Text adopted – Discharge 2014 : Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) – P8_TA-PROV(2016)0161 – Thursday, 28 April 2016 – Brussels – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0093/2016),

A.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the final budget of the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (“the Office”) for the financial year 2014 was EUR 4 162 874, representing an increase of 17 % compared to 2013; whereas that increase resulted mainly from the inclusion of the internal assigned revenue from previous years;

B.  whereas, according to its financial statements, the overall contribution of the Union to the budget of the Office for 2014 amounted to EUR 3 617 948, representing an increase of 1,74 % compared to 2013;

C.  whereas the Court of Auditors (the “Court”), in its report on the Office’s annual accounts for the financial year 2014 (the “Court’s report”), stated that it had obtained reasonable assurances that the Office’s annual accounts were reliable and that the underlying transactions were legal and regular;

Follow-up of 2013 discharge

1.  Acknowledges the fact that the Office:

   introduced a detailed monthly monitoring procedure which resulted in improved budgetary implementation rates in order to ensure proper implementation of its budget as well as of its annual work programme;
   amended its Information Security Policy in order to address the identified shortcomings further to the follow-up audit of the implementation of the Internal Control Standards (“ICS”) made by the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (“IAS”); notes with satisfaction the preparation of a Service Level Agreement (“SLA”) between the Office and the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (“ENISA”), which should mitigate the risks related to the Office’s information security;
   has taken multiple actions in order to improve the process of reimbursing the experts and mitigate the identified shortcomings related to late payments; welcomes the introduction of Key Performance Indicators in all steps of the process and the additional training of the actors in the financial circuit and in particular; notes with satisfaction the outsourcing of a part of the process to the Commission’s Office for the Administration and Payment of Individual Entitlements (“PMO”), which accelerated the overall reimbursement procedure;

Budget and financial management

2.  Notes with satisfaction that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2014 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 97,91 %, representing an increase of 8,36 % compared to the year 2012; notes furthermore that the payment appropriations execution rate was 75,66 %, representing a decrease of 0,92 % compared to 2013;

Commitments and carryovers

3.  Notes with satisfaction that, according to the Court’s report, the overall level of committed appropriations improved from 87 % in the year 2013 to 98 % in 2014; notes, however, that the level of committed appropriations carried over increased to EUR 900 000 (23 %), compared to EUR 500 000 (13 %) in 2013, mainly due to operational activities of the Office, such as ongoing studies on electronic communications;

Transfers

4.  Ascertains from the Office that it made a number of budget transfers during the year 2014, changing the structure of the initial budget considerably, in order to finance the additional needs for operational expenditure; notes in particular that those transfers were mainly related to the “Net Neutrality Study” as well as “BEREC net” projects; notes that the finalisation of those projects during the year 2014 was uncertain at the time of the preparation of the budget;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

5.  Welcomes the fact that in 2014, for the first time since its establishment, the Office organised a public procurement procedure for the “Net Neutrality Study” on the value of network neutrality to consumers in the Union; notes that the final deliverables of that study are to be used as input to the Office’s work programme;

6.  Notes with satisfaction that the situation of full staffing was achieved at the end of 2014; notes furthermore that in 2014 the Office organised 11 recruitment procedures and finalised two recruitment procedures launched in the previous year; acknowledges the fact that the secondment opportunities, which had been difficult to fill, were fully covered by the end of 2014;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

7.  Notes that the Office has been tasked with managing all the documents created in the course of BEREC activities together with maintaining the public register of documents, due to BEREC’s lack of legal personality; notes furthermore that in order to ensure better transparency, the Office established a sub-section in the public register dedicated to its policy on conflicts of interests;

8.  Calls on those Union institutions and agencies which have introduced codes of conduct, including Parliament, to step up their implementation measures, such as checks of declarations of financial interests;

9.  States that the annual reports of the Office could play an important role in compliance regarding transparency, accountability and integrity; calls on the Office to include a standard chapter on those components in its annual report;

10.  Notes the creation of a collaboration tool which serves as an internal platform for exchanging and sharing information, best practices and expertise, in order to manage the work of the preparatory bodies more efficiently;

11.  Notes with satisfaction that the Office is dedicated to improving its website and making it more user-friendly; notes, moreover, that, according to its Communication Plan, the Office established an official account on Twitter and a YouTube Channel;

Internal controls

12.  Acknowledges the fact that all relevant ICSs have been adopted by its Management Committee; notes, however, that the implementation of the ICS is still not completed; calls on the Office to report to the discharge authority on the progress made in that regard;

13.  Notes that the Office developed a detailed guide on risk management in order to establish and implement a systematic risk management process; welcomes the fact that that guide was developed with the support of ENISA;

14.  Notes with satisfaction that the Office carried out its first risk self-assessment exercise within the framework of the SLA between the Office and ENISA for sharing the Internal Control Coordinator Assistant function; notes that the management of the Office examined the outcome of the exercise and identified the risks to be included in the risk register;

Internal audit

15.  Notes that in 2014 the audit of the IAS focused on the follow-up of the 2013 limited review with the aim of assessing the state of compliance with the ICSs; notes that the IAS closed two of the 18 recommendations based on desk research; notes, moreover, that the IAS examined the remaining 16 open recommendations during the follow-up and concluded that 14 recommendations were fully implemented;

Other comments

16.  Takes note of the fact that the 2014 budget provisions for contributions from the national regulatory authorities of the European Free Trade Association (“EFTA”) having observer status at BEREC did not materialise in the absence of agreements with the EFTA countries; acknowledges the fact that the 2015 budget of the Office was corrected accordingly; invites the Office to remain prudent when forecasting the related contributions from the national regulatory authorities of the EFTA countries;

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17.  Refers, for other observations of a cross-cutting nature accompanying its decision on discharge, to its resolution of 28 April 2016(1) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

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