Meeting Summary: 12 February 2014

13 February 2014

The European Scrutiny Committee met on Wednesday, 12 February 2014.


This week the Committee considered the following documents:


Sharing of data between the EU and US

These two Communications set out the Commission’s review of its strategy on EU-US data transfers and the operation of what is known as the “Safe Harbour Decision” in respect of EU-US transfer of data for commercial purposes.  Both documents are relevant to the proposed EU data protection package and have been produced in response to the Snowden allegations that the communications of EU citizens, including personal data, have been monitored and collected by US intelligence agencies.  The Government is concerned that the timetable for agreement of the data protection package may be brought forward to spring this year, before the European Parliament elections, and expresses concerns about some parts of the Communications.  We ask the Government for a prompt update on progress with the data protection package and whether aspects of these Communications might be reflected in any amendments to it.  In the meantime the Communications remain under scrutiny.


Protection of trade secrets

This draft Directive would provide for the protection of trade secrets in the civil law systems of EU Member States.  It contains a definition of trade secrets and sets out requirements for civil remedies and procedures.  The objective is to improve the functioning of the single market for research and innovation by giving innovators confidence that their trade secrets will have the same level of protection in each Member State and that they have access to effective remedies in the event of misappropriation of those secrets.  The UK Government agrees with the Commission that benefits for the internal market in research and innovation would derive from action at EU level, although the protection of trade secrets under the UK’s common law of confidence is already consistent with the Commission’s proposal, other than that the UK allows for a longer limitation period.  We ask the Minister to say whether the Directive as currently drafted would require implementing legislation, even though it is already given effect under the common law, and if so what form that would take.  In the meantime, the document remains under scrutiny.


Other documents reported:

We are also reporting on documents relating to:

  • Business, Innovation and Skills: Establishing a Quality Framework for company restructuring; Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment; Posting of workers; Electronic identification and trust services;
  • Cabinet Office: Implementing the solidarity clause;  
    Environment, Food and Rural affairs: Evaluation of rural development expenditure; Barcelona Convention; EU accession to CITES
  • FCO: Iran sanctions and the EU General Court; EU-Azerbaijan co-operation;
  • HM Treasury: 2011 and 2012 salary and pension adjustments for EU staff;
  • Home Office: Preventing radicalisation;
  • International Development: Financing EU external action.

The Committee’s Report on these documents will be published on 18 February. The Committee’s Thirty-fifth Report (covering Animal cloning) has already been published.

The Thirty-sixth Report will be published shortly, covering: Member States’ application of EU law in 2012; EU military operation in the Central African Republic; EU Anti-Dumping Activities in 2012; Completing the single market for postal delivery; Damages in competition law; Telecoms single market; Invasive alien species; Comitology; Restrictive measures against Zimbabwe; working of the comitology committees in 2012; Project Bond Initiative; Financial services: Single Euro Payment Area; Task Force for the Mediterranean; Extending participation on the European Asylum Support Office; EU Readmission Agreement with Azerbaijan; Female genital mutilation; EU climate finance and external aid; Service of Documents; Urban mobility; Trans-European Transport Network.

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