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					               EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
                        1999                                    2004

                               Committee on Budgetary Control




     18 December 2003




                 REPLIES TO QUESTIONNAIRE
                 on 2002 discharge: European Parliament


                 Committee on Budgetary Control


                 Rapporteur: Michiel van Hulten




     DV\517712EN.doc                                                   PE 338.137


EN                                                                                  EN
                             Replies to EP Questionnaire on discharge 2002


     Secretarial allowance

     1.    According to the Court of Auditors 2002 annual report, a total of around 175 000
           euro was paid as a secretarial allowance relating to the employment of various
           Members' assistants, although the supporting documents required by the relevant
           Bureau rules were either not submitted to Parliament's Administration, or did not
           provide sufficient evidence that the funds had been used in strict compliance with the
           rules. According to the Court, Parliament's Administration has since taken steps to
           correct the anomalies identified by the Court. Can the Secretary-General indicate 1)
           how big the Court's sample was (i.e. how many Members' secretarial allowances were
           examined by the Court) and 2) what steps Parliament's Administration has since
           taken to remedy the problems?

     1.1   The Court's sample consisted of the files of two Members. The documents initially
           provided by the Members indicated the overall amount to be paid instead of the detailed
           amount paid for each of the assistants or service providers concerned. This detail has
           since been provided and it confirms that payments made in 2002 are regular. One
           smaller issue is still pending : for one assistant it was not communicated in time that he
           became an auxiliary member of staff of the Parliament. Two-thirds of the undue amount
           has already been recovered and the assistant had been asked to reimburse the remainder
           (€2,516) before 31 August 2003. A reminder was sent on 17 November, so far without
           any result. The service of the Accounting Officer is examining the possibility of
           deducting this amount directly from his salary as an auxiliary staff member. If needed it
           will be recovered from the Member concerned in accordance with article 27 of the rules
           Governing the payment of expenses and allowances to Members

     1.2. After an in-depth inspection of the files of all the Members during 2002, Parliament's
          administration at the beginning of 2003 contacted those Members whose files did not
          comply fully with the Rules on the Secretarial Allowance. All necessary information
          has now been provided. This inspection was still taking place at the time of the audit by
          the Court of Auditors.

           In the light of experience the administration submitted in October 2003 proposals for a
           revision of the Rules on the Secretarial allowance which are currently under
           examination by the Quaestors and the Bureau.

     2.    Can the Secretary-General give an assurance that all of the funds disbursed under
           the secretarial allowance are currently being used in a bona fide manner to cover
           only the direct and indirect costs related to the employment of parliamentary
           assistants? If not, why not?

     The authorising officer by delegation and the Secretary-General can give all reasonable
     assurance that payments under the secretarial allowance are disbursed in conformity with
     article 14 (secretarial allowance) of the Rules governing the payment of expenses and
     allowances to Members and the required documentary proof. The documents submitted,
     mainly contracts between a member and an assistant or a service provider, and in exceptional
     cases invoices from a service provider, all relate directly or indirectly to the employment of

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parliamentary assistants.

3.    In 2002, how many Members paid their assistants on the basis of a direct employment
      contract? Of this group, how many Members paid their assistants through a paying
      agent? What amount was considered the maximum acceptable paying agent fee? How
      many Members paid their assistants through a service provider? In the case of
      payment through a service provider, was evidence required that the service provider
      was registered for tax purposes with the national authorities?

In 2002, 347 Members paid 1,104 assistants (December 2002 figure) on the basis of a direct
employment contract. Of these Members, 335 used the services of a paying agent. As the
services requested by a Member from his/her paying agent can differ, there is no amount
considered as the maximum acceptable paying agent fee. In practice it varies between 0 and
10 % of the total secretarial allowance.

487 Members (December 2002 figure) had a contract with one or more service providers. The
number of assistants is not known, because the service provider is not required to give
information about its staff. Each contract between a Member and a service provider includes
the obligation to comply with the applicable national legislation. No specific evidence of
having registered for tax purposes is required by the Rules governing the payment of expenses
and allowances to Members

4.    Paragraph 102 of the Staes report on the discharge for 2001 recommended that 'in
      order to ensure the greatest possible transparency, the Bureau should require
      Members who employ service providers to forward a copy of the invoices issued by the
      service providers/Members to the Administration'. What was the Bureau's response to
      this recommendation? Have Members been required to submit copies of contracts to
      the Administration? If not, why not?

There are two different ways of paying service providers : either the Member presents to the
administration a copy of his contract with a service provider, containing the obligatory
elements requested by art. 14 (paragraph 5) of the rules or, for limited purposes, the Member
presents an original invoice specifying the kinds of services concerned as requested by
Art. 14 (paragraph 7).

The proposed revision of article 14 (see answer to question 1) includes an obligation to
present invoices for all payments to service provider.

5.    Has the Parliament considered requiring service providers to provide an itemised
      statement of expenditure, for instance on an annual basis, providing proof of income
      tax paid and social security contribution payments made? What would be the
      additional cost to the European Parliament if it were to act as the sole paying agent
      for all parliamentary assistants?

These requirements are included in the proposed revision of article 14 currently under
examination by the Quaestors and the Bureau.

Parliament’s administration does not have the knowledge and expertise in the 15 (and soon
25) sets of national legal provisions under which assistants can be employed. It could act as
sole paying agent for all Members in two hypotheses:

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     •    if the category of contractual agents announced for the new Staff Regulations proves to be
          suitable for parliamentary assistants; this option would lead to an important restructuring
          of the services but probably not to a significant increase in the total number of staff
          concerned ;

     • if contracts continue to be handled under national law an important part of the workload
       will have to be outsourced by a public tendering procedure. The financial costs will
       depend on the scope of the services required and the interest of the market of managed
       services but, based on experience with “fiduciaires” for Parliament's local staff, they
       should not exceed €120 / Member / month (on the basis of 4 assistants/Member).

     6.     What impact will the accession of ten new Member States in 2004 have on the system
            of payment of the secretarial allowance?

     The accession of ten new Member States will call for an extraordinary effort from the service
     concerned to familiarize itself with the language and the legal position of the Members of the
     new Member States and to cope with the overall increase in the total number of Members
     (+162 from May till July coming down to 106 after the elections). The 2004 budget allows for
     some extra personnel for this purpose.

     In financial terms the total amount for secretarial allowances will increase in 2004 by an
     estimated amount of € 12.75 million.

     7.     The report on budgetary and financial management (Article 122 Financial
            Regulation) accompanying Parliament's accounts for 2002 mentions (page 31) under
            Article 391 (secretarial allowance) difficulties encountered in applying the relevant
            rules as regards the obligation to submit a contract and other supporting documents.

            Can the Secretary-General give more detail as to the types of difficulty experienced?

            Is it possible for payments to be made to service-providers without the submission of
            invoices?

            What progress has been made in reviewing (p. 32) the relevant rules?

     The in-depth inspection, completed by the Administration in 2002, revealed different types of
     difficulties Members had in bringing their files into line with the new rules which took effect
     on the 1 January 2001. All problems have been resolved in the meantime. These different
     types of difficulties were :

     •    Lack of clarity about the contractual relations, such as service provider contracts revealed
          to be paying agent contracts, which meant that the amount paid to the paying agent had to
          be split between each of the employed assistants; unclear description of the services to be
          provided ;
     •    missing documents, such as new contracts, for example when replacing an assistant,
          missing social security documents or application forms;
     •    essential elements missing, mostly in the contracts, such as the clause excluding the
          European Parliament as a contracting party, the precise salary of the assistant, signatures


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      of the parties, dates not corresponding between the different documents.

Invoices from service providers: see answer to question 4.

Revision of the relevant rules: see answers to questions 1, 4 and 5. On the basis of a proposal
by the Administration, the Quaestors adopted on 19 November 2003 guidelines concerning
the modification of article 14, which are currently being examined by the Bureau and have to
be followed by the corresponding amendments to articles 14 to 16 of the Rules governing the
payment of expenses and allowances to Members

8.      According to press reports, a group of Members arranged for payments from the
        secretarial allowance to a Luxembourg ASBL intended to provide assistance to
        Members.

        Has the Secretary-General investigated the claims made in those press reports of a
        substantial net balance remaining in the hands of the ASBL? Is the Secretary-
        General satisfied that the funds in question were used in accordance with the relevant
        rules?

Since 1 September 2001, Members are required to provide documentary proof of the contracts
relating to the employment of their parliamentary assistants. All 25 contracts concluded with
an ASBL under Luxembourg law have been rechecked and shown to comply with the Rules
governing the payment of expenses and allowances to Members. The Administration has no
auditing competencies over the execution of contracts between Members and a third party.

All 25 contracts ended on 31st October 2003.

9.      Article 14(9) of the Rules governing the payment of expenses and allowances to
        Members clearly states that the European Parliament is to draw up a list of the names
        of all assistants which is to be open to the public for inspection. A list of accredited
        Members' assistants has now been published on the EP's website and is accessible to
        the public. When will a list of all staff be made available?

On 19 November the Bureau decided that, upon request by a Member, his or her non-
accredited assistants may be added to the list. Other aspects remain under discussion in the
Bureau.

10.     Report 03/01 states that Financial Control carried out audits of the Members'
        secretarial allowance in November 2001 and March 2002 as well as monthly audits
        throughout 2002. Can the SG forward the results of these audits to COCOBU and/or
        highlight the principal findings?

The principal audit objective was to verify that payment of the allowance was being made in
accordance with Article 14 of the Rules governing the payment of expenses and allowances to
Members.

The audit of October and November 2001 was based on payments made to, and in respect of,
a random sample of 61 Members. The audit of March 2002 concerned an additional random
sample of 60 Members. In July 2002, a follow-up audit was performed on the action taken by
the services concerned in response to the reported findings of the two audits.

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     The findings were reported to the authorising officer in the form of written observations, on
     the following dates (document references in brackets): 30 November 2001 (Obs. 01/73); 24
     April 2002 (Obs. 02/35); 9 July 2002 (Obs. 02/35 - continued); 28 August 2002 (Obs. 02/68);
     30 October 2002 (Obs. 02/68 - continued). The principal findings were also reported to the
     President of the European Parliament on 23 January and 30 July 2002. Supplementary
     monthly checks were effected on new supporting documents furnished in support of claims
     for the allowance. These gave rise to written observations, as follows: 6 May 2002 (Obs.
     02/45); 14 August 2002 (Obs. 02/67); 9 December 2002 (Obs. 02/82).

     These reports contained details of named individuals and were thus issued under confidential
     cover.

     Most of the cases of non-compliance with the rules and/or insufficiency of supporting
     documents were resolved in the follow-up action undertaken by the authorising officer's
     services.

     The principal risk areas identified were as follows:

     •   The difficulty of distinguishing between service-provider and paying-agent contracts was
         not always evident, with the consequence that the requisite supporting documents might
         not be provided for control purposes.

     •   The use of a paying-agent to pay other service-providers carried the potential risk that the
         final beneficiary of the allowance would be difficult to establish.

     •   The clause that the European Parliament cannot be considered party to the contract was
         missing in some cases, or was in contradiction with other clauses.
     •   Some contracts were not dated or not signed by one party or, in some cases, were signed
         after the contract took effect.
     •   The amounts indicated in some contracts did not agree with the amounts indicated on the
         application form for the allowance or on other supporting documents.
     •   Where the description of the services to be undertaken was missing or was not in
         accordance with the concept of secretarial assistance, the risk of paying for items covered
         by other indemnities arose.
     •   Clauses in some contracts with service-providers risked being re-defined as employment
         conditions. All service-providers should be paid on the basis of invoices only.
     •   There was a risk that the allowances paid via paying-agents could not be reconciled with
         the salaries, social charges and agent's fees indicated on the contracts submitted.
     •   Some contracts were provided without proof of registration with the relevant social
         security scheme.
     The work done by the financial controller and by the authorising officer's services pointed to a
     need for further revision of Article 14 of the Rules, which should be brought into line with the
     requirements for validation of expenditure laid down in the Financial Regulation.

     Members' Statute

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11.     Can the Secretary-General indicate what would be the annual budgetary impact of
        the Members' Statute proposal adopted by the Plenary as well as the new expenses
        regime adopted by the Bureau (and which is due to enter into effect at the same time
        as the Statute)? Can he give a detailed breakdown of how that budgetary impact is
        calculated?

Assessment of cost of the new Statute, as adopted in plenary on 4 June 2003, on the basis of
the current salary scale and percentage deductions.

    732 (Members) x € 8 670 (50% of a Judge's salary) x 12 months:                                   € 76 157 280

    'Employer's' share of pension contributions:                                                      € 12 565952
      of sickness insurance contributions:                                                            € 2 589 348
      (Accidents: accident insurance already included)
    Community tax1                                                                               - €14 469 884
                                                                                                 ------------------
                                                                                                   € 76 842 696

      Following the introduction of the Statute, the following should no longer be charged to
      the budget:

-     EP contributions to the additional pension scheme:                                         -      8 866 726
-     supplementary reimbursements in respect of medical expenses:                               -        680 000
-     retirement pensions of Members whose national parliaments do not
       provide one, and invalidity pensions:                                                     -          p.m.2
-     - life assurance premium:                                                                  -        860 000

      Net cost to Community budget                                                                     66 435 970

The system will produce savings of € 2.6 million on travel expenses to Brussels and
Strasbourg but will require cover to be provided for the cost of a new allowance for travel by
Members inside their country of origin3. One or two new C posts will be required in the
relevant sector, to check supporting documents.

12.     Can the Secretary-General provide a detailed calculation of the gross/net income plus
        allowances payable to Members under the Members' Statute as adopted by Plenary?

Under the new Statute, an unmarried Member with no dependants would be entitled to the
following monthly remuneration:

        - gross salary                                                                      € 8 670.64
        - pension contribution deduction (8.25%)                                          - € 715.33

1
  Tax rebate for dependent person: € 210.
2
  The appropriations for these items will decrease over the coming years. This is because there will be no new
beneficiaries of survivor's and invalidity pensions and the current beneficiaries will gradually decrease in
number. The same is true of the beneficiaries of retirement pensions paid to former Members from France and
Italy who have paid contributions to Parliament and those who have acquired rights and to whom pensions must
be paid if they meet the entitlement conditions.
3
  See attached financial statement.

