Report – 2015 discharge: European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) – A8-0100/2017 – Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015

(2016/2181(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015, together with the Agency’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) 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 2015, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8-0067/2017),

–  having regard to Article 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(3), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 of 26 April 2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy(4), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5), and in particular Article 108 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 and the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0100/2017),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2015;

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 Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency, 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).

2. PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015

(2016/2181(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015, together with the Agency’s reply(6),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(7) 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 2015, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 21 February 2017 on discharge to be given to the Agency in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8-0067/2017),

–  having regard to Article 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(8), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 of 26 April 2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy(9), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(10), and in particular Article 108 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 and the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0100/2017),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

3. MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

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 2015

(2016/2181(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015,

–  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 and the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0100/2017),

A.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the final budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency (the “Agency”) for the financial year 2015 was EUR 9 217 000, representing no change compared to the previous year; whereas the entire budget of the Agency derives from the Union budget;

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the “Court”) has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’s annual accounts for the financial year 2013 are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular;

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

Budget and financial management

1.  Notes that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2015 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 99,59 %, attaining the Agency’s target and representing an increase of 0,50 % compared to 2014; notes furthermore that the payment appropriations execution rate was at 92,24 %, attaining the Agency’s target and representing an increase of 3,81 % compared to 2014;

2.  Welcomes the implementation of the e-Prior modules for electronic tendering, ordering and invoicing in cooperation with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Informatics (DG DIGIT); notes that the implemented modules were to be progressively used in 2016, leading to an increase in electronic workflows, and subsequently greater efficiency, reliability of the data and audit trail; calls on the Agency to report to the discharge authority on efficiencies gained after the modules’ implementation;

3.  Notes with satisfaction that the Agency made all of its payments within the time-limits provided for in Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012, resulting in no interest being charged by suppliers for late payments; notes furthermore that the average number of days for payment in 2015 was 20;

4.  Notes that the effective budget cuts imposed on the Agency impaired its ability to fulfil its objective of organising operational coordination of control and inspection activities of the Member States in order to ensure the effective and uniform application of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy;

5.  Draws attention to the importance of the Agency’s role in implementing the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and in achieving the objectives thereof, particularly in the light of the landing obligation and demands in terms of the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activities; stresses that it is therefore desirable to evaluate the possibility of increasing appropriations for the Agency’s operations in future years;

6.  Regrets that the reduction of the Agency’s resources and capacity may have as a consequence the weakening of fisheries controls and a concomitant increase in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to the detriment of the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the sector;

7.  Points out that the new migration policy of the Union and, in particular, the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard, as part of an overall improvement in coast guard functions, entail new tasks of inspection and better cooperation for the Agency, which will require increased funding and technical and human resources;

Commitments and carryovers

8.  Welcomes the fact that the level of funds carried forward from 2015 to 2016 decreased from 11 % to 7 % compared to 2014; notes that the rate of carryovers for Title II (administrative expenditure) was at 20 %, representing a decrease of 5 % compared to 2014 results; notes that the rate of carryovers for Title III (operational expenditure) was at 20 %, representing a decrease of 10 % compared to the level in 2014; notes moreover that carryovers may often be partly or fully justified by the multiannual nature of the agencies’ operational programmes, and do not necessarily indicate weaknesses in budget planning and implementation, nor are they always at odds with the budgetary principle of annuality, in particular if they are planned in advance by the Agency and communicated to the Court;

9.  Notes that the Agency further reduced the rate of cancelled commitments carried forward from the year 2014 to 3,45 %, representing a reduction of 0,9 % compared to the previous year;

Transfers

10.  Notes with satisfaction that, according to the Agency’s final accounts, the level and nature of transfers in the year 2015 remained within the limits of the financial rules;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

11.  Welcomes the fact that the Agency addressed several needs with the use of existing contracts, either its own or those of the Commission, in order to optimise the use of available resources; acknowledges that a Memorandum of Understanding on re-invoicing of the procurement services provided by DG DIGIT in the information technology field was signed in early 2016; notes the Agency’s focus on the implementation of e-Administration system as well as the rationalisation and optimisation of its procurement processes;

12.  Deplores the fact that no attention is being devoted to the working conditions of the Agency’s staff, although they play a critical role in performing additional tasks without any increase in their number;

13.  Considers that the Agency represents extremely good value for money, although it is necessary to increase its human and financial resources in the coming years;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

