EXTERNALISATION OF THE MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNITY
Commission Communication on externalisation of the management of Community programmes, including presentation of a Framework Regulation for a new type of executive agency;
Draft Council Regulation laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes.
|Legal base:||Article 308 EC; consultation; unanimity|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||24 January 2001|
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 19 March 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 5 (18 July 2001), HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph 4 (21 November 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
5.1 As part of its process of reform, the Commission
set out in December 1999 to develop a coherent and manageable
policy of 'externalisation', i.e. the carrying out of executive
tasks implementing Community policies by bodies other than the
Commission. The objective is to allow the Commission's permanent
staff to be assigned to its essential tasks, to regain control
of executive and support activities and, overall, to improve efficiency.
5.2 We considered the document, which consisted of a
Communication from the Commission together with a proposed Council
Regulation, on 18 July and 21 November 2001. We noted that Article
4 of the draft Regulation provided for an executive agency to
be a Community body with a legal personality separate from the
Commission, and that Article 6 provided that the Commission may
entrust an executive agency with any tasks required to implement
a Community programme, "except for those demanding discretionary
powers in translating political choices into action".
5.3 We were concerned that the creation of bodies with
legal personalities separate from the Commission would be inconsistent
with the principle, set out in the preamble to the draft Regulation,
that recourse to an agency did not relieve the Commission of its
responsibilities under the Treaty, particularly Article 274 EC.
5.4 We also expressed concern that the draft Regulation
was far from clear on the question of which tasks may be delegated
by the Commission to an agency. The exception of tasks "demanding
discretionary powers in translating political choices into action"
seemed to us to be vague and difficult to apply in practice.
5.5 We asked the Minister for her comments on these two
points. In her letter of 16 October 2001, the Economic Secretary
to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) commented that, despite their separate
legal personality, agencies would still be carrying out functions
on behalf of the Commission. The Minister also commented that
the Council's Budget Committee had suggested to the Commission
that the reference to the Commission's continuing responsibility
should be made more explicit, and that the proposal should contain
a clearer statement of the responsibilities delegated to agencies
and the nature of the delegation. We asked the Minister to keep
us informed of progress in defining more clearly the scope of
the delegating power contained in the draft Regulation.
The Minister's letter
5.6 In her letter of 19 March 2002, the Economic Secretary
to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) informs us that there has been little
progress on this matter since her letter to us of 16 October 2001.
However, she reports that the European Court of Auditors delivered
its Opinion on 8 November 2001.
5.7 The Minister adds that she was pleased to note that
the Court of Auditors considered it advisable for the draft Regulation
to lay down general rules which the Commission will operate in
regulating the activities of the agencies, so that it may intervene
if the agency acts contrary to the object of the Community programme
in question, or more generally, acts unlawfully. The Court of
Auditors further considers that these procedures could be specified
in the instrument of delegation, but that the general framework
should be established by the draft Regulation.
5.8 We thank the Minister for her letter. As the Minister
observes, there has been little progress on the draft Council
Regulation, but we shall look forward to receiving a revised text
of the proposal in due course. We hope that the revised
version will take account of the comments which have been made
on the continuing responsibility of the Commission for tasks carried
out on its behalf by agencies, and on making clearer the scope
of the power to delegate to such agencies.
5.9 We shall hold the present document under scrutiny
pending deposit of a revised version.
Commission shall implement the budget...on its own responsibility
and within the limits of the appropriations, having regard to
the principles of sound financial management". Back