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             - sickness insurance deduction (1.70%)                               - € 147.40
             - accident insurance deduction (0.10%)                               -€      8.67
             - Community tax                                                      - € 1 614.30
                                     Net remuneration:                              € 6 184.94

     The Member would also receive existing allowances covering various expenses incurred in
     the performance of his/her duties (maximum amounts, rounded off):

     -     general expenditure allowance:                                   € 3 650 per month
     -     secretarial assistance allowance, paid to Member's assistant:   € 12 300 per month
     -     allowance for travel outside Member State in which elected:        € 3 600 per year
     -     language training allowance:                                       € 5 000 per year
     -     IT training allowance:                                             € 1 500 per year
     -     reimbursement of travel expenses under the new system
            to be adopted by the Bureau to accompany the new Statute:           variable
     -     daily allowance during official meetings:                           € 260 per day

     13.     What would be the feasibility and budgetary impact of allowing Members to opt for
             the new expenses regime on an individual basis with effect from the beginning of the
             next parliamentary term, regardless of whether a Statute has been adopted?

     Operating two different systems for the calculation of mission expenses alongside each other
     would require an appropriate IT system to be set up and staffing levels in the relevant sector
     to be increased in line with the number of Members who opted for the new system. Given that
     the necessary preparations would take at least six months to complete, the rules laying down
     the calculation method to be used would need to be adopted by the Bureau in January 2004 at
     the latest.

     The financial impact (excluding the start-up costs) would vary in accordance with the number
     of Members opting for the new system. An assessment of the cost of all the Members using
     the new system is set out in the reply to question 11.


     14.     What proportion of Members make use of the possibility of submitting their daily
             allowance and travel expenses claims in writing instead of in person? How could this
             proportion be increased?

     About two dozen Members submit their mission expenses claims by mail. The claims form is
     available on Europarl Inside. If more Members were to do so, the workload of the department
     responsible for processing claims could be spread out more evenly over the staff's working
     hours. The Quaestors might wish to remind Members of this possibility.

     Travel expenses

     15.     Can the Secretary-General indicate the amount and composition of the travel
             allowance to which Members and Observers are currently entitled for attending
             meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, calculated on the basis of Members and
             Observers whose place of residence is the capital of their Member State or future
             Member State?


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A table is attached, setting out the travel expenses payments made by the EP to:
- Members whose place of residence is the capital of their Member State;
- Observers travelling from the capital of their Member State.

16.   According to the declaration signed by MEPs who travel to Parliament by car, that
      declaration may be checked by the services. How many times did the services check
      the accuracy of the declaration in 2002?

To date, the Administration has not carried out any checks on the substance of the
declarations made by Members travelling by car (mileage/car). Such checks are difficult to
carry out because Members do not necessarily leave their cars close to Parliament and the
rules do not require Members to submit any supporting documents with their personal
declarations. Furthermore, given that mission allowances are paid exclusively by bank
transfer, many Members submit their claims in batches; by the time they submit their
declarations, some of the missions are already over.

Nonetheless, where the department responsible considers that a given declaration calls for
clarifications, it can contact the Member concerned, and has done so in a very limited number
of cases.

17.   How many Members, on average, submit a claim for travel expenses incurred for a
      midweek return journey to their home country from Brussels or Strasbourg? What
      proportion of such trips is made by car?

In 2002, 344 Members made at least one intermediate journey, making for a total of 2 620
journeys costing a total of € 948 370 (an average of 63 journeys per working week at an
average cost of € 361.97 per journey). Approximately 16 % of these journeys were made by
car.

18.   Some Members choose to repay to the Parliament part of the travel allowance they
      receive because it exceeds actual costs incurred. How many Members (or groups of
      Members) did so in 2002? What was the total amount of travel allowance repaid to
      the Parliament in this way? What would be the administrative cost of giving Members
      the option of being refunded only actual expenses incurred when claiming their travel
      expenses?

Ten Members paid back a total of € 62 229.77 in 2002. The payments slips do not indicate
whether the Members concerned were acting on behalf of a group of Members. The formal
introduction of a system under which Members may choose between lump-sum
reimbursement and the reimbursement of duly substantiated expenses would require the prior
introduction of rules governing the supporting documents to be supplied, including for
journeys by car, the airport journey expenses and the other expenses covered on a lump-sum
basis by the distance allowance. As stated in the reply to question 13, a period of six months
would then be required in order to set up a new IT system and recruit additional staff to check
supporting documents.

The financial impact would depend on the mode of transport chosen. Reference data are given
in the reply to question 11.

19.   Was any audit conducted in 2002 on travel allowance claims? When was the last

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           control of this area and what did it reveal? Is the Secretary General confident that an
           audit would not reveal similar problems to those found at the Committee of Regions?

     The Court of Auditors carries out checks on mission expenses every year, within the
     framework of the SoA. The Court last published a special report on travel expenses in 1998.
     No reports on the matter have been produced recently by the Financial Controller or the
     Internal Auditor.

     The department responsible does not have any reason to believe that problems similar to those
     found at the Committee of the Regions exist within Parliament. The department responsible
     keeps the original copies of the supporting documents required under the rules.

     Daily allowance

     20.   How many Members, on average, signed the attendance register in Strasbourg on
           Fridays during 2002?

     The number of Members who sign the attendance register on Friday mornings in Strasbourg
     varies from part-session to part-session (between 50 and 80).

     21.   Can the Secretary-General give an overview of the different ways in which MEPs can
           sign for the daily allowance? What procedures apply in each case? Do the systems in
           place guarantee that Members only receive the daily allowance in accordance with
           the Rules?

     During plenary sittings in Strasbourg Members sign the attendance list in the Chamber. A
     central register is available for signing on the Monday evening between the end of the sitting
     and 10 p.m. and on the Friday between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

     During meeting weeks in Brussels:
     - during additional part-sessions, Members sign the attendance list in the Chamber; no other
       attendance register is available for signing;
     - during committee or group meeting weeks, they sign either the attendance list in the
       meeting room or the central attendance register made available for signing between 7 a.m.
       and 10 p.m. from the Monday to the Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Friday.

     Attendance lists are signed in public. The registers are kept in rooms to which Members only
     have access. A proposal from the Administration covering additional security measures and
     measures to simplify management of the system is currently before the Quaestors.

     The department responsible makes cross-checks using the various computer applications used
     for the payment of daily allowances, so as to ensure that the allowance is not paid twice in
     respect of any given day.

     22.   With regard to the payment of Members' allowances, would it in the Secretary-
           General's view be (i) desirable and (ii) technically feasible to
           - abolish advance payments (régie d'avances) altogether, apart from a 'float' paid
               to each MEP at the beginning of his term of office;
           - consolidate all sums due to and from each Member into an individual account
               managed by the Administration with a single payment of the balance on the

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          account once per month?

The measures put forward by the rapporteur are technically feasible and would require the
development of an appropriate IT tool. Such a tool should make it possible for Members to
continue to receive a separate statement for each of their allowances even though a single
payment would be made. The measures would have the advantage of streamlining the
management of the system and responding to the criticism that Members' contributions to the
additional pension fund should not be deducted from the amounts paid to them in respect of
the general expenditure allowance, as they are under the present arrangement.

Any change in the rules along these lines would of course be subject to consultation with the
Quaestors and the approval of the Bureau.

General expenditure allowance

23.   What would be the feasibility and cost of requiring all Members to supply the
      Parliament with an annual statement by a certified accountant confirming that the
      general expenditure allowance has been used in accordance with the relevant rules?

Such certification could take three possible forms:
- the Member could employ an auditor of his/her choice and pay the auditor from his/her
   general expenditure allowance; this would have no financial implications for Parliament;
- the Member could employ an auditor of his/her choice, with the secretarial assistance
   allowance being increased accordingly; the financial implications would depend on the
   size of the increase granted;
- the Member could make use of the services of an auditor made available by Parliament;
   the financial implications could then only be estimated following an invitation to tender.
   The Administration is unable to put forward any figures that might serve for the purpose
   of comparison.

Again, any change in the rules along these lines would of course be subject to consultation
with the Quaestors and the approval of the Bureau.

Budget line 3701

24.   The accounts of the former TDI group for 2001 were finally submitted to the
      Committee on Budgetary Control in September 2003. Is the Secretary-General
      satisfied that all the amounts payable to Parliament following the group's dissolution
      have now been recovered? If not, is it his intention to recover them from those legally
      responsible under the relevant rules?

All matters still outstanding when the group's external auditor's report was submitted have
been settled. The suppliers have been paid and the sums due have been recovered.

25.   There is an apparent gap in the TDI 2001 accounts between October 2001 and
      January 2002. Can the Secretary-General explain this and why there is no audit
      report covering the financial statements for the period January 2002-June 2003?

The external audit report submitted in January 2002 covers the period up to 2 October 2001,
the date on which the TDI Group was dissolved. The work performed by the authorising

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     officer by delegation since then focused solely on the transactions carried out after that date,
     the figures for which are set out in the report submitted to the Committee on Budgetary
     Control. There is therefore no intervening period than has not be subjected to checking.

     The final closure of the accounts was complicated by the fact that each of the group's political
     components kept its own accounts. The department responsible was obliged to study all the
     documents and understand them before being able to settle the outstanding matters. This
     explains the delay between the submission of the audit report and the group's archives and the
     final closure of the accounts during the summer recess in 2003.

     In accordance with the Rules governing the use of budget item 3701, the report on the assets
     and liabilities of a dissolved group is submitted to the President of Parliament. The
     authorising officer by delegation, in this instance the Director-General for Finances, then
     formally closes the accounts in accordance with the Financial Regulation. These operations
     are checked by the authorising officer's ex-ante verifiers and by Parliament's Internal Auditor.
     There is therefore no need for an external audit.

     26.   The Court of Auditors is understood to be concerned about variations in the scope
           and content of the audit statements for the seven sets of political group accounts
           certified by five different firms.

           Would there be a case for including a requirement in the 3701 rules for the auditors
           selected by the political groups to undergo (in appropriate cases) a 'quality review' i.e.
           a further audit by an independent firm of auditors selected on the basis of a proposal
           from the Accounting Officer and paid for by the Administration?

     The list of eleven audit firms from among which groups may choose their external auditor
     was drawn up on the basis of call for expressions of interest. The firms selected meet the
     requirements set out in the specifications, including those relating to the audit standards to be
     applied and to proven international experience. It is therefore difficult to see how it would be
     acceptable to have the quality of the work of one audit firm assessed by another audit firm.

     In response to the concerns expressed by the Court of Auditors, the political groups have
     acknowledged that observance of the common audit mandate should be tightened up.
     Parliament's Administration will draw up an improved mandate in cooperation with the Court
     of Auditors.


     Pension fund

     27.   Does the Secretary-General share the Court of Auditors’ view that the assets and
           liabilities of the Members' voluntary pension fund should be included in the EP's
           annual accounts?

     The Pension Fund is an ASBL with separate legal entity under Luxembourg law. The
     European Parliament has actually no control nor significant influence on its activities and,
     therefore, there is no basis for consolidating its financial statements with those of the
     Institution.

     According to international accounting standards applicable as from the 2005 financial year,

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the EP should include as a footnote to the balance sheet a contingent liability for any shortfall
in the Fund, to the extent that the Legal Service confirms that a legal obligation to do this
exists.

28.   The ECA is believed to have reached the view that Parliament's contribution to the
      additional pension scheme should be based on an act of secondary legislation adopted
      in conformity with Article 190(5) of the Treaty and that if the present scheme is to
      continue a sufficient legal basis has to be created.

      Has Parliament's Legal Service been consulted on this point and, if so, will the
      Secretary-General provide the committee with a copy of its opinion?

The Legal Service has been consulted on this point. Its opinion is annexed.

Health insurance

29.   In 2002, €489 000 was spent on reimbursement of Members' medical expenses. This
      represented a 20% rise on 2001. Can the Secretary-General give a detailed
      explanation for this increase? In 2002, there were 2610 claims for reimbursement.
      Can he give a breakdown of the number of claims by nationality? Do Members
      qualify for reimbursement of part or all of their medical expenses if they are able to
      make use of facilities available free at the point of use in their Member State? Do
      Members qualify for reimbursement of part or all of their medical expenses even if
      they are able to take out a private insurance policy? Has the Parliament considered
      introducing health care coverage for its Members on the basis of an insurance
      scheme based on market conditions?

The increase in the amount spent by Parliament in 2002 on the reimbursement of medical
expenses is due to structural factors (increase in the cost of medical services, decrease in
reimbursements at national level, increase in the number of eligible Members during the
parliamentary term) as well as to specific factors (a few serious illnesses).

A breakdown of the reimbursements made by nationality in 2002 is attached.

Under the current rules, Members, their spouses and their dependant children are entitled to
the reimbursement of no more than 80% of the medical expenses incurred, even if
- they decide not to take advantage of free medical care available in their Member State;
- they can take out private insurance. In cases where Members take out such insurance,
   Parliament only covers that part of the expenditure not covered by the private insurance.

Primary health cover varies greatly from Member State to Member State and can also vary
according to the type of activities a Member was engaged in before being elected. It is
therefore extremely difficult to draw up specifications for a supplementary insurance scheme
to be put out to tender.

Should an external approach be chosen, it would be more appropriate to set up a specific
allowance from which the premiums paid by Members for national complementary health
insurance cover they have taken out themselves would be refunded. By way of a comparison,
in 2002 average expenditure per Member eligible for reimbursement of medical expenses by
Parliament stood at € 1 800 (excluding administrative costs).

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     30.       Has the Legal Service been asked to consider whether the extension of medical cover
               to ex-MEPs and their families financed from the EU budget - in the absence of a
               statute or other legal base - might not be ultra vires? If so, will the Secretary-General
               kindly supply a copy of the Legal Service's opinion?

     The Legal Service opinion of 4 April 2003 takes as a point of departure a comparison with the
     scheme for the reimbursement of the medical expenses of current Members and is designed to
     assist the Bureau in the context of a possible revision of the Rules on the Expenses and
     Allowances of Members. It was not consulted on the issue of the legal base and therefore
     does not address this issue. (See attached)

     General financial matters

     31.       Can the Secretary-General supply a list of the major contractors supplying goods and
               services to the European Parliament? Does that list include the stationery supplier
               whose name emerged in the recent OLAF inquiry at the Committee of the Regions? If
               so, is there a risk of similar difficulties arising at the European Parliament?

     The Secretary-General has instructed Authorising Officers by Delegation (AODs) to include
     an overview of all major contracts concluded during 2003 in their Annual Activity Reports
     (AARs).

