pn230708select

Embargo: Immediate Wednesday 23 July 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

LORDS EU COMMITTEE CALL FOR CLEARER LINE FROM GOVERNMENT ON EU ANNUAL POLICY STRATEGY

The House of Lords European Union Committee have today called on the Government to take a more active role in responding to the European Commission's Annual Policy Strategy, arguing it provides a unique opportunity to influence the allocation of financial resources for Commission proposals.

The Committee criticise the Government's Explanatory Memorandum on the Annual Policy Strategy for not giving enough detail of the Government's views on the European Commission's proposals. They state that the Explanatory Memorandum "give us the impression that the Annual Policy Strategy (APS) is not taken very seriously in Whitehall."

The Committee recommend that the Government take steps to ensure its Explanatory Memorandum for the APS is more thorough, including engaging in wider consultation. The Committee make clear that this should include Treasury scrutiny of the financial allocations in the APS to inform the Government's response to the European Commission.

In regard to the content of the APS the Committee welcome the European Commission's focus on delivering results on issues that concern citizens such as immigration and environmental issues and on working harder to communicate and explain those results. They support the Commission's renewed focus on climate change and call on the EU to work for an economically sustainable deal on the issue at the United Nations Climate Change Conference which will be held in December 2009.

The Committee also welcome the European Commission's position that 2009 will feature fewer new European legislation proposals than previous years. They invite the Commission to take the opportunity of a lull in legislation to focus on the implementation of previous legislation and to ensure even-handed implementation across member states.

Commenting Lord Grenfell, Chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee, said:

"The publication of the Annual Policy Strategy gives the Government a rare opportunity to have a direct impact on the European Commission's priorities in the year ahead. It is disappointing that they currently don't seem to be making the most of that opportunity.

"We hope that in future the Government will produce a more detailed Explanatory Memorandum on the APS so that the British public can be clear about how far the European Commission's priorities correspond to our government's.

"Broadly we welcome much of what the Commission is proposing and are very pleased that it is so clearly focused on delivering on issues that are most important to Europe's citizens."

Notes to Editors

  1. The report The Commission's Annual Policy Strategy for 2009, is available from The Stationery Office, House of Lords European Union Committee, 23rd Report of 2007/08, HL Paper 151.
  2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_eu_select_committee.cfm

For copies of the report, or to request an interview with Lord Grenfell, please contact Owen Williams, Head of Press and Media, House of Lords, on 020 7219 8659.