Monitoring and Reporting
96. Strong monitoring and reporting against agreed
indicators is important if EPI is to be realised. However, although
there are many EU structures and processes already in place which
could be employed, the linkages between them are not sufficiently
developed at present. The Commission has stated that a strong
commitment from the European Council is needed to carry forward
the integration process and to monitor its ongoing success.
97. The Commission itself is overseen by the ministerial
councils although Mr Meacher felt this role was not exercised
as "systematically as it could be".
Mr Tony Brenton (FCO) felt that the body to which the Commission
was most politically responsive was the European Parliament and
this was the one body that could exercise an effective oversight
function on the European Commission.
The Parliament has clearly demonstrated this function in its recent
dismissal of the previous Commissioners. In addition, in response
to a resolution of the European Parliament, the Court of Auditors
published a special report on the environment in 1992 which the
Government felt had had some beneficial influence in inserting
environmental considerations into the allocation of Structural
98. The Committee received written evidence from
Ms Anita Pollack who was a Labour Member of the European Parliament
from 1989-99 and served on its Committee for Environment, Public
Health and Consumer Protection for all that period. She commented
that during her time with the Parliament no formal mechanisms
were in place for monitoring the progress on implementing Treaty
provisions on sustainable development. Neither was there any formal
monitoring mechanism in place in Parliamentary procedures for
the Cardiff Summit's demand to integrate environment into other
EU policy areas.
99. The Committee understands that even without a
specific scrutiny mechanism it is still possible for the European
Parliament to review issues if it desires. However, without a
formal Communication on a regular basis from the Commission on
which to comment, the procedures are less straightforward. Alternatively,
the Parliament has to rely on opportunities which arise in Committee
for summoning and questioning the Environment Commissioner on
a range of issues perhaps a couple of times a year.
100. Ms Pollack also commented that the European
Parliament's subject-based Committee system is still imperfectly
geared to the notion of "joined-up thinking". Each Committee
tends to do its own thing, dependent on the legislative texts
before it from the Commission and also the budgetary timetable.
She felt that strategic debates were rare as was liaison across
The Environment Committee has got into a routine of summoning
the President of Council in the areas under its responsibility
(environment, consumer protection and health) during each Presidency
and subjecting the Minister concerned to rigorous questioning.
Other Committees have begun to follow this lead, however the decision
to do so is a matter for the Committee concerned and its Bureau.
Overall, Ms Pollack felt that there was a "democratic deficit"
in the EPI process in that the Parliament did not appear to be
involved in the process at any stage.
101. From a UK perspective, the House of Commons
European Scrutiny Committee has a specific remit to scrutinise
European Union documents and to consider any general issues arising
from them. We would draw on the European initiative on policy
integration to the attention of that committee.
102. The Committee recommends that Member States
should report their progress on making a contribution to an EU
sustainable development strategy against a set of European indicators
to the European Environment Agency (EEA). The Committee would
then like to see the EEA present a consolidated report on the
progress of the EU as a whole for regular assessment and review
by national and European parliaments and the European Council.
103. Other institutions and bodies such as the
Court of Auditors and the Commission's own auditors should monitor
the environmental impact of the spending of Community funds as
well as the probity, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of
116 COM (1998) 333 final, Partnership for integration:
A strategy for integrating environment into EU policies, 27 May
117 Q173 Back
118 Q173 Back
119 Q173 Back
p. 62 Back
121 Ibid Back
122 Ibid Back
123 Ibid Back
p. 66 Back