervention logic for the policy instruments addressing generational renewal in agriculture; the intervention logic should include:

a sound assessment of young farmers’ needs;

an assessment of which needs could be addressed by Union policy instruments and which needs can be or are already better addressed by Member States’ policies as well as an analysis of which forms of support (e.g. direct payments, lump sum, financial instruments) are best suited to match the identified needs;

awareness-raising measures, targeted at authorities, beneficiaries and their associations, concerning possible types of assistance for earlier transfer of a farm to a successor with accompanying advisory services or measures like a satisfactory retirement scheme based on national or regional income or revenues in the agricultural, food and forestry sector;

a definition of SMART objectives, making explicit and quantifiable the expected results of the policy instruments in terms of the expected generational renewal rate and contribution to the viability of the supported holdings; in particular, it should be clear if the policy instruments should aim at supporting as many young farmers as possible or target a specific type of young farmers;

(d)

to ensure that through its proposed legislation for the post-2020 CAP, the Commission and the Member States (in line with the shared management provisions) improve the monitoring and evaluation system;

Global Europe

Error rates

255.

Points out that, according to the findings of the Court, spending on ‘Global Europe’ is affected by a material level of error with an estimated level of error of 2,1 %, (2,8 % in 2015, and 2,7 % in 2014); welcomes the positive trend in the error rate in this policy area;

256.

Regrets that when excluding the multi-donor and budget support transactions the error rate for the specific transactions directly managed by the Commission has been quantified at 2,8 % (3,8 % in 2015; 3,7 % in 2014);

257.

Points out that the Commission and its implementing partners committed more errors in transactions relating to grants as well as contribution agreements with international organisations than they did with other forms of support; points out, in particular, that the budget support transactions examined by the Court were free from errors of legality and regularity;

258.

Notes that if all the information held by the Commission — and auditors appointed by the Commission — had been used to correct errors, the estimated error rate for the Global Europe chapter would have been 0,9 % point lower, i.e. 1,4 %, and therefore below the materiality threshold;

259.

Points out that:

(a)

37 % of the estimated level of error is attributable to expenditure for which essential supporting documentation was not provided;

(b)

28 % of the estimated level of error is accounted for by two cases for which the Commission accepted expenditure that had not actually been incurred; regrets that this situation was already detected last year and points out that the transaction testing of the Court revealed some control weaknesses in the Commission’s systems;

(c)

26 % of the estimated level of error concerns ineligible expenditure: i.e. expenditure related to activities not covered by a contract or incurred outside the eligibility period, non-compliance with the rule of origin, ineligible taxes and indirect costs wrongly charged as direct costs;

Declaration of assurance

260.

Is deeply concerned by the fact that according to the Court, DG NEAR auditors have detected weaknesses in the indirect management of the second instrument of pre-accession assistance (IPA II), more specifically, at the audit authorities of three IPA II beneficiary countries — Albania, Turkey and Serbia; and this despite the fact that the Albanian and Serbian audit authorities have made changes aiming to solve the problems detected; in the case of Turkey, there are some significant areas of the audit authority’s systems which might still limit the assurance it can provide to the Commission (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 9.24);

261.

Is concerned by the fact that the Court estimated that the DG NEAR corrective capacity has been overstated and consequently the total amount at risk at payment as well;

Performance

262.

Notes that DG DEVCO has defined in its AAR KPI relating to human development, climate change, gender and error rate but regrets that none of those indicators are able to measure the performance of the development cooperation policy as they only indicate the part of aid allocated to each of the objectives instead of measuring the actual impact, as well as the progress achieved to pursue the objectives;

263.

Is concerned by the fact that the IAS of the Commission stated that ‘in terms of reporting, the type of information on DG DEVCO’s performance provided by the different Strategic Planning and Programming-related reports (AAR, Sub-delegated Authorising Officers report, EAMR) is limited and does not give an actual assessment of whether objectives have been achieved or not’;

External assistance management reports

264.

Regrets once again that the external assistance management reports (EAMR) issued by the heads of Union delegations are not annexed to the AARs of DG DEVCO and NEAR as it is foreseen by Article 67(3) of the Financial Regulation; regrets that they are systematically considered as confidential whilst in accordance with Article 67(3) of the Financial Regulation, they ‘shall be made available to the European Parliament and the Council having due regard, where appropriate, to their confidentiality’;

265.

