The work of the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee B) covers:
Energy utilities including coal, oil, gas and electricity but also a general brief for nuclear energy and renewables.
Energy utilities represent a key area of EU legislative activity, with a view towards developing a functioning Internal Market in a field closely tied to national ownership. Numerous Directives have been passed seeking to liberalise the market in Gas and Electricity, and attempts are being made to tackle issues of Security of Supply in Gas and Oil. Common safety standards have been addressed with regard to Nuclear Energy, while the market for Coal has been an area of EU activity since the signing of the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty in 1952. Although the Treaty expired in 2002, the EU continues to address issues of state aid and clean fuel technology in the coal industry.
Liberalising the transport market in the EU and harmonising safety standards for road, rail, air and maritime transport.
Transport, including rail, aviation, maritime and road networks, has become a key area of EU legislative activity. The EU has been moving towards liberalising the rail freight market for a number of years. The Second Railway Package (a series of Commission proposals which became EU legislation in April 2004) provides for the liberalisation of all freight services by 2007, EU-wide technical standards and a common regulatory framework. The Third Railway Package, proposed by the Commission in March 2004, looks at liberalising passenger services and safety standards. Issues of road safety standards and EU-wide driving licences have also been looked at, while similar issues have been addressed with regard to aviation standards. The issue of re-allocation of runway slots at EU airports remains under discussion. Maritime safety is another concern of EU legislation, and a specific Agency has been established with this focus.
The Internal Market
A very extensive area, issues currently under discussion include the services industry and public procurement policies. The EU continues to legislate in areas where it feels there remain obstacles to the goal of a genuinely functioning Internal Market. The Services industry (including financial services) has become a new focus of EU activity, as well as Public Procurement policy and Services of General Interest. Sub-Committee B will also look at the expected or actual effect of any EU proposals on UK business.
Research and Technological Development
Research and technological development across the EU with a view to boosting the international competitiveness of the European economy. In addition, European Space Policy has become an increasingly important part of the Sub-Committee's remit.
Research is an area where the European Union is very active, particular in the field of Science and Technology and, should the Draft Treaty on an EU Constitution be ratified, European Space Policy. In addition to supporting trans-European research projects, the EU also seeks to co-ordinate the activities of the EU and its Member States to maximise its limited resources in this field. The overall aim is to boost the international competitiveness of the European economy by supporting technological developments and for this reason the EU’s Research policy is closely linked to the needs of the Internal Market.
The Sub-Committee carries out a scrutiny function on proposed EU legislation.
Documents currently being scrutinised by the Sub-Committee are listed in the
Progress of Scrutiny.