Ministers’ Deputies

    CM Documents

    CM(2011)123      3 October 20111



    1127 Meeting (Budget), 22-24 November 2011

    11 Administration and Logistics

    11.1 Meeting report of the Budget Committee – September 2011 session

    Item to be considered by the GR-PBA at its meeting on 13 October 2011



    The Budget Committee met in Strasbourg on 19 – 23 September 2011.

    The agenda of the meeting appears at Appendix I and the list of participants at Appendix II.

    I. OPENING OF THE MEETING

    1. The Chairperson opened the meeting.

    Report of the May 2011 meeting

    2. The Committee took note of the report of the May 2011 meeting.

    II. CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND BUDGETARY MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTS FOR 2010

    3. The Committee examined the consolidated financial statements and the budgetary management accounts for 2010.

    4. Concerning the financial statements, it noted that following a recommendation by the external auditor, the segment information was presented using the structure of the 2011 Programme and Budget. In order to have a clearer picture of the accounts of the Organisation's various sectors, notably the EDQM, the Committee recommended that this question be reviewed with the external auditor, so as to revert to the previous format for disclosure of segment information.

    5. The Committee requested that for the next meeting the Secretariat would provide segmental information in respect of EDQM as of 31 December 2010 and 2011 including the financial performance and position in IPSAS terms.

    6. The Committee noted that a number of appeal proceedings were pending which involved substantial financial risks, notably appeals against the -0.2% salary adjustment in 2011 and the decision to double the interval for the awarding of salary increments (“steps”) and underlined the importance of accurately assessing their potential impact in the note on post-balance sheet events.

    7. The Committee recommended that the Secretary General be discharged from financial responsibility in respect of the 2010 financial year.

    8. Concerning the budgetary management accounts and the related draft decisions, the Committee welcomed the fact that the general practice was to return any unspent balance to the member states. It nonetheless noted that in some cases it was proposed to carry forward unspent balances to 2011. With regard to the European Youth Foundation (EYF), the Committee noted that Article 6 of the Foundation's statute stated: "The credit balance in a financial year shall be added to the Foundation’s resources for the following year and the expenditure budget will be increased by an equivalent amount. “The Committee consequently recommended that the unspent balance be carried forward to 2011. The same applied to Eurimages, since Article 8 of the Fund's financial regulations stipulated "The credit balance of a financial year shall be added to the Fund's resources for the following financial year. This balance shall be credited to the budget of receipts as of 1 January of the following year, but can be used only for the financing of programme expenditure". Regarding the European Youth Centres, the Committee noted that the credit balance was proposed for transfer to a special account corresponding to supplementary income, originating from the higher than expected level of external self-financing activities. This was in line with practice and the Committee regarded it as an encouragement to growth of receipts. Therefore, it could also recommend the draft decision as submitted to the Committee of Ministers.

    9. Regarding the North-South Centre, the Committee noted that the credit balance originated from savings on staff costs. It noted that the customary practice had been to transfer such balances to the Centre's special account but there was no statutory obligation to do so. The Committee accordingly recommended that the credit balance for 2010, amounting to €46 443, be reimbursed to the member states.

    10. The Committee also noted that in the budgetary management accounts of the North-South Centre an amount of €125 K appeared as receipts with the description “Allocation from BL budget” and that this amount was not foreseen in the original budget of the North-South Centre. The Committee noted that it related to part of a Joint Programme with the European Union which was implemented by the North-South Centre. In the light of explanations provided by the Secretariat, the Committee was of the opinion that the description of this receipt should be “Grant from the Joint Programmes special account – JP” in order to make this entry more transparent and comprehensible.

    11. In addition, the Committee noted that the EDQM's cumulative surplus totalled €9.5 M and that it was proposed to:

    - reimburse to the member states an amount equivalent to the contributions called in 2010, i.e. €2.8 M;

    - transfer €1 M to a new special account called ‘contingency plan’ set out in the EDQM's four-year strategy;

    - carry forward to 2011 the balance of €5.7 M (see item 6.2.d).

    12. Although it deemed that such a contingency reserve could have valid objectives, the Committee considered that an in-depth analysis of existing risks and probabilities of a disaster together with an analysis of the potential costs of different measures that could be undertaken to mitigate these risks should first be performed and a contingency plan could then be decided upon and implemented in the light of this study's conclusions. Therefore the Committee recommended that the proposal to transfer €1 M to a special account “contingency plan” should not be approved.

    13. Given the strong financial position of the EDQM as at 31 December 2010, the budget committee recommended that an amount of €1 M be reimbursed to the member states in addition to the €2.8 M initially proposed. It recommended that the balance of 5.7 M be carried forward to the 2011 budget as initially proposed.

