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Doc. 8098

29 April 1998

Budgets of the Council of Europe for the financial years 1998 and 1999

Report

Committee on the Budget and the Intergovernmental Work Programme

Rapporteur: Mr Miguel Angel Martínez, Spain, Socialist Group

Summary

Each year, the Parliamentary Assembly transmits to the Committee of Ministers its opinion on the Council of Europe’s budget for the current year (1998) and on that for the following year (1999).

As regards the 1998 budget, the Assembly notes that after the substantial budget increase approved for the 1997 financial year, the 1998 budget is characterised by relative stand-still. It also regrets that the Committee of Ministers was not able to finance a greater part of the Assembly’s requests for its own budget (vote III).

With respect to the 1999 budget, the Assembly welcomes the fact that for the first time, it has been able to formulate its Opinion after having received the Secretary General’s initial proposals for the budget of the coming year. It looks forward to further collaboration with the Committee of Ministers in the future on budgetary matters.

In general, the Assembly questions whether the level of the budget proposed by the Secretary General can provide adequately for the implementation of the decisions and proposals resulting from the 2nd Summit and whether it is consistent with the pan-European vocation of the Organisation. In particular, it calls upon the Committee of Ministers to make an exceptional provision for the Organisation’s 50th Anniversary, to review financing arrangements for the Council’s pension scheme, to consider translation arrangements with regard to working languages and to continue review of personal policy.

      Finally, the Assembly calls upon the Committee of Ministers to continue its work towards structural reform, notably in the light of advice from the Committee of Wise Persons.

1. Draft opinion

1.       The Assembly welcomes the fact that, in accordance with the Committee of Ministers’ reply, adopted on 16 April 1998, to Recommendation 1344 (1997) on enlargement of the Council of Europe: the budgetary and administrative powers of the Assembly, for the first time, the formal document by the Secretary General on budgetary prospects and the proposal for the ceiling has been transmitted for information to the Assembly’s Committee on the Budget and the Intergovernmental Work Programme.

2. The Assembly also notes with satisfaction the intention of the Committee of Ministers to hold an exchange of views with the Assembly before taking the final decision on the budgetary ceiling, and that it envisages regular consultation with the Assembly on all issues of common interest in the budgetary and administrative fields.

3. However, the Assembly believes that these welcome initiatives could still further be improved upon were the mechanisms for consultation to be more clearly defined. The Assembly also considers that in so replying to Recommendation 1344 (1997), the Committee of Ministers has only partially satisfied the Assembly’s request for control over its own budget. It therefore takes this opportunity to reiterate this request.

4.       With regard to the 1998 budget,

the Assembly

i.       notes that after the substantial budget increase and additional posts approved for the 1997 financial year, the 1998 budget is characterised by relative standstill, with the Ordinary Budget increasing by just over 15 MF (1.51%) compared with the 1997 consolidated budget (ordinary budget plus the extraordinary supplement to the 1997 budget).

ii. welcomes the clarity and transparency brought about incorporating the unspent appropriations of the 1996 financial year in the budget of receipts.

iii. regrets that the Committee of Ministers was not able to finance a greater part of the Assembly’s requests for its own budget (Vote III), where an increase of 1 MF was granted in comparison with a request of just over 6 MF.

5.       With regard to the budget prospects for 1999,

the Assembly

i.       notes that the Secretary General’s current proposals for the 1999 budget, would increase the Ordinary Budget by some 50.6 MF to a total of 1 061.8 MF, ie by precisely 5%,

ii. notes also that this increase would be used to finance

-       inflation and statutory adjustments (15.9MF)

-       new needs of the Single Court (9.7 MF)

