The European Scrutiny Committee met on Wednesday 2 April.
This week the Committee considered the following documents:
The EU and the Ukraine
The Committee continues its scrutiny of EU documents emerging as a result of the crisis in Ukraine. Last week we recommended a set of restrictive measures for debate on the floor of the House; this week we report on a further package of measures agreed at the European Council (which took place on 20 and 21 March) which target Crimean political leaders, Russian parliamentarians, Russian presidential advisers and Russian military commanders. We clear these documents but note that they will be relevant to the debate recommended last week when it takes place.
European Public Prosecutor’s Office “Yellow Card”
This Commission Communication follows from the successful issue of a “Yellow card” by national parliaments and Chambers of 11 Member States (including both the House of Commons and the House of Lords) against the proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. It addresses the Reasoned Opinions collectively and explains that, despite these objections, the Commission intends to press ahead with the proposal. In a Report agreed in January, we were highly critical of the Commission’s approach and now report on the response the House of Commons has received from the Commission covering arguments the Commission deems as being “outside scope” of subsidiarity. We reiterate our opposition to the Commission’s narrow interpretation of the scope of the subsidiarity principle and will take forward some of the points raised during our further scrutiny of the EPPO proposal.
Implementing the solidarity clause
As part of the Lisbon Treaty negotiations, Member States agreed to include within the EU Treaties a "Solidarity Clause" – Article 222 TFEU – which requires Member States to “act jointly in a spirit of solidarity” in the event of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster. The draft Decision, which has been held under scrutiny since February 2013, establishes arrangements for implementing the Clause. The Government has previously expressed itself broadly satisfied with the approach set out in the draft Decision, but identified a number of concerns. The latest letter from the Minister says that the pace of negotiations has increased with a view to securing agreement before the end of June. Member States have agreed that the Solidarity Clause should not be invoked preemptively for "imminent" terrorist attacks and that no additional resources should be required to implement it. There is greater clarity as to the role of the European External Action Service and the High Representative. However, there are some outstanding legal concerns, including the definition of the geographical scope of application of the Draft Decision, with some Member States suggesting that it should extend to terrorist attacks or disasters occurring in international airspace or waters which affect ships or planes registered to a Member State. We ask the Government to respond on these points, and for a further update on the outstanding issues, retaining the draft Decision under scrutiny.
Other documents reported
We are also reporting on documents relating to:
- Business, Innovation and Skills: Network and Information Security;
- FCO: Restrictive measures against the regime in Myanmar/Burma; Restrictive measures against the Republic of Guinea; EU training of Malian Armed Forces;
- HM Treasury: Europe 2020 Strategy;
- Office of National Statistics: Statistics;
- Transport: Fuel quality;
- Work and Pensions: Coordination of social security between the EU and Switzerland;
The Committee’s Forty-fifth Report covering these documents will be published next week.
The Committee’s Forty-fourth Report will be published shortly, covering the Europe for Citizens Programme; The EU and Ukraine; EU training of Malian armed forces and EU military operation in the Central African Republic; Access to published works for the visually impaired; Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by companies; Posting of workers; Reforms to the EU’s trade mark regime; Internet governance; Cultural co-operation under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement; EU-Kosovo cooperation; the working of the comitology committees in 2012; Remuneration and pension adjustments for EU staff in 2013; Banking Union: single resolution mechanism; Regulation of new psychoactive substances; Hague Convention (Choice of Court Agreements); Nitrogen oxide emissions from shipping.