    III. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REFORM OF THE ORGANISATION, INCLUDING BUDGETARY ASPECTS

    14. The Director of Programme, Finance and Linguistic Services (DPFL), Mr Rafael Benitez, informed the Budget Committee of developments relating to the reform of the Organisation, in particular the restructuring of the Secretariat, as set out in document CM/Del/Dec(2011)1116 (Item 1.3 and Appendix 3) which includes the replacement of the four existing operational Directorates General by two new Directorates General, DGI – Human Rights and Rule of Law and DGII – Democracy, the direct attachment of the directorates of External Relations, Policy Planning and Political Advice to the Secretary General and the creation of a new post of Director General of Programmes.

    15. The Committee then held an exchange of views with the Director General of Programmes appointed as from 1 October 2011, Ms Gabriella Battaini.

    16. The Director General said that the restructuring of the Secretariat was aimed at adapting the Secretariat's structure to the organisational reform which the Secretary General intended to complete before the end of his term of office. To this end, it had been necessary to bring together all the intergovernmental activities under a single co-ordinating entity so as to avoid fragmentation of the decision-making processes, administrative inconsistencies, problems with information flows and competition for limited resources between four Directorates General. The approach followed had drawn to a large extent on the study of the Council of Europe's organisational structure conducted in August 2009 by the National Audit Office. The Director General underlined that having a single point of co-ordination of intergovernmental activities would make it possible to identify priorities and make the necessary choices concerning the needs of the two new operational Directorates General which would make it possible to submit proposals to the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers that allowed the Organisation to function as efficiently in the field as it does in Strasbourg.

    17. She had also been given responsibility for the resources redeployed to reinforce the Council of Europe's external presence and for the raising of extra-budgetary resources, with a view to ensuring improved co-ordination of activities in the countries having the greatest needs, particularly through the preparation of programme documents by country and a more balanced distribution of extra-budgetary financing among the programme lines and/or between the beneficiary countries.

    18. She added that her office would work in close liaison with DPFL regarding the preparation, implementation and monitoring of the intergovernmental part of the Council of Europe's programme and budget, without prejudice to the mandate of DPFL in respect of the Organisation as a whole.

    19. The Committee noted the efforts being made to reduce staff costs in the context of this restructuring programme and the decision to suppress a further 25 to 35 posts during the 2012-13 biennium (see also item VI.1).

    20. It also noted that the Office of the Director General of Programmes would initially have 28 permanent posts redeployed mainly from the two disbanded Directorates General and would reassess its staffing needs after its first six months in operation without creating any new posts.

    21. The Committee noted that the reform of the Secretariat included decentralisation of the implementation of programmes and projects which would entail increased risks for the organisation. The Committee recommended that a risk management strategy be established and implemented as also recommended by the External Auditor.

    22. The Committee hoped that the mandate entrusted to Ms Battaini would help to bring about a reduction in unspent balances in respect of intergovernmental and co-operation activities and make it possible to determine the best means of achieving more flexible management of human resources, thereby permitting further reductions in staff expenditure. In this connection, the Committee referred to the observation included in the report of its May 2011 session: "The Committee noted that it was currently proposed to suppress 19 posts/positions over the period of the biennium but was of the opinion that it may be possible to make further staff economies as a result of the review of intergovernmental structures and the restructuring of the Secretariat later in the year."

    23. The Budget Committee encouraged the Organisation to examine the real administrative costs for the Council of Europe of the implementation of Joint programmes as they appeared to exceed the standard 7% which was currently included in contracts with the European Union.

    24. The Committee also encouraged the Director General of Programmes to consider an increased use of fixed term contracts rather than contracts of an indefinite duration in order to increase flexibility for the organisation (see also 6.2.i).

    IV. PRESENTATION OF BUDGETARY CONTEXT

    25. The Director of Programme, Finance and Linguistic Services provided the Committee with information in respect of developments that had taken place since the previous meeting of the Committee, namely the decisions by the Committee of Ministers to:

- permanently eliminate the negative reserve;

- credit to the member states the total amount of the 2010 credit balance (€1.7 M);

- apply an inflation adjustment of 1.8% to member states' contributions for 2012;

- limit the total of member states' contributions to the Ordinary Budget for 2012 to no more than €233 598 900, including the adjustment of remuneration decided for 2012;

- request the Secretary General to submit proposals aimed at achieving further savings, particularly with regard to administrative and staff expenditure and redeploy them to priority areas; and

- set the rise in the total of member states' contributions to the Ordinary Budget for 2013 at no more than the lower of zero real growth, based on the current inflation method, or 2%, on the understanding that if the inflation rate was higher than 2% the Committee of Ministers could reconsider this matter.

    26. The Committee was also informed that the Committee of Ministers had adopted revised Financial Regulations following on from the discussions that had been held during the May meeting of the Budget Committee which reflected the new biennial nature of the Programme and Budget.

    27. The Committee welcomed the fact that decisions in respect of the 2012-13 Programme and Budget had been taken in time and in accordance with the Budgetary Calendar and was of the opinion that this would facilitate the next steps of the budget process.

    V. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2011 BUDGETS AS OF 31 AUGUST 2011

    28. The Committee noted the information presented in respect of the implementation of the 2011 budgets and suggested some changes in the presentation of the tables provided.