Takes note of the fact that in Commissioner Oettinger’s response to the rapporteur’s letter he indicated that the Commission is exploring a new format for reports enabling transmission to Parliament without the need for confidentiality procedures but in a way that is not detrimental to Union diplomatic policy;

266.

Welcomes the fact that DG DEVCO made public the list of the delegations involved in the EAMR and provided an analysis of DG DEVCO KPIs summary in its AAR; insists, however, that the Financial Regulation should be fully respected;

Trust funds

267.

Recalls that the possibility for the Commission to create and manage Union trust funds is meant:

(a)

to enhance the international role of the Union, as well as strengthen the visibility and efficiency of its external action and development assistance;

(b)

to provide for an accelerated decision-making process in the selection of the measures to be implemented, which is crucial in emergency and post-emergency actions;

(c)

to ensure the leverage of additional resources devoted to external action; and

(d)

via the pooling of resources, to increase coordination between different Union donors in selected areas of intervention;

268.

In the light of the recent experiences, expresses some concerns as to achievement of the main objectives pursued by the setting up of the trust funds and notes, in particular, that:

(a)

the leverage effect of this new tool is not necessarily guaranteed, the contribution of other donors being in certain cases very limited;

(b)

the visibility of the external action of the Union has not improved, despite the existence of different arrangements with the stakeholders, and that a better coordination of the action of all the stakeholders is not necessarily ensured;

(c)

the a priori preference for Member State agencies in some of the trust funds’ constitutive agreements leads to a conflict of interests rather than an incentive for Member States to provide more financial resources;

269.

Recalls in particular that the trust fund for Africa is worth over EUR 3,2 billion, with over EUR 2,9 billion coming from the European Development Fund (EDF) and EUR 228,667 million from other donors; considers unacceptable that the involvement of the EDF in trust funds further limits the possibility for the Parliament to scrutinise Union spending;

270.

Points out that pooling resources from the EDF, the Union budget and other donors should not have as consequence that money flagged for the ACP countries does not reach its normal beneficiaries;

271.

Highlights that the increasing use of other financial mechanisms such as trust funds to deliver Union policies alongside the Union budget risks undermining the level of accountability and transparency as reporting, audit and public scrutiny arrangements are not aligned (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 2.31); therefore stresses the importance of the Commission’s commitment to keep the budgetary authority periodically informed of the funding of the trust funds and their scheduled and ongoing operations, including contributions made by Member States;

Funds to Palestinian authority

272.

Insists that teaching and training programmes that are financed from Union funds such as PEGASE should reflect common values such as peace, freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination within education, as was decided upon by Union education ministers in Paris on 17 March 2015;

Measures to be taken:

273.

Calls on DG NEAR (Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 9.37):

(a)

to work together with the audit authorities in IPA II beneficiary countries to improve their competence;

(b)

to develop risks indices to improve the assessment based on internal control templates that the directorate general had rightly introduced so as to better measure the impact of errors;

(c)

to disclose properly the scope of the residual error rate study and the estimated lower and upper error limits in its next AAR;

(d)

to improve the calculation of the 2017 corrective capacity by addressing shortcomings identified by the Court;

274.

Calls on DG DEVCO and DG NEAR to consider defining in cooperation with DG HOME a key performance indicator related to the elimination of the underlying and root causes of irregular migration;

275.

Calls on the Commission to take the necessary measures to redress the deficiencies detected by its own IAS regarding DG DEVCO performance reporting and to transform the EAMR into a reliable and fully public document properly substantiating the declaration of assurance made by the heads of delegation and by the director general of DG DEVCO; asks DG DEVCO to define KPIs in such a way that make it possible to measure the performance of the development cooperation policy; and to do so without compromising Union diplomatic policy via its delegations;

276.

Regards it as essential that suspension of pre-accession funding should be possible not only in cases of proven misuse of funds, but also in cases where pre-accession countries violate in any way the rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

277.

Stresses that trust funds should be established only when their use is justified and the required action is not possible through other, existing financing channels; calls, in this regard, on the Commission, when establishing trust funds, to set up guiding principles for carrying out concise and structured assessment of the comparative advantages of trust funds relative to other aid vehicles and also to carry out analyses of what specific gaps the trust funds are supposed to fill; calls furthermore on the Commission to consider putting an end to trust funds that are unable to attract a significant contribution from other donors or that do not provide an added value as compared to ‘traditional’ Union external instruments;

278.

