COMMONS

European Scrutiny Committee Meeting Summary: 8 May 2013

14 May 2013

European Scrutiny Committee Meeting Summary: 8 May 2013

Common Agricultural Policy – emerging agreement to be debated

We are recommending four sets of proposals for debate this week.  Changes to the Common Agricultural Policy have been under discussion for some time, and were debated in a House of Commons European Committee in January 2012.  However, as negotiations intensify, it is clear that further far-reaching changes may be proposed in the run-up to a final agreement by the end of June.  The Committee has received regular updates from the Government and we have decided that these documents should be debated again, preferably on the floor of the House, before a conclusion is reached. 

2014 European elections – proposed changes to the electoral process

The second debate we are recommending relates to the European elections in 2014.  This originates from a recommendation by the Commission to Member States to make changes to their electoral processes in order to make the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 more directly relevant to citizens of the EU.  The UK Government is highly critical of the proposals, which include a recommendation for a single voting day across the EU and a single time of closing of the polls.  The proposals are not legally binding but we agree with the Government’s concerns and are recommending the documents for debate, again on the floor of the House.

Deploying high-speed electronic communication networks – Reasoned Opinion

We are recommending that the House adopts a Reasoned Opinion on a proposed Regulation on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communication networks.  The Committee takes the view that this proposal does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity and that the policy objectives would be better approached at the EU level if they were modified and contained in a Directive rather than a Regulation.

We are also recommending a set of documents relating to economic governance for debate in European Committee.

Sanctions measures – scrutiny issues

There are two Chapters of the Report relating to sanctions measures – in Somalia and Myanmar/Burma.  In both cases we ask the Government to work with the European External Action Service to keep us better informed about the progress of proposals through scrutiny to avoid the need for an over-ride at the latest stages of agreement.  We are concerned that this important area of scrutiny is not working particularly well at the moment, and we are likely to take this forward as part of our current scrutiny inquiry.

EUBAM Libya  - local capacity

We are also reporting on steps to establish an Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya), asking for further information urgently from the Minister (in particular his view of the local administration’s capacity to support the mission) before we clear the document.

Climate change and renewable energy – request for an Opinion

The Committee also considered proposals relating to climate change – a Commission Communication on climate policy, a Commission Report on Renewable Energy and a Green Paper on Climate and energy policies 2030.  All three are reported to the House because of their importance to the climate change debate and the run-up to the International Climate Change Agreement due in 2015, and we will be asking the Energy and Climate Change Committee for its formal ‘Opinion’ on the proposals.

Other documents reported

We are also reporting on documents relating to the European Defence Agency, the EU Justice Scoreboard, origin marking for imports from third countries, the 2013 Budget, protection of intellectual property rights outside the EU, financing EU external action, animal tests for cosmetics and EU- Syria relations.

The Committee’s report will be published next week.  The draft Reasoned Opinion will be published separately on Monday.

The tenth oral evidence session of the scrutiny inquiry has also taken place this week - with Sir Jon Cunliffe, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU. The transcript will be available on the Committee’s website next week, but the session is available to view now on www.parliamentlive.tv.

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