    VI. DRAFT PROGRAMME AND BUDGET FOR 2012-13

    VI. 1. General discussion on budgetary aspects

    29. Regarding the new policy to include pension costs in the Ordinary Budget, the Committee recalled that following a recommendation from the external auditors, the employer’s pension costs relating to staff were now included within the Ordinary Budget and the service budgets.

    30. The Committee had established the budgetary neutrality of this exercise during its May 2011 meeting (see Appendix III CM(2011)69). It noted that these figures were based on initial estimates, while the final estimates included in the Draft Programme and Budget produced slightly different figures resulting in an overestimation of contributions of €87.4 K (see appendix 3).

    31. Consequently if the effect on member states contributions was to be neutral the contributions of member states to the ordinary budget for 2012 should have been €87.4K lower.

    32. Although this was a small amount in relation to the overall figure of €233.6 M, the Committee wished to draw the attention of the Committee of Ministers to this fact. It also pointed out that there would be an effect not only on 2012 but on contribution levels for future years.

    33. Regarding potential savings in respect of staff, the Committee noted the decision of the Committee of Ministers to allocate €4.3 M for the payment of indemnity for loss of employment for 25-35 staff members over the course of 2012-13. Although the decision had been taken at the end of June 2011, no specific proposals in this respect had been reflected in the draft Programme and Budget. The Committee recommended that a target figure of at least €2 M of savings for 2013 and a percentage of this amount for 2012 should be included in the budget. This could be achieved by introducing a negative line compensated by a positive line to be allocated for specific purposes bearing in mind the decision of the Committee of Ministers of 29 June 2011, which “called on the Secretary General to submit additional proposals aimed at achieving further savings in the budget, in particular in administrative and staff expenditure, with a view to containing staff expenditure, and to redeploying any savings to priority programme lines”.

    34. In respect of publications, the Committee noted that potential savings of up to €500 K identified by the Internal Auditor (CM(2011)64) could be generated by a re-centralisation of competencies in respect of document publications. Whilst noting that the internal auditor was of the opinion that this amount may be partly offset by the cost of some strengthening of central services, the Committee recommended that the net savings should be reflected in the Draft Programme and Budget for 2012-13.

    35 The result of including these two savings in the budget would mean that an additional sum of around €1.0 M in 2012 and €2.5 M in 2013 would be available for the budget of the biennium.

    The Budget Committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers should decide whether these amounts should be used for additional activities, a reduction of the overall budget and consequently member states’ contributions or a combination of these two options.

    36. Regarding objectives, expected results and performance indicators, the Committee noted that in the Draft Programme and Budget they were not always of the highest quality and in particular objectives that addressed the strategic question “Why” were not always sufficiently clear. In some instances, sufficient detail was not given in respect of the desired impact of the proposed programme. The Committee recommended that in future documents, the objectives section of the Logframes be highlighted and presented in a box.

    37. The Committee provided the Secretariat with a number of objectives, expected results and performance indicators which could be improved and a number which were examples of good ones.

    38. The Committee further noted that a number of expected results which were either vague or mere descriptions of activities and some performance indicators which were not quantified in any way, reflecting in both cases administrative procedures and being inward rather than outward looking.

    The Committee stressed the importance for expected results attached to a specific objective, to be “SMART” i.e.: Specific, Measurable, Achievable and verifiable at an Acceptable cost, Relevant to the objective concerned, and Verifiable within a reasonable period of Time, as they were an essential part of the Results Based Budgeting process used to assess the implementation of the Programme and Budget through the Progress Review Report.

    39. With the support of the Secretariat, the Committee will organise a seminar at one of its forthcoming meetings on the subject of “Objectives, Expected Results and Performance Indicators” involving other interested parties of the Council of Europe and external experts.

    VI. 2. Detailed review of some programme lines and budgets

    a. European Court of Human Rights: follow-up to Interlaken Conference

    40. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Erik Fribergh, Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights.

    41. The Registrar informed the Committee of the measures taken by the Court in response to the decisions adopted by the states parties to the European Convention on Human Rights following the Interlaken and Izmir conferences.

    42. He said that significant progress had been made in the processing of cases, but there had been no change as regarded the main challenge confronting the Court, namely the constant rise in the number of new applications (by 10 to 15% per year). Cases pending currently numbered over 160 000.

    43. The Court had assumed a very active role in the follow-up process to Interlaken and Izmir, notably through the following measures, which were bringing good results:

    - publication of a practical guide to admissibility for legal practitioners;

    - introduction of a "checklist" of admissibility criteria, to be published on the Court's web-site for use by applicants (currently being tested in three countries);

    - modernisation and development of the Hudoc database (in progress);

    - production of a video clip on admissibility requirements (in progress);

    - prioritisation in the handling of applications;

    - greater use of the "pilot judgment", "friendly settlement" and "unilateral declaration" procedures;

    - introduction of the "single judge" formation and of filtering sections responsible for verifying that cases are admissible.