Deeply regrets the acknowledged cases of violence, sexual abuse and totally improper behaviour on the part of workers providing humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict and post-conflict situations; notes that the Commission has stated its commitment to review and, where necessary, suspend funding to those partners that do not comply with the high ethical standards required; urges the Commission, in order to eradicate this scourge and avoid any repetition, to strengthen prevention mechanisms in staff selection procedures, and moreover to provide initial and continuous training in this regard; and calls for a policy to protect whistleblowers in these cases;

279.

Calls on the Commission to draft its strategy papers more carefully, so as to provide a more wide-ranging and accurate assessment of funding requirements and of the best instruments to use;

280.

Asks the Commission to ensure that Union funding is disbursed in accordance with the Unesco standards of peace and tolerance;

281.

Considers it essential for the administrative capacity of the countries which receive funding to be actively supported by the Commission through appropriate technical assistance;

Migration and Security

282.

Notes that in Chapter 8 of its annual report regarding ‘security and citizenship’ (13) the Court did not calculate an error rate on the basis of the 15 transactions that it examined, as this sample was not intended to be representative of spending under this MFF heading;

283.

Notes with concern the Court finding according to which ‘two years into the seven year programming period progress in making shared-management Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF (14)) and Internal Security Fund (ISF) payments are slow’ (Court’s annual report 2016, box 8.2);

284.

Points out that the Court found several system weaknesses relating to SOLID, AMIF and the ISF at Commission and Member States level;

285.

In particular regrets that:

(a)

the Court stressed the high number of draft AMIF or ISF programmes prepared by the Member States and reviewed by the Commission prior to their approval, which may delay implementation;

(b)

according to the Court, the Commission’s assessment of Member States’ systems for AMIF and ISF was often based on insufficiently detailed information, particularly in the area of audit strategies;

(c)

that there were delays in the reporting of ex post conformity audits for SOLID programmes and insufficiently documented quality control procedures for outsourced audit work;

286.

Regrets that the Court also found the following deficiencies at the level of the Member States: insufficiently documented on-the-spot- checks, absence of a dedicated IT tool for the management and control of funds and some weaknesses in the audit performed by Member States audit authorities;

287.

Deplores the fact that the Court has noted in its annual report that ‘the overall amount of funds mobilised for the refugee and migration crisis was not reported by the Commission in 2016 and is difficult to estimate’(Court’s annual report 2016, paragraph 2.28);

288.

Regrets that the Court concluded as to the hotspots (Court’s Special Report No 6/2017) that:

(a)

despite considerable support from the Union, at the end of 2016, the reception facilities in Greece and Italy were still not adequate;

(b)

there was also a shortage of adequate facilities to accommodate and process unaccompanied minors in line with international standards;

(c)

the hotspot approach further requires that migrants be channelled into appropriate follow-up procedures, i.e. either a national asylum application or return to the country of origin and the implementation of these follow-up procedures is often slow and subject to various bottlenecks, which can have repercussions on the functioning of the hotspots;

289.

Deplores the fact that according to Human Rights Watch, women have reported frequent sexual harassment in hotspots in Greece;

290.

Shares the Court’s assessment regarding a lack of transparency about the split of funding between public resources and migrants’ resources in the issue of emergency assistance to transport non-Union migrants from Greek islands to the Greek mainland, referred to by the Court in its annual report (Court’s annual report 2016, box 8.4); recalls that Union legislation does not allow beneficiaries of Union grants to obtain profits from the implementation of a project; considers that this case raises some reputational issues for the Commission and questions its handling from an ethical point of view;

Measures to be taken

291.

