Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twentieth Report


COM(01) 620

Commission Communication: Commission's work programme for 2002.

Legal base:
Document originated:5 December 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 7 December 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 16 January 2002
Department:Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 30 January 2002
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


  19.1  The Commission's Work Programme for 2002 is a statement of its policy priorities for the year. In its introduction, the Commission recalls that it set out in its White Paper, Reforming the Commission[43], how it intended to change the way it set its political agenda, so as to:

    "re-centre on core activities and objectives, improve delivery of policy priorities and further increase transparency towards other European Union institutions, national parliaments and European citizens".

  19.2  In February 2001, the Commission adopted its first Annual Policy Strategy[44], in which it set out the main political priorities for 2002, defined priority actions and allocated corresponding resources. The Commission says that this paper:

    "provides the framework for the preliminary draft budget and operational programming by the Commission's services in the form of annual management plans. These translate the Commission's political steer into actions, objectives and expected results at the level of internal programming by the services and contain operational proposals for the Commission's Work Programme."

  19.3  The Commission Work Programme used to be presented at the start of the year in question and, according to the Commission, was "accompanied by a long descriptive catalogue of legislative and other policy actions, not always identified with political priorities." We considered the one for 2001 on 25 April 2001[45]. It has now become a political instrument, integrated in a new system of management in which it forms part of a complete cycle from policy planning to execution. It therefore:

"—  assesses progress in the current year;

  • identifies the political and economic context for the coming year;

  • spells out the political priorities for the year to come on the basis of the Annual Policy Strategy, but adapts these where necessary to reflect major new developments;

  • highlights the main political actions for 2002, in particular those that translate the political priorities for that year. It does not, however, attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of Commission activity, much of which is ongoing work linked to the Commission's Treaty obligations".

Description of the Work Programme for 2002 and the Government's view of it

  19.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) comments that the Work Programme is binding on the Commission, but not on the EU as a whole, nor on the European Parliament or the Council. He then, helpfully, describes the document and provides the Government's view of it at the same time. He says:

    "The Communication assesses the Commission's progress in the delivery of its strategic objectives in 2001 and re-confirms the Commission's existing priorities for the year ahead. In addition to the six priorities already identified in the Annual Policy Strategy and adopted in February 2001, the Commission has added a further priority in the wake of September 11. The revised priorities are:
  • Safety and security

  • Introduction of the euro, further economic and financial integration

  • Sustainable development

  • New European governance

  • Enlargement

  • Mediterranean

  • Development co-operation.

    "The structure of the Work Programme is somewhat changed from previous years. The document focuses on the major political actions through which the Commission intends to deliver those priorities rather than setting out a definitive list of legislative proposals, as in the annexes of the 2001 Programme. This change represents a positive move by the Commission to adopt a more strategic approach to determining its priorities, in line with, though not constrained by, the Annual Policy Strategy of February 2001. In place of the annual list of proposed legislation, the Commission intends to publish quarterly legislative programmes, a positive attempt to add greater flexibility to the process.

    "The document begins with a broad positive assessment of progress made during 2001, on the four priority areas defined in the 2001 Programme.

  • Promoting new forms of governance: progress in the areas of governance and the Commission's programme of internal reform;

  • The new economic and social agenda: including a sustainable development strategy, proposals on the Common Fisheries Policy and the Community transport policy, cohesion policy, gender equality and taxation policy;

  • Stabilising our continent and boosting Europe's voice in the world: progress on enlargement negotiations, the launch of a new multilateral trade round, the 'Everything but Arms' initiative, reform of the management of EU external assistance programmes, reconstruction in the Western Balkans, and support to the Mediterranean; and

  • A better quality of life for all: rescuing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and proposals for the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, proposals towards creating a European space of freedom, security and justice and in the areas of consumer protection, public health and food safety.

    "The bulk of the document identifies the political and economic context in the coming year, and spells out the political priorities for the year to come on the basis of the Annual Policy Strategy (APS) of February 2001, adapted where necessary to reflect major new developments. This section includes Key action points on which the Commission intends to concentrate.

    (i)  Safety and Security

      "This section discusses the need to combat terrorism and crime and promote the safety and security of European citizens through action within the Union as well as at an international level.

