Commission follow-up report on the 1998 financial year.
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 6 March 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 28-i (2000-01), paragraph 5 (13 December 2000)
|Discussed in Council:
11.1 When the Council made its recommendation
on the discharge of the 1998 Community Budget, it addressed a
number of comments to the Commission, taking account of the annual
report of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) for 1998. In accordance
with its now established practice, the Commission made a report
(published in October 2000) to the Council giving an account of
its actions taken in response to the Council's comments. The Commission's
report included an analysis of Member States' responses to the
ECA's 1998 report and also made extensive reference to its Action
Plan for improving financial management.
11.2 On 13 December 2000, we left that report
uncleared, pending publication of the ECA's 1999 report and receipt
of further information from the Minister. We noted that the Commission
intended to produce an annual Action Plan, regularly updated,
as a way of assessing progress in improving financial management
and asked the Minister when an update of the Action Plan would
The Minister's letter
11.3 In her letter of 6 March 2001, the
Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Miss Melanie Johnson) apologises
for the delay in responding to our Report. The Minister regrets
that the delay has meant that we did not have time to consider
the document before the ECOFIN meeting of 12 March. She states
that the document was scheduled to be considered without discussion
and that a UK scrutiny reserve would have been "unhelpful."
11.4 The Minister informs us that the Commission's
update to the Action Plan for 2000 is published in its document
on the discharge of the 1999 Budget.
11.5 We also asked about the relationship
between the Action Plan to accompany the White Paper on Commission
Reform and the annual Action Plans proposed in the followup
report. The Minister's response, provided in her Explanatory Memorandum
on the discharge of the 1999 Budget, says that the annual Actions
Plans are separate from those that accompany the White Paper on
11.6 The document was considered at ECOFIN
before we had an opportunity to examine it. We do not accept the
fact that a document is to be considered without discussion as
sufficient reason on its own to lift the scrutiny reserve, and
will expect more justification in future than a vague statement
that a UK scrutiny reserve would have been "unhelpful".
11.7 We have no further questions on
the document and clear it accordingly.