Report – 2015 discharge: European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) – A8-0106/2017 – Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015

(2016/2185(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015, together with the Institute’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 Institute in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8-0071/2017),

–  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 Regulation (EC) No 1922/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a European Institute for Gender Equality(4), and in particular Article 15 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 Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0106/2017),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality discharge in respect of the implementation of the Institute’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 Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality, 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 Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015

(2016/2185(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015, together with the Institute’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 Institute in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2015 (05873/2017 – C8-0071/2017),

–  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 Regulation (EC) No 1922/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a European Institute for Gender Equality(9), and in particular Article 15 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 Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0106/2017),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality, 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 Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015

(2016/2185(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality 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 Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0106/2017),

A.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the final budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality (“the Institute“) for the financial year 2015 was EUR 7 658 166, representing a decrease of 4,33 % compared to 2014; whereas 97,5 % of the budget of the Institute derives from the Union budget,

B.  whereas the Court of Auditors (“the Court“), in its report on the annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the financial year 2015 (“the Court’s report“), has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Institute’s annual accounts for the financial year 2015 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 the budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2015 resulted in a high budget implementation rate of 98,55 %, indicating that commitments were made in a timely manner, representing a slight decrease of 0,5 % compared to 2014; notes moreover that the payment appropriations execution rate was 67,64 %, representing a decrease of 4,35 % compared to the previous year;

2.  Acknowledges that the Institute’s low rate of implementation of payments under Title III (operational expenditure) resulted from the fact that four of its projects experienced significant challenges, which caused them to be carried over to 2016; notes that the reasons for project delays included a delayed decision by the Presidency of the Council regarding the subject of a study, as well as delays in procurement procedures outside of the Institute’s control;

3.  Notes with satisfaction that the budget outturn rate was at 2,2 % in 2015, significantly below the Commission’s penalty limit of 5 %, indicating a satisfactory performance of budget implementation; acknowledges the positive trend in reducing the budget outturn rate, which was at 7,3 % in 2012;

4.  Notes that in 2015 the Institute signed a contract with an external consultant to advise on how it could move towards project-based organisation and activity-based budgeting/costing; observes that the services included a range of reforms to maximise workflows, assure quality and improve monitoring and management tools; notes with satisfaction that after the successful first year of the project, the Institute continued to fully implement the approach from 2016;

Commitment and carry-overs

5.  Observes that, according to the Court’s report, the level of committed appropriations carried over under Title III (operational expenditure) was at 61 %, compared to 54 % in 2014; acknowledges that these carry-overs are mainly related to the nature of the Institute’s activities, which involve procuring studies that span many months, often beyond year-end; notes that the carry-overs may often be partly or fully justified by the multiannual nature of the Institute’s operational programmes or delayed decisions by the Presidency of the Council regarding the subject of studies and do not necessarily indicate weaknesses in budget planning and implementation nor are they always at odds with the budgetary principle of annularity, in particular if they are planned in advance by the Institute and communicated to the Court;

6.  Welcomes the fact that the overall cancellation rate of the appropriations carried over from 2014 is at 2,2 %, below the ceiling of 5 % set by the Commission, showing a good consumption through payments of the appropriations carried over from the previous year;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

7.  Notes that the Institute’s public procurement contracts were tendered on the broadest possible basis, while for negotiated procedures on low-value contracts, the number of invited candidates was set to ensure a balance between publicity and proportionality; notes furthermore that 41 operational procurement procedures were completed for the amount of EUR 3 086 063, while the remainder of the 2015 operations budget was spent on translations, daily subsistence allowances paid to experts, staff missions and occasional purchases against invoices;

8.  Highlights the reported high workload of the staff of the Institute and repeats its calls for more staff to be allocated to the Institute to work on priority areas, including violence against women, and to strengthen its capacity to assist the Commission by providing relevant data and technical assistance;

9.  Notes that the occupancy rate of the Institute’s establishment plan at the end of 2015 was at 100 % (28 temporary staff members, 11 contract staff members and 11 national experts on secondment); observes that recruitment during the year was particularly active with no less than 12 positions being launched as open procedures; notes that 19 nationalities were represented at the Institution; welcomes the fact that the Institute remains fully committed to ensuring that staff receive the necessary training in order to facilitate professional development; acknowledges that, as a result, 8 different training programmes registered 185 participants in 2015;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interest and transparency