     AODs had already been asked to provide such information in their second periodic reports
     (deadline 22/09/2003). Those reports showed that all AODs were indeed holding data on
     contracts in their respective sectors. However, they also showed that the reporting
     obligations laid down in this area by the new rules (Financial Regulation, Articles 93-95;
     Implementing Rules, Articles 54 and 119, paragraphs 2 and 3) were not always understood in
     the same way. As a result, the types of information provided varied from one service to
     another.

     The Secretary-General therefore instructed the Central Financial Service to coordinate efforts
     in this respect with a view to issuing guidelines :

           •    aimed at obtaining comparable information by year-end on contracts concluded during
                2003, for inclusion in AODs' Annual Activity Reports;

           •    defining the information to be published in the Official Journal and Parliament's Web-
                pages;

           •    defining the data to be integrated into a house-wide database on contracts. The
                development of such a contracts database, which would need to be integrated with the
                existing financial management tools (Finord, etc.), should enable the Administration to
                report in a coherent and consistent way on the award of contracts by the various
                AODs. While the database is being developed, AODs will have to keep track of the
                relevant data themselves; and those data will need to be centralised on a regular basis
                for reporting purposes.

     Guidelines on the above aspects have been issued to AODs in the context of the instructions


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on the Annual Activity Reports.

On the specific supplier mentioned in this question, see reply to Question 32.

32.     What contracts were agreed by the European Parliament with the company Studio
        Goffin or subcontractors of the company in the financial year 2002? What is the total
        amount of money paid to Studio Goffin or subcontractors of the company in 2002?

In 2002 the following five orders were placed with Studio Goffin:

- Pre-press work on enlargement brochure:              € 8 400.00
- Info-Point office design work:                       € 12 660.21
- Info-Doc decoration:                                 € 8 135 00
- production of 10 000 post cards:                     € 1 263.44
- printing of stickers:                                € 670.00

Total                                                  € 31 128.65

33.     The rules governing budget line 3701 enable the groups to choose their auditors from
        a list of five firms drawn up following a call for tender. For the financial years 2001
        and 2002, three groups (PSE, GUE, EDD) chose the same Belgian firm, which also
        audited the TDI group's accounts (not transmitted until September 2003) and is
        believed to have been selected to audit the accounts of the ASBL 'Members' voluntary
        pension fund' and former Members' Association.
        Another firm appears to have received in the past a significant share of the
        consultancy or audit work carried out for Parliament's Administration by external
        contractors, as well as being employed for similar tasks by other institutions.

        i)   Does the Secretary-General believe that this apparent concentration of
             accountancy work in the hands of single contractors is in the Institution's best
             interests and consistent with sound financial management?

        ii) Can the Secretary-General give a full list of contracts for financial
            consultancy/audit work concluded by the Administration since January 2001
            specifying the purpose of the contracts, the name of the firm chosen and the
            selection procedure used (call for tender, etc.)?

i) Contracts concluded are the result of the implementation of the relevant regulations in the
field of procurement. It is important to bear in mind that the awarding of all the contracts have
been submitted to the advisory committee on procurements (when applicable) and to the
Financial Controller (until 31 December 2002). Furthermore, no negative comments have
been expressed by the Court of Auditors in the framework of the annual audit.

ii) The full list of contracts for financial consultancy/audit work, will be submitted separately
and provide the full details requested.

34.     Can the Secretary-General provide a detailed breakdown of the sectors in which cash
        payments are still being made by the Parliament? Can he also indicate for each area
        why no use is being made of bank transfers?


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     For financial year 2002, the number of transactions (i.e. clients passing through the cash
     offices) and the type of transaction were as follows:

      SECTOR                                 BRUSSELS               STRASBOURG    TOTAL
      Interpreters                                          2.711           3.911    6.622
      Missions                                                236             424      660
      Creche/Family room/Sauna                                115           1.201    1.316
      Journalists                                              93             676      769
      Imprest accounts                                        179              45      224
      Session auxiliaries                                       0             202      202
      Payment authorisations/divers                           319             115      434
      TOTAL                                                 3.653           6.574   10.227

     It is the Institution's policy to reduce to a minimum the number of cash payments. While
     significant progress has been made over the past few years to diminish the volume of cash
     payments, because of the particular circumstances in which the Parliament operates (e.g. three
     places of work, wide range of administrative activities) payments by cash may often prove to
     be the most practical and efficient means of executing payments. It is the competent
     authorising officer or imprest administrator who decides on the method of payment.

     For example payments to journalists, experts or attendees at occasional seminars may be
     categorised as "one-off; fast reaction" payments (i.e. beneficiary makes a unique short-term
     visit to the Parliament and may travel from another continent). In such circumstances, cash
     payments represent the quickest means of paying the beneficiary and the most efficient/least
     time-consuming procedure for the various services of the Administration.

     Payments to interpreters represent around 65 % of total cash payments. The relevant services
     of the Institution are currently developing a proposed system to enable such payments to be
     executed by bank transfer. If there are no significant impediments, the new system could
     become operational during the first quarter 2004.

     Transactions relating to the creches, family rooms and sauna represent the collection of
     income.

     Transactions relating to imprest accounts and payment authorisations relate to payments to
     invitees to major seminars or "open days" organised by the Parliament as well as providing
     funds to, and receiving unused funds from temporary imprest administrators.

     This reply is a brief summary of the actual cash transactions of the Parliament. Following a
     report of the Accounting Officer in October 2003 on the operations of the General Cash
     Offices, the Secretary-General instructed the authorising officers to accelerate the transition
     from cash operation to bank transfer.

     35.   Does the Secretary-General consider that the competitive tendering procedures
           contained in the Financial Regulation implementing rules should be simplified for
           amounts below €50 000, given that the current rules pose problems in areas such as
           translation?

     This matter has indeed given rise to a number of questions and comments during the year both

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to the Helpdesk of the Central Financial Service and to the Inter-Service Public Procurement
Group (GIMP). Rather than dealing with this problem in isolation, however, it would seem
preferable to tackle it as part of the overall review to which Article 184 of the Financial
Regulation provides that the Regulation shall be subject 'every three years, or whenever it
proves necessary'. In the meantime, these and other matters arising in connection with
implementation of the new rules are the subject of inter-institutional contacts at the
administrative level.

36.   How many OLAF internal inquiries concerning the European Parliament are
      currently in progress?

As at 16 December 2003, three OLAF inquiries relating to the European Parliament were
underway.

One further inquiry, recently concluded by OLAF, currently requires follow-up action on the
part of Parliament. (The Committee on Budgetary Control was briefed on this matter on 2
December 2003.)

The Secretary-General is at the disposal of the rapporteur and the Committee to provide
further information in respect of the above-mentioned inquiries under an appropriate
confidential procedure.

37.   Has the Secretary-General conducted inquiries to ascertain whether irregular
      financial practices of the type uncovered at Eurostat might also be present within the
      European Parliament? If so, what were the results of these inquiries?

The Secretary-General instructed AODs, when drawing up their second periodic reports in
2003, to inform him of the measures taken to comply with the new procurement rules, albeit
without explicit reference to Eurostat.

Formal management and control procedures within Parliament up to the end of 2002 (ACPC,
Financial Control, Legal Service), and the importance attached to sound financial
management both by the Institution's Administration and by its control authorities, make it
unlikely that similar situations could have occurred within Parliament. It would appear that
the irregularities at Eurostat took place on a large scale, over a long period, and with the
active involvement of top management. For the same to have occurred within Parliament, it
would be necessary to assume that the latter's top management intervened at all stages of
major contractual procedures with the collusion of all concerned.

In general terms, now that the ACPC and Financial Control have been abolished, the risks
which could at least potentially give rise to manipulation of procurement procedures (for
example, a situation whereby all stages in an award procedure are coordinated by a single
person who is also the only one with the relevant technical knowledge, tacit agreements
between bidders, especially in an oligopolistic market, etc.) must be mastered by thorough
and coordinated application of all the measures provided for in the new Financial Regulation
and subordinate texts. Among the most important of these are:
- awareness and application of the Code of good conduct;
- full responsibility of AODs and their duty to account for their management;
- the need to make such information coherent and transparent for the Institution as a whole.


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     It is up to all AODs to ensure that the relevant measures are applied within their respective
     areas of expenditure. They are required, along with their annual reports, to sign a declaration
     "providing reasonable assurance that the resources allocated to him have been used for their
     appointed purpose and in accordance with the principles of legality, regularity and sound
     financial management".

     It is worth noting that the Internal Audit Service is conducting an Institution-wide audit of the
     procurement process, the findings of which are expected during the first half of 2004. The
     Administration will of course study those findings carefully with a view to remedying
     whatever shortcomings they may reveal.

     38.   What steps has the Secretary-General taken, following adoption of the new Financial
           Regulation, to ensure the continuance of thorough ex-ante examinations?

     The Financial Controller's Report to the Institution No. 03/01, section 5, contained an account
     of preparations for and an initial assessment of the changeover to the new Financial
     Regulation. The report recorded the following positive points. All the key texts were adopted
     in time. The system put in place within Parliament was based on a clear three-way separation
     of the functions of financial initiation, ex-ante verification, and authorisation, to be carried out
     by three distinct agents. The related financial management software (Finord) was designed to
     reinforce this structure and in particular to strengthen the functional independence of ex-ante
     verifiers. To that extent, the system reflected best practice and provided a basis for sound
     internal control.

     However, the report also made clear that the lead time for introduction of the new
     arrangements had been too short. AODs and their services had little or no time to acquaint
     themselves with the new rules before having to apply them. More staff were needed to operate
     a decentralised than a centralised control system, but there was insufficient time to fill any
     new posts made available for the purpose, either in authorising departments or in the new
     Internal Audit Service (IAS) and Central Financial Service (CFS). Many AODs had to assign
     staff to ex-ante checking work who lacked suitable qualifications and/or experience. "Whilst
     some of these may attain the required level through re-training, the real need is for large-scale
     recruitment of people - in all categories - with the appropriate professional qualifications and
     experience." "In certain Directorates-General, the numbers and categories of ex ante
     verification staff do not appear to be commensurate with the responsibilities of the function,
     or with the scale and complexity of the operations upon which the persons concerned are
     required to pronounce." The report also pointed out that in some cases "the verification team
     is supervised by a higher category official who is also involved in the initiation function",
     which was not consistent with the separation of functions required by Article 60§4 of the
     Financial Regulation.

     Efforts have been made during 2003 to improve the situation. A number of suitably-qualified
     ex-ante verifiers have been recruited, although the market for such officials is tight and the
     posts in question are not always regarded as attractive. The Internal Audit Service (IAS) is
     still not fully staffed and the Central Financial Service (CFS) will only have its full staff
     complement of six officials in January 2004.

     Until 1 July 2003, the CFS had only two B-grades and no A-grade staff apart from the
     Director. Forced to make hard choices, it decided initially to give top priority to helping the
     newly-appointed ex-ante verifiers (30-40 people). This it did mainly through tailored, small-

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group training sessions, sometimes on the most elementary aspects of the work; through
meetings of the network of ex-ante verifiers to raise awareness of texts, rules and procedures
and to discuss topics of common concern; and by responding to questions addressed to its
Helpdesk (nearly 200 questions to date, across the board, ranging from the most basic to the
highly complex).

The AODs' Annual Activity Reports and the Internal Auditor's review of the Institution's
Internal Control Framework, all to be presented during the first quarter of 2004, will help to
identify what further measures might be required to enhance ex-ante controls.

39.   In his answer (no. 55) to last year's questionnaire, the Secretary-General announced
      the creation for an initial period of one year of an Inter-Service Public Procurement
      Group to provide advice on procurement procedures to authorising officers who so
      request. What results has it achieved in the meantime? Does it publish an annual
      report like that of the now defunct CCAM?

In accordance with the decision setting it up, the Group reports on its activities to the
Secretary-General twice a year, on 30 June and 31 December.

The scope and extent of the work of the Inter-Service Public Procurement Group (GIMP)
cannot be compared with those of the former Advisory Committee on Procurement and
Contracts (ACPC). In line with the spirit of the new Financial Regulation, consultation of the
Group is optional, whereas consultation of the ACPC was obligatory for all procurements
above €50.000. Up to 10 December 2003, AODs have sought the Group's advice on 13 files.

It is planned to prolong the mandate of the Group beyond its current end-date of 31 December
2003. An advisory body of this sort can play an important role in ensuring compliance with
the prevailing regulations, especially in the case of AODs who seldom need to consult the
market. It also seems reasonable to extend the life of the Group at least pending the results of
the house-wide audit of the procurement process which the IAS is currently conducting.

The information provided to the Committee on Budgetary Control until the end of 2002 by the
ACPC will henceforth be compiled on the basis of the information supplied in AODs' annual
reports. It will be limited to contracts of a total value exceeding €50.000, the threshold above
which consultation of the ACPC was required.

40.   What is the latest state of play with regard to the case concerning the Members' Cash
      Office dating back to 1982?

In application of Article 22 of the Staff Regulations and the procedure laid down in Title VI
and Annex IX thereof, a preliminary hearing in the matter was held on 18 March 2002 and the
first meeting of the Disciplinary Board on 17 March 2003. The work is still in progress.

41.   What is the Secretary-General's assessment of the first year's operation of the new
      Financial Regulation requiring the creation of internal verification/financial control
      structures within each Directorate-General?

The Secretary-General does not yet have to hand the factual information on which to base
such an assessment. The Annual Activity Reports and declarations by the AODs will
constitute a major source of information but are only due to be drawn up during the first

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     quarter of 2004. Another key source will be the review of the Internal Control Framework of
     the Institution as a whole which is currently being conducted by the Internal Auditor, the final
     results of which are also expected during the first quarter of next year.

     42.   Which sectors of the Administration were examined in the context of internal audits
           in 2002? Will the Secretary-General provide copies of the internal audit reports on
           missions and on the secretarial allowance and any other internal audit reports in
           2002?

     In accordance with Article 24a of the Financial Regulation of 21 December 1977, as amended
     by Council Regulation no. 762/2001 of 9 April 2001, the financial controller carried out
     internal audits in two areas in 2002:
     • the Members' allowance for secretarial assistance, and,
     • the management of staff missions' expenditure.

     Details of the audit of the Members' secretarial allowance are provided in the reply to
     question 10.

