European Scrutiny Committee Meeting Summary: 3 July 2013

04 July 2013

European Scrutiny Committee Meeting summary: 3 July 2013

Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-20

The Committee has been following negotiations on the MFF closely, and reports this week on the Irish Presidency’s proposals for a new Council Regulation on the MFF and the associated Inter-Institutional Agreement and draft declarations.  These cover the key policies agreed at the February European Council, a deal on which has now been agreed with the European Parliament (but is still subject to agreement in EP plenary session).  We recommend that the documents be debated on the floor of the House, and suggest that in the debate Members will wish to explore the value of the settlement reached and what it means for the UK as a major contributor to the EU budget.

Climate and energy policies 2030

In May we requested a formal Opinion on three Commission papers from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.  These have now been received, and in the light of the comments we are recommending the Green Paper on Climate and energy policies 2030 for debate in European Committee.  The Green Paper covers such issues as the use of targets, the coherence of policy instruments, the impact of energy policy on competitiveness, and the need to take into account the different situations within Member States.  We also report the other two Opinions, which covered a Commission Report on Renewable Energy and a Communication on International climate policy beyond 2020, clearing them in both cases.

Regulation of tobacco and related products

We have been holding this draft Directive under scrutiny and two weeks ago concluded that it would be premature to grant the Minister a scrutiny waiver to enable her to agree a compromise text at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 21 June.  While noting the Minister’s view that the Presidency compromise would be “good for public health” we also took the view that the outcome of the Council was uncertain and a number of important issues remained unresolved.  The Minister now reports that the Government supported a general approach at the Council on the basis of a revised Presidency compromise text, thereby overriding scrutiny. We conclude that the Minister should appear before us to explain the scrutiny override.

Financial audits

This Directive and Regulation have been under scrutiny since February 2012 and lay down conditions for carrying out the statutory financial audit of companies, rules on the organisation and selection of auditors and the supervision of compliance by auditors with those requirements.  The Commission states that its aims include dealing with the expectation gap between the public perception of the assurance that an auditor provides and what auditors actually do provide and reducing the risks of conflicts of interest which can impair the independence of auditors.  Negotiations are ongoing within the Council, and the Presidency is likely to try and reach a compromise on the outstanding areas of disagreement this month, before moving rapidly to trilogue with the European Parliament.  While some issues have been resolved, provisions remain which could have a significant impact on UK companies, and we have therefore recommended the documents for debate in European Committee.

CSDP Missions

We report this week on four CSDP Missions: EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUTM Somalia and EUCAP Nestor. We clear the documents and ask for further reports, including: (in the case of EUTM Mali) a report on achievements against benchmarks, progress towards achieving the EU’s overall objectives and the likelihood of attaining the planned exit at the end of the 15-month mandate; and (in the case of EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUCAP Nestor) further information on the progress in securing local buy-in.
Other documents reported

We are also reporting on documents relating to:

  • Cabinet Office: Statute for a European Foundation#
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office: EUSR to Kosovo; EUSR for the Horn of Africa; free movement and public documents
  • HM Treasury: Adoption of the euro – Latvia; European Globalisation Adjustment Fund; Salary weightings for EU staff working outside the EU
  • Home Office: Establishing a new Schengen evaluation mechanism; Trafficking in firearms
  • Department for International Development: European Investment Bank
  • Ministry of Justice: Data protection regulation in the EU
  • Transport: Marine equipment; Roadworthiness of vehicles; Stability and Growth Pact and financial assistance to Member States

The Committee’s report will be published next week. 

Last week’s Committee Report, covering: Reforming Europol— important proposals to be the subject of an opt-in debate; Development and migration; the functioning of the Schengen free movement area; EU Special Representatives; Trans-European Telecommunications Network, 2014-20; European Earth Observation Programme; EU Structural and Cohesion Fund programmes; Money laundering and terrorist financing; 2013 European Semester; European statistics on safety from crime; Development and migration; Public access to EU documents and Freight transport was published on 3 July.

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