      "The Government welcomes the Commission's proposals to bring forward a number of initiatives to fight terrorism and crime, including the financing of terrorism and the fight against organised crime. We are working closely with our EU partners to ensure that there is an effective EU-level response to both terrorism and organised crime. The special meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers and the special European Council on 20 and 21 September last year agreed a plan of action to combat terrorism, which we want to continue to turn into real action as quickly as possible. We have already made good progress in agreeing a European Arrest Warrant; a terrorism framework decision; and joint investigative teams.

      "We are very keen that the EU's external border controls should be as effective as possible. We have led those pushing for more action to deal with human trafficking and people smuggling, including by setting up a successful EU team in the Balkans to help local governments tackle the problem. In this light, we look forward to the Commission's proposed initiative focusing on progressive development of an integrated border management system for effective external border controls. We hope it will propose more joint work along the lines of the UK Balkans initiative, and more short-term operations using intelligence to target border weak spots. We are also willing to examine other proposals for improved co-operation. Our decision on participation would of course take account of the UK's special position on the maintenance of our own internal frontier controls.

      "The Government welcomes the adoption of the Commission Communication on Civil Protection and Bioterrorism in November 2001. The Communication sets out the work already underway in the Commission on these areas. It also signals its intention to nominate a Civil Protection Coordinator responsible for coordinating work in this area and for managing the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection (agreed in September 2001). The work already in hand on civil protection includes an action plan to deal with the consequences of nuclear, biological and chemical attacks; a programme of actions on civil protection, health and research; reinforcing capacity for epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases; developing mechanisms for consultation in the event of a bio-terrorist attack; a pharmaceutical taskforce to look at treatments, production capacity, control and distribution of vaccines; a group of national experts to coordinate on research activity; use of the Commission's Joint Research Centre to launch two new studies on bioterrorism; security of energy facilities and transport; a Commission assessment of the vulnerability of nuclear facilities; and use of financing for natural or technological disasters. No decision has yet been taken on the nomination of a Civil Protection Coordinator. The Government supports the useful summary of ongoing work in the civil protection area in the Communication.

      "An EU regulation on minimum standards of aviation security across the EU was agreed by the Council of Ministers in December last year. Once adopted by the European Parliament, the Commission will chair a group of Member State representatives to agree 'accepted methods of compliance' with the Regulation.

      "The Commission will also come forward with proposals for developing appropriate safety standards for road tunnels on the Trans European Networks. The Government supports improved minimum safety standards across the EU.

      "And the Commission is expected to come forward with proposals for revising legislation addressing passenger ship stability and roll on/roll off ferries. At working level, Member States and the Commission will consider how best to co-ordinate any work in the International Maritime Organisation on maritime security.

      "We welcome Commission work on energy supply security including strengthening the EU: Russia energy dialogue and bilateral relations with other key energy partners. It is important this is done on the basis of a clear and transparent framework, discussed and agreed by Member States.

      "In December 2001 the Council agreed a Resolution on information and network security. Measures to come forward in 2002 include proposals on a cybersecurity task force, reinforcing the dialogue with international organisations and partners and the promotion of the common criteria approach to assessing the security functionality of products and systems.

      "The Government is committed to inserting a counter terrorism clause in all new co-operation agreements with third countries. We therefore welcome the Commission support in implementing the agreements with third countries. In particular, we would welcome the Commission offering technical assistance to third countries to assist them to implement anti-terrorist, and anti-money laundering legislation.

      "The Government is committed to offering Afghanistan strong, sustained and substantial political and financial support, in the light of the war against terror. We recognise that only through pledges of significant, long-term international humanitarian and development aid, can the political and social stability of the people of Afghanistan be secured and the long-term objectives of the anti-terror campaign be achieved.

      "We welcome the Commission's proposal for a community contribution of £1bn over 2002-6, (based on the latest IDA/ADB/UNDP needs assessment conducted), as outlined at the Afghanistan Steering Group meeting in Tokyo on 21 January. We will further support this with a substantial UK donation of approximately £324m for the same period.

