Alarming situation in the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

21 November 2016

Note to Mrs Kristalina Georgieva Vice-President in charge of Budget and Human Resources

Subject:         Alarming situation in the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

On 5 September 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure an amendment to Regulation N° 883/2013 (the “OLAF Re­gulation”) as regards the secretariat of the OLAF Supervisory Committee.

R&D welcomes this amending regulation, proposed by the Commission at your initiative, that is intended to reinforce the independence of the OLAF Supervisory Committee from the Director-General of OLAF and to protect the staff of the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee from any risk of potential undue pressure and retaliation measures notably on their ca­reers.

Based on the amending regulation, the OLAF secretariat of the Supervisory Committee shall be provided by the Commission itself and no longer by OLAF. As a conse­quence, as from 1st January 2017, the Director-General of OLAF will no longer be the appointing authority for the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee.

As always, however, devil is in detail: despite several proposals of the Committee to attach its secretariat to a central service of the Commission like the Secretariat General, you made a formal statement for the Commission, attached to the new regulation, that the secretariat shall be located within the PMO by the Commission. On the request of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament, you explained that this attachment to PMO had been legally advised to the Commission as the best place to avoid any presumption of pressure from it on the Committee.

In line with the position of the Supervisory Committee, we do not understand this reasoning, as other independent bodies, like the “European Fiscal Board”, are already attached to the Secretariat-General.

Moreover, as also underlined by the Supervisory Committee there is no justification for attaching a team of 7 permanent officials (5 AD and 2 AST) and 1 financial agent, providing specific legal analysis of the administrative and financial assistance given by the OLAF Supervisory Committee, to the Office of DG HR in charge of “paying salaries and individual entitlements”.

These missions are of a totally different nature and can obviously not match in the same service.

Moreover, and contrary to your initial intention reproduced in the Commission’s declaration at the Trilogue meeting, that “This attachment will be of a purely administrative na­ture, with a view to facilitating certain organisational and budgetary aspects (and that). It will not affect the independent functioning of the Secretariat”, this has become, after discussions between the PMO and the Director-General of OLAF, a full integration of the Secretariat of the Supervisory Committee into the PMO, making the secretariat of the Supervisory committee a supplementary unit of the PMO, to be entitled “PMO. SupComm”.

This obviously makes no sense, as the mission of the Supervisory Committee is supervising OLAF and not the PMO.

We have also the impression that OLAF is trying to take the opportunity of the entry into force of the modifying regulation to push the secretariat out of the OLAF building’s security zone and asked OIB to relocate our colleagues in the -1 floor (garage level), which has never been used for offices. Locating the secretariat outside the security zone is clearly against OLAF’s own requirements in its note of 20 February 2006 (when the secretariat moved from Luxembourg to the OLAF building) for secu­ring OLAF confidential files reviewed by the Committee Members.

Despite the clear indication by OIB that adapting works of the “garage meeting rooms” would take far beyond 1 January 2017, colleagues from the secretariat received a note from the OLAF’s HR unit instructing them to give their OLAF badges back on 1 January 2017. This practically means that the work of our colleagues will be rendered impos­sible as from that date.

I’m asking to you to urgently ask these services to put an end to these damaging initiatives, which are obviously against your initial intentions.

In particular, OLAF must maintain the access of our colleagues to their offices, as long as the necessity of this move and its conditions has not been thoroughly assessed, on an objective basis and independently of OLAF’s services.

That time should be taken for a further reflection on the way to correctly implement the modifying regulation and to administratively attach the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee to a more suitable service of the Commission, such as the Secretariat-General, as proposed by the Committee itself, considering the nature of the specific tasks provided by our colleagues.

Cristiano Sebastiani

President

Copy:             M. A. ITALIANER Secretary general

                      M. G. KESSLER Director General OLAF

                      Mrs I. SOUKA Director General HR

                      Mrs V. Gaffey, Director PMO

                      The Staff

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