    44. Other measures would be adopted with the aim of improving court users' information and thereby attempting to reduce the mass of inadmissible applications, particularly through the translation of the most important judgments and decisions into the languages of the countries concerned.

    45. The Registrar pointed out that, with regard to the good functioning of the Convention system, the Court was not the only player concerned and, on the basis of the subsidiarity principle, it was firstly for the states parties to apply the Convention in their domestic judicial systems in accordance with the Court's case-law.

    46. He also informed the Committee that following the requests of Ministers at Interlaken the Committee of Ministers proposed to grant the Court administrative autonomy, which primarily entailed the delegation to the Registrar of a number of powers and responsibilities in staff management matters, in particular regarding appointments and informed the Committee that there would be no creations of additional administrative posts due to this measure.

    47. The Committee noted the difficulties being faced by the Court as a result of the constant rise in the number of applications and welcomed the new working methods and measures adopted in the wake of the Interlaken and Izmir conferences. It expressed satisfaction that the Registry was able to implement a number of projects thanks to voluntary contributions made by certain member states to the budget of the Court and encouraged the Registrar to continue his efforts in this direction.

    48. The Committee noted that one post in the non case processing services of the Registry of the Court was proposed for suppression in 2012 and one in 2013.

    49. The Committee welcomed the increasing use of seconded officials by the Court.

    50. The Committee recommended the programme and budget for 2012-13 as it appears in document CM(2011)130.

    b. Promoting social inclusion and respect for human rights: Roma2

    51. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma1 Issues. The Council of Europe’s activities in this area were carried out as a transversal programme. The Committee noted that the proposed budget for 2012-13 would remain at the same level as that for 2011 and that, during the current financial year, the available resources had been supplemented with voluntary contributions.

    52. The Committee recommended the programme and budget for 2012-13 as it appears in document CM(2011)130.

    c. Children’s rights

    53. The Budget Committee held an exchange of views with Mrs Regina Jensdottir, Head of Division and Programme Co-coordinator of “Building a Europe for and with children”.

    54. These activities were also carried out using a transversal approach.

    55. The Committee took note of the presentation of the programme “Building a Europe for and with children” together with the expected results and performance indicators and noted its mission to co-ordinate all Council of Europe action on children, mainstream children's rights and eliminate all forms of violence against children in all policy areas.

    56. The Committee recommended the programme and budget for 2012-13 as it appears in document CM(2011)130.

    57. The Committee welcomed the transversal nature of the Roma1 and Children’s rights programmes. The Committee was of the opinion that this approach was effective in terms of the achievement of results and the attraction of extra-budgetary resources.

    d. EDQM (European Pharmacopoeia), including review of the Medium Term Strategy 2012-15

    58. The Committee held an exchange of views with the Director of the EDQM, Ms Keitel, who presented, inter alia, the EDQM's new medium-term strategy. The Committee considered that this document and its future updates will constitute a useful basis for future decisions and recommended that the Committee of Ministers take due note of it.

    59. However the Budget Committee stressed that the actual development of the activities and expenditure and the estimates of revenue would be decided in the context of the usual budgetary decision-making process of the Council of Europe.

    60. The Committee noted that, under this medium-term strategy, it was proposed to create a special account for a disaster recovery plan (contingency plan), to be financed initially by an allocation of €1 M from the financial result of 2010 and €1.5 M in 2011 followed by €1.5 M in 2012 and €3 M in 2013, with a view to constituting a reserve of €11 M by 2015. Although it deemed that such a contingency reserve could have valid objectives, the Committee considered that an in-depth analysis of existing risks and probabilities of a disaster together with an analysis of the potential costs of different measures that could be undertaken to mitigate these risks should first be performed. A contingency plan could then be decided upon and implemented in the light of this study's conclusions (see para. 12 above). For this reason, the Committee recommended that the EDQM's draft budget for 2012-13 be amended by eliminating the proposed allocation to the contingency plan of €1.5 M in 2012 and €3 M in 2013 and by including the cost of a full risk analysis, estimated at €200 K, in expenditure for 2012, without this affecting the total budget amount. The revised budget would be as follows:

    61. The Committee also welcomed the progress made with the project to introduce a cost accounting system. It noted that the system should be operational for the next financial year.

    62. Lastly, the Committee noted that the draft Programme and Budget for 2012-13 included the creation of 12 posts in 2012 and 2 posts in 2013, most of which were linked to the growth in income-generating activities. In the light of the explanations given, it could recommend the creation of these 14 posts over the biennium. The Committee noted with satisfaction that 30% of employment contracts at the EDQM were of limited duration and that the EDQM intended to continue to apply this policy in respect of future recruitments.

