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Expenditure of the Parliamentary Assembly for the biennium 2020-2021

Doc. 14901: compendium of written amendments | Doc. 14901 | 24/06/2019 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1In pursuance of Committee of Ministers Resolution (53) 38 on the budgetary system of the Consultative Assembly and Article 24 of the Financial Regulations, the Parliamentary Assembly issues an opinion concerning the expenditure relating to its operation. The amounts allocated to the Assembly in the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe cover its expenditure on staff and the costs associated with its own functioning, including the functioning of its political groups. Since 2010, the Assembly has presented the opinion concerning its own expenditure in the form of a resolution.
2The preparation of the Assembly’s opinion on the budget and priorities of the Council of Europe and of the resolution on its own expenditure for the biennium 2020-2021 is taking place in a strange context. The Assembly is required to comment on Council of Europe priorities on the basis of the participation of the 47 member States in the Council of Europe’s budget, whereas the reality of the situation should lead us to present an opinion based on the actual situation facing the Council of Europe, in other words without the funding from one of the five major contributors, namely the Russian Federation. The Assembly recalls that the Council of Europe is an international organisation of a political nature, without an economic or gainful aim, set up by sovereign States which relies on contributions by its member States for its funding.
3The Assembly is aware of the challenges of the budget for the next biennium, given the uncertainty surrounding the Russian Federation’s non-payment of its contributions to the Council of Europe’s budgets, and has taken note of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe’s contingency plan of a €32.4 million reduction for the ordinary budget spread over a three-year period starting in the second half of 2019. In this context, the Assembly has been asked to proceed with a reduction at the level of 15% of its budget.
4The Assembly points out that, at the meeting between the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and its Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs in January 2019, the General Rapporteur on the Budget made a proposal on identifying alternatives to a reduction in the budget, in particular the assignment of debt to a third party, a proposal which the Assembly’s Presidential Committee supported at its meeting on 24 January 2019.
5Before agreeing to any other cuts in its budget, the Assembly therefore calls for all alternative options, including the assignment of debt to a third party, to be studied seriously by the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers.

24 June 2019

Tabled by Mr Martin POLIAČIK, Mr Michael Aastrup JENSEN, Mr Rik DAEMS, Ms Reina de BRUIJN-WEZEMAN, Ms Marie-Christine DALLOZ

Votes: 11 in favor 70 against 13 abstentions

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 5, insert the following paragraph:

"In case the Russian Federation pays its due contributions, the Assembly will not accept a reduction of its expenditure, it being understood that it will continue the modernization of its working methods."

Explanatory note

The proposed text underlines that the PACE is under obligation to continue to modernize its working methods.