     A report on the audit of missions' expenditure was issued to the Secretary-General on 24 April
     2002 (Internal Audit Report no. 02/01 of the Financial Controller to the Secretary-General).
     That report is at the disposal of the Rapporteur.

     The objectives of the audit were to establish the regularity of expenditure on missions and to
     assess the soundness of internal controls and procedures.

     The report's principal recommendation concerned the need to replace the existing information
     system ('MISS'), used by the missions' service to process mission orders and declarations and
     to produce data for accounting purposes. MISS was introduced in 1989 and has not been
     modified significantly since 1992. The audit conclusion was that MISS is inadequate as a
     management information tool, as a basis for efficient management of budget appropriations,
     and as the source of data for the imprest administrator. (The replacement of the system is
     foreseen as part of DG V's 'STREAMLINE' project.)

     The other main findings concerned the possible decentralisation of the missions' budget; the
     travel agency; compliance with the Staff Regulations in the payment of certain daily
     allowances; the signing of mission orders and declarations; and delays in budgetary
     regularisation.

     (The only internal audit activity in 2002 was that effected by the financial controller. The
     appointment of Parliament's Internal Auditor took effect on 1 February 2003.)

     43.   Please indicate the percentage of public tenders and restricted tenders as compared to
           the total number of contracts signed and what measures have been taken to improve
           the situation further.

     See reply to Question 31

     (The Implementing Rules, Article 54, 'Report on negotiated procedures', sets out the
     reporting requirements in respect of negotiated procedures. As explained in the reply to
     Question 31, instructions have been issued with a view to ensuring that Authorising officers

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by delegation provide the relevant data, in comparable form, in their Annual Activity
Reports.)

44.   Report 03/01 of the Financial Controller for the financial year 2002 indicates an
      error rate of almost 10% from the sample of checked documents (mostly due to lack
      of supporting documentation). As the Administration rightly points out, the error-
      elimination service hitherto provided by Financial Control must be matched by the
      authorising officers. What measures have been taken / are in the pipeline to ensure
      that this occurs and effectively minimises the control risk?

See replies to Questions 37, 38 and 41.

45.   Has the Administration conducted an evaluation of the performance of the CIT since
      it took over the contract for the travel agency? Is it aware of concerns that users
      (Members and officials) are not always offered the most cost-efficient travel options ?
      To what extent are air fares negotiated in the interests of Parliament e.g. regular
      Brussels-Strasbourg flights? Has the Administration evaluated whether the service is
      better in the hands of a private company which takes a commission on sales or run by
      officials?

The current organisation of the Members’ Travel Office and the contract with a private
agency had its origins in Parliament’s resolution on the 1994 budget estimates, which
prompted the decision to outsource the activities of Parliament’s travel office, a unit of the
Directorate-General for Administration at that time. The Quaestors agreed on 13 December
1994, subject to the retention of a small number of officials, who would continue to provide
travel advice and information to Members.

The Administration has not evaluated in detail, since then, whether the service would be
better in the hands of a private company which takes a commission on sales, or run by
officials, since it was a decision of the budgetary authority.

However, aware of recent concerns, the Administration has submitted to the Quaestors a
report with an action plan for the Members' Travel services, with a view to clarifying the
breakdown of responsibilities between the Member's Travel Office and the private travel
agency and to improving the service provided to Members. Theses proposals keep open
options for adjusting to possible future changes in the travel industry and to Members'
allowances for travel. For the time being, a contract with a private agency which has an IATA
licence is necessary to issue air tickets on our premises.

As far as the Brussels-Strasbourg flights are concerned, SN Brussels Airlines do not offer to
the Parliament negotiated fares for that line. The Administration has contracted a charter
flight, which is cheaper.

46.   Following the new transparency requirements imposed by the new Financial
      Regulation - Article 109 - the Commission has stopped its previous practice of
      reserving grants to specific institutions, namely the so-called 'European Information
      Organisms'.
      However, the same practice has apparently not been followed by the European
      Parliament, at least in the case of some Parliament offices.


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           When does the European Parliament intend to apply the Financial Regulation
           provisions regarding transparency on grants, namely its Article 109?

     Like the Commission, Parliament is obliged to implement Article 109 of the Financial
     Regulation.

     Parliament's policy consists in supporting specific measures (debates, conference, information
     days, etc.) put forward by organisations promoting Europe, rather than providing funds to
     cover the operating costs of such organisations.

     Support is provided on the basis of a budget forecast (expenditure and revenue) and an
     agreement signed by both parties. The agreement stipulates that the beneficiary is required to
     keep proper accounts, to keep all supporting documents and to allow the European Parliament
     and the Court of Auditors to carry out checks. The grant is not paid until a final report on the
     use made of the support, the final budget and copies of the supporting documents are
     submitted. If expenditure is lower than forecast, Parliament's contribution is reduced
     accordingly.

     Article 169 of the rules for implementation of the Financial Regulation require all grants
     awarded during the course of a financial year to be published. This will be done for the 2003
     financial year.

     Information technology

     47.   Can the Secretary-General indicate the number, nature and value of Parliament's
           contracts with software companies, as well as the dates when the contracts are up for
           renewal? Has Microsoft provided the Parliament with the source code of its software,
           as it has some other public sector users, in order to enable Parliament to ensure the
           integrity of its computer network? Has Parliament considered migrating to an open
           source operating system and software?

     a) Can the Secretary-General indicate the number, nature and value of Parliament's
     contracts with software companies, as well as the dates when the contracts are up for
     renewal?

     The main contracts between the EP and software companies, their value and their duration,
     are the following :

     Name                  Purpose                         Value        Duration
     Microsoft             Operating System, Office        1.17 M€      March 2004 - February
                           Automation suite                             2005
     Documentum            Corporate Web Content           444 K€       December 2003 -
                           Management System &                          December 2007
                           documentary system
     Omnimark              XML engineering tool            40 K€        April 2003 - April 2007
                                                           per year
     Trados                Translation support tool for    216 K€        January - December 2004
                           DG VII B
     BEA Weblogic          Object-oriented (= re-usable    Estimated    Contract under


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                       components) application         160 K€        renegotiation; January
                       platform                                      2004 - January 2008
ORACLE                 Data Base Management            Estimated     Currently under
                       System                          380 K€        negotiation -- likely
                                                       per year      duration: 4 years
“PUMAS” call for       Open call for tenders for       Estimated     In preparation -- likely
tender                 software procurement            3 M€          duration: 4 years
                       channel (for various
                       softwares)

b) Has Microsoft provided the Parliament with the source code of its software, as it has
some other public sector users, in order to enable Parliament to ensure the integrity of its
computer network ?

Yes, Microsoft has proposed to provide the EP with (almost) all the source code of the
software the EP uses. In reality, the availability of this source code is useless for practical
purposes in our Institution, as it consists of several million code lines of which the analysis
and investigation are virtually impossible in a medium-sized ICT-user organisation such as
the EP.

c) Has Parliament considered migrating to an open source operating system and software ?

The answer to that question has already been given as answer to a very similar question asked
in paragraph 17 of the Resolution passed by the EP on 23.10.03 on the budget for 2004,
namely: '[Parliament] invites its administration to examine the possible advantages of Linux
for Parliament's IT landscape'.

It is repeated herebelow.

The issue of the use of LINUX and, more generally, of OSS (Open Source Software) in the
EP’s ICT (Information & Communication Technology) environment, and the way the EP
Administration deals with it, can be summarised as follows.

1.    The Directorate for IT (DIT) has been working on that topic for several years, at both
the internal and the interinstitutional levels. The issue of using OSS is very wide-ranging, as it
impacts 3 wide classes of equipment and technologies comprising the EP’s ICT environment :
infrastructure, servers and workstations.

2.    In the first class, a few, but distinct and highly specialised components of the EP’s ICT
infrastructure are concerned, among others the « network » in the broadest sense of the term.
In that area, the EP has, almost since the beginning of its access to the Internet, sought and in
some cases managed to give priority to the selection of open source software tools.

On the other hand, the use of LINUX in the EP’s computing centre is not yet feasible. As a
matter of fact, LINUX’ multiprocessor versions and supervision tools are at best embryonic
and unable to fulfil EP’s requirements in that area. LINUX does not either allow the type of
« clustered » operation which is indispensable for operation continuity in case of fault.
Analysts of the domain converge in predicting that LINUX will be no substitute for UNIX at
that level of demand before 2007.


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     3.    For the second and the third classes, i.e. the servers and the workstation, the EP follows
     an opportunistic approach. When a project is very specific and interworking constraints are
     clearly identified and controllable, OSS use is systematically considered.

     For example, the PV application uses an Open Source office automation suite. Similarly, for
     the production of administrative documents, OSS has been selected for the platform, as well
     as some protocols and standards. Along the same line, development teams uses OSS tools and
     pieces of software code extracted from OSS libraries available on the web. Furthermore, the
     EP development platform uses some OSS for certain applications -- to the extent that an OSS
     « web solution » is already being tested, soon to become a standard within the house if the
     first tests prove positive.

     A wider use of LINUX on departmental servers is in the wings, notably in 2004, when pilot
     LINUX-based file servers and web development platforms will be studied and tested. In order
     to accelerate the pace of this evolution, a specialist team will be set up in order to provide the
     necessary technical support, and a significant training effort will have to be directed at the
     EP’s ICT officials.

     4.    As far as workstations are concerned, it cannot be denied that workstations based on
     LINUX and other OSS currently lack the « maturity » which is indispensable in a demanding
     operational environment like the EP’s, contrary to what might be the case in the world of
     education or research.

     OSS workstations, before being possibly deployed in the EP, must attain the same level of
     user-friendliness and transparency as its current counterpart, not only for the end-users but
     also as regards development, deployment, support, upgrading and management.
     It seems difficult to progress further, and particularly faster, on that route before solid results
     from studies and pilot experiments become available, which should be expected
     approximately one year down the road.

     5.    The EP’s approach towards OSS is therefore also interinstitutional.

     First, the Office Automation Interinstitutional Working Group has been mandated by the
     Interinstitutional ICT Committee to launch a study on the feasibility of an OSS standard
     configuration for workstations. In that framework, close attention is being given to the OSS
     test workstation being prepared by the EC to be used in a 70-user pilot experiment in the EC’s
     INFSO DG. All issues are meant to be covered, which will include in particular those related
     to software automatic deployment, correction and upgrading, as well remote follow-up and
     support facilities.

     Second, a project called « Global Search », aiming at facilitating information retrieval out of
     all EU’s institutional websites by indexing them across the board, has selected, in its last
     phase, an OSS search engine. It should be implemented on the EUROPA site in the first half
     of 2004.

     6.     A proactive approach towards OSS does not dispense from taking economic aspects into
     account. In that respect, OSS does not mean that software usage cost is much lower compared
     to their proprietary counterparts. The main reason is that their transparent and user-friendly
     utilisation in a working context such as the EP’s (without even mentioning the
     multilingualism constraint) demands the setting up and sustained deployment of highly

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specialised teams in charge of their follow-up, deployment, support, fine-tuning, etc, etc.

LINUX is precisely a case in point: although it can be freely downloaded from the Internet, it
is virtually impossible for an ICT professional to set up a working configuration up to
professional standards of quality without the recourse to chargeable tools and support only
made available by private companies.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the price of software packages is continually pushed
downwards by negotiations between customers and suppliers, and that the share attributable
to software in the true total cost (TCO , total cost of ownership) of a workstation has dwindled
below the 10% mark, far below the -- sometimes hidden -- costs of maintenance, support and
management.

7.     The EP’s approach to OSS has to be a balanced one, because what is at stake for the
Institution is nothing less than the continuity of its daily work : the EP’s activities rely ever
more on its ICT facilities, which must remain continuously available in an ever more open
environment. These ICT facilities must therefore evolve at the pace compatible with the
outside world, while their cost must stay within the bounds of reasonable budgetary means.

8.     It should also be recognised that the widespread adoption of OSS still require much
further standardisation, especially in the area of document format (which should evolve to
XML). The EP’s DIT has already started this evolution and this strategy must be pursued by
all organisational entities in the House.

Standardisation must also be pursued and maintained at the level of the workstation, where
each broad class of functionality must continue to be provided by only one software, in order
to allow cost control, ensure interoperability and provide effective support. Most of EP’s
software tools on the workstations are currently from Microsoft, but in the future others --
actually, more and more of them, will be OSS, any coexistence of them for the same
functionality being however undesirable.

9.    In conclusion, the EP is already active in the adoption of OSS, both internally and in
the interinstitutional arena. This openly proactive attitude has already resulted in concrete
steps and outcomes, and has not remained unnoticed by the ICT suppliers of the Institution.

It remains however that due account must be taken of the unavoidable complexity of the
systems in an Institution such a the EP, their increasingly indispensable availability -- and all
costs involved.

It that context, OSS pilot projects will continue to be conducted and monitored for the
possible deployment of OSS solutions, after due consideration has been given to costs ;
usability and user-friendliness ; deployment, support and maintenance requirements ; as well
as compatibility with the EP’s institutional partners and more generally with the outside
world.

Car service

48.   How much use has been made during November 2003 of the new taxi facility
      available to Members on a trial basis? What was the average amount reimbursed?


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     The taxi expenses reimbursed between 1 November and 12 December 2003 totalled
     € 3 058.57, covering 251 'city' taxis used by 107 Members (each making between 1 and 9 taxi
     trips during the period), making for an average cost of € 12.19 per taxi.

     49.   What is the estimated cost of the Parliament's car service in 2004, taking into account
           the effects of enlargement and the new rules that have entered into effect on a trial
           basis? Does the present system provide the best value for money? Can the Secretary-
           General provide details of the proposal he submitted on reform of the car service but
           which was rejected?

     The amounts which have been adopted in the first reading of the Budget 2004 are: € 600 000
     for Members' transport in Strasbourg (2222/02) and €1 200 000 for Members' transport in
     Brussels.
     The trial period for the new rules will only end the 23 of December 2003. The present system
     provides best value for money using available resources and having also allocated all drivers
     exclusively for Members' transport according to governing rules.

     50.   Will the reimbursements of Members' taxi expenses referred to in the Bureau's
           decision of 24 September 2003 and transfer request C22 be made in cash? What are
           the Secretary-General's conclusions following the initial trial period?

     Taxi expenses are reimbursed by bank transfer. Given that the trial period lasted until the end
     of December 2003, it will not be possible to make an assessment until early 2004.