      "We value the commitment to the region the EU has shown, in particular by co-chairing the Afghan Steering Group, as part of the co-ordinated international effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

    (ii)  Introduction of the euro, further economic and financial integration

      "This section discusses the need to ensure the successful launch of the euro and to take the necessary accompanying structural reform measures to consolidate economic and monetary union and the single market

      "The Government notes the focus on improving economic co-ordination and promoting public debate on economic policy in the euro area. We would also note that the ECOFIN Council is the only body empowered by the Treaty to formulate and adopt the broad economic policy guidelines which constitute the main instrument of economic co-ordination, as agreed at the 1997 Luxembourg European Council.

      "The Government supports the Commission's objective of developing the single market in financial services — and the requirement for regular reporting to monitor and encourage progress. The Government intends to scrutinise very carefully the individual legislative proposals that make up the Action Plan and will continue to encourage a focus on the plan's objectives as individual proposals progress. At this point we are not aware that the Commission intends to publish any specific further proposals on improving the legal framework for e-commerce. However, the Government believes that in the light of the conclusions of the Barcelona Summit on Economic Reform in March, there may well be a role for the Commission to undertake more intensive work on regulatory issues for e-commerce generally, or in financial services in particular.

      "A key element of the Financial Services Action Plan is to achieve agreement on a takeovers directive to ensure clarity and consistency in takeover law across the EU. The Government therefore welcomes the publication of the High Level Group Report as an important step in that process and urges the Commission to bring forward early revised proposals for a directive.

      "In 1998 the Commission issued a Green Paper on combating counterfeiting and piracy in the single market. This was followed in November 2000 by a Commission Communication setting out an action plan of urgent and medium term measures. One of the urgent actions is a proposed Directive to strengthen the means for enforcing intellectual property rights, exchanging information and improving administrative co-operation.

      "The UK Government is committed to fighting counterfeiting and piracy, which damages business and consumer interests, and generally welcomes the proposals in the action plan. Many of the proposals are consistent with current Government initiatives in this area.

      "The Government's Explanatory Memoranda of 3 October 2000 explained that the purpose of Commission proposals in May 2000 was to simplify, clarify and update the EC procurement directives. Since then a great deal has been achieved to improve the proposals. A common approach has emerged on most issues and the Government welcomed industry's support in securing a more flexible approach, for example in relation to PFI and other PPP contracts. We now seek a broader approach to electronic procurement systems and better safeguards on a proposed exclusion of tenderers convicted of serious offences. The Government will consider the need for proposals to revise the directives on remedies when these are made available

      "The UK welcomes Commission initiatives on taxation that promote efficient tax systems, counter harmful tax practices, increase transparency, and combat abuse and evasion. Fair tax competition is crucial to deliver these goals and the UK supports those Commission initiatives which advance this approach.

      "We welcome the Commission's emphasis on improving the business environment and on raising private investment in R&D. This is a key part of the Lisbon economic and social reform agenda, and we support efforts to encourage the sharing of Member State best practice in stimulating private R&D. A suite of quantitative indicators of progress may be appropriate in this context.

    (iii)  Sustainable Development

      "This section discusses the need to implement the EU's sustainable development strategy to aim for stable economic growth and higher employment, coupled with social cohesion and environmental protection within the Union and internationally

      "Heads of Government agreed an EU strategy for sustainable development (EU SDS) at the Gothenburg European Council in June 2001, and committed to review the strategy at their future Spring meetings starting with Barcelona in March 2002.

      "Under the SDS, the Commission undertook to develop a methodology for sustainability impact assessment of all major proposals, covering their potential economic, social and environmental effects. The Commission noted in its Communication to the Laeken European Council in December 2001 that it would establish such a methodology by the end of 2002 and that it intended to produce a Communication on the subject as soon as possible. The Government supports the Commission's intention which should make a significant contribution to improved policy coherence.

