Parliamentary question by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission
(15 January 2002)

Subject: Clarification regarding the answer to Written Question P-2886/01 on North-South cooperation schemes in the campaign against drug abuse

In its 1997 General Report the Commission maintained that in Regulation (EC) No 2046/97(1) of 13 October 1997 the Council had provided a legal basis for budget line B7-6210 concerning North-South cooperation for the campaign against drug abuse.

Article 11(1) of the Regulation states "At the end of each budget year, the Commission shall present a report to Parliament and the Council summarising the operations financed in the course of that year and evaluating the implementation of this Regulation over that period. The summary shall in particular contain information about those with whom contracts have been concluded".

Article 12 of the Regulation envisaged "an overall assessment of operations financed by the Community (...) together with suggestions regarding the future of this Regulation and, where necessary, proposals for amending or terminating it" by 24 October 2000, but the Commission - which claims to have launched the assessment in 1999 and that it was actually started in January 2000 - had not received it by 20 December 2001 because of difficulties encountered by the chosen contractor, but that it should reach the Commission by the end of the year.

In its answer of 21 December 2001 to Written Question P-2886/01(2) the Commission said that the budget line now has a legal basis.

Can the Commission say:

- what contractors took part in the selection procedure, whether any and, if so, what assessments had already been carried out within the European institutions, who the chosen contractor is, whether it has been told that it has failed to fulfil the contract and, if not, why?
- what the terms of the annual reports referred to in Article 11(1) are?
- what legal basis budget heading B7-6210 has?

(1) OJ L 287, 21.10.1997, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 147 E, 20.6.2002, p. 61.

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf
of the Commission
(18 February 2002)

In accordance with Article 12 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2046/97 of 13 October 1997 on north-south cooperation in the campaign against drugs and drug addiction(1), the Commission launched the procedure for selecting and recruiting a consortium to conduct the assessment provided for by the Regulation. Ten consortia responded, seven were shortlisted and six put in a bid. From a technical and financial point of view the Sorgem Company (F) submitted the best bid and was therefore selected. The assessment got under way in January 2000. The company had already been selected in the past for other invitations to tender launched by the Commission.

After the phase 1 "Documentary analysis" report was submitted in June 2000 (within the agreed time limits), internal problems among the consortium partners led to long delays and the phase 2 "Evaluation in situ" report was not ready until July 2001. In these circumstances the Commission considered the option of terminating the contract with the consortium and launching a new invitation to tender. However, in view of the work already accomplished and the time needed to recruit a new firm, the Commission decided to carry on with the same consortium. Nevertheless, despite a series of letters, including a registered letter and several communications from the Commission, there were further delays in the presentation of the phase 3 report ("Synthesis, conclusions and recommendations"). Following a final letter of formal notice from the Commission, the consortium undertook to complete the assessment by the end of 2001.

Unfortunately, the Sorgem Company was unable to submit the phase 3 report.

Eventually, on 27 December 2001 the Commission received a letter from the consortium asking to be released from its contractual obligations in respect of the dossier. The case is currently being examined to see what steps should be taken vis-à-vis the contractor.

The Commission is also seeking an expert who can take over all the work that has already been done so that the report containing the synthesis, conclusions and recommendations can be drafted as soon as possible.

The legal basis for budget heading B7-6310 remains Council Regulation (EC) No 2046/97 on north-south cooperation in the campaign against drugs and drug addiction, which has no expiry date.

(1) OJ L 287, 21.10.1997.