-       follow-up to the 2nd Summit (25 MF)

and that for other new needs the Secretary General proposes to adhere to the principle that such expenditure be financed within the total of the previous year’s budget,

iii. notes that in his document ‘Preliminary estimate for 1999 of additional costs arising from implementing decisions of the Summit’, the Secretary General advanced an estimate of between 32.1 MF and 48.9 MF for the Ordinary Budget, but proposes budgetary resources of only 25 MF for this purpose,

iv. notes that these estimates include no financial provision for activities to be carried out by the Assembly, and indeed contain only one proposal for such an activity – the conference on terrorism (Summer 1998),

v. notes that with the sole exception of reference to activities coming naturally to term within the framework of the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, the Secretary General’s proposals for re-deployment of existing resources are limited to the savings that could be made if the health insurance of staff were to be provided by a private insurer, and not the French national scheme,

vi. notes that at this stage, little detailed information is available as to the proposed apportionment of the budget between the various sectors – Assembly, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, etc., and neither is there mention of staffing policy,

vii. notes that no follow-up is proposed to the recommendation of the Assembly, contained in its Opinion No. 203 (1997), that the Committee of Ministers set up a guarantee fund to guarantee payment of pensions.

6.       In the light of the foregoing, and of its recommendations in previous years, the Assembly calls upon the Committee of Ministers

i. to examine whether the level of the budget proposed by the Secretary General can adequately provide for the full implementation of the decisions and proposals resulting from the Second Summit and is consistent with the truly pan-European vocation of the Organisation,

ii. to pay close heed to the legitimate concerns and wishes of the staff when examining any proposal for alteration of their health insurance system,

iii. to consider alternative financing arrangements for the Council’s pension scheme, so as to alleviate the increasing budgetary impact of the states’ share of the cost of the scheme and to provide the staff with the guaranteed rights earned by their contributions to the scheme,

iv. to make adequate financial provision for events and activities to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation, whilst at the same time taking care that this exceptional item of expenditure should not be to the detriment of recurrent activities and other priorities,

v. to consider, in the light of increasing use of working languages, providing the Organisation with an in situ translation capacity between those languages and the Organisation’s official languages,

vi. to continue to re-assess all of the organisation's activities so they constitute as concrete a response as possible to member states' most pressing needs,

vii. to continue its review of personnel policy (flexible job management, leaving allowances, early retirement, creation of temporary posts or short-term established posts),

viii. to continue to work towards structural reform, particularly in the light of the recommendations of the Committee of Wise Persons, so as to maximise efficiency and optimise use of resources.

II.        Explanatory report by the rapporteur

A.       Introduction

1.       Each year, the Assembly is required to submit an opinion to the Committee of Ministers on the political implications of the Council of Europe budget as a whole. The Assembly's opinion makes general recommendations on the Council's operation, which are based on:

i.       the budget for the current year (1998)

ii. budget forecasts for the following year (1999).

2. This year I particularly welcome the fact that, in accordance with the Committee of Ministers’ reply, adopted on 16 April 1998, to Recommendation No. 1344 (1997) on Enlargement of the Council of Europe: the budgetary and administrative powers of the Assembly, for the first time, the formal document by the Secretary General on budgetary prospects and the proposal for the ceiling (CM (98) 51) has been transmitted for information to the Assembly’s Committee on the budget and the intergovernmental work programme.

3.       I also note with satisfaction, the intention of the Committee of Ministers to hold an exchange of views with the Assembly before taking the final decision on the budgetary ceiling, and that it envisages regular consultation with the Assembly on all issues of common interest in the budgetary and administrative fields.

4. However, I believe that these welcome initiatives could still further be improved upon were the mechanisms for consultation to be more clearly defined. I also consider that in so replying to Recommendation No. 1344 (1997), the Committee of Ministers has only partially satisfied the Assembly’s request for control over its own budget. I therefore take this opportunity to reiterate this request.

B.       1998 budget

i.       General remarks

5. I first note that after the substantial budget increase and additional posts approved for the 1997 financial year, the 1998 is characterised by relative standstill, with the Ordinary Budget increasing by just over 15 MF (1.51%) compared with the 1997 consolidated budget (ordinary budget plus the extraordinary supplement to the 1997 budget).

6. I welcome the clarity and transparency brought about incorporating the unspent appropriations of the 1996 financial year in the budget of receipts, but am bound to observe, with regret, that the Committee of Ministers was not able to finance a greater part of the Assembly’s requests for its own budget (Vote III), where an increase of 1 MF was granted in comparison with the Assembly’s request of just over 6 MF.

ii. Breakdown by votes

7. The breakdown of the 1998 ordinary budget by votes is given in Appendix I.

8.       With regard to the Assembly’s own appropriations, Vote III, I regret that the Committee of Ministers was not able to finance a greater part of the Assembly’s requests and granted an increase of only 1 MF, in comparison with a request of just over 6 MF.