      "The Commission also undertook to adopt a Communication on the external dimension of the SDS. The Government supports the development of these proposals which recognise the need for the EU to give priority to improving coherence between its internal and external policies with the aim of taking steps towards poverty eradication and securing a better environment. A strong external dimension to the SDS would also make the EU well placed to play a leading role at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

      "The Prime Minister welcomed the launch of the Doha Development Agenda as '¼a huge success for the international community.' We fully support the Commission's aim to push ahead with negotiations in 2002. Developing countries stand to benefit most from the new Round in relative terms, but it is also estimated that successful negotiations could boost the average income of every household in Britain by nearly £500 a year. Negotiations need to build momentum rapidly if they are to be completed by the target date of 1 January 2005. Capacity-building measures must go hand in hand with this process. The UK already provides significant human and financial trade-related technical assistance. We are keen to work with the Commission to expand the global effort in this area and to ensure coherence between the various governments and institutions providing such assistance.

      "The Government is committed to continuing reform of the CAP which gives a better deal to consumers, taxpayers, and pays due regard to the needs of the environment, public health and rural development. We therefore look forward to the mid-term reviews of the CAP planned for mid-2002 and welcome the intention to further integrate food safety and sustainable development policies. The establishment of the European Food Safety Authority in January 2002 was an important step forward in this respect. The government also welcomes the attention to the need to prepare for enlargement, and consider it essential to pursue CAP reform and enlargement in parallel. For enlargement to be successful in the long term, further reforms will be necessary. We also support the ongoing negotiations on Agriculture as part of the WTO discussions. The Government also supports the planned comprehensive review of the Common Fisheries Policy, and urges that it take account of environmental and sustainability considerations, including in respect of third country fishing agreements.

      "The Government supports the Commission's intention to launch the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2002-2006), which will identify a limited number of key priorities for Community research and development. The Programme signals a shift towards promoting greater mobility, networking and knowledge transfer, which is welcome and in line with UK priorities.

      "The Government looks forward to seeing the European Commission's Communication for a Community Strategy on health and safety at work. The UK has been working closely with the Commission in a variety of ways that link closely to the UK's own domestic strategy, 'Revitalising Health and Safety'. The Government will continue to press forward with an outcomes based approach aimed at securing major improvements in the national health and safety performance.

      "The debate over the future of EU Cohesion Policy began last year with the publication of the 2nd Report on Economic and Social Cohesion. On 30 January 2002, the Commission will publish an update on the Report and intends to follow this up with a series of workshops later this year to stimulate discussion about the interim report. The Government has called for a fundamental review of what the Funds are seeking to achieve, how effective they have been and what sort of arrangements would best serve an enlarged EU, respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Formal Commission proposals for the future of the Funds are expected in 2004 and the UK and other Member States will be contributing to the development of these proposals in the intervening period.

      "The Government welcomes the use of the open method of co-ordination as an alternative to legislation that promotes the exchange of information and best practice, benchmarking and peer review. The open method approach has been adopted in both the pensions and social inclusion areas but is longest established in the employment field. The Government supports the expansion of the open method of co-ordination into other areas, such as education, in a way that is consistent with the principles of subsidiarity.

      "The Government welcomes the more strategic approach of the sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP) which sets out the framework for Community environment policy over the next ten years. We support the identification of four priority areas and have successfully argued for an emphasis on climate change as an outstanding challenge of the next ten years and beyond. The Government strongly supports commitments within the 6EAP to improved implementation and to a policy-making process based on stakeholder dialogue, sound science and cost effectiveness. The programme will have legal status but will not have direct regulatory effect and will not require transposition into UK law. Once adopted under the co-decision procedure, it will fall to the Commission to bring forward proposals to implement the objectives set out in the programme. We support the Commission's proposals for developing a regulatory system for registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (REACH) to apply to all chemicals produced in or imported into the EU in quantities exceeding one tonne.

      "The European Commission published its White Paper 'European Transport Policy for 2010:time to decide' on 12 September 2001[46]. It set out a comprehensive strategy involving some 60 measures aimed primarily at shifting the balance of transport in Europe from road and aviation towards rail, shipping and intermodal operations by 2010. The Commission is expected to come forward with a number of the legislative proposals during 2002.

    (iv)  New European Governance

      "This section discusses the Commission's White Paper on Governance, administrative reform, and the promotion of the debate on the Future of Europe.

      "The Commission's White Paper on Governance[47] represents an important initiative, attempting to make the EU and its institutions more transparent, accountable and effective. The Government supports the Commission proposal to present a detailed Action Plan on better regulation and regulatory simplification before June 2002[48]. The use of framework directives and co-regulatory mechanisms will provide an opportunity to improve the way the EC regulates. The Government intends to submit a formal response to the Commission before the end of the consultation period in March 2002, and to continue to pursue this important agenda following this period.

