Meeting Summary: 12 March 2014

17 March 2014

The European Scrutiny Committee met on Wednesday 12 March 2014.

This week the Committee considered the following documents:

EU and Ukraine: restrictive measures: for debate in the House

These documents (a Council Decision and Council Regulation) have already been adopted, and impose an asset freeze on 18 individuals identified as responsible for human rights violations during the violent clashes in Ukraine between anti-government protestors and security forces during February 2014.  The Minister for Europe wrote to us in February to flag up the likelihood of early adoption of the measures, and – given the swift pace of events – we do not object to the decision to override scrutiny. Given the intense public and political interest in the EU’s response to the situation in Ukraine, we recommend that the measures should be the subject of the earliest possible debate on the floor of the House.

Posting of workers: for debate in European Committee

This draft Directive aims to improve implementation and enforcement of a 1996 Directive which established a legal framework for business to send ("post") workers from their home Member State to another Member State in order to provide services on a temporary basis.  We have held it under scrutiny since May 2012, granting a scrutiny waiver in October 2013 to enable the Government to support a possible Council general approach.  The Government voted against the proposed general approach in December, as it was not in line with its negotiating objectives, and since then negotiations have continued in trilogue.  The Minister has now written with details of a provisional agreement on a compromise text; but many questions remain unanswered. We therefore recommend the draft Directive for debate in European Committee. 

Banking Union: single resolution mechanism

This Draft Regulation would establish a single resolution mechanism (SRM) for the eurozone; it is accompanied by a European Central Bank Opinion.  The documents were most recently considered on 15 January.  One week later, on 22 January, the European Court of Justice issued its judgement on the Short Selling Regulation Case.  The Minister has written to set out the Government’s view on the implications of the judgement for its approach towards the SRM.  He says that preliminary analysis by legal advisers suggests two areas where there could be an impact.  The Minister concludes that, in practice, it currently appears unlikely that the judgement will necessitate major changes to the general approach text agreed by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council at the end of last year. We ask to hear in due course about progress in trilogue discussions, and retain the documents under scrutiny.

Financial services: benchmarks

The aim of this Draft Regulation is to create a regulatory framework for benchmarks for financial instruments, financial contracts or measuring the performance of investment funds.  The House issued a Reasoned Opinion on 28 November last year; the Commission has now responded.  There has been wider interest in the points the Committee raised; we ask the Government for its view of the Commission’s response and for an update on the progress in the negotiations of the proposal, particularly whether the UK’s concerns are shared by other Member States.

Animal cloning

These draft Directives have been under scrutiny for some time; the House issued a Reasoned Opinion last month.  We asked the Government for a detailed legal analysis, including its considered view on the use of Article 352 TFEU (known as the “flexibility clause”) for the legal base of one of the draft Directives.  The response which has now been received from Defra is unsatisfactory and we therefore invite the Minister to give oral evidence.

Other documents reported

We are also reporting on documents relating to:

  • Energy and Climate Change: Ocean energy; 
  •  Environment, Food and Rural affairs: School milk and fruit schemes;
  • FCO: Restrictive measures in Bosnia and Herzegovina; EU-Philippines relations; EU-Vietnam relations;
  • Transport: Road safety:eCall; Emissions from road vehicles;

The Committee’s Report on the EU and the Ukraine was published on Friday 14 March. The Thirty-ninth Report will be published next week. The Committee’s Thirty-eighth Report will be published on Tuesday 18 March, covering: The EU and the Central African Republic; The European Solidarity Fund; Voting rights of EU citizens; Space policy; Establishing a Quality Framework for Traineeships; Internal market for industrial products; Trade in products used for capital punishment, torture, etc; Shipments of waste; Wildlife trafficking; Restrictive measures against the Democratic Republic of Congo; the EU and the Gulf of Guinea; Financial services: securities financing transactions; Financial services: resilience of credit institutions; Relocation of the European Police College (CEPOL); Procedural safeguards for children and other vulnerable defendants in criminal proceedings; Right to provisional aid and EU law; Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment.

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