The European Scrutiny Committee met on Wednesday, 5 March 2014.
This week the Committee considered the following documents:
The EU and the Central African Republic
We are continuing our detailed scrutiny of these Council Decisions, and report in two separate Chapters this week on the latest updates we have received from the Foreign Office. We clear the two Council Decisions to launch the mission and on its status in the CAR (known as the Status of Forces Agreement), asking the Minister for Europe to deposit in due course the assessment by the Political and Security Committee of the Operation’s progress, which is due three months after its launch.
The European Solidarity Fund
These two related documents (a Draft Regulation and a Commission Report) have been considered by the Committee in September 2013 and January 2014 respectively; in both cases we asked for further information, which has now been received. It seems that a general approach on the Draft Regulation appears to be under discussion with the European Parliament and Commission in trilogues; we keep the Regulation under scrutiny and ask the Minister whether this general approach meets its key objectives. When considering the Communication in February, we asked the Government whether it intended to apply to the Fund in connection with the recent severe flooding in the UK if the necessary criteria were met. The Minister has replied but is not yet fully able to answer the Committee’s questions, particularly as to whether or not the Government intends to make an application for assistance from the Fund. Pending that fuller response the Commission Report, too, remains under scrutiny.
Voting rights of EU citizens
This Commission Communication and Recommendation recommend ways of ensuring that EU citizens living in another Member State retain the right to vote in national Parliamentary elections in their Member State of origin. The recommendations mainly concern five Member States – Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Malta and the UK – whose electoral laws remove the right to vote in national elections when resident abroad (although the length of absence triggering the removal of the right varies significantly, from as little as six months in Cyprus to 15 years in the UK). As the Minister observes, the Communication and Recommendation have no direct policy or legal implications, and the Recommendation has no binding force. Because of the interest in the House in these matters, we report them while clearing them from scrutiny.
Other documents reported
We are also reporting on documents relating to:
- Business, Innovation and Skills: Space policy; Establishing a Quality Framework for Traineeships; Internal market for industrial products; Trade in products used for capital punishment, torture, etc;
- Environment, Food and Rural affairs: Shipments of waste; Wildlife trafficking;
- FCO: Restrictive measures against the Democratic Republic of Congo; the EU and the Gulf of Guinea;
- HM Treasury: Financial services: securities financing transactions; Financial services: resilience of credit institutions;
- Home Office: Relocation of the European Police College (CEPOL);
- Justice: Procedural safeguards for children and other vulnerable defendants in criminal proceedings; Right to provisional aid and EU law;
- Work and Pensions: Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment;
The Committee’s Thirty-eighth Report will be published next week.
The Committee’s Thirty-seventh Report will be published on Tuesday, 11 March, covering: Climate and energy policy and fracking (for debate in European Committee); Energy prices and costs in Europe; Emissions Trading System; EU industrial policy: (for debate in European Committee); EU Special Representatives; The EU and the Central African Republic; Financial Services: bank accounts; Conditional access services; Electronic procurement and invoicing in public procurement; Conditional access services; Nagoya Protocol: sharing of benefits from genetic sources; Bulgaria and Romania: post-accession monitoring; EU-Kosovo co-operation; Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020; Taxation; Racism and xenophobia; Task force for the Mediterranean; Relocation of the European Police College (CEPOL); Female genital mutilation; A results framework for EU funded development cooperation; European Humanitarian Aid Corps; Rail research and innovation; Integrating labour markets.