      "The Commission will have two seats on the Convention on the Future of Europe as well as a seat on the smaller Bureau which will oversee the work of the Convention. The Commission is a vital part of the EU architecture and will have valuable insights into how the delivery of the EU's goals and strategic aims can better be delivered. The Government welcomes the Commission taking an active part in the Convention, but recalls that it will be for member states in an Intergovernmental Conference to take final decisions on possible changes to the Treaties.

      "The Government has set as one of its own priorities for the Convention developing the role of national parliaments in the EU. As a symbol of democracy and legitimacy, national parliaments have a potentially important role in contributing to the legitimacy of the EU. The Government is also committed to strengthening the scrutiny of EU legislation by national parliaments. That is why it extended the UK's own scrutiny arrangements to Second and Third Pillar activities in 1997[49] and why it supported the Amsterdam Protocol on scrutiny by national parliaments setting out a minimum period for scrutiny amongst other measures. The Government would be keen to examine any further proposals which enhance the scrutiny process or contribute to greater consultation with national parliaments by the Commission in the formulation of legislative proposals.

      "The Government supports the intention of the Commission to continue to pursue its own policy of internal reforms, with a review of overall progress at the end of the year. The Government welcomes, in particular, the adoption on 20 December 2001 of a wide ranging human resource package with key personnel policy proposals including introduction of a new career structure and a reformed appraisal system and promotion based on merit rather than seniority.

      "The European Commission has brought forward proposals to modernise its regime to combat cartels and other anti-competitive practices in the Internal Market. The proposals seek to shift resources in Commission from policing largely benign agreements between companies to the investigation of hard-core cartel activity. Enforcement of much European competition law will be decentralised to national competition authorities, such as the OFT[50]. The UK supports the Commission's modernisation proposals, subject to concerns on the interaction of Community law with our national competition regime (for example in the area of utility regulation). Under the new regime, the Commission should also continue offering sufficient guidance to companies to grant them the legal certainty to enter into pro-competitive cross-border agreements.

      "This proposal is to consolidate and simplify a series of European directives on mutual recognition of professional education and training. It aims to bring the different provisions into one single text while creating a framework for more automatic recognition and more flexible provisions for cross-border service providers. It has been recognised that mutual recognition is not working as well as it should in practice and the UK welcomes the attention the Commission intends to pay to this.

      "The eEurope Action Plan — a strategy for connecting all citizens, businesses, schools and public administrations to the Internet by the end of 2000, and for accelerating e-commerce, raising IT skills, and encouraging faster and cheaper communications through greater competition in networks and services — was called for by the Lisbon Summit. The first full benchmarking of indicators of progress will be presented in a report from the Commission in February 2002, and the Barcelona European Council in March can be expected to call for a new Action Plan for the period after 2002.

      "We expect that future strategy will be geared to the more intensive exploitation of electronic networks, facilitated by the widespread adoption of broadband communications. A Commission Communication on e-Inclusion was issued in 2001, and will lead to activities over a wide range of social policies to encourage increased participation in the information society by disabled people and others.

    (v)  Enlargement

      "This section discusses the need to deliver concrete results on the EU's enlargement negotiations by the end of 2002.

      "The Government is committed to a successful enlargement of the EU in 2004. We therefore welcome that the EU was able to keep to the Nice "roadmap" (timetable) for negotiations in 2001, and is on target to complete negotiations with up to 10 candidate countries by the end of 2002. This is in line with the Prime Minister's objective that the first candidates join the EU in time to participate in the European Parliament election in 2004. The Government agrees with the Commission that 2002 will be critical for enlargement and supports the Commission's aim to increase the pace of its work in this area.

      "We therefore welcome the Commission's goal to finalise Draft Common Positions on all negotiating chapters by mid 2002, and look forward shortly to receiving its proposals on the chapters covering Agriculture, Regional Policy and Financial and Budgetary Provisions. The Government notes that the Commission's 2002 enlargement strategy paper and annual reports for 2002 should include recommendations on which candidates will be ready for accession in 2004. We urge the Commission to present these documents in time for a decision on the first wave of enlargement at the Brussels European Council in October 2002.