10.  Points out that the Institute’s internal control system is based on segregation of duties, risk management and control strategy, avoidance of conflicts of interest, adequate audit trails and data integrity in data systems, as well as on established procedures for monitoring performance and for follow-up of identified internal control weaknesses;

11.  Notes with concern that some of the curricula vitae and declarations of interest of the Institute’s management board members and staff members are not published on its website; calls on the Institute to publish those curricula vitae in order to enable the public to perform the necessary overview of its senior management;

12.  Acknowledges that in 2015, the Institute registered three exceptions with financial and procedural deviation, compared to six in the previous year; notes with satisfaction that in 2015 no fraud cases were detected nor were there any lost assets;

13.  Notes with satisfaction that following the adoption of its anti-fraud strategy in November 2014, a series of training activities was organised for the Institute’s staff throughout 2015 and 2016;

14.  Notes that in 2015 the Institute remodelled its website in order to make the information more attractive and also redefined its communication strategy, which sets out the overall objectives for communications, stakeholder engagement and knowledge management activities; notes that in 2016 the Institute introduced a new monitoring mechanism for all of its communication tools; asks the Institute to inform the discharge authority of the results of this new mechanism;

Internal audit

15.  Notes that the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) carried out an audit on procurement supporting operational processes in the Institute; notes that its final report was forwarded to the Institute in mid-October 2015; acknowledges that in 2015 90 % of the IAS’ recommendations (46 out of 51) had already been implemented by the end of 2015, including recommendations of the 2015 IAS audit on ‘Procurement supporting operational processes in EIGE’ and stemming from the IAS Strategic Internal Audit Plan 2015-2017;

16.  Points out that according to the results of the audit carried out by the IAS, one recommendation was marked ‘very important’ and reclassified as ‘important’ in January 2016 and five were marked ‘important’ – four under the 2015 audit and one under the 2013 audit that was implemented in 2016; notes that an action plan was agreed with all recommendations to be implemented during the first half of 2016; calls on the Institute to continue to report to the discharge authority on the implementation of the action plan;

Internal Controls

17.  Notes that in order to implement the Internal Control Standards, the Institute completed its quality assurance policy and developed and adopted a whistleblowing policy and business continuity plan; acknowledges that it also carried out ex post control, strengthened its anti-fraud measures and implemented numerous measures to create a harassment-intolerant environment; observes that some of the measures were effectively implemented by the end of 2015 while other measures were to be implemented during 2016; calls on the Institute to inform the discharge authority of the successful implementation of these measures;

Other comments

18.  Acknowledges that the Institute established a new process to regularly monitor the Union’s policy measures on gender equality, allowing the Institute to provide timely and relevant input based on its work; notes the efficient synergy with the Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM Committee) on defined topics, through direct contacts with its members; notes that the Institute contributed to the work programme planning of several agencies;

19.  Notes that the Institute works closely with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound); observes that, in order to enhance cooperation with international organisations, the Institute held meetings with key partners such as UN Women and the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO); notes furthermore that it contributed to the UNESCO conference on gender and media and agreed to organise a workshop with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on gender statistics in 2016;

20.  Notes with satisfaction that the Institute is looking for synergies by pooling certain tasks and introducing shared services with other agencies; takes note of the agreement signed between the Institute and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), which was signed in order to exchange services on the exchange of experts between the parties in the area of ex post controls;

21.  Appreciates the contribution of the Institute to the ongoing work of the FEMM Committee; calls for further interaction between the legislative and non-legislative priorities of the FEMM Committee and the Institute’s research, also taking into account the Gender Equality Index developed by the Institute; notes that the outcome of the external evaluation of the Institute was positive overall;

22.  Welcomes the key achievements of the Institute in 2015, in particular the second edition of the Gender Equality Index, the finalisation of the Gender Statistics Database and the implementation of the online gender mainstreaming platform;

23.  Notes the Institute’s efforts to reorganise its structure to put a focus on communication and stakeholder engagement activities and calls for further coordination with the Commission in order to ensure that the Institute’s technical assistance supports the tasks linked to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Union policies and that gender mainstreaming is effectively implemented in all phases of the policy cycle;

24.  Welcomes the prioritising of the work on several areas with outputs of high quality and high visibility, without losing focus on gender mainstreaming; in the event of a review of Regulation (EC) No 1922/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council(11), calls for the incorporation of the fight against violence against women, female genital mutilation and migrant women into the tasks of the Institute;

