PositionBrief Article

The last discharge procedure to have been achieved with a similar degree of fluidity dates back to 1997 for the Budget for 1995. Since then, things have not run as smoothly. The 1996 Budget discharge led to the resignation of the Santer Commission. The European Parliament voted through the report by Freddy Blak (see European Report No 2581) by 455 to 51 with 23 abstentions. Michaele Schreyer welcomed the European Parliament's vote, adding that Mr Blak had the reputation of taking no prisoners with respect to bad management and he had lived up to his reputation. She said that the Commission felt that it was following in the right track by tightening up its monitoring of the Budget. She was distinctly less welcoming of the key amendments to the report tabled by Gabriele Stauner (EPP, Germany), which (by a narrower majority) called for the Framework Agreement between the European Commission and the European Parliament to be revised (see European Report No 2507, 2529 and 2530). The initiative comes as a surprise after the rejection of the request by Ms Stauner and several other MEPs from the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee that the Framework Agreement be cancelled by the Court of First Instance (see European Report No 2560).Ms Schreyer said that the Commission had provided the Committee with several thousand pages and it felt that the Framework Agreement on the submission of confidential documents had been very useful and had provided a useful foundation for ensuring that confidential documents did not go astray. The Blak report called for rapid clarification on the rules governing the submission of information from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee. These rules are intended to reconcile the requirement for transparency with the need to maintain the confidentiality of certain documents, respecting the presumption of innocence for those alleged to have committed fraud.The European Parliament also adopted the report by Gabriele Stauner on the General Budget for 1998 which stipulates that the Commission is to put forward a programme by October 2001 to reduce the number of errors in financial operations. In an amendment tabled by the PES group, the European Parliament welcomed the Commission's efforts to reform its administration to allow Community resources to be used more effectively. Another PES amendment states that a credible and effective system whereby authorising...

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