14.  Acknowledges that the Agency adopted a comprehensive policy on the prevention and management of conflicts of interests and an anti-fraud strategy; takes note that of a total of 13 actions to be implemented by the end of 2017, nine were already implemented; takes note that the Agency’s controls aimed at preventing and detecting fraud are similar to those ensuring the legality and regularity of transactions, such as “the four eyes principle”, automated controls in the financial and accounting systems, externalised salaries calculation as well as declarations of interests always being signed by panel members; notes with satisfaction from the Agency that, since its creation, no fraudulent events have occurred;

15.  Notes that declarations of interests and the CVs of the Executive Director, Management Board members and senior management teams were submitted and published on the Agency’s website; regrets, however, that the factual accuracy of the declarations of interests were not checked; calls on the Agency to introduce regular checks and updates on the accuracy of the declarations of interests;

16.  Notes that the Commission has not yet responded to the Agency regarding its draft implementing rules on whistleblowers; asks the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the establishment and implementation of those rules;

Internal controls

17.  Notes that the Agency’s Administrative Board adopted a set of Internal Control Standards (ICS) aiming to ensure the achievement of policy and operational objectives; acknowledges that most of the ICS have a high level of implementation, with four areas having a medium and one having a low degree of implementation in the internal control system;

18.  Notes with concern from the Court’s report that the Agency is not yet fully complying with ICS 10 (Business Continuity), 11 (Document Management) and 12 (Information and Communication); notes also that the Agency has explained that full implementation of those ICS has not yet been achieved, mainly due to budgetary constraints; calls on the Agency to implement those ICS and to report to the discharge authority on the results of the implementation;

Internal audit

19.  Notes that, further to its audit on Building Blocks of Assurance, the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) issued six recommendations rated as “Important”, which were fully implemented by the Agency; notes moreover that the Agency has no open recommendations from the IAS;

20.  Acknowledges the fact that the Agency developed and implemented centralised monitoring of all audit recommendations issued by the Court, the IAS and its Internal Control Capability, in order to consolidate and monitor them, as well as to improve the follow-up of corresponding action plans; observes that at the end of 2015 only four recommendations were open, with none considered critical or very important;

Performance

21.  Notes that two critical risks were identified during the Agency’s annual risk assessment exercise; notes that the Agency should prepare a strategic Joint Deployment Planning in case the Commission’s Specific Control and Inspection programme is not adopted on time, in order not to jeopardise the implementation of the Agency’s Administrative Work Programme and to avoid the risk of budget appropriations not being used; calls on the Agency to report on how it plans to reduce those residual risks to an acceptable level;

Other comments

22.  Acknowledges that the Agency commenced a process of cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in the preparation and the implementation of the pilot project entitled “Creation of a European Coastguard function”; notes that the lessons learned from the pilot project will be used in the implementation of the new “border package” aimed at establishing the task for the three maritime agencies to cooperate to support the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions, by providing services, information, equipment and training, as well as by coordinating multipurpose operations;

23.  Recalls the importance of strengthening the Agency’s mandate so as to put in place joint operational activities with other Union agencies in the maritime sector in order to prevent disasters at sea and to coordinate the functions of European coastguards;

24.  Points out that 2016 was a key year for the implementation of the new Common Fisheries Policy concerning the landing obligation rules, and that the operational coordination of the activities of fisheries control inspections with the Member States entails appropriate human and financial resources; expresses its concern about the practical difficulties involved in implementation of the landing obligation for demersal fisheries, and considers that monitoring should take those difficulties into account;

°

°  °

25.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of xx April 2017(11) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

28.2.2017

OPINION of the Committee on Fisheries

for the Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2015

(2016/2181(DEC))

Rapporteur: Linnéa Engström

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Fisheries calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Takes note of the Annual Report of the Agency for 2015 and of the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Fisheries Control Agency (the ‘Agency’) for the financial year 2015;

2.  Points out that the Court of Auditors’ responsibility regarding the Agency is to provide Parliament and the Council with a statement of assurance as to the reliability of its annual accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions;

3.  Expresses its satisfaction with the Court of Auditors’ declaration that the Agency’s annual accounts present fairly, in all material respects, its financial position as at 31 December 2015 and the results of its operations and cash flows for 2015, and that the transactions underlying the annual accounts for the financial year 2015 are legal and regular;

4.  Considers that the Agency represents extremely good value for money, although it is necessary to increase its human and financial resources in the coming years;

5.  Acknowledges that the Agency implemented its new tasks to comply with the new Common Fisheries Policy with a budget frozen at EUR 9,2 million, at the 2013 level;

