After voting with 6 votes in favour, 23 against and 1 abstention in the context of the budget execution procedure, the MEPs of the Committee on Budgetary Control deferred the decision on the Frontex accounts for 2020 to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The decision, they said, follows not only the agency’s failure to comply with the conditions set out in a previous parliamentary discharge report, but also findings by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) regarding acts of harassment, misconduct and repulsion of migrants involving Frontex. . These comments were presented to the committee by the Director General of OLAF and, given their seriousness, the MEPs decided to suspend the dismissal of the Agency. They believe that nothing has been done about reports of violations of fundamental rights in Greece and that migrant return operations by Hungary have continued in 2020, despite an EU Court of Justice decision that has been found to be inconsistent with European law.
EU budget 2020: first year of COVID-19
With 18 votes in favour, 12 against and 0 abstentions, MEPs dismissed the European Commission (i.e. approved its spending), which manages most of the EU’s total spending, to 173.3 billion euros in 2020.
MEPs stressed that €12.9 billion of directly and indirectly administered liabilities and €34.2 billion of jointly managed liabilities have been allocated to meet the COVID-19 targets in 2020. Due to exceptional and urgent circumstances, the rules regarding the disbursement of EU funds to Member States have been relaxed to ensure both liquidity support and flexibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, the Union has witnessed an increased risk of non-transparent procedures, abuse and fraud, as evidenced by the already reported criminal activity in relation to the supply of health and safety equipment, as well as the supply of fraudulent vaccines.
MEPs have called for the introduction of a risk audit and a performance evaluation board for the Recovery and Resilience Fund to ensure that funds are not misused in this way.
Fix system issues
MEPs have called for an end to the “serious violations of the law currently being committed” that are hurting the EU budget, in particular by using the conditionality clause associated with the rule of law.
Finally, they once again called for the introduction of a single functional mandatory reporting and monitoring system for the beneficiaries of the funds of all EU programs in order to avoid abuse, fraud, conflict of interest, dual funding and any other systemic problems.
The Budget Control Committee has made positive recommendations to 33 EU bodies and agencies. You can see the voting results here.
Speaker Olivier Chastel (Renew Europe, Belgium) said: “We wanted to highlight the political priorities of Parliament: digitizing audit systems, creating a database for the beneficiaries of funds from all EU programs, mandatory use of data mining programs, respect for the rule of law, assessing the impact of our policies and our budgetary support, as well as reducing current liabilities and increasing the ability of Member States to absorb.
As we see in the crises we are experiencing, European budget management must be efficient and sustainable in order to meet the expectations of Member States and citizens, combat the risks of fraud and corruption, in order to be able to respond to emergencies and contribute to long-term European growth.”
All dismissal decisions must be approved by the entire parliament, and a vote is expected at the May 2-5 session.
Earlier this year, the Committee on Budgetary Control recommended that the closing of the 2020 accounts of the European Court of Auditors, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee be postponed. However, she advocated for the 2020 billing of 15 other EU bodies.