47. The Commission's original Proposal
was to have a 15-member Management Board. This would comprise
six representatives appointed by the Council, six by the Commission
and three others, also appointed by the Commission. The latter
would represent respectively appropriate NGOs, employers' organisations
and workers organisations at Community level. But they would not
have the right to vote.
48. Curiously, the Commission also proposed that
this 15-member Board should have "an equal representation
between men and women".
49. The Board members should be "appointed
in such a way as to secure the highest standards of competence
and a broad range of relevant expertise in the area of gender
equality". They would have a five year term of office, which
could be renewed once. The Board would elect its Chairperson and
Vice-Chairperson to serve for a renewable period of one year.
50. The Commission proposed that the Board would
take the necessary decisions for the operation of the Institute.
This would include approving and reviewing work programmes, in
consultation with the Commission, as well as adopting the annual
report and budgetary proposals and overseeing disciplinary authority
and internal rules. It would submit an annual report to the Council,
the Commission and the European Parliament, as well as to the
Court of Auditors.
51. The Board would also appoint the Director
who would be responsible to the Board for running the Institute
and accountable to the Board for the Institute's activities. It
would meet at least twice a year.
52. The Commission also proposed that an Advisory
Forum should be set up comprising members from competent bodies
specialising in gender equality matters, on the basis of one representative
designated by each Member State as well as three members without
the right to vote nominated by the Commission and representing
interested parties at European level such as relevant NGOs or
representatives of employers and workers organisations.
53. The Advisory Forum should meet at least twice
a year, chaired by the Director of the Institute. It would advise
and support the Director and promote the exchange of information
and pooling of knowledge on gender equality issues and ensure
close cooperation between the Institute and relevant bodies in
54. Initially the Commission Proposal envisaged
that the Institute would have a staff of 15 people rising to a
total of 30 by the sixth year of operation.
55. The Minister subsequently told us
that the proposed composition of the Management Board had been
changed. After much discussion during negotiations, Member States
had adopted a Presidency Proposal that the Management Board should
comprise one representative for each Member State "alongside
a smaller bureau to take day-to-day decisions". But the Commission
had issued a Minute Statement registering its preference for the
original Proposal for a smaller Management Board.
56. We replied
regretting that the Government had apparently gone along with
the Proposal to increase the membership of the Management Board
from 15, as proposed by the Commission, to 25. We said this seemed
to be potentially unwieldy, as well as needlessly costly. We also
asked how the Board could have "an equal representation between
men and women" as proposed by the Commission.
57. The Minister replied
that the Government supported having a Management Board of 25
in order to ensure that Member States had influence over the priorities
of the Institute's work programme. Member States had been reluctant
to move away from the precedent set by other agency structures
and felt that the sharing of good practice would be more effective
if all Member States were represented on the Board. But the Proposal
for equal representation between men and women had been dropped
in favour of "balanced representation".
58. She added that, because of the increase in
the number of members of the Board and the Proposal to set up
a smaller Executive Bureau, the Proposal for a separate Advisory
Forum had been dropped. The Government believed that this would
reduce overall bureaucracy.
59. We asked the EOC whether the larger Board
would provide good governance and how the EOC would work with
it. The EOC told us (Q 22) that it would not be wise to extend
the size of the Board. A feasibility study had clearly recommended
a smaller Board. To have 15-30 people working for the Institute
overseen by a Management Body of 25 was not workable.
60. The EOC suggested that the views of stakeholders
should be included through annual meetings or advisory boards.
Following EU enlargement, it was no longer practicable to have
every Member State represented on every single Board of every
single EU body. The EOC supported the plan to set up an Advisory
Forum, in which equal opportunities bodies, including the EOC
could play a part (QQ 22-23).
61. The Minister told us (Q 52) that the actual
details of how the Board would work had not yet been finalised.
All Member States wanted to be involved in the management of the
Institute. Because Member States had made different progress in
the field of equality and had different perspectives to share,
it was felt important to allow everyone to be present at Board
level. This followed the precedent set for other EU agencies.
62. But we were told that the decision to increase
the size of the Board had been a compromise as a result of negotiations
rather than consultation. It was now proposed that the Board should
take a strategic approach, while the Executive Bureau would have
more regular contact with the Director and monitor the budget
more closely (QQ 53-54). The Director would be "hands on
day-to-day", with the Executive Bureau "meeting quarterly
or something like that". The Management Board would set the
overall direction whilst "micro-adjustments" would have
to be carried out by the Director in consultation with the Executive
Bureau which would have "some responsibility for the success
or failure of the organisation". The Director would "feel
accountable for the delivery of the agreed results within the
agreed resource envelope" (Q 55).
63. The Minister said it would be up to Member
States to appoint appropriate persons to the Management Board
and decide whether that nominee should be a representative of
Government or an equality body. The Government had not yet decided
which would be more appropriate. Nevertheless, it should be possible
for organisations like the EOC to be invited to attend ad-hoc
meeting of experts which the Institute "might have"
to support research work and encourage the exchange of information.
The aim was to have a process which enabled countries to feel
that they were fully represented and that a proper management
structure was in place to make sure that the Institute did what
it was supposed to do and accounted properly for its funds. But
at the same time all relevant bodies should be kept involved and
feel that they had a contribution to make (Q 62).
