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Document JOL_2012_350_R_0069_01

2012/799/EU: Decision of the European Parliament of 23 October 2012 on the discharge for implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section II — Council
Resolution of the European Parliament of 23 October 2012 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on the discharge for implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section II — Council

OJ L 350, 20.12.2012, p. 69–75 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

20.12.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 350/69


DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 23 October 2012

on the discharge for implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section II — Council

(2012/799/EU)

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010 (1),

having regard to the annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2010 (COM(2011)473 — C7-0258/2011) (2),

having regard to the Council’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2010,

having regard to the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors on implementation of the budget for the financial year 2010, 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 2010 pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to its decision of 10 May 2012 (5) postponing its decision on granting discharge for the financial year 2010, and the accompanying resolution,

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 Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (6), and in particular Articles 50, 86, 145, 146 and 147 thereof,

having regard to Decision No 31/2008 of the Secretary-General of the Council/High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy concerning reimbursement of travel expenses of delegates of Council Members (7),

having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (8),

having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0301/2012),

1.

Refuses to grant the Council’s Secretary-General discharge for implementation of the Council budget for the financial year 2010;

2.

Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.

Instructs its President to forward this decision and the resolution forming an integral part thereof to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman and the European Data Protection Supervisor, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

The President

Martin SCHULZ

The Secretary-General

Klaus WELLE


(1)  OJ L 64, 12.3.2010.

(2)  OJ C 332, 14.11.2011, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 326, 10.11.2011, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 332, 14.11.2011, p. 134.

(5)  OJ L 286, 17.10.2012, p. 22.

(6)  OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(7)  Decision stemming from the Rules of Procedure of the Council of 22 July 2002 (OJ L 230, 28.8.2002, p. 7).

(8)  OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.


RESOLUTION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

of 23 October 2012

with observations forming an integral part of the decision on the discharge for implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section II — Council

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,

having regard to the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010 (1),

having regard to the annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2010 (COM(2011)473 — C7-0258/2011) (2),

having regard to the Council’s annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2010,

having regard to the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors on implementation of the budget for the financial year 2010, 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 2010 pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to its decision of 10 May 2012 (5) postponing its decision on granting discharge for the financial year 2010, and the accompanying resolution,

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 Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (6), and in particular Articles 50, 86, 145, 146 and 147 thereof,

having regard to Decision No 31/2008 of the Secretary-General of the Council/High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy concerning reimbursement of travel expenses of delegates of Council Members (7),

having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (8),

having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0301/2012),

A.

whereas ‘citizens have the right to know how their taxes are being spent and how the power entrusted to political bodies is handled’ (9),

B.

whereas the Council, as an institution of the Union, should be subject to democratic accountability towards Union citizens as far as the implementation of Union funds is concerned,

C.

whereas Parliament is the sole directly elected body among the Union institutions and has responsibility to grant discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union,

1.

Highlights the role that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union gives Parliament in respect of budget discharge;

2.

Points out that, under Article 335 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, ‘the Union shall be represented by each of the institutions, by virtue of their administrative autonomy, in matters relating to their respective operation’, and that accordingly, taking into account Article 50 of the Financial Regulation, the institutions are individually responsible for the implementation of their budgets;

3.

Notes that, under Rule 77 of its Rules of Procedure, ‘[the] provisions governing the procedure for granting discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget shall likewise apply to the procedure for granting discharge to: […]

the persons responsible for the implementation of the budgets of other institutions and bodies of the European Union such as the Council (in its executive capacity), the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions’;

Opinion of the Court of Auditors on the Council in its statement of assurance for 2010

4.

Underlines that in its 2010 annual report, the Court of Auditors criticised the financing of the Residence Palace building project because of the advance payments made (paragraph 7.19); notes that the Court of Auditors made the observation that during the period 2008-10 advance payments made by the Council totalled EUR 235 000 000; notes that the amounts paid came from under-utilised budget lines; points out that ‘under-utilised’ is the politically correct term for ‘over-budgeted’; underlines that in 2010 the Council increased the budget line ‘Acquisition of immovable property’ by EUR 40 000 000;

5.

Notes the Council’s explanation concerning the fact that the appropriations were made available by budget transfers authorised by the budget authority in accordance with the procedures laid down in Articles 22 and 24 of the Financial Regulation;

6.

Shares the Court of Auditors’ view that such a procedure does not comply with the principle of budget accuracy, despite the savings made in paying rent;

7.

Notes the Council’s reply that the amounts for the budget lines for interpretation and delegations’ travel expenses should be more in line with real consumption and calls for a better budgetary planning in order to avoid current practices in the future;

8.

Reminds the Court of Auditors of Parliament’s request to carry out an in-depth assessment of supervisory and control systems in the Council, similar to the assessments it carried out in relation to the Court of Justice, the European Ombudsman and the European Data Protection Supervisor in the course of preparation of the Court of Auditors’ annual report concerning the financial year 2010;

9.

Reiterates that an efficient supervision over the budgetary implementation process is a matter of high responsibility and its fulfilment depends entirely on an unhindered interinstitutional cooperation between the Council and Parliament;

Pending issues

10.

Regrets the continual difficulties encountered with the Council in the discharge procedures for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 financial years in terms of an open and formal dialogue with the Committee on Budgetary Control and responses to the Committee’s questions; points out that Parliament refused to grant the Secretary-General of the Council discharge for implementation of the Council budget for the financial year 2009 for the reasons set out in its resolutions of 10 May 2011 (10) and 25 October 2011 (11);

11.

Acknowledges receipt of a series of documents for the 2010 discharge procedure (final financial statements for 2010, including the accounts, the financial activity report and the summary of the 2010 internal audits); is still waiting to receive all the necessary documents for discharge (in particular those relating to the complete internal audit carried out in 2010);

12.