Calls on:

(a)

DG HOME to consider defining, in cooperation with DG DEVCO and DG NEAR, a key performance indicator related to the elimination of the underlying and root causes of irregular migration;

(b)

the Commission to regroup the budget lines financing migration policy under a single heading with a view to enhancing transparency;

(c)

the Commission to define specific strategies with Union support teams to ensure the safety of women and accompanied minors at hotspots;

(d)

the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to provide adequate reception facilities in Greece and Italy;

(e)

the Commission and the Member States to remedy the system weaknesses detected by the Court in the management of AMIF/ISF funds;

(f)

the Commission to provide an estimated cost paid per migrant or applicant for asylum country by country;

(g)

the Commission to provide for a monitoring system with a view to ensuring that the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers are respected;

(h)

the Commission to step up the checks carried out on funds for refugees, which are frequently allocated by the Member States in emergency situations without complying with the rules in force at the time;

Code of conduct of the Commissioners and procedures for the appointment of senior officials

292.

Appreciates that its calls on the Commission to review the code of conduct for Commissioners by the end of 2017, including by defining what constitutes a conflict of interest as well as introducing criteria for assessing the compatibility of post-office employment and extending the cooling off period to three years for the President of the Commission, have received the required response; notes that the new code entered into force on 1 February 2018;

293.

Recalls the promise of President of the Commission Juncker to the European Ombudsman that the former President of the Commission Barroso would only be received as an interest representative; recalls the opinion of the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee on the new employment of Mr Barroso, as an adviser to Goldman Sachs, that this would be reconcilable only with a commitment of Mr Barroso not to lobby on behalf of Goldman Sachs;

294.

Points out the inconsistency created by multiple individual members of the Commission describing their meeting with Mr Barroso as meetings with Goldman Sachs International, according to their meeting registry; concludes that either meetings with Mr Barroso were not lobby meetings, in which case the promise to the European Ombudsman was not kept and the Commission meeting registry is not reflective of an actual transparency register or the meetings with Mr Barroso were treated as meetings with an interest representative, in which case one of the conditions set by the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee was violated;

295.

Recalls that the absence of a conflict of interest must also be a prerequisite for the holding of Commissioner hearings and that therefore the declaration of financial interest forms must be completed and made available before the Commissioner is heard by the competent Parliament committee and must be updated at least once a year and each time the information changes;

296.

Is of the opinion that the Commission should make the Commissioner’s special advisers more accountable and their professional ties and background transparent and open to public scrutiny in order to prevent their potential conflicts of interest as they have unfettered access to the Commission; believes that these steps will help to limit the possibility of lobbying at the highest level through the back door;

297.

Calls, in this connection, for Commissioners to declare all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisers and consultants, members of associated foundations, etc.) in all the companies in which they have been involved, including close family interests, as well as the changes that took place at the time when their candidacy was made known;

298.

Points out that the extension of the cooling off period to three years should concern all members of the Commission as requested by Parliament on several occasions; insists that the opinions of the ethical committee should be made public when there are issued;

299.

Fears that the appointment processes of the independent ethical committee does not guarantee its independence and stresses that independent experts should not have themselves held the position of Commissioner, nor should they have held a position as a senior Commission official; asks the Commission to adopt new rules on the independent ethical committee in line with this remark;

300.

Requests the Commission to provide and publish an annual report by the independent ethical committee; reaffirms that the independent ethical committee can make any recommendation on the improvement of the code of conduct or of its implementation;

301.

Is deeply concerned by the lack of transparency, absence of any competition among the eligible staff and a possible misuse of the Union’s Staff Regulations in the recent appointment of the Commission President’s Head of Office as the new Secretary-General of the Commission; notes that the Commission’s answers to Parliament’s Committee for Budgetary Control did not adequately explain the justification for the appointment of the Secretary-General using Article 7 of the Staff Regulations to make the transfer without opening the post as vacant and inviting eligible staff to apply; expects the President of the Commission to present his plan to improve the damage done to Commission’s public image due to the recent appointment of Secretary-General to the Parliament;

302.

With a view to the recent appointment of the Commission’s Secretary-General and in the interests of ensuring an independent European public administration, calls on the Commission to present before the end of 2018 a proposal for a procedure for the appointment of senior officials, which ensures that the best candidates are selected in a framework of maximum transparency and equal opportunity, and is sufficiently broad for it to be applicable to all the other Union institutions including the Parliament and the Council;

303.

