The European Parliament can exercice its democratic control through discharging the budget of the EU institutions. On the 10 May 2012, MEPS postponed signing off the 2010 accounts of three EU Agencies that matter to health: the European Medicines Agency, the European Food and Safety Agency as well as the European Environmental Agency. For the three agencies, conflicts of interest are in the balance.
Although the Chair of EFSA resigned a day before the vote for alleged conflicts of interest, they highlighted this situation and they also focused on the costs of the Management Board as excessive requiring change.
Regarding the Medicines Agency, MEPs requested an action plan to improve procurement and contract management. They also asked to be reassured regarding the impartiality of employees and experts.
The Environment Agency also suffered from the fact that its executive director was also a member of Earthwatch and participated to field trips, for which the EEA paid for. MEPs also asked for more information on recruitment procedures.
When granting a discharge, the European Parliament agrees that the institution has spent its budget in line with EU rules. They follow recommendations of the Council and they also use the Court of Auditors’ annual report. They can also make recommendations on some matters to the European Commission Should the European Parliament chooses to postpone the discharge, the European Commission have to present its response in a follow up report and action plan. Should the European Parliament be happy with the results, the plenary will discharge the accounts.
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