Commission follow-up report on the European Parliament's 1999 Discharge Resolution.
|Document originated:||19 November 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:
||20 November 2001|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||10 December 2001|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 17 December 2001|
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
20.1 As part of the normal discharge procedure for the
budget, the Commission usually prepares a follow-up report in
response to the detailed comments from the Council on the improvements
it wishes to see in the management of the Communities' resources.
Included in that report is usually a response to the European
Parliament's discharge resolution. On this occasion, the Commission
has produced a separate report responding to the European Parliament,
as requested by the European Parliament.
20.2 The document comprises an introduction, explaining
the context, followed by a summary of the action taken by the
Commission to address the concerns raised by the European Parliament.
Part 2 of the document quotes the European Parliament's resolution
on closing the budget for 1999, including the Commission's response
to the specific comments made by the European Parliament. Part
3 quotes the European Parliament's lengthy observations and recommendations
on discharge together with the Commission's responses.
20.3 The European Parliament approved the closure of
the accounts, but expressed concern on a number of points, including
the failure to draw up comprehensive financial statements and
the supply of information and documents in the context of the
Framework Agreement, and called on the Commission to reduce the
error rate and to achieve a positive Statement of Assurance by
the Court of Auditors by 2003. The Commission replied that it
has applied the Framework Agreement fully and that the reforms
put in place should help reduce the error rate.
20.4 The European Parliament also criticised Member States,
drawing on references in the reports from the European Court of
Auditors and OLAF (the EU's anti-fraud body). In response, the
Commission provided examples of actions it proposes to take. The
European Parliament also requested that the Commission provide
updates on a number of large fraud cases, and criticised several
aspects of external actions, such as the PHARE programme.
20.5 The European Parliament produced a ten point plan
for the Commission, including information on the performance appraisal
of senior staff, information on the comparable performances of
different Directorate Generals, a summary of all audits, data
on posts held by recent leavers, information on the results of
investigations set in train by whistleblowers, the establishment
of a central database on individuals and companies that have defrauded
the EU budget, faster recovery procedures and electronic transmission
of documents. In response the Commission said it would provide
some of the information in the appropriate form. Some other information,
such as performance appraisal of staff, would remain confidential.
The Government's view
20.6 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 17 December, the
Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) provides a helpful
summary of the specific responses to the European Parliament's
demands. In welcoming the report, she says that it shows that
the Commission is taking the European Parliament's recommendations
seriously. She considers that the European Parliament's comments
are detailed and demanding and that the Commission's response
is sensible, making reference to the important reforms already
in progress. She adds that the details of the report will be considered
carefully during the discharge procedure for the 2000 budget.
20.7 We report here on the Commission's report since
it represents a new development in the discharge procedure. It
suggests that the European Parliament and the Commission are actively
engaged in improving financial management.
20.8 We clear the document.