     Telecommunications

     51.   Can the Secretary-General indicate the total cost in 2002 of telephone calls made by
           Members and assistants from their office telephones? What is the total cost of
           external telephone calls made through the operator from the public telephones which
           are available throughout Parliament's buildings?

     a) Can the Secretary-General indicate the total cost in 2002 of telephone calls made by
     Members and assistants from their office telephones ?

     This cost can be estimated at 500.000 € per year.

     b) What is the total cost of external telephone calls made through the operator from the
     public telephones which are available throughout Parliament's buildings ?

     No specific statistics are available to give a precise answer to a specific question, due to the
     fact that those phones are used by several categories of users (MEPs, assistants, officials,
     persons external to the institution ...). Nevertheless, a rough estimation of a global figure
     would be approximately €100,000.

     Publications, press and publicity

     52.   What proportion of the European Parliament's printing needs are catered for outside
           Brussels?

     Production 2002 by the Printshops :

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      •Digital Printers : Luxembourg 89.1 million pages; Strasbourg 30.2 million pages;
       (Brussels 70.2 million pages).
    • Offset print : Luxembourg 60.4 million standard pages
Total production outside Brussels 63% (47% Luxembourg; 16% Strasbourg) for digital print
(photocopying).
Including offset printing, the proportions become :
Outside Brussels : 71.9% (59.8% Luxembourg; 12.1% Strasbourg)

53.       Which publications does the Parliament currently publish? Is the effectiveness /
          perception of the publications measured in any way?

Publications produced in 2002 and 2003 :

              Publication           2002 production     2003 production

              Basic brochure                 926 000               623 007
              mini-leaflet                   181 800               755 485
              geographical map               212 000               222 180
              cartoon strip                  184 186               925 670

              Total                         1 503 986            2 526 342

The impact of Parliament's publications can be gauged from the demand shown for them in
both the external offices and the Visits Division. The quality of the graphics, the clear and
accessible style and the balanced information they provide make them widely appreciated
communication tools.

The comic strip in particular has been widely praised, and was awarded the 'Prix de la
communication' at the Angoulême International Comic Strip Festival (23-27 January 2003).

54.       Has the press service considered what changes it needs to make with a view to
          enlargement, in particular as concerns the use of 20 official languages?

In accordance with the decisions of the Bureau relating to enlargement on the basis of the
report by Vice-President Podesta, the Press Service will continue to issue communiqués
during plenary session in all official languages.
To adapt to the new situation and the increased number of official languages, these
communiqués issued during plenary sessions will concentrate on analyses of votes and
decisions taken by Parliament, rather than coverage of debates.
Press officers from each of the new Member States (two from Poland and one each from the
other countries) have already been recruited on temporary contracts, pending the creation of
permanent posts.
During parliamentary committee weeks, press officers will cover the work of committees and
communiqués will be issued, as hitherto, in French and English.
In the course of 2004 a new Webpublishing Unit will be set up within the Directorate of
Information, to be fully operational from the start of the new legislature. This will facilitate
the necessary increase in the provision of information and press releases online.

55.       Can the Secretary-General provide an itemised list of documents that are currently

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             still distributed on paper to Members and staff, indicating for each document why it
             cannot be distributed only by electronic means?

     Pursuant to the instructions of the Quaestors these are the items, which DG VIIA distributes:
        • Commission documents - COM/SEC : in the pigeonholes of Members of the relevant
            committees only. Online on "Europarl" ("meetdocs" directories).
        • Council documents - International Agreements, Common Positions : in pigeonholes
            only - all Members. Online on "Europarl" (plenary session directories + meetdocs
            corresponding directories)
        • DG II working documents: Sent by email, online on the Europarl ("meetdoc" pages).
        • Session documents:
                A5, B5, QO, QE documents: paper version to groups, paper version on demand, at
                the counter.
                OJ, PV, TA, CRE documents: distribution in MEPs' pigeonholes, on demand at the
                counter for staff. On line on Europarl ("plenary session" pages).
        • Quaestors, Bureau, Other governing bodies as required:
                PV, CM, LT, OJ documents: distribution in the MEPs' pigeonholes
        • Miscellaneous documents (List of Members, Telephone Directory, Vade-mecum,
            other publications): Distribution in MEPs' pigeonholes

     Distribution to staff does not normally fall under the responsibility of the Distribution Service.

     Most of these documents are available electronically. Cutting out the paper distribution,
     which has been reduced to a strict minimum, could well result in increased effort and costs :
     MEPs' assistants would very often print these items locally at a significantly higher cost (local
     printing being about 5 times more expensive than central industrial printing).

     56.     Can the Secretary-General provide an itemised list of procedures used in Parliament's
             political and administrative processes that currently still require the submission of
             paper documents, indicating for each procedure why it cannot be replaced by
             electronic submission, including, where applicable, an electronic signature?

     Itemising Parliament's political and administrative procedures which involve the use of paper
     documents would prove unduly long. The following points should however be borne in mind
     in the context of this question:

     •     the vast majority of procedures, if not all, involve the use of electronic means at one or
           more stages of the process;
     •     considerable progress has been made, or is being made, in several areas: the recruitment
           procedures conducted by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) are dealt with
           entirely electronically via the internet; the STREAMLINE project currently being
           launched by the Directorate-General for Personnel is intended to computerise personnel
           management procedures (recruitment, transfer, promotion, changes of place or work,
           cessation of employment, etc); in the financial field, members are now paid entirely via
           bank transfer, the Community budget has for some time been handled by means of the
           SEI-AMD and SEI-BUD applications (currently being improved) and a new
           interinstitutional application (BADGE-BUD) will be used by authorising officers, the
           Budget Division and the secretariat of the Budgets Committee for the preparation of the
           2005 budget; financial procedures have for some time been handled via the FINORD

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      application, which enables authorising officers to validate accounting documents
      electronically;
•     in the legislative field, further developments are under way in the context of the ITER
      application, an indispensable tool for both the Directorate-General for Committees and
      Delegations and the Directorate-General for Presidency Services, enabling data from
      associated applications to be re-used for the production of agendas and minutes and a
      wide variety of information to be produced in regard to the state of legislative procedures
      and the documents produced or published in the course of them;
•     even when, for obvious reasons, paper versions of documents have to be delivered to end
      users (mainly members), it should be borne in mind that in the vast majority of cases the
      entire process of document production, up until the moment of printing, is managed
      electronically.

57.     In view of enlargement and the increased translation volume this will entail, is there
        an administrative case for amending Rule 117(1) in line with Rule 117(3)? To what
        savings could this lead?

There would be little significant benefit in amending Rule 117(1) of the Rules of Procedure to
bring it into line with Rule 117(3).

The ‘linguistic profile’ of a committee could be invoked to reduce the number of language
versions required, for example, at the draft report stage, and amendments rejected in
committee would not then have to be translated into all the languages.

However, the gain would be slight and further modifications would have to be made to the
deadlines laid down in Article 10(4) of the Code of Conduct in order to allow time for those
language versions not covered by the linguistic profile to be produced from scratch after
progress through committee.

Failing this, there would be no gain at all because, to ensure that the deadlines were met,
translation work would have to begin, as it now does, before submission of the final report.

Staff policy

58.     Does the Secretary-General consider that the terms and conditions of employment for
        interpreters are in line with modern labour market practice and the terms of
        conditions for other EU officials and temporary staff?

•     50% of the Directorate of Interpretation's interpreter needs are covered by external
      recruitment : non-staff interpreters ( "auxiliary conference interpreters" ) account for half
      of the needs of the EP and are recruited according to the institution's requirements during
      the most busy periods of activity, over and above the work done by staff interpreters.
      These recruitments are governed by a professional agreement applying across the board to
      all institutions.
•     Staff interpreters are deployed according to the number of meetings decided by the
      Institution; during quieter periods of work, they are assigned to meetings of the other
      institutions, i.e. the Commission and Court of Auditors in Luxembourg , or other
      institutions in Brussels where enlargement languages are concerned.
      Vocational training courses for interpreters ( language courses inter alia ) and test panels,


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           together with coaching and mentoring of trainees, are concentrated into periods when
           parliamentary activity is slacker.
           There is a specific requisite in our service whereby staff interpreters are obliged to take
           two weeks of their annual leave during the parliamentary summers recess.
     •     As to working conditions concerning remote interpreting, the European Parliament is the
           only institution to have developed an experimental programme designed to define under
           which technical conditions this mode of activity could be used : all the other institutions of
           the European Union and the United Nations have rejected this mode of interpretation.

     59.     What appointments at A1 and A2 grade were made in 2002? How many appointments
             were the result of an application process open to external applicants? How many
             external candidates were appointed?

     In the General Secretariat, two A1 posts were filled in 2002, both on the basis of vacancy
     notices published only within the EP. Three A2 posts were also filled. One of these posts
     was published internally, one interinstitutionally and the third both internally and externally
     (i.e. under Article 29(2) of the Staff Regulations). In the case of the first two posts internal
     candidates were selected. In the case of the third an external candidate was appointed. In
     other words, one external candidate was appointed out of a total of 5 posts. (It should be
     understood that, in this context, the term "external" includes the temporary staff of the
     political groups.)

     60.     On what grounds did the Parliament decide to retroactively regrade nine C5 officials
             recruited between 1996 and 1998? Why was the Financial Controller's withholding of
             approval 02/04 of November 2002 overruled?

     Nine officials launched a complaint before the European Ombudsman arguing that they ought
     to be regraded from C5 to C4 according to the same principles as the European Court of First
     Instance established in its judgement in case T-92/96, Monaco/Parliament, 1997 ECR IA-
     295; II-573. The European Parliament argued before the European Ombudsman that it was
     lawful to reject their claim since they were introduced after the expiry of the deadline
     prescribed by Article 90, 2nd paragraph of the Staff Regulations. However, the European
     Ombudsman concluded that the position of the Parliament was contrary to the principle of
     good administrative practice and recommended the Institution to review its position. After
     thorough consideration it was decided to follow the recommendations of the European
     Ombudsman. However, when presenting the supporting documents for approval before the
     Financial Controller, the administration was confronted with a withholding of approval by the
     latter, who considered that the action required to implement the Ombudsman's
     recommendations was incompatible with the terms of the Financial Regulation. The
     overruling of this withholding of approval was therefore necessary, inter alia, in order to
     honour the commitment already given by the President of the European Parliament to the
     Ombudsman.

     61.     What safeguards are in place to ensure that temporary staff recruited by the political
             groups are employed in accordance with all relevant legislation and regulations?
             What checks are carried out?

     Temporary staff for the political groups are recruited in accordance with Article 9 of the
     internal rules on the recruitment of officials and other servants. This stipulates that the
     relevant notice of vacancy should be published within and outside the institution. The

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resulting applications are examined by an ad hoc committee comprising members of the
political group in question and one or two members of the Staff Committee. This committee
draws up a list of the candidates which it deems to have met the formal requirements set out
in the notice of vacancy, which is then forwarded to the authority within the group
empowered to conclude contracts of employment, who makes a final choice among the
candidates on the list.

While the Personnel Division ensures that the job descriptions and qualifications set out in
such notices of vacancy correspond to general usage within the institution, political groups are
appointing authorities in their own right and thus have a considerable measure of discretion in
the selection of their staff. That said, certain groups, and particularly the larger ones, have
made considerable efforts to introduce competitive selection procedures modelled on those
used for the recruitment of officials.

62.   What efforts has the Secretary-General undertaken to facilitate part-time work for
      staff who wish to work part-time? What measures have been taken to facilitate
      teleworking?

Regulations have been in place for some time providing for the possibility of working on
either a half time or three quarter-time basis. The extent to which staff avail themselves of
these possibilities varies widely among the different DGs, reflecting the different obligations
and work patterns within each. There is, for example, a much higher rate of part-time
working in the Translation Directorate than, say, in DG2 (committees and delegations),
though applications which are turned down by an official's superiors are referred to the Joint
Committee. In all such cases, part-time working has thus far been ultimately authorised. The
new Staff Regulations will provide both for a wider range of options in relation to part-time
working and mandatory authorisation in certain circumstances (e.g. officials with young
children or approaching retirement age).

A teleworking scheme has been in operation within the Translation Directorate for a number
of years, though the uptake (around 25-30 people at any given time) remains rather low in
relation to overall staff numbers. It is doubtful whether such a scheme, based on full-time
teleworking for a period of years, could easily be extended to other parts of the EP. However,
the Directorate-General for Personnel is currently considering a package of possible measures
with a view to making the working timetable more flexible. More flexible forms of
teleworking will be considered as part of this package.

63.   Does the Secretary-General believe that the Parliament's existing information systems
      are adequate from the point of view of assisting managers in making decisions,
      introducing better management practices and following up contractual obligations?

Parliament's IT systems have tended to be developed on a piecemeal basis and many of the
more strategic applications are now out of date, often user-unfriendly and lack the necessary
degree of integration and inter-communicability. Extracting statistical information from these
systems is also often unduly onerous. This is perhaps particularly true of the EP personnel
management systems, where the main personnel database (ARPEGE) is not integrated with,
for example, the applications used for leave or missions and none of them are connected to the
major payroll or financial systems. They are also highly centralised, precluding individual
services within the administration from communicating information directly to the main
databases. Most of these applications, moreover, have been developed specifically for the EP

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     and tend as a result to require the presence of external contractors to maintain and fully
     exploit them. It is because of these difficulties that the Directorate-General for Personnel
     attaches a high priority to the STREAMLINE project, based on customising off-the-shelf
     technology and designed to replace most of the existing applications with a single modular
     system which, in addition to integrating data within the DG, will provide direct access to other
     services for both entering appropriate data and retrieving management information.

     64.     How have the 65 enlargement-related posts created for the political groups and non-
             attached Members been distributed over the political groups and the non-attached
             Members?

     The distribution of the 65 enlargement-related posts for the political groups is as follows:

                      PPE            22 (9 A, 4 B, 9 C)
                      PSE            19 (9 A, 3 B, 7 C)
                      ELDR           5 (2 A, 1 B, 2 C)
                      VERTS/ALE 5 (2 A, 1 B, 2 C)
                      GUE/NGL        6 (1 A, 2 B, 3 C)
                      EDD            4 (2 A, 1 B, 1 C)
                      UEN            3 (1 A, 1 B, 1 C)
                      reserve groups 1 (A)

     This distribution was decided unanimously by the secretaries-general of the political groups
     having regard to the size of each group and the number of observers expected to join them.
     The Non-Attached members, who do not officially constitute a group, received no posts.