With a view to the future, asks the Commission to envisage introducing the following improvements:

(a)

acceptance of gifts from donors from Member States should be prohibited (Article 6(4) of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission;

(b)

the participation of Commissioners in national politics during their term of office should be suspended or limited to passive party membership;

(c)

clarification of the reference to ‘diplomatic or courtesy usage’ (Article 6(2) and (5) of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission), which suffers from a lack of precision and clarity and might be prone to abuse;

(d)

participation of Commissioners in national election campaigns should be aligned to participation in European election campaigning (Articles 9 and 10 of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission); in both cases, Commissioners should be obliged to take unpaid electoral leave;

(e)

more clarity should be provided on the criteria for such possible referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union under Article 245 or 247 TFEU;

(f)

Commissioners should declare all their relevant interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, etc.) rather than selecting only those they believe might be considered to be capable of giving rise to a conflict of interest;

(g)

declarations of interests should be improved in line with Parliament’s resolution of 1 December 2016 on Commissioners’ declarations of interests — guidelines (15);

Administration

The findings of the Court

304.

Notes that the institutions collectively cut the number of posts in the establishment plan by 4,0 % over the period from 2013 to 2017 (from 39 649 to 38 072 posts), and that the institutions reduced the number of staff (posts actually occupied by a staff member) by 1,4 % between 2013 and 2017 (from 37 153 to 36 657 posts);

305.

Also notes the Court’s additional conclusions:

‘30.

However, during the same period, the budgetary authority granted new posts to the institutions, bodies and agencies in the framework of the annual budgetary procedure. These posts were made available mostly for the development of their activities (this explains the significant increase in the number of posts granted to agencies), the accession of Croatia and to the political groups in the European Parliament.

31.

As a consequence, the number of posts in the establishment plans decreased by 1,1 % between 2012 and 2017 with significant variations between the institutions (-3,5 %), decentralised agencies (+13,7 %) and executive agencies (+42,9 %). The number of posts actually occupied from 1 January 2013 to 1 January 2017 increased by 0,4 % over the period (-1,3 % for institutions and bodies and +11,3 % for agencies, with 9,6 % in decentralised agencies and 33,7 % in executive agencies). The average vacancy rate decreased from 6,9 % on 1 January 2013 to 4,5 % on 1 January 2017 and reached a level below 2 % in some institutions and bodies.’ (16);

306.

Notes with concern the continuing discrimination against Union staff based in Luxembourg, in spite of the judgment of the Court of Justice of October 2000 in the Ferlini case (C-411/98) and Directive 2011/24/EU which both condemn the practice; stresses that over-charging continues, use being made of two agreements with Luxembourg’s Hospitals Federation (FH) and the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Association (AMD), which set a limit of 15 % for overcharging but allow for 500 % for treatment carried out in hospitals; deplores the fact that the 2000 Court of Justice ruling and Directive 2011/24/EU are violated not only by the agreements but also by a number of national healthcare operators; calls on the Commission to firstly, calculate the annual additional cost of the overcharging to the Union budget (JSIS) and justify it, secondly, determine an infringement procedure or similar legal action against the Grand Duchy;, thirdly, inform the Parliament of the outcome of Public petition No 765 submitted to the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg and of the public debate held there on 19 October 2017, fourthly, protest against the two agreements with the FH and the AMD.

307.

Welcomes the statements made by Commissioner Oettinger on the end of staffing policy restrictions with the aim of avoiding serious prejudice to the proper functioning of the European institutions and the quality of the public service the Union provides to European citizens; stresses the importance of having a strong European civil service, at the service of the citizen and able to respond to the challenges faced by the Union and to implement its policies with the highest possible standards of excellence and professionalism, and of providing this service with all the necessary legal and budgetary resources; stresses the importance of once more making the European civil service an attractive proposition for young Union professionals; calls on the Commission to draft a report on the consequences of the restrictions for the attractiveness of the Union civil service and on its current under-resourced state that proposes solutions to help bring the service closer to European citizens and increase their interest in joining it;

308.

Stresses the importance of finding a solution to the problem of the excessive, and in many cases abusive, billing of the medical expenses of the staff and members of the Parliament in some Member States; calls on the Commission to seek solutions to this problem which, in countries such as Luxembourg, costs some EUR 2 million a year (e.g. negotiations with Member State social security systems, public or private, the creation of a card similar to the European Health Insurance Card for foreign travel, etc.);

The Jean Monnet buildings (JMO I, JMO II) in Luxembourg

309.

