I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and the Associated Countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, as well as the EFTA Countries of the European Economic Area Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union would like to thank the representative of the Secretariat for presenting the First Performance Report contained in document A/57/616 and Ambassador Mselle for the report of ACABQ, contained in document A/57/7/Add.16, on this important matter.
The European Union welcomes the intention of the ACABQ to consider, in the context of the proposed programme budget for 2004/05, appropriate changes to the performance report in the light of the development of results-based budgeting.
The European Union has noted with great concern the sharp increase in the budget of this biennium of more than 208 mio. USD. However, we acknowledge that most of the increases in the 2002/03 budget, such as the currency and inflation fluctuations, are largely outside the Secretariats control. Other budgetary add-ons, like extra costs for improved security, could not have been foreseen when we adopted the budget proposal last year. In that regard, the 2002/03 budget and the sharp increases in the budget level are exceptional and must not be seen as a precedent.
Against this background, the European Union is generally in a position to endorse the recommendations of the Secretary-General as contained in the First Performance Report.
However, we concur with the view expressed by ACABQ in paragraph 9 of its report that the Secretary-General should have provided more sufficient justification for the assumption that the activities of the Counter-Terrorism Committee would continue at a level comparable to the level reached during the current year.
We furthermore expect DGACM to continue and increase its efforts to achieve efficiency gains where possible. We believe that these efforts should lead to absorption within the existing budget provisions of a substantial part of the extra costs for conference services. Against this background, we propose that the Secretary-General be equipped with the necessary commitment authority to implement planned conference servicing activities for the CTC during this biennium and that the General Assembly takes a final decision on this issue in the context of the Second Performance Report.
We have noted the projections regarding the vacancy rate contained in the Secretary-Generals report. We agree with the ACABQ that better explanations on the quite high vacancies in some budget sections would be needed in the future. Also on this issue, it would be our proposal for the General Assembly to provide the necessary commitment authority for 2003, and revert to the matter in the context of the Second Performance Report.
Finally, we would like to express our concurrence with the ACABQs observation that that the actual requirements resulting from the decisions and recommendations of the ICSC will be known only after a decision has been taken by the General Assembly on this matter.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.