     65.     What measures are currently in place for the performance appraisal of A1 and A2
             officials and what developments are planned for the future ?

     A requirement for the formal appraisal of A1 and A2 staff is included in the new Staff
     Regulations. Rather than incorporating such appraisals into the existing staff report system,
     consideration is being given to specific appraisal systems and criteria for A1 and A2 staff to
     take account of the particular nature of their role and responsibilities.

     66.     Can the Secretary-General provide COCOBU with a review of the mobility policy
             which is now in the fifth year of its existence? Can the Secretary-General also provide
             details of the situation regarding the 'décloisonnement' system for LA staff? (See
             paragraphs 26-28 of Staes report on 2001 discharge)

     After three years' positive experience of mobility and in accordance with the guidelines
     adopted by the Bureau in 2001, a new Regulation entered into force on 20 May 2002 with a
     view to accelerating mobility for new officials at the start of their career and capitalising on
     the experience acquired by older officials by extending the reference period. Accelerated
     mobility was to apply every three years, on three successive occasions, while the reference
     period for all grades in the categories concerned was raised from five to seven years.

     The regulation was suspended in 2003 by the Bureau on the basis of the following
     considerations:

     •     the arrival in 2003 of around 500 auxiliaries from the applicant countries;

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•     the administrative reorganisation necessitated by the implementation of the Raising the
      game project, which has involved the transferral of numerous officials to the policy
      departments in Brussels and the redeployment in Luxembourg of remaining staff of
      former DG 4 (around 200 officials);
•     the early retirement scheme (around 120 officials are concerned);
•     movements resulting from the entry into force of the new financial regulations and to the
      redeployment of staff belonging to the former financial control;

The figures given above, taken in conjunction with normal movements, indicate the scale of
mobility within the administration during the year. Mobility has indeed become a natural
element of the human resource planning in the EP.

The Secretary-General is at present considering a new draft regulation aimed at implementing
a new mobility scheme which will better match the personal skills of staff concerned with the
job descriptions contained in the ROME-PE database. The new scheme will also provide for
closer involvement of the career counselling service.

Full 'décloisonnement' is a feature of the new Staff Regulations, which are expected to enter
into force on 1May 2004 and under which the distinction between A and LA staff disappears
entirely. The problem to which the STAES report refers (i.e. LA staff transferring to A grade
posts being placed on grade A7) arises not from previous internal rules on 'décloisonnement'
but rather in the context of LA staff who have chosen to accede to the A category by way of
internal competitions. While the salary they received as LA officials, if higher, was not
thereby reduced, it is true that such staff suffered in career terms by entering the A category at
the lowest grade. However unfortunate that may be, the staff concerned were well aware of
the implications of their choice at the time and, given the legal and other complexities
involved, it would be extremely difficult to provide for retroactive compensation for the
career delays suffered as a consequence.

67.      Can the Secretary-General provide COCOBU with a review of equal opportunities
         policy during the past year? (See paragraphs 29-32 of Staes report on 2001 discharge)

In September 2002 the Bureau adopted the Lalumière report, which sums up progress
towards both in achieving the already agreed objectives and in other areas relating to equal
opportunities. The report proposes practical ways to achieve the target figures and suggests a
number of positive measures that can be taken. The report concentrates on women's access to
posts of responsibility.

In 2002, the situation remained stable, with a few positive advances, particularly in the lower
range of category A.

Women represented 24% of the overall A category (+ 1% compared to 2001) nearing the
target of 25% set by the Bureau for 2002. The numbers of women in category A form a
pyramid with more of them at the base (35 -40% in A5 to A8 grades), and 13/14% in A4 and
A3 posts.1

Throughout the Institution, 14 man and 4 women took up their posts in senior grades: 2 men/0

1
    All statistics mentioned in this note refer to officials, except those detached to the political groups


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     women to A1, 4 men and 2 women to A2 and 8 men/1 woman to A3. 1 woman was
     appointed LA3. In 2003, the situation has developed further towards the objectives set out in
     the Lalumière report.

     The percentage of women in A2 increased from 21% to 27%, though this in fact represents
     only one additional post - bringing the number of women in A2 from five to six - and the
     concomitant loss of an A3 post reduced the percentage of women at A3 level from 16% to
     14%.

     As to décloisonnement : four women (three LA4, one LA7) and two men (LA4) were
     appointed to the correspondent grade in the A category.

     Two men were recruited in senior grades: : 1 A2 and 1 A3.
     26 women / 44 men were recruited in the overall A category.

     Promotions in the A category:
     11 women and 23 men were promoted, which represent 25% of the eligible women and 27 %
     of the eligible men

     With the assessment and promotion system introduced in 1999, the number of people
     promoted now almost always corresponds to the number of eligible officials who have
     reached the promotion threshold. In 2002, the five officials (3As and 2 LAs) who were
     promoted in addition to the proposals put forward by the promotion committees, were all
     men.

     The composition of selection boards was fairly balanced in terms of gender: 44% women and
     56% men

     Other actions : Awareness raising and training
     At the end of 2002 brainstorming days were organised for the Equal Opportunities Unit, the
     members of Copec and the Equal Opportunities Correspondents, devoted to redefining roles,
     identifying individual and joint action and forming links between these three equal
     opportunities bodies.

     68.   Can the Secretary-General give details of the appointments of senior officials over the
           past four years? Will he please indicate to what extent the Bureau has departed from
           the traditional practice of assembling geographically and politically balanced
           packages when making senior appointments? Was progress made towards a policy of
           appointments based on qualifications, merit and ability? (Staes report on 2001
           discharge, para. 42)

     1. New rules governing the procedure for the appointment of senior officials (i.e. at A1 and
        A2 level) were adopted by the Bureau at its meeting of 15 and 16 May 2000. These rules
        were a response to the resolution of 5 May 1999 on the Parliament's estimates for revenue
        and expenditure for 2000, which had called for a code of conduct to be drawn up in this
        area, on the basis that a more transparent and objective procedure, placing greater
        emphasis on professional merit, was required. The new rules also provide for regular
        reporting to the Bureau on vacancies for A3 posts and appointments made to them.

     2. The new rules provide for the establishment of an advisory committee on the appointment

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   of senior officials made up of the Secretary-General, the Director-General for Personnel
   and at least one other director-general (in the case of an appointment at A2 level, the
   director-general responsible for the post in question).

3. The task of the advisory committee is, firstly, to submit to the Bureau a list of all the
   applicants who, in its view, meet the requirements of the post as stated in the notice of
   vacancy having regard to the skills, knowledge and experience demonstrated by the
   candidates. It is of course open to the Bureau to modify this list as it deems fit. Once the
   list has been approved by the Bureau, it is then the task of the advisory committee to
   interview the candidates on the list and to submit a report and a detailed assessment of the
   candidates. This is submitted to the Bureau with an accompanying note from the Secretary-
   General containing a proposal for filling the post in question. Again it is open to the
   Bureau to accept or reject the committee's recommendation.

4. The Bureau remains the appointing authority for all A1 and A2 posts and it is difficult to
   see how this could be otherwise. The system outlined above, therefore, is designed to
   strike a balance between, on the one hand, preserving the Bureau's prerogatives as the
   appointing authority (i.e. avoiding turning it into a mere rubber stamp) and, on the other,
   ensuring that there is an objective procedure at the heart of the process making
   recommendations on the basis of the applicants' professional merits.

5. Experience of the new system is perhaps rather limited in that there have only been seven
   appointments (at A1 or A2 level) under the new rules to date. No particular problems have
   been encountered in making these appointments, however, and it should be emphasised
   that in each case the Bureau has followed the recommendations of the Secretary-General,
   based on the work of the advisory committee, at both stages of the procedure.

6. Geographical considerations cannot be wholly ignored in that Article 27 of the Staff
   Regulations enjoins the institutions to ensure that appointments are made both on the
   broadest possible geographical basis and on the highest standard of ability. Thus far,
   however, the issue of potential incompatibility between these two requirements has not
   arisen in relation to senior appointments under the new system.

Miscellaneous

69.   Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, security measures in the Parliament
      were tightened up, including screening of persons entering the building and their
      belongings at every EP entrance. Given that MEPs and their belongings are not
      screened when entering a Parliament building, is there any reason for treating
      officials and accredited assistants differently? Has the Secretary-General considered
      exempting officials and accredited assistants from the security screening?

      • The decision on the access control procedures was taken by the Bureau on 30th May
         2001. The Bureau decided not to submit MEPs to the screening measures.

      • The Secretary-General is considering options in order to exempt officials and
          accredited assistants from screening measures, when accessing some non-core
          buildings if the state of alert is "white".



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     70.   What is the security policy situation? (Staes report on 2001 discharge paras. 73-76)
           Is there any truth in reports that the EP has taken out an insurance policy to cover
           terrorist attacks? Was account taken of the fact that a potential terrorist attack could
           also have repercussions on local residents? Were local residents consulted? Could
           they also be covered for damages caused by terrorist activities under an insurance
           policy taken out by the EP?

     The contacts and the working relationship with host countries have been considerably
     developed. Regular meetings are held with the French authorities. An arrangement of all EU
     institutions with Belgian authorities on security issues has been negotiated and will probably
     be signed early next year. Relations with Luxembourg authorities have been developed in the
     framework of the buildings policy program.

     At this moment, the European Parliament has no insurance contract covering the risk of
     terrorism, and is not planning to conclude one. Indeed, insurance companies are not willing to
     cover this kind of risk and unilaterally withdrew such cover in 2002. It remains materially
     impossible to conclude a contract of this kind. The EP is now covered against the risk of
     terrorism through a comment at the beginning of Title 2 of the Budget ("self-insurance").

     The Parliament has raised this issue interinstitutionally, and a report on a possible common
     approach will shortly be submitted to the secretaries-general of the institutions.

     In any event, if an insurance contract covering the risk of terrorism were to be concluded by
     the EP, it would only cover the buildings of the Institution and not damage caused to persons.

     71.   Is the Secretary-General aware that according to the World Health Organisation
           exposure to tobacco causes death, disease and disability? Does he agree that allowing
           smoking in the Parliament, even in restricted areas, poses a threat to all those who
           use the Parliament's buildings, many of whom have no choice as to whether to enter
           or pass through smoking areas? Has the Parliament prepared financially for the
           eventuality of being sued by users or former users of the EP buildings (or, in the case
           of death, their survivors) who develop smoking-related diseases which may result in
           death?

     The worldwide medical consensus in regard to the dangers of smoking is by now a matter of
     common knowledge and Parliament, through its Medical Service, has developed an active
     policy both for publicising these dangers and assisting staff to stop smoking. The rules on
     smoking in public areas are primarily the responsibility of the Quaestors, with the Secretary-
     General being responsible for rules applying to the working environment for staff. Both sets
     of rules are designed as far as possible to ensure that smoking is limited to designated areas
     and that non-smokers are not exposed to unwanted tobacco smoke. No specific financial
     provision has been made for the sort of legal action suggested and the administration
     considers that current rules are sufficient to ensure that any such action would be unlikely to
     succeed. While these rules are intended to strike a balance between the interests of smokers
     and non-smokers, it is true that public attitudes in this area are evolving rapidly and the rules
     are kept under review with this in mind.

     72.   What plans does the Secretary-General have to secure the enforcement of the existing
           rules governing smoking in the buildings of the European Parliament (adopted by the
           Secretary-General and College of Quaestors in 1994)? Does the Secretary-General

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        intend to make further proposals along the lines of the arrangements recently
        introduced by the Commission?
        Are the current arrangements in conformity with the rules applying to the buildings
        occupied by the EU institutions in the three places of work?

The current rules governing smoking within the EP prohibit smoking in all of Parliament's
buildings, with the exception of a few clearly marked-out areas in which smoking is
permitted. These areas have been sited in such a way as to ensure that non-smokers are never
obliged to pass through them in the performance of their duties. It should be pointed out that
the smoking areas account for a tiny proportion of the total surface area of Parliament's
buildings.

The rules were adopted by our authorities (see, for example, the College of Quaestors
decision of 22 October 2003) and therefore reflect their position on the matter.

73.     Can the Secretary-General indicate whether the Parliament's language courses for
        staff in his view provide value for money?

In a multicultural and multilingual institution such as the Parliament, high-quality language
training is clearly a key priority. And even more so when we are on the brink of enlargement.
The institution's substantial investment in language training in 2002 is therefore to be
welcomed

In order to assess value for money, two vital components must be taken into account: quality
and cost. The following table shows the breakdown of spending for 2002:


                      No. of classes                                604 (x 60h)
                      No. of participants                           1,821 (of which 358 LAs)
                      No. of languages                              25 languages*
                      Overall expenditure                           €419,891
                      Cost per student hour                         €3.84§

*   The current official languages and the May 2004 enlargement languages (except Maltese), as well as Bulgarian,
    Rumanian, Turkish, Luxembourgish, Russian, Japanese, Arabic.
§
    This figure refers to variable teaching course costs only, and does not take account of salary costs and fixed overheads.

As regards standards, the training department's extensive quality-control mechanism has
shown consistently high levels of satisfaction and indicated students were subsequently able
to apply their acquired linguistic skills in work situations. For obvious reasons, this is
especially true for linguistic staff, a fact that reflects the recent shift in focus towards specific
courses for the institution's language professionals. For instance, the vast majority of the non-
official languages are targeted at linguists.
Moreover, as the above table clearly demonstrates, Parliament has achieved this high-quality
service at an extremely reasonable cost (3.84 euros per student-hour). This can be put down to
a number of reasons:
• competitive public procurement procedures to select training providers,

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     •     interinstitutional co-operation, enabling Parliament's staff to participate in group classes
           (rather than expensive individual lessons as they would otherwise be obliged to do), not to
           mention savings in terms of pooled human resources, organisation of English and French
           courses in-house: in the specific case of the most heavily-requested languages in Brussels,
           where venues are often located far from Parliament premises, absenteeism and drop-out
           rates have been cut considerably as a result of this initiative. The institution's strict new
           regulation, which entered into force in August 2002, has also helped to crack down on
           absenteeism.

     74.     Is the Secretary-General aware of the overcrowding in the Parliament's self-service
             restaurant in Brussels? Does he agree that this is the result of visitors from outside
             the European Parliament making use of the restaurant? Is this restaurant still being
             subsidised, and if so, by how much? Could a system be devised for ensuring that
             outside visitors do not benefit from this subsidy?