6.  Deplores the fact that no attention is being devoted to the working conditions of the Agency’s staff, although they play a critical role in performing additional tasks without any increase in their number;

7.  Notes that the effective budget cuts imposed on the Agency impaired its ability to fulfil its objective of organising operational coordination of control and inspection activities of the Member States in order to ensure the effective and uniform application of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy;

8.  Draws attention to the importance of the Agency’s role in implementing the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and in achieving the objectives thereof, particularly in the light of the landing obligation and demands in terms of the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activities; stresses that it is therefore desirable to evaluate the possibility of increasing appropriations for the Agency’s operations in future years;

9.  Regrets that the reduction of the Agency’s resources and capacity may have as a consequence the weakening of fisheries controls and a concomitant increase in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to the detriment of the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the sector;

10.  Points out the excellent implementation rate of commitment appropriations (100 %) and payment appropriations (92,2 %) for the financial year 2015;

11.  Welcomes the Agency’s declaration that there were no late payments in 2015 and that the average delay for payments was of 20 days, which is excellent;

12.  Points out that the new migration policy of the Union and, in particular, the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard, as part of an overall improvement in coast guard functions, imply new tasks of inspection and better cooperation for the Agency, which will require increased funding and technical and human resources;

13.  Recalls the importance of strengthening the Agency’s mandate so as to put in place joint operational activities with other Union agencies in the maritime sector in order to prevent disasters at sea and to coordinate the functions of European coastguards;

14.  Points out that 2016 was a key year for the implementation of the new Common Fisheries Policy concerning the landing obligation rules, and that the operational coordination of the activities of fisheries control inspections with the Member States implies appropriate human and financial resources; expresses its concern about the practical difficulties involved in implementation of the landing obligation for demersal fisheries, and considers that monitoring should take those difficulties into account;

15.  Notes that, for the Agency to comply with its mandate and new policy objectives, as part of an overall improvement in coast guard functions, its financial and human resources have been increased from 2017 onwards, so that the Agency can meet its future needs and its new ambitions, and stresses the need to evaluate the possibility of increasing the budgetary appropriations for the Agency’s operations relating to fisheries surveillance in the coming years;

16.  Proposes to grant the Executive Director of the Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Agency’s budget for the financial year 2015.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

28.2.2017

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

19

3

3

Members present for the final vote

Marco Affronte, Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Renata Briano, Alain Cadec, Richard Corbett, Linnéa Engström, João Ferreira, Mike Hookem, Carlos Iturgaiz, António Marinho e Pinto, Gabriel Mato, Norica Nicolai, Liadh Ní Riada, Ulrike Rodust, Remo Sernagiotto, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Ruža Tomašić, Peter van Dalen, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes present for the final vote

Ole Christensen, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Francisco José Millán Mon

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Rosa D’Amato, Jens Nilsson, Bronis Ropė, Sven Schulze

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

22.3.2017

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

5

0

Members present for the final vote

Inés Ayala Sender, Dennis de Jong, Tamás Deutsch, Martina Dlabajová, Luke Ming Flanagan, Ingeborg Gräßle, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Jean-François Jalkh, Bogusław Liberadzki, Monica Macovei, Notis Marias, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Bart Staes, Hannu Takkula, Derek Vaughan, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

Richard Ashworth, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Benedek Jávor, Karin Kadenbach, Julia Pitera, Patricija Šulin

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Raymond Finch, Piernicola Pedicini, Janusz Zemke

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

22

+

ALDE

ECR

GUE/NGL

PPE

S&D

VERTS/ALE

Martina Dlabajová, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Hannu Takkula

Monica Macovei

Luke Ming Flanagan, Dennis de Jong

Tamás Deutsch, Ingeborg Gräßle, Julia Pitera, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Joachim Zeller, Patricija Šulin

Inés Ayala Sender, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Karin Kadenbach, Bogusław Liberadzki, Derek Vaughan, Janusz Zemke

Benedek Jávor, Bart Staes

5

ECR

EFDD

ENF

Richard Ashworth, Notis Marias

Raymond Finch, Piernicola Pedicini

Jean-François Jalkh

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

–  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 93.

(2)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 93.

(3)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(4)

OJ L 128, 21.5.2005, p. 1.

(5)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(6)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 93.

(7)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 93.

(8)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 128, 21.5.2005, p. 1.

(10)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(11)

Texts adopted, P[8_TA(-PROV)(2017)0000].

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