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REPORT from the Budgetary Control Committee: open-source, conflict of interest by Czech PM or misuse of EU funds for agriculture

As a member of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament, MEP Mikuláš Peksa is actively scrutinising how the EU institutions spend citizens’ money. He voted on 1738 amendments tabled to 52 draft reports, which advises the EU on its budget implementation, based on the recommendations of the European Court of Auditors. 

In most cases, he approved good budgetary management. However, in some cases, such as the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, there was proof of serious mismanagement, so he rejected the political discharges. This means that these institutions will have to follow sticker rules on the implementation of the EU budget and report on the recommendations from the Parliament.

Recommendation to use open-source technology: Pirates managed to pass amendments encouraging the Parliament to develop free and open-source software in order to increase transparency and avoid vendor lock-in effects. Tailor-made open-source software facilitates the publishing of open-data that everyone can access, modify, and re-use. It also has potential for security improvements because it permits the identification and fixing of weaknesses in a transparent and collaborative manner while making it more difficult for hackers to introduce malware in the system. Similarly, we encouraged the use of non-proprietary open-source social-network platforms, which have stronger safeguards for user’s privacy and data protection, as an alternative to the monopoly of GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) companies. 

Misuse of EU funds for agriculture: Together with the other members of Greens/European Free Alliance, we successfully highlighted the misuse of subsidies for agriculture as a systemic problem and called on the Commission to modify the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and cohesion rules for a more fair allocation of funds. The rule of law is not working properly when oligarchs are taking the land of the farmers, especially in Italy, Slovakia and the Czechia. Therefore, we asked for more transparent land registries. 

Issues of transparency in the Council: The fact that the Council, as the institution representing the member states, has still not joined the Transparency Register for lobbyists and refuses to publish its working documents, as recommended by the EU Ombudsman, is a significant problem for us. This is why we asked for the full records of meetings to be accessible to the public in a machine-readable format. Similarly, all MEPs are deeply concerned by the current practice of Council presidencies to allow for corporate sponsorships, which is highly damaging the institution’s reputation.

Conflict of interest by the Czech Prime Minister: MEPs deplored that the Commission auditors detected very serious cases of conflict of interests by PM Babiš. All Members were convinced that the Commission should cautiously supervise the process of recovering misused funds and keep the public informed about all the auditors’ findings. Additionally, the Council should ensure that representatives, who are subject to benefit directly from EU subsidies through their businesses, are not participating in budgetary negotiations and votes. 

The draft discharge reports proposed by the Budgetary Control Committee will be voted by the Parliament in the following plenary sessions.

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