      "The Government agrees that effective implementation of the acquis will be important in the remainder of the accession process. We therefore welcome the Commission's focus on monitoring candidates' capacity to assume the responsibilities of EU membership and its proposed action plan to support institution building in the candidate countries. We support the Commission's intention to provide an updated roadmap for [those] candidates that will not be ready to complete their negotiations by the end of this year.

    (vi)  Mediterranean

      "This section stresses the need to re-inforce Europe's relationship with its close neighbours in the Mediterranean region.

      "The Government welcomes the Commission's proposals under the Barcelona (or EuroMed) Process. We await with interest its proposals to make the EuroMed Partnership more operational. However, it is unfortunately likely that the political aspects of the Barcelona Process will continue to be stalled by the situation in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).

      "The Commission proposes to conclude the negotiation of Association Agreements with Algeria, Lebanon and Syria. The Government welcomes the recent initialling of Agreements with Algeria and Lebanon and hopes that signature can take place soon, and preferably, as the Presidency hopes, by the Barcelona V Ministerial at Valencia in April. The Government supports the continued negotiations with Syria but is aware that they are at an early stage.

      "The Spanish Presidency has suggested a study as to whether an investment facility or further joint development projects would stimulate investment in the region. The government looks forward with interest to the outcome of this study. We believe there is potential for improvement of the effectiveness of EU assistance to the region.

      "Over the last year the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has discussed the proposal for a regional programme on what would be classed in the EU as Justice and Home Affairs. In this context the Government particularly welcomes the study of statistical information as part of the ongoing co-operation on legal migration. This programme has been delayed due the need to ensure that the document is an agreed document, reflecting the needs of all members of the Partnership. The Government welcomes the commitment to such a programme and hopes that the programme can be agreed at the Valencia meeting. The Commission has also suggested further work on youth, transport and energy and environmental integration.

      "The UK continues to argue for more efficiency and effectiveness of Community development programmes and therefore welcomes the Commission's commitment to streamline management of the MEDA programme.

      "The Government supports the Commission and Member States in the region in their efforts to improve fisheries management in the context of the reform of the CFP.

      "The Government welcomes the Commission proposal to re-inforce the EU's role in the MEPP, in close co-operation with the Council. The MEPP is in crisis and the international community must do all it can to help the parties end the violence and resume dialogue aimed at achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The EU, including the Commission has an important role to play in this international effort.

(vii)  Development Co-operation

    "This section stresses the health and education focus of the EU's development co-operation policies, as part of the over-arching objective of combating poverty.

    "The Government welcomes the Commission's commitment to the six priority areas defined in the EU's development policy statement of November 2000. The UK will call for an Annual Report in October 2002 which clearly analyses how this policy is being put into effect in all developing countries.

    "The Government awaits with interest the Commission's proposed sectoral frameworks in relation to poverty, including the frameworks for health and education. Given the Commission's limited expertise/capacity in some key sectors, the Government will be looking for frameworks which envisage considerable joint-working with other donors.

    "The UK fully supports the Commission's aim to implement a programme of action aimed at decreasing the spread of communicable diseases. The UK believes greater international efforts are required both to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and to improve care and support for those who are affected by it. The UK is working hard with national governments, international partners and other donors to help support nationally led, broad-based intersectoral responses to tackle these diseases. HMG welcomes the proposal for the Commission to contribute to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. The UK itself is contributing $200 million to the Fund over 5 years and total pledges to date amount to $1.8 billion. Good progress has been made on establishing the Fund. The UK is committed to keep up this momentum.

    "The Government believes the EU has an important role to play in the Financing for Development Conference. Koos Richelle, the Director General for Development in the Commission was invited by the Development Council to travel around European capitals to identify possible initiatives on aid volume, aid untying, innovative sources of finance and global public goods for financing for Development. The Government awaits his report with interest, which may well form the basis for any EU initiatives that could be launched at the Conference.

    "The Government is committed to promoting prosperity, security and stability in Asia and Latin America and will seek to drive forward poverty reduction in these regions as a development objective for the EU during 2002. The Government welcomes the Commission's proposal to revise the Asia Latin America (ALA) regulation.