    63. The Committee recommended the investment programme as detailed in Appendix V of CM(2011)130.

    e. Eurimages

    64. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Roberto Olla, Executive Director of the "Eurimages" Partial Agreement, in particular regarding the objectives, expected results and performance indicators included in the draft Programme and Budget. It noted that, following the accession of the Russian Federation in 2011, the budget for 2012-13 had been increased by an amount equivalent to that country's contribution, i.e. €1.7 M.

    The Committee recommended the programme and budget of this partial agreement for 2012-13 as it appears in document CM(2011)130.

    f. Venice Commission

    65. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Thomas Markert, Secretary of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission). It noted the proposal to reinforce the Commission's secretariat through the creation of an A4 post to cope with an increase in activities, mainly as a result of the political changes in the Arab world, in particular in the Maghreb countries. It noted with satisfaction that, during the biennium, the Venice Commission would benefit from significant extra-budgetary resources enabling it to continue its activities, in particular in Central Asia.

    66. The Committee recommended the programme and budget of this partial agreement as it appears in document CM(2011)130, including the creation of an A4 post.

    g. Investments

    67. The Committee noted that the inflation adjustment had been applied to the grant from the Ordinary Budget for investments. It recommended the investment programme of the General Budget, as proposed for 2012-13, amounting to €5.335 M for each financial year in the biennium.

    h. Pensions

    68. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Eric Gires, the actuary of the Joint Pensions Administrative Section (JPAS), who presented the results of the three-yearly actuarial study, reminding participants that the last study had been conducted in 2008. He underlined that the rate of contribution required of the member states had decreased since the last study, from 34.1% to 31.3%, which meant that the weight of pension costs in relation to the Organisation's total staff expenditure had diminished in relative terms. This was due to the increase in the number of staff affiliated to the pension scheme, which resulted in a decrease in the average age of the affiliated staff member, the impact of doubling the period between salary increments for seniority, a reform which the Council of Europe had pioneered and the increased proportion of affiliated staff belonging to the “second pension scheme”.

    69. He pointed out that the target real rate of return of 5% was the result of a recommendation made by the Pension Reserve Fund's Management Board.

    70. Given the current economic prospects, the Committee requested an estimation of the financial implications on the Pension Reserve Fund if the target real rate of return was estimated at 4% instead of 5%.

    71. The Committee drew attention to the fact that, on page 7 of document CM(2011)108, the rate referred to should be the real rate of return, not the nominal rate of return. Accordingly, the 6.82% figure at the top of the page should be replaced by 5%, since all the calculations had been made on the same basis, namely in real terms.

    72. Based on all the information provided, the Committee endorsed the conclusions of the study which resulted in an increase of €1.6 M in 2012 and €0.5 M in 2013 in member states overall contributions to the Pension Reserve Fund.

    73. In order to reduce the employer’s costs for future pensions, the Committee recommended that a thorough analysis should be made of the consequences of changing the variables in the pension system and that inter alia the following variables should be reviewed:

    Ø The length of the accumulation period for achieving a full pension could be increased from 35 to 40/42 years;

    Ø The distribution of the cost between employee and employer could be revised so that the employer paid a smaller proportion;

    Ø The age of retirement without reduction of benefits could be raised from 63 to 65;

    Ø The accumulation rate applied should be the same for all scheme members, with no minimum rates being applied;

    Ø Some benefits could be reduced or suppressed for the employee and his/her dependants, e.g. full pension could correspond to a lower share of the final salary, benefits for survivors could be reduced or abolished;

    Ø A cap could be introduced excluding a part of the higher salaries from the Pension scheme e.g. no pension rights funded by the employer at a rate higher than A3 step 11;

    Ø The legal possibility to include in any future scheme additional flexibility to make changes to contributions or benefits, after consultations, in order to facilitate any additional changes to future schemes.

    74. The Committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers request that the Secretariat perform the necessary analyses, including also an actuarial study and an assessment of the administrative costs of such a scheme and present a proposal for a new pension scheme in early 2012. The changes necessary in order to reduce the employer’s costs for pensions would be so significant that the new system could only apply to persons recruited after the system had been put in place.

    75. The Committee noted that, in 2009, the Secretariat had already provided the GR-PBA with detailed information and options concerning the possible creation of a third pension scheme and it urged the GR-PBA to re-examine this question in the near future.

    i. Evolution of staff expenditure

    76. The Committee took note of the information provided by the Secretariat regarding the evolution of staff expenditure and welcomed the Secretary General’s commitment to containing the automatic increase of staff costs due to contractual obligations through a series of measures including the suppression of existing posts and positions and the doubling of the period for the awarding of seniority steps.

    77. The Committee noted that whilst the level of obligatory adjustments due to the actual situation of staff was considerably less than in previous years (some €430 K compared to €1.5 M the previous year), the actual amount of obligatory adjustments forecast in the draft budget was higher than forecast at the time of the preparation of the priorities document (€430 K as compared to €280 K for 2012 and €500 K as compared to €200 K for 2013). This meant that the savings included in the draft budget were smaller than anticipated in the priorities document and had been compensated with additional savings. The number of posts and positions to be suppressed had also been reduced from 19 to 17.