     Is the Secretary-General aware of the overcrowding in the Parliament's self-service
     restaurant in Brussels ?
     The Secretary-General is aware of this fact. The Bureau, at its meeting of October the 8th
     2003, approved the following measures to relieve congestion in the main canteen in the ASP
     building :

     •     short-term: a reminder to be sent to Members of the new rules on visitors groups
           prohibiting these groups from accessing the ASP self-service canteen, the opening of the
           Members’ restaurant to officials and to their guests on Mondays, Fridays and other
           weekdays days where Members are not fully occupying the space available,
     •     medium-term: enlargement of the ASP self-service canteen in 2004,
     •     long-term: opening of two new sales outlets in the new D4-D5 buildings;

     At this same meeting, the Bureau invited the President, in application of paragraph 39 of
     Parliament's resolution of 14 May 2003 on Parliament's 2004 draft estimates, to bring these
     measures to the attention of the Budgets Committee.

     Besides, in its resolution of 23 October 2003 on the draft general budget of the European
     Union for the financial year 2004 - Section I, the Parliament considered that "the current
     situation in Parliament's main canteen is very difficult for Members and staff and points out
     that it will become increasingly difficult when enlargement takes place; invites its competent
     authorities to consider the reintroduction of a system of time slots for access to Parliament's
     main canteen, taking into account, above all, the needs of Members and in-house staff."

     The competent service will re-examine this question together with the Security Service and
     will in the near future present to the political authorities a new report for consideration.

     Does he agree that this is the result of visitors from outside the European Parliament
     making use of the restaurant?
     Groups of visitors are the main cause of the over-crowding. New rules have been defined in
     order to oblige them to have their lunch in the Visitors' self-service canteen. It should not be
     forgotten that the European Parliament is a centre of political activities, often organised by
     individual Members. They rarely take into account the limitations of capacity of our
     Institution in several domains, including that of the self-service canteen.

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The presentation of this subject is however, incomplete without mentioning an important
factor which has an significant influence on the excess burden in the self-service restaurant of
the ASP, that of the many authorisations for various activities to take place by the political
authorities which are not strictly linked to parliamentary activities, often taking insufficient
account of the capacities of the existing infrastructures, which frequently have reached their
maximum level with the normal work of the Institution.

Is this restaurant still being subsidised, and if so, by how much?
This restaurant is not individually subsidised. There is a residual general subsidy of €450,000
per year, approved by the budgetary authority to compensate for unavoidable supplementary
expenses resulting from the political decision setting three different places of work for the
European Parliament.

Could a system be devised for ensuring that outside visitors do not benefit from this
subsidy?
Prices applied to the menu in the Visitors' self-service canteen are higher than the ones
applied in the ASP canteen for the same dishes.

75.   Would the Secretary-General be willing to provide the Committee on Budgetary
      Control (and, possibly, other interested committees) with a regularly updated list of
      opinions on subjects of general interest delivered by the Legal Service (edited, if
      necessary, to exclude staff matters and subjects of current or potential litigation)?

All Legal Service opinions, except those relating to complaints under Article 90 of the Staff
Regulations, are considered 'Administrative Documents.'

The result is that their subjects are published in the Public Register of References which is
accessible via internet, thus making that information available to all.

However, it has to be underlined that under Article 4 (2) of Regulation (EC) Nr 1049/2001 of
the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents :

"The institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the
protection of :
[...]
- Court proceedings and legal advice,
[...]
unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure."

So far, the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities has been very
restrictive on access to the content of legal opinions.

76.   What is the Secretary-General's view of the recommendation by the external
      consultant EUCLID (final report 27.5.03 - your letter to Mrs Theato of 21.10.03) on
      the Visitors Service that the current system of payments should be changed to a
      retroactive system of payment by bank transfer?

According to the information service, the recommendation has several drawbacks. The

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     proposed system would require additional staff in order for it to be possible to make a large
     number of bank transfers retroactively. Under the current system payment is made by the
     relevant bank in Brussels and Strasbourg, either by bank transfer or in cash, in accordance
     with the wishes expressed by the group leader. It is the cheapest system for Parliament and
     one makes allowance for groups wishing to receive the grant on the spot.

     77.   If the Quaestors were to be abolished, how many posts would need to be transferred to
           the Bureau and the Administration in order to take over the responsibilities of the
           Quaestors?

     The independent Quaestors' secretariat was abolished some time ago, its functions now being
     carried out by the joint secretariat of the Bureau, Conference of Presidents and Quaestors.
     Abolishing the Quaestors, therefore, would have few implications in relation to staffing other
     than as regards the assistance provided directly to the Quaestors themselves. It should,
     however, be borne in mind that the main role of the Quaestors is to represent members'
     interests vis-à-vis the administration, an essentially political responsibility which EP staff
     could not reasonably be expected to fulfil.

     78.   Can the Secretary-General provide a list of instances in which Members received
           money from lobby groups to pay staff working in their parliamentary offices and the
           amounts involved? What rules apply to grants of this kind to Members?

     All financial support received from third parties must be declared by the Members in their
     declaration of financial interests. These declarations are the sole source of information on this
     subject. Declarations must be renewed each year and are published on the Internet unless the
     Member has explicitly made a request that they should not be published.

     Rules of conduct for Members, including the conditions concerning financial support by third
     parties (e.g. lobby groups), are governed by Rule 9(1) of the Rules of Procedure and by
     Annex I of the Rules of Procedure which contains the provisions governing the application of
     Rule 9(1).

     Rule 2 of Annex I states:
     "The Quaestors shall keep a register in which each Member shall make a personal, detailed
     declaration of:

     (a) his professional activities and any other remunerated functions or activities,

     (b) any support, whether financial or in terms of staff or material, additional to that provided
         by Parliament and granted to the Member in connection with his political activities by
         third parties, whose identity shall be disclosed.

     The declarations in the register shall be made under the personal responsibility of the Member
     and must be updated every year."

     A preliminary research carried out by the competent services of the general secretariat has
     shown that at 8 December 2003, fifty-two Members have declared receipt of financial support
     from third parties.

     Parliament's working places, buildings and facilities

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79.   What is the current situation in relation to the Bureau's proposal to build two new
      meeting rooms in Strasbourg, which it was asked by plenary to reconsider?

After having consulted the political groups, the Bureau decided at its meeting of 3 July 2002
to approve in principle the building of two new 450-seat meeting rooms with 27 interpreters'
booths on the LOW Building forecourt in Strasbourg. It is however stressed that this decision
was one of principle only and did not establish a basis for the Administration to embark upon
construction work or any financial commitments relating to it, particularly as discussions in
the political groups are not yet concluded.

Given the above, the Administration has not taken any action in connection with the building
of the two meeting rooms. Moreover, it would not have been appropriate, in the light of the
ongoing dispute between the Parliament and the promoter of the Strasbourg building, to
embark on a major new project in relation to this building. Now this dispute is resolved, it
falls to the Bureau to decide how to proceed.

80.   What steps has the Parliament taken to bring to the attention of the
      Intergovernmental Conference paragraph 53 of the 2001 European Parliament
      discharge report, which called on the Convention 'to ensure that the European
      Constitution stipulates that the European Parliament and its Members can themselves
      decide where the seat of Parliament should be and where it wants to carry out its
      work', bearing in mind that the Convention did not discuss the protocols to the Treaty
      and left this to be done by the IGC?

The European Parliament resolution on the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
and the European Parliament's opinion on the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference
(IGC) approved on 24 September 2003 states in its paragraph 36 that EP "urges the IGC to
respect the consensus reached by the Convention...". In those circumstances, no formal
initiative has been taken on this subject that the Convention did not discussed.

81.   On what basis does the Secretary-General decide which members of EP staff travel to
      Strasbourg from Brussels or Luxembourg for the monthly session? Is there scope for
      a reduction?

Establishment plans for Strasbourg part-sessions - which are considerably smaller than those
of a few years ago - are decided by each director-general for his or her own services on the
basis of guidelines laid down by the Secretary-General, the primary purpose of which is to
ensure that only staff whose presence is really required for the organisation of the part-session
are included on the establishment plan. The requirements for the running of a part-session are
constantly changing as a result of organisational and technological developments and it is
entirely possible that, as a result of such factors, further reductions will be envisaged in the
course of 2004.

82.   How many working days are spent in Brussels by Luxembourg-based officials every
      year?

A total of 10,803.5 working days were spent in Brussels by Luxembourg-based staff in 2002,
at a total cost of € 1,754,537.50.


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     83.      What steps has the Secretary-General taken to ensure the health and safety of
              Members, staff and visitors, in view of the building work taking place to prepare for
              enlargement, the renovation of buildings in the vicinity of the building in Brussels
              and as a result of the discovery of asbestos in Luxembourg?
     •     Major alteration work has been carried out within the PHS and ASP Buildings in 2003, to
           meet enlargement needs.
           With a view to ensuring the safety of the buildings' occupants and that the work causes the
           least possible disruption and discomfort, weekly information meetings have been held
           since 10 February 2003.
           All the political groups and Secretariat departments have been invited to and have
           attended these meetings.
           At the same time, ongoing cooperation between the departments responsible for buildings
           and for meeting room management has ensured that EP business can be conducted as
           normal in the meeting rooms.
           Lastly, conditions governing access to the areas where building work is in progress by the
           firms carrying out the work have been laid down and efficiently supervised by the
           Security Service.

     •     Vice-President Colom i Naval has asked the Belgian authorities to appoint an authority
           responsible for coordinating the work already in progress or planned in close proximity to
           Parliament's buildings.
           Various working meetings attended by the parties concerned have been held. The EP
           departments responsible will continue to monitor such matters while the work is being
           carried out.

     •     In the 1990s Parliament drew attention to the presence of a significant amount of asbestos
           on the twenty-second floor of the ADG Building in Luxembourg. Following notification
           of the building owner, the Luxembourg State, asbestos was removed from that floor of the
           building in 2000. Since then, the following measures have been taken with a view to
           keeping a close check on the asbestos problem in the Luxembourg buildings and to taking
           effective action:

     a) the drawing up in 2001 of a comprehensive inventory listing the locations at which
        asbestos had been found and specifying the hazard level (all the items listed were
        classified as non-hazardous if left undisturbed and mainly consist of seals used in the
        technical service circuits);
     b) the introduction of a special intervention procedure to prevent any accidental damage to
        the locations at which asbestos found;
     c) annual air quality monitoring and updating of the inventory (in 2002 and 2003);
     d) gradual removal of the asbestos found in technical installations, in accordance with good
        practice (in 2002 and 2003).

     All these measures are implemented or supervised by accredited inspection bodies.

     84.     Can the Secretary-General provide an updated version of the document transmitted to
             the Convention setting out the cost of having three places of work?

     In its decision of 10 April 2002 on granting discharge on the implementation of the 2000
     budget, and in particular paragraph 33 thereof, the European Parliament 'instructs its


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Secretary-General to provide the Convention with a detailed analysis of the cost of
maintaining three places of work'. On 9 October 2002, the Bureau noted that the study had
been carried out and authorised it to be forwarded to the European Convention.

In its decision of 8 April 2003 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for
2001, and in particular paragraph 47 thereof, the European Parliament noted 'that the detailed
analysis of the costs of Parliament's three places of work was sent to the European
Convention on 16 October 2002'.

The data concerning the cost of maintaining three places of work were adjusted during the
preparation of the preliminary draft estimates for the European Parliament for the 2004
financial year. The annual cost of Parliament's geographical dispersion as indicated in the
report on the cost of its three places of work, thus revised, may be summed up as follows:



         Infrastructure costs   - buildings                                      EUR 83 m
                                - computers and other equipment                  EUR 47 m
         Staff costs          - supernumerary staff                              EUR 26 m
                              - mission expenses                                 EUR 19 m
         Miscellaneous operating costs                                           EUR 10 m
                                          TOTAL                                  EUR 185 m

This amount could go up to EUR 203 m after enlargement.

      The buildings infrastructure costs, assessed at EUR 83 m, comprise EUR 64 m in rent for
      320.000 m2 of meeting rooms, offices and technical premises and EUR 19 m in related
      costs: water, gas, electricity, insurance, maintenance and technical installations, security
      costs, etc.

      The supernumerary staff, assessed at EUR 25 m, represent an estimated 353 posts. This
      number includes 78 full-time posts per year for the working time lost on mission. It
      corresponds to half of the 33 667 days of staff travel between the three places of work and
      a cost of EUR 5.1 million.

85.     What action is being taken to ensure that outside bodies do not use the facilities (e.g.
        offices, telephones, e-mail) of the European Parliament for their activities thereby
        misappropriating taxpayers' money for their own private purposes? In the case of the
        'SME-Union', what follow-up has been given to the President's letter to the
        rapporteur of 9 December 2002? Have any funds been recovered?

DG 1
1.   ICT (Information & Communication Technology) facilities in the EP are provided
     (under their responsibility) individually and on a case by case basis to officials, to
     other agents and to some external firms providing an internal service in the EP,
     according to their explicit needs, following their written request and under the
     control of an authorisation procedure depending on the equipment requested.

2.     Basic ICT facilities are also made available in some public places in the EP’s
       premises, as follows:

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          • Telephones : in booths located in the neighbourhood of meeting rooms and at
             reception desks.
          • PCs with access to e-mail : located in the « datarooms » and in the « infocentres » are
             accessible to persons (who have a personal login linked to their function or a generic
             one given to them by the “Infocentre”), mainly to all MEPs and EP staff, as they
             move in the other EP buildings or on other sites than the one(s) in which they have
             their office(s), interpreters and “free lance” translators, trainees and assistants...

     3.    It should anyway be kept in mind that these basic ICT facilities are inherently limited in
           capacity and number, and that the cost of their use (by all users) appears therefore
           relatively marginal. For instance, the telephones being restricted to « national » calls,
           their communication costs are limited, thanks to the favourable terms which have been
           negotiated with the telephone network companies. In addition, the cost of each set (all
           telephones of the general Secretariat and those used by external contractors) is
           monitored. Recently, a detailed examination of the use of some phones was conducted
           and concluded by a downgrading of the access possibilities (in-house access only) of a
           certain number of them.