Recognises that the construction of the new Jean Monnet building (JMOII) has encountered a considerable delay, linked to additional costs;

310.

Regrets the fact that it took the Commission and the Luxembourg authorities 15 years (1994 — 2009) to agree on the future arrangements for housing Commission departments in Luxembourg;

311.

Looks forward to receiving the full history of JMO I/JMO II between 1975 and 2011 as promised by the Commission in their written answers in preparation for the hearing with Commissioner Oettinger on 23 January 2018;

312.

Regrets the fact that even though a complete inventory of materials containing asbestos in JMO I was drawn up in 1997, the Commission did not leave the building until January 2014 and that it took AIB-Vinçotte Luxembourg until 2013 to revise its findings; notes that the sheets of asbestos in JMO I were of a lower density than had been previously thought and that they were therefore more sensitive to mechanical impact (basic friction being sufficient to release fibres into the air from where they could be inhaled); considers that the Commission, in view of the severe health risks resulting from the inhalation of asbestos, should have considered the expert’s report and the qualified opinions of other experts in the field, especially after what happened in the Berlaymont building in Brussels; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament whether all workers were duly informed of the situation and of the serious health risks incurred, whether any illness was detected that might have resulted from the inhalation of asbestos particles and what measures were taken in such cases, and whether preventive measures were taken (screening and early detection tests, etc.); also calls on the Commission to report on whether it has initiated any proceedings against AIB-Vinçotte Luxembourg in this regard;

313.

Notes that in December 2015 the Commission and the Luxembourg authorities agreed on sharing the costs associated with the early move out of JMO I; notes that JMO II was originally supposed to have become available on 31 December 2014;

314.

Calls on the Commission to report in detail on the cost of renting the six buildings occupied by the Commission in the meantime (ARIA, LACC, HITEC, DRB, BECH and T2), arising from the delay in delivering JMO II, and the consequences of extending the lease agreements; calls on the Commission to ensure that working conditions are improved in these six buildings, in close cooperation with the Committee on Health and Safety at Work, and to conclude speedy negotiations with the Luxembourg authorities on improving the conditions for mobility and access to them; reminds it that medical offices should be established in each building in accordance with Luxembourg legislation;

315.

Has recently learnt that the first construction phase of JMO II will probably be handed over in early 2020 and the second phase in early 2024; notes the explanations given by the Commission on the causes of the delays:

(a)

the consortium of architects KSP requested to review certain clauses of the management contract;

(b)

a tender procedure for the earthmoving works faced administrative problems;

(c)

significant changes regarding the security measures;

and asks it to provide documents in support of those explanations and a detailed breakdown of the costs arising from the delay in the handover of the building;

316.

Wishes to receive the supporting documents for these explanations by 30 June 2018;

European Schools

317.

Recalls that the Commission paid 61 % (EUR 177,8 million) of the schools budget in 2016;

318.

Regrets that after more than 15 years (17) there is still not sound financial management system in place for European schools;

319.

Points in this context to the Court’s annual report on the annual accounts for the European Schools for the financial year 2016, which revealed the following weaknesses (18):

‘27.

The Court found significant weaknesses in the application of accruals accounting in the accounts of the Central Office and the Alicante and Karlsruhe Schools, in particular in the calculation and booking of provisions for employee benefits and the recording of payables and receivables. Material errors were corrected during the consolidation procedure. […] 30. While the internal control systems of the Alicante and Karlsruhe Schools showed limited weaknesses, there are still significant weaknesses in the internal control system of the Central Office. The audit reports of the independent external auditor also revealed significant weaknesses in the recruitment, procurement and payment procedures. The Court is thus unable to confirm that financial management was performed in accordance with the General Framework.’

320.

Acknowledges that the director general acted therefore only congruously when limiting her assurance declaration: ‘The Director-General, in her capacity as Authorising Officer by Delegation has signed the Declaration of Assurance albeit qualified by a reputational reservation concerning the effective management of some of the Commission funds assigned to the European Schools.’ (19);

321.

Deplores the fact that the Court’s annual report on the annual accounts for the European Schools for the financial year 2016, revealed numerous weaknesses; believes that the financial accountability of the European Schools system should be raised to a proper level by means of a dedicated discharge process for the EUR 177,8 million put at its disposal;

322.

Reiterates Parliament’s view that a