    78. The Committee recalled that the Committee of Ministers had decided to authorise the Secretary General to finance measures for the early termination of staff using the balance of the special account for the construction of the Agora building and that this should contribute to the reduction of staff costs within the Ordinary Budget (see paragraph 33 above).

    79. This meant that the member states were investing their money in a staff reduction programme and noted that earlier similar programmes had been financed by internal loans without recourse to funds external to the Ordinary Budget.

    80. The Committee examined the figures for the staff cost ceiling and noted that the ceiling had been used passively. It recommended that the Committee of Ministers consider using the salary ceiling as an active management tool and by setting the ceiling at an early stage in the budgetary process.

    81. The Committee recalled other measures which could be considered by the Secretary General to contain staff expenditure such as the suppression of posts left vacant after retirement, freezing of recruitments and instructions to administrative entities to make proposals for savings in staff expenditure in their budgets.

    82. The Committee noted that only some 20 per cent of the staff in the Council of Europe are currently employed on fixed-term contacts and these staff are mainly in the Court and the EDQM. The remainder of staff are employed on indefinite contracts. In order to increase the flexibility for the organisation regarding allocation and number of staff the Budget Committee thinks that the share of staff on fixed-term contracts should be significantly increased. The Budget Committee recommends that the fixed-term contract should be the form chosen in the absence of any specific requirements for a contract of indefinite duration. In order to make the fixed-term contract more efficient and effective for the organisation, the current rule that a fixed term contract cannot be renewed should be changed. The Budget Committee recommends that, in duly justified circumstances it should be possible to renew fixed-term contracts in order to keep valuable competence within the Organisation. The overall length of service must be less than ten years due to the rules regarding entitlement to pension rights (see para 24).

    83. In the view of the Budget Committee, any further increases of the staff cost ratio to overall costs would not be sustainable and the trend of previous years (see page 65 CM(2011)100 Report of the External Auditor in respect of 2007-2010) should be halted and the objective should be to reduce the staff cost ratio.

    84. The present commitment by the Secretary General to keep the development of staff costs under control is in the eyes of the Budget Committee too vague. The Committee recommended that a quantitative commitment for the medium term regarding the development of staff costs should be introduced.

    j. Conditions for transfers between programme lines

    85. The Committee noted that the new Financial Regulations (article 28) set out specific rules in respect of budgetary transfers and noted that the Secretary General would propose to maintain for 2012-13 the specific decisions taken in 2011 concerning transfers between programme lines, excluding non-technical transfers to or from the budgets of the Court, Parliamentary Assembly, Congress and the Commissioner of Human Rights.

    k. Rates of honoraria and other allowances

    86. The Committee took note of the proposal to apply the inflation adjustment (1.8%) to the rates of honoraria and other allowances for 2012. It recommended the rates as set out in Appendix Vl to document CM(2011)130.

    VII. EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH THE EXTERNAL AUDITOR

    87. The Committee held an exchange of views with the representative of the External Auditor Mr Christophe Rosenau on his review of the consolidated accounts of the Council of Europe as well as the accounts of the North-South Centre and Eurimages.

    88. The Committee expressed its appreciation to the External Auditor for his excellent report, especially as regards performance audits, and recommended that the Secretary General take account of its conclusions in the interest of the smooth running of the Organisation.

    89. The Committee further recommended that the practice of paying permanent staff members in advance at the start of the month be phased out as soon as possible, so that salaries were received at the month end as recommended by the External Auditor and noted that the Secretary General was in agreement with the recommendation of the external auditor.

    VIII. EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH THE INTERNAL AUDITOR AND THE CHAIR OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE

    90. The Committee held an exchange of views with the Chair of the Audit Committee, Mr Peter Maertens. The Committee welcomed this contact and expressed the wish to co-operate with the Audit Committee on issues of mutual interest.

    91. The Committee also held an exchange of views with the internal auditor Mr Ansgar Eussner, Director of Internal Oversight. He presented the 2010 annual report of the directorate (CM(2011)64), and stressed the importance of promoting transparency and internal control in the Organisation.

    92. The Committee noted that the report had been prepared by the previous Director of Internal Oversight, Mr Paul Ernst, and wished to record its appreciation of the achievements of Mr Ernst and his team.

    93. The Committee took note of the fact that the Director of Internal Oversight considered that he had adequate human resources to implement the internal audit and evaluation functions. However, he felt the need to further increase his resources for external consultants for evaluation work, as the proposed increase of €50 K was not sufficient.

    94. The Committee recalled the importance that it attached to the work of the Directorate of Internal Oversight and determined to pursue its cooperation with it.

    95. The Committee recalled the potential savings opportunity of €500 K identified in the report of the Internal Auditor (CM(2011)64), which could be generated by a re-centralisation of competencies in respect of publications, while noting that this amount may be partly offset by the cost of strengthening central services (see paragraph 34 above).

