Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Administrative and Budgetary Questions
GR-AB(2004)CB10 1 October 2004
Meeting of 16 September 2004
The Rapporteur Group on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (GR-AB) met on 16 September 2004, with Ambassador Zoltan Taubner, Permanent Representative of Hungary, in the chair. The Group considered the following items in the light of the draft annotated agenda (document GR-AB(2004)20).
1. Revision of Resolution(76)4 on consultants and new resolution on outsourcing contracts to external service providers
(CM(2004)105 revised and Resolution(76)4)
1.1. The Chair recalled that the Group had had a first round of discussions on the proposed draft resolutions at its meeting on 12 July 2004, and further to the comments made by a number of delegations at that meeting, the Secretariat had issued revised texts in document CM(2004)105 revised.
1.2. Summing up at this meeting, the Chair noted that discussions had in the main centred around procedure for selection (how and under which conditions, competitive basis); categories of consultants; appropriations allocated to consultants; responsibility for quality of work and how to assess this work; the role of the Committee of Ministers in the evaluation of consultants' work; the notion of “vital interests”; procedure and necessity to appoint consultants relating to work of expert committees.
1.3. The Director General for Administration and Logistics commented that the draft texts currently under examination had been drafted in the spirit of the Wise Persons' recommendation – endorsed by the Committee of Ministers at its 104th Session in Budapest in May 1999 – that greater discretion should be given to the Secretariat in the management of programmes and in budgetary management, coupled with an increased accountability for results achieved. He further noted that the provisions of the draft Resolution dealt with the principles concerning service contract of consultants and that the Secretary General would issue detailed instructions which would cover many of the points of detail raised during the debate.
1.4. Concluding the debate on this item, the Chair encouraged delegations to submit their proposals for amendment in writing before the end of the month to facilitate future work of the Secretariat in preparing revised texts based on comments at the meeting. He also noted that a number of references had been made to existing regulatory texts, such as the Financial Regulations. He requested that the Secretariat also provide information on current procedures, as laid down in the relevant existing texts, when submitting revised texts to this Group.
2 Human Resources Policy - Modification of the Staff Regulations concerning Staff Leave
Draft Resolution amending the Staff Regulations (Article 45, paragraph 1)
(CM(2004)157, CM/Del/Dec(2003)830 Item 11.1)
2.1. The Chair recalled that during the discussions on the annual salary adjustment for 2003 it was noted that a reduction in working hours in the French civil service in the relevant reference period, gave rise to an additional increase of 0.94% in all salary scales for that year. The Committee of Ministers decided at that time (see decision CM/Del/Dec(2003)830 Item 11.1) to adjust salary scales for 2003 on the basis of adjustment indices calculated without taking account of this element, noting that the Secretary General would consider the way in which the reduction in the working hours in the French civil service could be taken into account in the conditions of service of staff.
2.2. The Chair noted that the proposal before the Group was to compensate staff members for the abovementioned element by giving two extra days' annual paid leave. It was noted that two days' extra paid leave had been accorded in 2003 in this context.
2.3. In the discussion that ensued, Delegations sought clarification as to whether the Committee of Ministers was bound to approve these or any other proposals in this respect bearing in mind the decisions taken in March 2003 at the Deputies” 830th meeting (item 11.1).
2.4. In response to questions, the Secretariat confirmed that if there was an increase in the future in working hours in any of the reference countries, this would be taken into account by the CCR when making its recommendation on the annual adjustment. Should the case arise, the Deputies could then decide to reduce the number of extra days' paid leave envisaged in these proposals.
2.5. Summing up, the Chair noted that the Group was not able to reach a conclusion at this stage. With a view to clarifying certain issues, he proposed to ask the Directorate General for Legal Affairs to provide a legal opinion on the various options (and possible consequences) open to the Committee of Ministers having regard to the decision taken by the Deputies at their 830th meeting (Item 11.1) in March 2003. The Group could then come back to this item in the light of that opinion. This was agreed.
4.1. The Chair recalled that the Group had had a first round of discussions on this item on 17 June 2004 (cf GR-AB(2004)CB7), and further to comments made by delegations the Secretariat has issued a revised document on the budgetary implications of the creation of a European Forum for Roma and Travellers (GT-ROMS(2004)4 revised 2).
4.2. Summing up the ensuing discussion, the Chair noted that delegations found the additional information provided in the revised document satisfactory and that this item could now be referred back to the GT-ROMS with the following comments:
- delegations emphasised that the Council of Europe's contribution to the Forum should be decided on an annual basis;
- a majority of delegations noted their preference for financing Option 1, namely:
“Option 1. the Council of Europe contribution in terms of staff, accommodation and logistical support would be treated as a contribution in kind, in addition to the €200 000. The latter amount would be treated as a grant towards the cost of the Forum activities set out in the table […]. The costs indicated for these activities are estimates only, and should actual costs exceed the estimates the excess would be covered by the Forum's own resources”
whilst a number expressed a preference for the second option, noting however that they could support also option 1 in the interest of reaching a consensus;
- a number of delegations noted that they had not yet reached a final conclusion;
- delegations underlined the desirability for the Forum to secure other sources of finance and requested an estimation of other revenues and voluntary contributions it was likely to receive.
5. Any other business
6. Date of the next meeting
Tuesday, 12 October at 10 a.m.
Tuesday, 19 October at 3 p.m.