64. We are not satisfied that the management
structure proposed is right. We think it is potentially unwieldy
and inefficient to have a 25-member Management Board overseeing
the work of the Institute which would have initially only 15 staff,
rising to a maximum of 30. We regret that the Government apparently
felt obliged to go along with this arrangement on grounds of precedent.
65. Nor are we satisfied with the plan to interpose
a smaller Executive Bureau, whose membership, responsibilities
and modus operandi seem yet to be properly defined. We see a risk
that, by tasking the Bureau to take what are described as "day-to-day
decisions", the authority of the Director of the Institute
would be undermined and initiatives suppressed.
66. We also regret that the proposal to have
an Advisory Forum, through which national equality organisations
and NGOs could contribute in a regular structured way to the planning
of the work of the Institute, has apparently been dropped. This
decision seems to have been taken as a result of a Council compromise,
without adequately consulting the organisations concerned. Those
organisations now appear to run the risk of being side-lined and
the Institute deprived of their advice.
67. If the Gender Institute is to be set up,
we recommend that the proposed management structure should be
given further consideration. We believe it is essential to develop
an efficient, cost-effective structure that is proportionate to
the size of the Institute. We also recommend that the Government
should question the practice of automatically awarding seats on
the Boards of such institutions to every Member State.
68. We recommend that these arrangements should
ensure that the Director of the Institute has adequate authority,
within the limits of proper accountability, and that proper structured
arrangements should be made to ensure that the advice of appropriate
equality organisations and NGOs within Member States will contribute
to the planning and activities of the Institute.
69. The Commission Proposal
indicated a total budget for the Institute of 52.5 million
for the period 2007-2013. This would take account of "budgetary
and human resources of existing agencies which perform the similar
tasks, in particular the European Monitoring Centre on Racism
70. The Government told us
that the budget was compatible with the Commission's proposals
for the new Financial Perspective, as outlined in the PROGRESS
programme which was
under review. But they pointed out that this would be subject
to the UK's overall position that all EU activities should be
funded by an overall budget stabilised at 1% of EU Gross National
Income. The level of funding available for the Institute would
need to be consistent with this. The Government subsequently reiterated
that the budget would not be discussed until the EU Financial
Perspective 2007-2013 had been agreed.
71. We noted that the Department's Explanatory
out that the UK supported the view of the June 2004 Employment,
Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council that the Institute
should be "budget neutral". We observed that the Commission
had not shown thus far what savings it proposed to make to compensate
for the additional costs of setting up and running the agency.
We were told that the cost estimates could not be discussed by
the Council Working Group until the Financial Perspective of the
overall EU budget had been agreed.
72. The EOC regretted the proposal that the Institute
should be "budget neutral" and expressed concern that
the PROGRESS programme would not be sufficiently funded to allow
an adequate allocation for the Institute.
73. While the EOC was not in a position to say
what a reasonable budget should be, we were told that an adequate
investment in gender equality was essential. Simply taking the
funds out of overall PROGRESS programme was "just creative
financial manoeuvring". The Council ought to say "we
are going to invest in gender equality, so we will need to pay
a bit more" (Q 19).
74. The Minister told us (Q 42) that the term
"budget neutral" meant that the money for the Institute
had to come from some other source. No additional funds would
be available. Some of the money which would otherwise be going
into programmes would be used "to gain the learning from
the actual Proposal". This did not mean that existing projects
would be cut in order to fund the Institute. But choices would
have to be made within the overall budget between funds available
for the Institute and other future projects, which would have
to be agreed by the Council of Europe and Parliament on an annual
basis (QQ 43-47). She accepted that this meant that Institute's
budget would be an opportunity cost on other activities within
the overall programme (Q 48). But the whole question of the budget
would have to be discussed in more detail under the Austrian Presidency
75. The Minister subsequently provided a breakdown
of the proposed costs showing that the annual budget for 2007
was envisaged to be about 4.5 million rising to 8.5
million by 2013 once the Institute had reached its full complement
of 30 staff. But these figures could change "according to
the final shape and function of the Institute and the Financial
Perspective as concluded".
76. We cannot comment on the adequacy of the
budget proposed by the Commission for the Institute. Nor do we
know what effect a budget of that size might have as an opportunity
cost on other activities within the overall PROGRESS programme.
We would want any allocation to be scrutinised rigorously and
welcome the Government's repeated assurances
that they would insist that the Institute gave good value for
money and that its activities would be effectively monitored.
77. Nevertheless, we do see a risk that if the
Institute is to be set up and not adequately funded it would be
unable to carry out its tasks properly and that it would be unable
to exert sufficient authority and influence. Any reduction in
the overall PROGRESS programme budget would increase that risk.
78. We recommend that, if the Institute is
to be set up, it should have an adequate budget to carry out its
24 pp 12-15 Back
Commission Staff Working Document 7244/05 SEC (2005) 328 dated
11 March 2005 Back
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7244/05 COM (2005) 81 final and SEC (2005) 328 Back
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12143/05 COM (2005) 399 final Back
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