    IX. INFORMATION IN RESPECT OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE BUILDINGS

96. The Committee took note of the information presented by the Secretariat in respect of the buildings of the Council of Europe: EDQM Building (NEW), AGORA Building, EDQM Building (OLD) and B Building.

97. The Committee recalled its recommendation at its September 2010 meeting that: “[…] the special account in respect of the new EDQM building be closed as soon as possible as requested by the external auditor” (CM(2010) 123 Para 57) and welcomed the fact that both special accounts in respect of the EDQM building and the Agora building had now been closed and the remaining funds in the EDQM account had been reimbursed to member states.

98. The Committee noted that in respect of the Agora building the final balance on the account at the dates of settlement of the decision by the Committee of Ministers was €4 966 307.83 and that of this amount €693 738.57 had been reimbursed to the French authorities and the remainder €4 272 569.25 had not been reimbursed to member states but transferred to a special account through which the Secretary General is authorised to finance measures for early termination of service of permanent staff.

    99. The Committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers’ decision of 29 June 2011 in this respect should be reviewed to reflect the final balance as indicated in document P-BUD(2011)19 (i.e. €4 273 000) which represented the amount after deduction of the amount reimbursed to the French government including interest.

100. The Committee noted that the old EDQM building had not yet been sold but that negotiations with the European Parliament for their purchase of the B Building were at an advanced stage. The Committee was informed that the Secretary General would make specific proposals about the use of the possible proceeds of sale of the B building, including the possibility of transferring them in full or partly to the Pension Reserve Fund.

    X. EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH THE RAPPORTEURS GROUP ON PROGRAMME, BUDGET AND ADMINISTRATION (GR-PBA)

    101. The Committee held an exchange of views with the Group of Rapporteurs on administrative and budgetary questions, during which the Chairperson of the Budget Committee outlined the main findings and recommendations of the Committee in respect of the Draft Programme and Budget for 2012-13.

    XI. WORKING METHODS OF BUDGET COMMITTEE

    102. The Committee considered a Secretariat memorandum (P-Bud 2011(21)) on the working methods of the Budget Committee and possible changes required following the move to a biennial budget cycle.

    103. The Committee considered that two meetings per year should in principle be sufficient to meet its normal work programme notwithstanding possible adjustments as required. The Committee also noted that in the event that any other general issues arose for which the opinion of the Budget Committee was sought, other methods of consultation were possible such as the use of the silent procedure.

    104. The Committee noted that it would review these working methods during the course of the next years.

    XII. ANY OTHER BUSINESS - 2011 BUDGET OF THE ENLARGED PARTIAL AGREEMENT ON THE CO-OPERATION GROUP TO COMBAT DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IN DRUGS (POMPIDOU GROUP)

    105. The Committee took note of the proposed changes to the budget for 2011, as set out in document CM(2011)136 (examined by the Committee under document reference P-Bud(2011)23), as a result of the accession of Morocco and decided to recommend them as the proposal conformed with customary practice.

    DATES OF THE NEXT MEETINGS
    Monday 21/Tuesday 22 May to Friday 25 May 2012.
    Monday 24 September/Tuesday 25 September to Friday 28 September 2012 (to be confirmed).

    Appendix I

    BUDGET COMMITTEE

    Strasbourg, 19 (9 am) - 23 (5 pm) September 2011

    Room 7, Palais de l’Europe


    Item 1 Opening of the meeting

    § P-Bud(2011)11: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [November to April 2011]

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    § Report of the May 2011 meeting

    CM(2011)69: Meeting report of the Budget Committee – May 2011 session

    § Financial Regulations and Supplementary Provisions of the Council of Europe (DPFL 30/06/2011)

    AGENDA


    Item 2 Consolidated Financial statements and Budgetary Management accounts

    for 2010

    § CM(2011)100: Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)100 add.: Budgetary Management Accounts of the Council of Europe for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)101: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement establishing the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)102: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement of the European Support Fund for the co-production and distribution of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works "Eurimages" for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)103: Consolidated Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Council of Europe for the year ended 31 December 2010 – Follow up to the Report of the External Auditor - Memorandum of the Secretary General

    § CM(2011)103 add.: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement of the European Support Fund for the co-production and distribution of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works "Eurimages" for the year ended 31 December 2010 - Follow up to the Report of the External Auditor - Memorandum of the Secretary General

    Item 3 Implementation of the reform of the Organisation, including budgetary aspects: exchange of views with Ms Gabriella Battaini, Director General of Programmes (appointed as from 1 October 2011)

    § P-Bud(2011)11: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [November to April 2011]

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    Item 4 Presentation of the budgetary context

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    Item 5 Implementation of the 2011 budgets as of 31 August 2011

    § P-Bud(2011)20: Budgetary situations as of 31 August 2011

    Item 6 Draft programme and budget for 2012-13

    § CM(2011)48rev.: Priorities for 2012-13 and their budgetary implications

    § CM(2011)130: Council of Europe Draft Programme and Budget 2012-13

    § P-Bud(2011)11: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [November to April 2011]

