Select Committee on European Scrutiny Fourth Report


COM(01) 415

Commission Opinion on the European Parliament's amendments to the Council's Common Position on a draft Directive concerning the organisation of working time for mobile workers performing road transport activities and for self-employed drivers.

Legal base: Articles 71 and 137 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 25 July 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 25 July 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 28 September 2001
Department: Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Basis of consideration: EM of 11 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21953) 13792/00: HC 28-xi (2000-01), paragraph 11 (4 April 2001)
To be discussed in Council: Following conciliation procedure
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but further information requested


16.1  When the previous Committee last considered this proposal,[45] it was in receipt of a letter from the then Minister which provided information on the Council's Common Position, agreed on 23 March. Although the UK was generally in favour of the text, it abstained at the Council, since it did not obtain support for its proposed 65-hour maximum working week or an opt-out for individuals.

The document and the Government's view

16.2  The current document is the Commission's Opinion, following the European Parliament's second reading, adopted on 14 June. The Commission states that it can support only seven of the 20 proposed amendments. In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr David Jamieson) tells us:

    "Having endorsed the Council's common position, the Commission felt it would be inconsistent to accept any amendments of substance from the European Parliament. As a result, they support the common position on the issue of the self-employed, the night work provisions, on the definition of working time/availability time and on the derogations."

16.3  The Minister continues:

    "The Government is very concerned about the possible impact to the Road Haulage industry of tighter restrictions on working time. The UK broadly supports the common position and we welcome the Commission's support for it on issues of substance. We are particularly pleased that the Commission are supporting the 10 hour limit for night workers (as opposed to the more restrictive 8 hour limit proposed by the European Parliament).

    "There are, however, some less significant amendments that the Commission are prepared to support. The most significant are a tighter definition of the self-employed, a two year period for keeping records (rather than 1 year) and a two year implementation period. We do have some concerns about these amendments, but they are far less important to the haulage and bus industries than the EP's proposed amendments for night workers, the scope for derogations and the definition of working time. In preparing for conciliation, we will need to consider with other Member States how far we should continue to fight to retain the whole of the common position and to what extent we should be prepared to make concessions to the Parliament with a view to securing our key objectives."

16.4  The Minister tells us that the first meeting of the conciliation committee is expected "very shortly".


16.5  We thank the Minister for keeping us informed about the difficult progress of this measure, and ask him to let us know the outcome of the conciliation process.

16.6  We clear the document.

45  (21953) 13792/00:see headnote to this paragraph. Back

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Prepared 14 November 2001