25.  Recalls that the Institute was established in order to contribute to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality including, first and foremost, gender mainstreaming in all Union policies and the resulting national policies, and the fight against discrimination based on sex, and to raise Union citizens’ awareness of gender equality;

°

°  °

26.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of [xx xxxx 2017](12) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

27.1.2017

OPINION of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

for the Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) for the financial year 2015

(2016/2185(DEC))

Rapporteur: Viorica Dăncilă

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Budgetary Control, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes the Court of Auditors’ opinion that the annual accounts of the European Institute for Gender Equality (‘EIGE’) present fairly, in all material respects, its financial position as at 31 December 2015 and that the transactions underlying EIGE’s annual accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015 are legal and regular in all material respects;

2.  Welcomes the fact that 100 % of the Staff Establishment Plan posts were filled by the end of 2015; points out that, despite a reduction in the establishment plan compared to the previous year, the personnel costs increased due to an increased employee turnover rate (28 %); highlights the reported high workload of the staff of EIGE and repeats its calls for more staff to be allocated to EIGE to work on priority areas, including violence against women, and to strengthen its capacity to assist the Commission by providing relevant data and technical assistance;

3.  Highlights that in 2015 EIGE achieved the great majority of its planned output indicators; the overall level of committed appropriations was 98,55 %, the overall available budget implementation rate for 2015 was 73,86% (compared to 77,97 % in 2014);

4.  Is concerned that in 2015 the level of carry-overs of payments for Title III (operational expenditure) increased to 61 %, compared to 54 % in 2014; notes that, according to the Court of Auditors, this mainly results from the nature of activities of EIGE which span over many months, often beyond year-end; repeats its previous calls on EIGE to step up efforts to reduce the level of carry-over of such payments;

5.  Appreciates the contribution of EIGE to the ongoing work of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality; calls for further interaction between legislative and non-legislative priorities of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Institute’s research, taking also into account the Gender Equality Index developed by the Institute; notes that the outcome of the external evaluation of EIGE was positive overall;

6.  Welcomes EIGE’s key achievements of 2015, in particular the second edition of the Gender Equality Index, the finalisation of the Gender Statistics Database and the implementation of the on-line gender mainstreaming platform;

7.  Notes EIGE’s efforts to reorganise its structure to put a focus on communication and stakeholder engagement activities and calls for further coordination with the Commission in order to ensure that EIGE’s technical assistance supports the tasks linked to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Union policies and that gender mainstreaming is effectively implemented in all the phases of the policy cycle;

8.  Welcomes the prioritising of the work on several areas with outputs of high quality and high visibility, without losing focus on gender mainstreaming; in the event that Regulation No 1922/2006 is reviewed, calls for the incorporation of the fight against violence against women, female genital mutilation and migrant women into the tasks of EIGE;

9.  Recalls that the Institute was established in order to contribute to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality including, first and foremost, gender mainstreaming in all Union policies and the resulting national policies, and the fight against discrimination based on sex, and to raise Union citizens’ awareness of gender equality;

10.  Is of the opinion, on the basis of the data now available, that discharge can be granted to the Director of EIGE in respect of the implementation of the EIGE’s budget for the financial year 2015.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

25.1.2017

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

4

2

Members present for the final vote

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Viorica Dăncilă, Iratxe García Pérez, Arne Gericke, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Florent Marcellesi, Angelika Mlinar, Maria Noichl, Marijana Petir, Pina Picierno, João Pimenta Lopes, Terry Reintke, Liliana Rodrigues, Michaela Šojdrová, Ernest Urtasun, Ángela Vallina, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Catherine Bearder, Biljana Borzan, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Eleonora Forenza, Mylène Troszczynski, Julie Ward

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

Sorin Moisă

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

22.3.2017

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

23

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, Jens Geier, Piernicola Pedicini, Janusz Zemke

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

23

+

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, Jens Geier, 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. 102.

(2)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 102.

(3)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(4)

OJ L 403, 30.12.2006, p. 9.

(5)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(6)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 102.

(7)

OJ C 449, 1.12.2016, p. 102.

(8)

OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.

(9)

OJ L 403, 30.12.2006, p. 9.

(10)

OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

(11)

Regulation (EC) No 1922/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a European Institute for Gender Equality (OJ L 403, 30.12.2006, p. 9).

(12)

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

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