Points out that, on 31 January 2012, the Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control sent a letter (12) to the Presidency-in-Office of the Council requesting that the Council respond to the questions attached to the letter as part of the discharge procedure;

13.

Notes that, in its resolution with observations forming an integral part of the abovementioned decision of 10 May 2012 on the discharge for implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section II — Council, Parliament asked 26 supplementary questions linked to the discharge procedure;

14.

Regrets that the Council refuses to answer these questions;

15.

Regrets, too, that the Council did not accept Parliament’s invitation to a meeting where the Committee on Budgetary Control debated the 2010 discharge for the Council;

16.

Deplores the fact that the attitude of the Council obstructs democratic control as well as transparency and accountability vis-à-vis Union taxpayers;

17.

Welcomes, however, the fact that the Presidency-in-Office of the Council accepted Parliament’s invitation to the debate held in plenary on 10 May 2012 on the 2010 discharge reports; shares the Presidency’s opinion that it would be desirable for Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the way in which discharge is prepared;

18.

Thanks the Danish Presidency for its constructive input throughout the 2010 discharge procedure; regrets, however, that the Danish Presidency has not been able to uphold the achievements of the Spanish and Swedish presidencies;

The right of Parliament to grant discharge

19.

Emphasises the right of Parliament to grant discharge in accordance with Articles 316, 317 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which must be interpreted in the light of their context and their purpose, which is to submit the implementation of the entire budget of the European Union to parliamentary control and scrutiny without exception, and to grant discharge autonomously, not only in respect of the section of the budget implemented by the Commission, but also in respect of the sections of the budget implemented by the other institutions, as referred to in Article 1 of the Financial Regulation;

20.

Notes that the Commission, in its reply of 25 November 2011 to the letter from the Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control, says it is desirable for Parliament to continue to give, postpone or refuse discharge to the other institutions as has been the case up until now, which make it even harder to understand the Council’s extraordinary position;

21.

Is of the opinion that, in any event, an assessment must be carried out of the Council’s management as an institution of the Union during the financial year under examination, thereby upholding Parliament’s prerogatives, in particular the assurance of democratic accountability towards Union citizens;

22.

Notes that the expenditure of the Council must be scrutinised in the same way as that of other institutions, and is of the opinion that the fundamental elements of such scrutiny should include in particular:

(a)

an official meeting on the basis of a written questionnaire between representatives of the Council and of Parliament’s committee responsible for the discharge procedure, in order to answer committee members’ questions;

(b)

in line with its resolution of 16 June 2010 (13) on the discharge procedure in respect of the Council for the financial year 2008, the discharge is based on the following written documents submitted by the various institutions:

accounts of the preceding financial year relating to the implementation of their budgets,

a financial statement of their assets and liabilities,

the annual activity report on their budgetary and financial management,

the annual report of their internal auditor,

the publication of the internal budget decisions of the Council;

23.

Deplores that, during negotiations on a revised Financial Regulation, no agreement could be reached on ways in which the discharge procedure could be improved;

24.

Welcomes the organisation by the Committee on Budgetary Control of a seminar on the different roles played by Parliament and the Council in the discharge procedure, which could cover, among others, the following points:

Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union calls on the institutions to practice mutual sincere cooperation,

Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union defines the role of the Council and the European Parliament in the discharge procedure:

(i)

the role of the Council is to issue a recommendation to the European Parliament on granting discharge to all the institutions and bodies of the European Union,

(ii)

the role of the European Parliament is to take a decision on discharge in respect of all the institutions and bodies of the European Union,

the administrative autonomy enjoyed by each of the Union’s institutions as regards its own functioning,

the articles of the Financial Regulation relating to discharge (Articles 145 to 147),

the fundamental democratic principles of transparency and accountability,

the objective of increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of budgetary implementation,

in order for Parliament and the Council to be able to carry out their respective roles, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Financial Regulation state that a certain number of documents must be made available to the discharge authority:

(i)

the annual report by the Court of Auditors together with the replies of the institutions under audit to the observations of the Court of Auditors, including the statement of assurance, and any other special reports by the Court of Auditors,

(ii)

an Annual Activity Report based on the results achieved, in particular in relation to the indications given by Parliament and the Council pursuant to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

(iii)

accounts of the preceding financial year relating to the implementation of the budget,

(iv)

a financial statement of assets and liabilities,

(v)

the annual activity report on budgetary and financial management,

(vi)

a report summarising the number and type of internal audits carried out, the recommendations made and the follow-up given to these recommendations,

the Council should submit to Parliament, as the authority responsible for taking a decision on discharge, all information requested by the latter in respect of discharge,

the Council responds in writing to Parliament’s questions about discharge,

all European Union institutions and bodies must be treated equally when the Council drafts its recommendation on discharge,

before the end of January 2013, a meeting will be organised between Parliament and the Council on issues relating to discharge, covering the abovementioned points,

the Presidency-in-Office of the Council should actively attend the presentation of the annual report of the Court of Auditors and Parliament’s debate in plenary on the discharge.


(1)  OJ L 64, 12.3.2010.

(2)  OJ C 332, 14.11.2011, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 326, 10.11.2011, p. 1.

(4)  OJ C 332, 14.11.2011, p. 134.

(5)  OJ L 286, 17.10.2012, p. 22.

(6)  OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(7)  Decision stemming from the Rules of Procedure of the Council of 22 July 2002 (OJ L 230, 28.8.2002, p. 7).

(8)  OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.

(9)  The European Transparency Initiative.

(10)  OJ L 250, 27.9.2011, p. 25.

(11)  OJ L 313, 26.11.2011, p. 13.

(12)  Letter No 301653 of 31 January 2012.

(13)  OJ L 252, 25.9.2010, p. 24.


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