    "We support the Commission's identification of six key focal points for ALA: trade and development; regional integration and co-operation; macroeconomic support; food security and sustainable rural development; institutional reconstruction and good governance and the rule of law. However, we recognise that Asia and Latin America would benefit substantially from a more co-ordinated international effort. We therefore urge the Commission to streamline EC programme management in line with other international donors.

    "The Government welcomes the Commission's continued commitment to encourage ratification of the Cotonou Agreement, which the UK ratified in 2001. The Commission's proposals for an action plan to develop private sector initiatives that fight poverty are welcome. The Government believes that the encouragement of private sector initiatives in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries is an important aspect of reducing poverty, it therefore awaits the Commission's action plan with interest. The Government hopes the Commission will provide a draft mandate on Economic Partnership Agreements in good time for substantial debate within the EU before the mandate is put to the ACP countries. The Government hopes that the draft mandate will be sufficiently flexible to enable the various configurations of negotiations and groupings to be acceptable according to the ACP group's wishes and will be in accordance with development objectives.

    "The Government strongly welcomes the Commission's reform of external assistance to make the Community's assistance, more efficient and effective. In this respect it welcomes the reforms impacting on the external service. Government looks forward to increased numbers of 'deconcentrated' EC delegations in country.

    "The Government believes that direct financial assistance to third countries is an important instrument, but not the only one. The EU should apply a range of tools, including trade policy and technical assistance instruments. Given scarce resources, it is important to concentrate spending where it is most needed and to give priority to other types of assistance where they are more relevant."

  19.5  Finally, the Minister notes that the Council will continue to decide on individual measures as and when the Commission brings proposals forward.


  19.6  We welcome the Commission's new approach to the Work Programme and its timeliness. We note the comments made on it in the report on The EU's legislative and work programme presented to the European Parliament on 21 February 2002 by the Rapporteur for the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Cecilia Malmström MEP[51]. The suggestion is made in the report that the involvement of national parliaments at an early stage in the proposed annual legislative programme would allow national sensitivities to be taken into consideration.

New European Governance

  19.7  We also welcome the undertaking which the Commission gives under this heading to make proposals in the Convention on the Future of Europe "to inform national parliaments better about Community legislative proposals, so that they can perform their function of political guidance and control at the national level".

  19.8  The Minister refers to the symbolic status of national parliaments and their "potentially" important role in contributing to the legitimacy of the EU. We welcome the commitment which he then gives to strengthening the scrutiny of EU legislation by national parliaments. We note that he says that the Government would be keen to examine any further proposals which enhance the scrutiny process or contribute to greater consultation with national parliaments by the Commission in the formulation of legislative proposals.

  19.9  We shall be putting forward proposals in our report on Democracy and accountability in the EU and the role of national parliaments and meanwhile shall maintain our dialogue with the Government on improving the process on a day-to-day basis. We note the timetable for preparing the Commission's legislative and work programme annexed to the European Parliament report mentioned above and shall consider how we might best become involved, and at what point in this process.

Safety and Security

  19.10  Under this heading, the Minister comments "We have already made good progress in agreeing a European Arrest Warrant; a terrorism framework decision; and joint investigative teams." We believe better progress could have been made if it had not been hindered by over-hasty drafting. We urge the Government to remember that careful framing and full discussion of draft legislation on sensitive issues is essential, especially in relation to the protection of individual liberties.

  19.11  We now clear this document from scrutiny.

43  (21070) 6302/00 and (21071) 6302/00 ADD1; see HC 23-xiv (1999-2000), paragraph 8 (12 April 2000). Back

44  Not deposited. Back

45  (22134) 5876/01; see HC 28-xii (2000-01), paragraph 6 (25 April 2001). Back

46  (22660) 11932/01; see HC 152-xv (2001-2002), paragraph 2 (30 January 2002). Back

47  (23051) 15096/01; not yet reported. Back

48  (23125) 14654/01; not yet reported. Back

49  The extension took place in 1998 rather than 1997. Back

50  Office of Fair Trading. Back

51  A5-0046/2002 Final. 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 2002
Prepared 18 March 2002