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    § CM(2011)108: Pension Reserve Fund - Actuarial Study 2011

    § P-Bud (2011)19: Suppression of posts and positions in 2012-13 and implementation of measures for early termination of service of permanent staff

    § P-Bud (2011)24: Draft programme and budget 2012 and 2013 – Ordinary Budget

    § P-Bud (2011)25: Draft programme and budget 2012 and 2013 – Other Budgets

    § EDQM 2012-2015 Medium Term Financial and Operational Strategy (version of August 2011)

    1. General discussion on budgetary aspects

    2. Detailed review of some programmes lines and budgets3:

    a. European Court of Human Rights: follow up to Interlaken Conference

    b. Roma

    c. Children’s rights

    d. EDQM (European Pharmacopoeia), including review of the Medium Term Strategy 2012-15

    e. Eurimages

    f. Venice Commission

    g. Investments

    h. Pensions

    i. Evolution of staff expenditure

    j. Conditions for transfers between programme lines (see item 6, p. 3 of doc.

    P-Bud(2011)11)

    Item 7 Exchange of views with external auditor, Mr Christophe Rosenau

    § CM(2011)100: Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)100 add.: Budgetary Management Accounts of the Council of Europe for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)101: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement establishing the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)102: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement of the European Support Fund for the co-production and distribution of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works "Eurimages" for the year ended 31 December 2010

    § CM(2011)103: Consolidated Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Council of Europe for the year ended 31 December 2010 – Follow up to the Report of the External Auditor - Memorandum of the Secretary General

    § CM(2011)103 add.: Financial Statements and Budgetary Management Accounts of the Partial Agreement of the European Support Fund for the co-production and distribution of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works "Eurimages" for the year ended 31 December 2010 - Follow up to the Report of the External Auditor - Memorandum of the Secretary General

    Item 8 Exchange of views with the internal auditor, Mr Ansgar Eussner, Director of Internal Oversight

    § CM(2011)64: Annual Report 2010 of the Directorate of Internal Oversight

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    Item 9 Information in respect of Council of Europe buildings

    § P-Bud(2011)18: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the Budget Committee [May to September 2011]

    Item 10 Exchange of views with the Rapporteurs Group on Programme, Budget and Administration (GR-PBA)

    Item 11 Working methods of the Budget Committee

    § P-Bud(2011)21: Working methods of the Budget Committee

    Item 12 Any other business - 2011 budget of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (Pompidou Group)

    § P-Bud(2011)23: revision of the 2011 budget of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the

    Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (Pompidou Group)

    Item 13 Dates of the next meetings

    Additional information documents

REFERENCE

TITLE OF THE DOCUMENT

P-Bud(2011)26

Draft Council of Europe Programme and Budget 2012-13 - CORRIGENDUM

P-Bud(2011)20

Budgetary Situation – Other Budgets

P-Bud(2011)20 add

Budgetary Situation – DEQM

 

COE Children's Rights Strategy 2012-2015 12 July 2011 NON PAPER

DD(2011)721

Regulations for secondments to the Council of Europe - draft Resolution

CM(2011)107add

Unpaid contributions at 16 September 2011

DD(2011)746

Amendments of the Georgian delegation to the draft resolution concerning the Regulations for secondments to the Council of Europe [document CM(2011)120]

 

Eurimages – Activity Report 2010

 

Contributions by member States to the Council of Europe budgets in 2012

in comparison with 2011and detail of variations (in €)

(Appendix III of the May meeting report revised)

    Appendix II

    BUDGET COMMITTEE

    September session 2011

    (19-23 September 2011)

    LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

STATES

MEMBERS

Austria

Mr Christoph JACKWERTH

Belgium

Mrs Anne VAN NIEUWENBURG

France

Mr Jean PARMENTIER

Germany

Mr Michael LAUMANNS

Italy

Mr Claudio DE ROSE

Poland

Mr Bartosz BURACZYNSKI

Spain

Mrs Marta QUINTIAN GOROSTEGUI

Russian Federation

Mr Evgeny KALUGIN

Sweden

Mr Åke HJALMARSSON (Chair)

Turkey

Mr Fikret DEMIR

United Kingdom

Mrs Joycelyn BUCHAN (Vice-Chair)

    Appendix III

1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.

2 The term « Roma » refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale, Travellers, and related groups in Europe, and aims to cover the wide diversity of groups concerned, including groups which identify themselves as Gypsies.

3 Exchanges of views have been organised with those responsible for the budgets in agreement with the Chair of the Committee. Members of the Committee are reminded that the fact that the person responsible for a programme has not been invited to a meeting does not indicate that this budget will not be discussed by the Committee. Additional meetings can be scheduled according to specific requirements and available time. As far as possible, members of the Committee are requested to contact the Secretariat before the beginning of the meeting in order to organise new meetings.



 Top

 

  Related Documents
 
   Other documents