9.       It should be noted that appropriations under Vote IV (operational expenditure of the European Court and Commission of Human Rights), provision has been made for first months of the coming into service of the Single Court.

10.       1 also note with satisfaction that the Committee of Ministers has granted a very significant increase, some 1.25 MF, and has up-graded a vacant A2/A3 post to A4 in respect of the European Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In this connection, I recall that in Recommendation No. 1323 (1997) on the strengthening of this Committee’s machinery, the Assembly called for increase of the human and budgetary resources of this Committee.

11.       For 1998, programmes under Vote II amount to 88 189 000 F, a marginal increase of about 0.39% over the 1997 figure. Appropriations for permanent and temporary staff, the cost of premises, production of documents and administrative expenses are made under Vote I (common expenditure). Appendix II shows the programme's budget for the financial years 1997 and 1998.

12.       Appendix III shows the Partial Agreement budgets granted for 1998, as compared with the 1997 appropriations.

C.       1998 budget

13.       The draft budget for 1999, as proposed by the Secretary General, would increase the Ordinary Budget by some 50.6 MF to a total of 1 061.8 MF, ie by precisely 5%, with this increase being used to finance

- inflation and statutory adjustments (15.9MF)

- new needs of the Single Court (9.7 MF)

- follow-up to the 2nd Summit (25 MF)

For other new needs the Secretary General proposes to adhere to the principle that such expenditure would be financed within the total of the previous year’s budget. I note however that in his document ‘Preliminary estimate for 1999 of additional costs arising from implementing decisions of the Summit’ (CM(98)26, appended to CM(98)51), the Secretary General advanced an estimate of between 32.1 MF and 48.9 MF for the Ordinary Budget, but proposes budgetary resources of only 25 MF for this purpose.

14. I also note that the proposals contained within document CM(98)26 include no financial provision for activities to be carried out by the Assembly, and indeed contain only one proposal for such an activity – the conference on terrorism (Summer 1998).

15. I feel bound to question whether the level of the budget proposed by the Secretary General can adequately provide for the full implementation of the decisions and proposals resulting from the 2nd Summit and is consistent with the truly pan-European vocation of the Organisation.

16.       I note as well that with the sole exception of reference to activities coming naturally to term within the framework of the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, the Secretary General’s proposals for re-deployment of existing resources are limited to the savings that could be made if the health insurance of staff were to be provided by a private insurer, and not the French national scheme.

In this latter connection, I consider it vital to pay close heed to the legitimate concerns and wishes of the staff when examining any proposal for alteration of their health insurance system.

17.       At this stage, little detailed information is available from the Secretary General as to the proposed apportionment of the budget between the various sectors – Assembly, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, etc., and neither is there mention of staffing policy. In these regards, I consider important that the organisation pursue its review of personnel policy (flexible job management, leaving allowances, early retirement, creation of temporary posts or short-term established posts, etc.), that it continue to re-assess the organisation's activities so they constitute as concrete a response as possible to member States' most pressing needs, and that work towards structural reform be continued, particularly in the light of the advice of the Committee of Wise Persons, so as to maximise efficiency and optimise use of resources.

18.       For the moment, the Secretary General signals no intent to follow-up the recommendation of the Assembly, contained in its Opinion No. 203 (1997), that the Committee of Ministers set up a guarantee fund to guarantee payment of pensions. I therefore recommend very strongly that consideration be given to alternative financing arrangements for the Council’s pension scheme, so as to alleviate the increasing budgetary impact of the States’ share of the cost of the scheme and to provide the staff with the guaranteed rights earned by their contributions to the scheme.

19.       I also consider it necessary, in the light of increasing use of working languages, to recommend that the Organisation be provided with an in situ translation capacity between those languages and the Organisations official languages.

20.       Lastly, I would urge that the Organisation’s budgetary authorities make adequate financial provision for events and activities to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation, whilst at the same time taking care that this exceptional item of expenditure should not be to the detriment of recurrent activities and other priorities.