     DG 6
     Answer related to office facilities :

     Areas and/or offices in Strasbourg and Brussels are allocated to the following categories of
     outside bodies :


           − other European institutions (e.g. European Ombudsman, European Commission, ...);
           − services to the MEPs (e.g. banks, airline companies, bookshops, hairdresser, ...);
           − duly accredited representatives (e.g. Ville de Strasbourg/Bruxelles, press agencies,
             ...);
           − companies acting under contract with the European Parliament, mainly for
                      security and safety (e.g. Securitas)
                      telecommunications (e.g. Expertel, Getronics)
                      technical maintenance (e.g. Axima, Eurogem)
                      cleaning (e.g. Abilis)
                      catering services (e.g. Eurest)
                      architectural works (e.g. Architecture Studio)
     This allocation of areas or offices is ruled by rental agreements, administrative authorisations
     or contracts which set reciprocal obligations of the parties; the respect of these obligations is
     regularly verified by the officials in charge of the related agreement or contract.
     The Division for Buildings has calculated a tariff for the use of meeting rooms by outside
     organisations which takes into account maintenance, cleaning etc.
     Moreover, the access to all these areas is permanently checked by the security department of
     the European Parliament.
     These measures ensure that no area or office is misused by the external bodies for private


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purpose.
With regard to the information offices in the Member States, there is a set of guidelines
adopted by the College of Quaestors for the use of premises by Members and political
Groups, if any abuses were pointed out by the colleagues in the Offices, than the problem
should be brought to the attention of the College of Quaestors.

86.   What proportion of outside organisations using Parliament's meetings facilities is
      charged for those services (room hire, security, etc..)? How much is received by
      Parliament by way of revenue annually in respect of such activities?

Outside organisations are not charged a rental fee for use of the meeting rooms managed by
the Interpretation and Conferences Division, but are asked to contribute to electricity,
cleaning and other costs.

In 2002 such a contribution was requested in respect of half the meetings held by outside
organisations using EP meeting rooms in Brussels, and approximately 20% of such meetings
in Strasbourg (the use of meeting rooms by the Ombudsman and for Euroscola is treated in
the same way as use by outside organisations).

In respect of 2002 the division charged a total of € 90 318 by way of contributions to the cost
of 21 meetings held by outside organisations (13 in Brussels and 8 in Strasbourg).

87.   Press reports suggest that SERS has left a financial hole of €50 million. Will this
      have implications for the European Parliament's finances?

On 15 December, the President of Parliament signed the formal agreement for the purchase of
the LOW building. This agreement, besides specifying the final and definitive purchase price
of the building (€445.6 million), also contained explicit provisions according to which the
financial deficit of SERS referred to in the question, as well as the outcome of any legal
disputes between SERS and its contractors, were specifically made the responsibility of the
French parties to the agreement. None of these elements can therefore have any financial
consequences for Parliament.

88.   What is the current position regarding the dispute between the EP and the Belgian
      authorities concerning the forecourt in Brussels? Has the Belgian Government since
      met its commitment to provide €4.74 million? Can the Secretary-General provide
      COCOBU with a review of the exchange of correspondence between the EP and the
      Belgian authorities in this matter? (Staes report on 2001 discharge, para. 60)

At a meeting with representatives of all the responsible Belgian authorities on 25 November
2003, the latter formally confirmed that reimbursement of the costs of the so-called "dalle"
(forecourt) would be met by the Belgian authorities.

The relevant services are at the disposal of the rapporteur for further details of this complex
operation as required and the various correspondence relating to this matter can be made
available if necessary.

89.   Is there any truth in the rumour that the EP is planning to stop the general public
      and local residents from entering or crossing the forecourt? Is it correct that the

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               security services have been instructed to remove children who are playing on the
               forecourt during weekends? What measures are being taken to ensure that the
               forecourt can also serve as a public meeting place?

     The Security Division has no competence to act outside of the buildings of the European
     Parliament, according to Belgian legislation, therefore, no instructions can be given, and none
     has been given, to restrict access to the forecourt. For the time being, the forecourt is in the
     private domain (SEL). In the framework of the general planning of the European Quarter, in
     Brussels, the competent Belgian authorities are currently considering options about the status
     of the surroundings of the European Parliament buildings and their use.

     90.       Can the Secretary-General provide COCOBU with a review of the latest developments
               concerning the D4-D5/Ardenne buildings? ( (Staes report on 2001 discharge, paras.
               61-70) Will the D4-D5 buildings have modern energy saving facilities and use sources
               of renewable energy, if not, why not?

     1. On 27 October 2003, the developers, SEL, forwarded to Parliament the price quotation
     for the construction of the D4-D5 buildings.
     As a result, the negotiations begun in early summer 2003 are thus now at last proceeding on
     the basis of a full set of documents.
     Given the fact that the developers submitted their final quotation behind schedule, it will not
     be possible, as planned, to submit a note on the stage reached in the negotiations to the Bureau
     in November 2003. This note is likely to be approximately two months late.

     2. Under the terms of the contract, the Atrium II building should be handed over to the EP
     on 31 March 2004. This deadline will be met, and the Administration is currently holding
     negotiations with the developers on the terms governing the taking up of the purchase options
     and those relating to the early hand-over of the building, should this be possible.

     3. Energy savings and renewable energy sources
     The EP departments responsible for the planning of the D4/D5 buildings have ensured that the
     buildings and technical installations are designed in such a way as to enable energy to be used
     in the most rational, economic and environment-friendly manner possible.

     Special attention was paid to the following:

           •    the thermal and acoustic properties of the facades and the design of the windows;
           •    an extremely advanced centralised technical management system to control and
                supervise the installations;
           •    a system for checking office occupation in order to save energy (heating, air
                conditioning, lighting);
           •    all heating and air-conditioning systems, including motors and pumps, have been
                designed in such a way as to save energy;
           •    air-quality monitoring in offices and car parks, enabling the amount of clean air
                pumped in to be tailored to requirements;
           •    solar panels on the D4 roof will supply electricity to be used in the production of hot
                water for MEPs' washrooms.




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91.       Can the Secretary-General explain to COCOBU when and how local residents were
          consulted at the start of work on D4-D5? Were efforts made to meet local residents'
          wishes and concerns regarding access to certain areas of the new D4-D5 buildings?
          Is there any truth in the rumour that the EP is considering measures to prohibit the
          parking of cars at a distance of less than 30 metres from EP buildings? Will local
          residents have access to the underground car park exiting onto the Luxembourg
          square? To what use is the old station to be put? Can Parliament accede to requests
          from residents that the post office in the new buildings should be open to the public?
          What progress has been made regarding plans for the 'Museum for Europe'?

Throughout 2002, on behalf of the EP Vice-President Colom i Naval held many discussions
with all the parties concerned, namely:

      -       the Brussels Regional Council;
      -       the Brussels and Ixelles municipal authorities;
      -       Belgian Railways;
      -       AQL/ACQL (Quartier Léopold residents' and shopkeepers' associations).

Before submitting the relevant documents to the Bureau, the Vice-President also held a public
meeting in the presence of journalists in one of the EP meeting rooms.

These meetings had a direct impact on the architecture and design of the D4-D5 Buildings.

The EP has not asked for a ban on parking within 30 metres of the buildings. Consideration
was given to the issue of setting up a security zone around the buildings when specific events
are taking place, but no practical measures have been taken as yet.

One hundred and eighty parking spaces will be set aside for members of the public in the D4
underground car park.

The former station will be open to the public and should house a branch of the EP's Belgian
office and a Brussels City Council information counter.

The EP has proposed that a public post office be opened inside the D4. The Belgian
authorities have rejected this proposal, preferring to look into the possibility of siting it on the
rue Godecharles side.

As part of the D4 project, a specially-designed 6 000 m² area has been set aside for a Museum
of Europe.

92.       Has every effort been made to guarantee access to the new buildings for disabled
          people as requested by the Plenary? (Staes report on 2001 discharge, para. 71)

At the initiative of the European Parliament, during 2003, the European Parliament, the Court
of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, together with the
Committee on the Regions carried out an audit on the subject of "Access to the European
institutions for handicapped persons" by an external firm. In this framework, several points
were studied, particularly accessibility to existing infrastructures and to future ones. Now, the
European Parliament has access to these reports which show the various improvements that
must be made to existing buildings during 2004 and 2005. Concerning future buildings, all

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     the standards to meet the requirements of handicapped persons in the three places of work
     must be met. These take into consideration all the measures to be taken resulting from these
     experts' reports.

     93.   Has asbestos been found in air filters or elsewhere in the existing crèche at any time,
           and can you please indicate when and how often analyses are made?
           What progress has been made on the planned crèche in Wayenbergstraat? Has
           proper account been taken of the comments from local residents concerning
           difficulties in mobility? (Staes report on 2001 discharge, para. 72)

     To date, no traces of asbestos have been found in the Eastman Building. Air quality tests are
     made once a year (November/December 2003).

     The EP took up its option to purchase the Clinique Albert I building and land in rue
     Wayenberg on 30 September 2003. The planning permit was obtained on 16 September 2003
     and asbestos removal operations began in mid-November. The work itself will begin in
     February 2004 and is scheduled for completion during the summer recess in 2005.

     94.   Local residents complain about the frequent closure of rue Wiertz. This often causes
           them serious problems. Can a solution be found to allow residents to circulate freely?

     With the agreement of the relevant local authorities, rue Wiertz is closed to traffic during:

            •     mini part-sessions of Parliament (five or six times a year, for a day and a half each
                  time), the dates of which are forwarded before the end of the preceding year;
            •     exceptional events, namely some official visits (heads of State or Government), of
                  which there are a very limited number each year, and the Convention meetings
                  which ended at the beginning of 2003. For obvious security reasons, traffic cannot
                  be allowed through rue Wiertz during such meetings. However, local residents can
                  still use the stretch of the road between the roundabout and the Chaussée de
                  Wavre.

     Pensions

     95.   Can the Secretary-General indicate whether Members' contribution to the voluntary
           pension fund could be deducted from their daily allowance entitlement instead of
           their general expenditure allowance? Would such a change be facilitated by the
           creation of monthly accounts?

     Members' contributions are deducted from the general expenditure allowance because this is
     the only allowance paid directly to Members that is large enough in size and sufficiently
     periodic in nature to allow such payments to be automated. Claims made for the
     reimbursement of expenditure against the travel and subsistence allowances are made at
     irregular intervals and the sums involved are not always large enough to cover the deductions
     to be made. Making the deductions from such variable payments would considerably increase
     administrative costs. However, this reservation would no longer apply if the Members were to
     accept the idea of single payments being made under the 'individual account' system referred
     to in question 22.



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96.   What is the total cost, to the Parliament, of administering the voluntary pension
      fund? Is this cost billed to the pension fund?

      On what legal basis is the pension scheme for French and Italian Members being
      administered?

Parliament does not administer the Members' additional pension scheme. It merely deducts
the contributions and pays them into the fund together with the 'employer's share', establishes
the Members' pension entitlements and follows up matters in accordance with the Rules
governing the payment of expenses and allowances to Members adopted by the Bureau. The
administrative costs are made up mainly of IT and staff costs, and are not charged to the
pension fund.

The pension scheme set up for French and Italian Members is based on Article 2 of Annex III
to the Rules on expenses and allowances, which guarantees MEPs the same pension rights as
those applying to members of a national parliament, subject to the payment of the same
contributions.

Former Members' association

97.   The Former Members' Association had a surplus of € 43 000 at the end of 2002. Why
      has this money not been recouped from the Association?

Under the Financial Regulation grants to outside organisations may not have the purpose or
effect of producing a profit for the beneficiary. There was a surplus in the 2002 accounts of
the Former Members Association (FMA) of € 43 000 and a further surplus is forecast for
2003. The Bureau of Parliament discussed these surpluses at its meeting of 5 November 2003.
The Bureau noted that the intention of the FMA, in accordance with advice it had received
from its auditors, was to use these surpluses to set up a civil liability fund. The Bureau agreed
that the Administration services would therefore examine with the Management Committee of
the FMA the question of the FMA's reserves in the light of the Financial Regulation and
report back to the Bureau.

Given that the 2002 had ended, the association's audited accounts formally recorded the
surplus revenue. The authorising officer therefore issued a recovery order for € 43 000 and
asked the association to repay this sum. Recovery proceedings have been suspended pending
a decision by the Bureau, which has sought the opinion of the Legal Service.

98.   Does the Parliament charge the FMA for the use of its facilities? If not, why not?

The facilities provided by the Parliament to the FMA within the terms of the Administrative
Agreement between Parliament and the FMA should be seen as integral to the financial
subsidy paid to the Association. The cost of providing these facilities is minimal and in any
case the FMA has never requested the full complement of the facilities to which, under the
Administrative Agreement, it is entitled.

99.   Does the Secretary-General agree that the European Parliament's contribution to the
      FMA should not be based on a ratio but on an independent annual assessment of the
      FMA's financial needs?


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     The Parliament's financial support for the Association shall be subject to review in 2003 at
     which point consideration will be given to a system whereby the Parliament's support for the
     Association would be based on a 2:1 ratio of the Association's fully paid membership as at 31
     December of the previous year. There is nothing automatic about any change to a new system
     of financing the FMA whereby the Parliament would contribute twice as much as FMA
     members themselves.

     In any case, any grant to the FMA from the budget of the European Parliament remains
     subject, as ever, to the approval of the inclusion of the necessary appropriations by the
     budgetary authority.

     100. Does the Secretary-General consider that the FMA dinner taking place on 2
          December 2003, for which participants are being charged, is being organised in
          accordance with the relevant rules?

     The President has registered the concerns expressed by Members, has raised these with the
     Association and a reply on this matter remains pending.

     Environmental issues

     101. Can the Secretary-General indicate to what extent the Plenary's observations and
          recommendations on the environment have been put into practice? (Staes report on
          2001 discharge, paras. 111-115)

     On the basis of the contract concluded with the external consultants, the review of
     Parliament's environmental management is currently in progress. The first stage, involving an
     environmental analysis of Parliament's activities in accordance with the provisions of Annex
     VII to Regulation (EC) No 761/2001, will be completed by the end of this year. The findings
     will be forwarded to the relevant committees.

     In accordance with the timetable drawn up, the second and third stages will be carried out in
     2004. The second stage involves the drafting of a proposal for an appropriate environmental
     policy and programmes that can be implemented within Parliament, pursuant to Annex I to
     Regulation (EC) No 761/2001. The third stage involves the drawing up of an internal
     environmental audit plan in accordance with the provisions of Annex II to the regulation.




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