Parliament on Wednesday adopted a number of recommendations relating to the management by the Council of Ministers of its budget. Today's resolution is a follow-up to the EP's decision on 19 May to sign of the Council's budget of 2008. Among other things, MEPs repeat their demands for more information from the Council and welcome the promise from the Spanish presidency to review the 40 year old "gentlemen's agreement".
Since the Council has become more and more "operational" in its work, particularly in the fields of foreign affairs, security and defence policy, and justice and home affairs, its expenditure ought to be scrutinised in the same way as that of the other EU institutions, MEPs say.
To carry out this scrutiny, Parliament needs more information, in particular:
-accounts of the preceding financial year relating to the implementation of the budget,
-a financial statement of assets and liabilities,
-an annual activity report on their budget and financial management,
-an annual report of the internal auditor,
-an oral presentation to the Budgetary Control Committee.
In this connection, MEPs welcome the commitment by the Spanish presidency to clarify the discharge procedure so as to show full accountability of the Council’s administrative budget to Parliament, and also to ask subsequent presidencies to continue this work.
Review of "gentlemen's agreement"
After pressure from MEPs, the Council, represented by the Spanish Presidency, agreed to reassess the supposed "gentlemen’s agreement" between the two institutions, said to date back to 1970.
According to this agreement, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament promise not to amend each other's budget estimates. The Council's interpretation of this has traditionally been that MEPs should not scrutinise the implementation of the Council's budget. However, Parliament has considered the non-intervention-agreement to be valid, if at all, only for approving the budget and not for the controlling the spending afterwards.
MEPs also want the annual budget for the permanent President of the European Council to be separated from the Council's budget and presented as a new budget section as from 2012.
In April, MEPs decided to hold back their vote on the Council's budget discharge until this plenary, pending the outcome of a high level dialogue on the matter just launched by Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero.
Until last year, the only discharge-related meetings between the two institutions were informal ones between the committee chair, the rapporteur and Council representatives. Last year the Council agreed to meet Parliament representatives in September. This year, the meeting with the Council Secretariat, the Spanish presidency and EP representatives took place in March. In addition, the Spanish State Secretary Diego López Garrido took part in the discharge debate in Strasbourg in April.
The Council was the last EU institution to be granted discharge for the year 2008. The only remaining EU body to be checked in October is the European Police College.
Further information :