Appendix I

ORDINARY BUDGET 1998

BREAKDOWN BY VOTE

(in thousands of French francs)

 
           
     

Variation

Variation

 
 

1998

1997(*)

in FRF

in %

 
           
           

VOTE I

534 613

524 738

9 875

+ 1,88%

 
           
           

VOTE II

88 189

87 850

339

+ 0,39%

 
           
           

VOTE III

83 330

80 922

2 408

+ 2,98%

 
           
           

VOTE IV

152 041

145 255

6 786

+ 4,67%

 
           
           

VOTE V

15 761

15 111

650

+ 4,30%

 
           
           

VOTE VI

16 799

14 217

2 582

+ 18,16%

 
           
           

VOTE VII

12 503

11 834

669

+ 5,65%

 
           
           

VOTE VIII

29 650

30 350

-700

-2,31%

 
           
           

VOTE IX

80 475

82 721

-2 246

-2,72%

 
           
       

not significant

 

VOTE X

-2 151

3 193

     
           
           

TOTAL BUDGET

1 011 210

996 191

15 019

+ 1,51%

 
           
           

(*) Consolidation of the ordinary budget and the extraordinary supplement to the ordinary budget

Appendix II

BUDGET OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PROGRAMME OF ACTIVITIES FOR 1997 AND 1998

Intergovernmental programme of activities

Vote II

      1997

      1998

General reserve

      25,000

      69,000

I. Democratic cohesion

- Democracy

- Human rights

- Rule of law

      23,916,000

      24,516,000

II. Social cohesion and quality of life

- Social policies

- Health

- Environment and rational

regional/spatial management

      13,498,000

      13,397,000

III. Cultural cohesion and cultural pluralism

- Education, higher education, culture and heritage

- Youth

      49,736,000

      50,207,000

TOTAL VOTE II

      87,175,000

      88,189,000

Appendix III

PARTIAL AGREEMENTS

1998

         

(In thousands of French francs)

           
     

Variation

Variation

 
 

1998

1997

in FRF

in %

 
           
           

Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field

         
 

10 654

9 611

1 043

+10,85%

 
           
           

European Pharmacopoeia *

60 599

54 268

6 331

+11,67%

 
           
           

Social Development Fund

9 396

9 359

37

+0,40%

 
           
           

Pompidou Group

9 946

8 793

1 153

+13,11%

 
           
           

Natural Disasters

10 752

10 659

93

+0,87%

 
           
           

Eurimages Fund:

         

- operational expenditure

11 640

10 261

1 379

+13,44%

 

- programme expenditure

116 460

115 646

814

+0,70%

 
           
           

European Commission for Democracy through Law

13 050

11 561

1 489

+12,88%

 
           
           
           

Partial Agreement on the Youth Card

675

632

43

+6,80%

 
           
           

Enlarged Partial Agreement Establishing the European Centre for Modern Languages

4 925

8 900

-3 975

-44,66%

 

(Graz)**

         
           
           
           

*Pharmacopoeia: including “development, research and multimedia” subsidiary budget (1998).

         

** "Graz" Partial Agreement: 1998, Austria, France and the Netherlands cease to make an additional contribution to the special programme account

         
           

Reporting committee: Committee on the Budget and the Intergovernmental Work Programme.

Budgets of the Council of Europe for the financial years 1998 and 1999.

Reference to committee: Standing mandate.

Draft opinion adopted by the committee on 21 April 1998.

Members of the committee: MM. Schreiner (Chairman), Theis, Goovaerts, Koulouris (Vice-Chairmen), Aleffi, Anusz, Atac, Begaj, Behrendt, Ms Bielikova, MM Bordas, Bulic, Ms Calner, MM Cangemi, Cherep, Fernandez Aguilar (Alternate : M. Martinez), Gill, Gregory, Jonsson, Kittis, Kriedner, Ms Luhtanen, MM. Luis, de Marco, Mautner Markhof, Muravschi, Ms Novakova, MM Oorzhak, Pantelejevs (Alternate : M. Lambergs), Plattner, Lord Ponsonby, MM Popovski, Rise, Rupar, Soendergaard, Stanoiu, Stoyanova, Szalay, Valk, Zhirinovsky.

NB The names of members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretary of the committee: T. Cartwright.