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The operational nature of certain Council spending on foreign affairs and security and defence policy led the European Committee's for Budgetary Control (Cocobu), on the basis of a special report by the Court of Auditors, to call on the plenary session to integrate this spending into the discharge procedure. MEPs will consider a draft Resolution recommending withholding clearance of the Council's accounts in respect of its management of the 2000 Budget, pending an adequate response from EU Ministers to the Committee's concerns by May 15, 2002. The Council's Budgetary Committee dismissed a first questionnaire submitted by the Parliamentary committee at the outset of the procedure (see European Report 2658 for further details). The Council, which cannot oppose the refusal to grant discharge, believes it made a concession to the Parliament in the 2001 Budget with the clear identification of CFSP and ESDP-related spending.Notwithstanding, the Council's deputy Secretary-General, Pierre de Boissieu, is meant to distribute a draft letter to EU budgetary experts which should calm tensions with the Parliament. If Budgetary Committee is prepared to accept this attempt at conciliation, the PES group was ready at the vote on April 10 to suspend this part of the Morgan report, whereas the EPP group is likely to recommend sending it back to the Budgetary Control Committee.The Morgan report also recommends refusing to grant discharge to the Economic and Social Committee (ESC) for the implementation of its Budgets for 1996 and 1997, following obstacles to an OLAF investigation into irregularities concerning the payment of ESC Members' travel allowances in 1995-1996. However, the committee is recommending granting discharge to the ESC for the implementation of the Budgets for 1998, 1999 and 2000 in recognition of the administrative reforms made. Several speakers at the open debate on April 9, notably Jean-Louis Bourlanges (EPP, France) challenged this partial discharge.The remainder of the budgetary procedure is much more consensual, a "budgetary peace" illustrated by the general rapporteur Joe McCartin, who refers to a "sign of confidence" with regard to the Commission. This however, the result of a compromise, which includes the adoption within the Committee on Budgetary Control of an...

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