Select Committee on European Scrutiny Third Report


COM(01) 321

Amended draft Directive amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions.

Legal base: Article 141 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 7 June 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 8 June 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 26 June 2001
Department: Cabinet Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 10 July and Minister's letter to Lord Brabazon of Tara of 11 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21473) 10382/00 : HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 7 (2 May 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but information on progress requested


6.1  The previous Committee cleared an earlier version of this proposal in May,[10] following a response from the then Minister, which addressed most of its concerns satisfactorily. Nevertheless, it expressed concern about the timetable, since it seemed likely that a final text (differing considerably from the one it had considered) would be agreed without having been submitted for scrutiny. In the event, a Council Common Position text (which has not yet been deposited) was agreed on 11 June.

The document

6.2  The document under consideration is a revised version of the proposal which was prepared by the Commission in the light of the European Parliament's proposed amendments. It was produced before the Common Position text was agreed, and has been superseded by it.

The Government's view

6.3  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 10 July, the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office (Baroness Morgan of Huyton) says:

    "The Commission text unfortunately has taken little account of many months of negotiating in the Council. However, the text does contain a number of uncontroversial points which are carried through from the earlier proposal, and which are reflected in the agreed Council text, such as protection from discrimination by a former employer, the concept of sex as a genuine occupational qualification, and the extension of the principle of equal treatment to trade unions, employers' organisations and professional bodies."

6.4  The Minister then lists the provisions in the Commission's document which were of particular concern to the UK. In the main, these relate to provisions which would have significant cost implications for employers, and provisions which were not clearly drafted. She adds:

    "The Government continues to believe that the EU has no competence to make sweeping changes to our domestic court procedure, of the sort which would be required in order to give organisations the power to take representative action on behalf of victims of discrimination."

6.5  In her letter of 11 October to Lord Brabazon of Tara, in addition to addressing a number of points raised by our sister Committee on the draft Directive, the Minister reports that the negotiations over this proposal are by no means over. She says:

    "The Women's Rights Committee [of the European Parliament] is due to vote on 16 October and their recommendations will be put to Parliament's plenary session in early November. The information we have is that amendments will be proposed which would not be acceptable to the UK and that the conciliation process is likely to be invoked. We will be seeking to maintain the common position and the alignments with the Article 13 Directives. I will inform you of the situation at a later stage."


6.6  We have not reported on this document in detail, since it has been overtaken by events. However, the text which superseded it — and which we have still not yet seen — now also seems to be under challenge. We ask the Minister — in accordance with her understanding — to keep us informed, and to deposit any substantive new texts as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, we clear the document.

10  (21473) 10382/00 : see headnote to this paragraph. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 12 November 2001