6Having made these preemptive comments, the Assembly refers to its Resolution 2277 (2019) “Role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly: main challenges for the future” and recalls that it must continue to be the political driving force of the Council of Europe, notably by addressing challenges to human rights, the rule of law and democracy, both at national and at regional level, as well as the societal challenges faced by its member States. As a forum for sharing best practices and experience, the Assembly provides national parliaments and States with the support and guidance they need to ensure well-functioning democracies and respect for the rule of law.
7The Assembly’s action ties in with the three pillars of the Council of Europe’s Programme and Budget, namely human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Its work will contribute to the implementation of various cross-sectoral multi-annual strategies adopted by the Council of Europe (in particular in the areas of children’s rights, gender equality and internet governance) and, where appropriate, the Assembly may propose new standards in new areas or on emerging issues such as new technologies, digitisation and artificial intelligence.
8The Assembly supports the efficient implementation at national level of Council of Europe standards and conventions and of the conclusions of the various monitoring bodies and mechanisms, in particular regarding the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and the role of national parliaments as guarantors of human rights in Europe.
9The Assembly also encourages parliamentary involvement in the promotion and implementation of other key Council of Europe instruments by which it sets great store, namely the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210, “Istanbul Convention”), the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201, “Lanzarote Convention”) and the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (CETS No. 211, “Medicrime Convention”).
10The Assembly, referring to its Resolution 2271 (2019) and Recommendation 2150 (2019) on strengthening co-operation with the United Nations in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, considers that various aspects of its work contribute towards the achievement of this Agenda and will help member States to assess progress when preparing their national reviews. In the context of the biennium 2020-2021, special effort will be made to increase parliamentary involvement in this process, to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into national action and raise the electorate’s awareness about the impact they have on their daily lives.
11Gender equality and gender mainstreaming will be key aspects of all Assembly policies and activities, as provided for in the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023. There will be a special focus on eliminating violence against women, and the Assembly will continue its activities aimed at promoting and protecting children’s rights, promoting diversity and eliminating discrimination on all grounds.
12In the area of election observation, the Assembly will continue to observe parliamentary and presidential elections in countries under its monitoring and post-monitoring dialogue procedures, in close co-operation with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission). Special attention will be devoted to dispute-resolution procedures and the funding of political parties and election campaigns, as well as the abuse of public resources for the benefit of ruling parties.
13The fight against corruption and money laundering will remain on the agenda of the committees, bearing in mind the implementation of the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) following the report by the Independent Investigation Body on the allegations of corruption within the Assembly (IBAC).
14In the area of inter-parliamentary co-operation, the Assembly will continue implementing various assistance and co-operation programmes suited to the needs of parliamentary institutions, in close co-operation with the committee secretariats. It will continue to hold multilateral seminars for parliamentarians and parliamentary committee staff on supervision of the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
15Other co-operation activities will be carried out concerning, for instance, the parliamentary dimension of European Union/Council of Europe joint programmes: phase three of the South Programme (SPIII), which will end in 2020, and the inter-parliamentary co-operation programme in Morocco (2018-2021). The Assembly will continue its work in connection with the action plan drawn up for Ukraine and the component on strengthening parliamentary capacity to implement Council of Europe standards and policies in Ukraine (Phase II) and also the plan for Georgia, subject to available resources.
16The Assembly will continue its policy of seeking financial resources from governments and parliaments with a view to implementing in 2020-2021 its programme, “Promoting European and international standards through parliamentary action” with a particular focus on public health, empowering and protecting children, women’s right to live free from violence and the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance.
17In this connection, the Assembly wishes to express its sincere appreciation to those member States and their parliaments (in particular Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Switzerland) which, through their contributions, have enabled it (during the biennium 2018-2019) to finance Assembly activities, and to the Czech Government, the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation, which contribute generously to the outreach and prestige of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.
18In the coming biennium, the Assembly will continue to carry out the activities provided for in its Rules of Procedure by holding various elections in accordance with statutory and convention requirements (Deputy Secretary General, Secretary General of the Assembly, Judges of the European Court of Human Rights) and promoting the various European distinctions it awards (Europe Prize, Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, Museum Prize).
19In terms of external communication and visibility, the Assembly will enrich its website and enable parliamentarians and all other users to download the video recordings of debates during plenary sessions. The Assembly will also continue to develop new tools and content for its accounts on Facebook (five separate pages) and Twitter (six accounts), as well as audiovisual activities such as the television magazine, “The Session”, its own YouTube channel and a new weekly activities e-newsletter for members.
20Regarding the efforts requested in the Assembly, it is worth noting that a 15% reduction in the Assembly’s budget compared to the appropriations foreseen in 2019 represents a cut of some €2.2 million (including €1.4 million on staff expenditure). It should be noted that redundancy payments for the early departure of staff are not included in the contingency plan, except for an amount set aside for this purpose in the framework of the Programme and Budget 2018-2019.
21The implementation of the contingency plan means the freezing of permanent posts in the Assembly’s Secretariat (with the 15% scenario) and a substantial reduction of appropriations to employ temporary staff.
22The required savings in the operational activities budget for the year 2020-2021 might have to be identified through:
22.1a possible change of the method of preparation of verbatim reports of plenary sessions;
22.2the possible suppression of Russian as a working language of the Assembly (in line with Rule 28.3 of the Rules of Procedure);
22.3possible further reductions in interpretation in working languages provided in committees;
22.4the possible reorganisation of plenary sessions of the Assembly (less days of plenary sittings of the Assembly per year).
23For several years the Assembly has contributed to the efforts called for to remain within a zero nominal growth budget. In 2018, the Assembly reduced its expenditure by €1.5 million following Turkey’s decision to discontinue its major contributor status. During the last ten years, the share of the Assembly's budget in the Council of Europe's Ordinary Budget decreased from 7.2% in 2009 to 6.5% in 2019 and the number of posts in the Assembly Secretariat decreased from 94 in 2009 to 84 in 2019.
24The Assembly reiterates its call on member States to return to zero real growth, that is to say at least to include inflation in their contributions, so as to stabilise the Organisation’s resources and thereby enable the Council of Europe to continue to fulfil its mandate for member States.
25Appended to this resolution are:
25.1a brief explanation of the main items of expenditure;
25.2a table setting out the Assembly’s work programme according to the results-based budgeting method.