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|European Union (Accessions) Bill|
These notes refer to the European Union (Accessions) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 11 October 2005 [Bill 51]
EUROPEAN UNION (ACCESSIONS) BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the European Union (Accessions) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 11 October 2005. They have been prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not require any explanation or comment, none is given.
SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND
3. The Bill relates to the Treaty concerning the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union signed in Luxembourg on 25 April 2005 ("the Accession Treaty").
4. The Accession Treaty provides for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union on 1 January 2007. It allows for the possibility that 'the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe' (or 'Constitutional Treaty'), signed by the 25 Member States of the EU in Rome on 29 October 2004, is in force at that time (see sub-paragraph b) on the 'Accession Protocol' below). Equally the Accession Treaty allows for a scenario where the Constitutional Treaty is not in force at that time, and indeed one where it never comes into force (see sub-paragraph c) on the Act of Accession below). In total the Accession Treaty falls into four parts, and:
[Bill 51-EN] 54/1
5. The Government has presented the Accession Treaty to Parliament as a Command Paper (Cm 6657), published by the HMSO, and has also submitted an Explanatory Memorandum, which summarises and analyses the contents of the Accession Treaty. Copies of the Explanatory Memorandum can be found on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk.
6. The Bill does two things. First, it enables the Accession Treaty to be implemented in UK law, and approves the provisions of the Accession Treaty insofar as they relate to the powers of the European Parliament. Secondly, it provides a power to make provision on the entitlement of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to work and reside in the UK.
Implementation in UK law of the Accession Treaty
7. In order to give effect in UK law to the Accession Treaty, the Bill amends the definitions of "the treaties" and "the Community treaties" in the European Communities Act 1972 (c.68). In broad terms, this grants automatic effect to directly applicable Treaty provisions, and otherwise allows designated Ministers, under section 2(2) of the 1972 Act, to make regulations amending existing UK legislation, to the extent necessary to implement the Treaty.
Freedom of movement for workers
8. The Accession Treaty sets out the transitional provisions in relation to the free movement of workers that will apply to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. These provisions are as follows:
9. Any Member State that has granted the right of free movement in accordance with Community law during the 7 year transitional period can request that the Commission suspend in whole or in part the application of that law if the Member State undergoes or foresees disturbances of its labour market which could seriously threaten the standard of living or level of employment in a given region or occupation.
10. Clause 2 of the Bill provides a power to make regulations implementing these transitional arrangements concerning the free movement of Bulgarian and Romanian workers.
11. The Bill extends to the whole of the UK. All of its provisions are reserved (or 'excepted' in the case of Northern Ireland), and there are no direct implications for the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Executive or the Northern Ireland Office.
Clause 1: Accession Treaty
12. Subsection (1) amends section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 (c.68), so as to include the new Accession Treaty within the list of treaties implemented by the 1972 Act in UK law.
13. Subsection (2) approves, for the purpose of section 12 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 (c.24), the provisions of the Accession Treaty insofar as they relate to the powers of the European Parliament. Section 12 of that Act requires that a treaty which provides for any increase in the powers of the European Parliament must be approved by an Act of Parliament before being ratified by the United Kingdom.
14. Two provisions of the Protocol and three provisions of the Act of Accession, annexed to the Accession Treaty, affect the powers of the European Parliament. Article 9 of the Act specifies the number of representatives allocated to each of the 27 Member States with effect from the start of the 2009-2014 parliamentary term. Article 21 of the Protocol and Article 24 of the Act perform the same task for the transitional period from the date of accession until the election of the new Parliament. Article 43 of the Protocol and Article 43 of the Act require that the European Parliament makes the necessary adaptations to its rules of procedure. Although none of these provisions create new powers for the Parliament, they have the effect of applying existing powers to persons to whom they could not otherwise have been applied prior to the entry into force of the Accession Treaty. For this reason, approval is required under the 2002 Act.
Clause 2: Freedom of movement for workers
15. This clause provides a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations implementing the transitional arrangements concerning the free movement of Bulgarian and Romanian workers. It achieves this in the following way:
1 The European Economic Area currently comprises the twenty-five Member States of the EU, together with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL AND EFFECTS ON PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER
16. The Bill will entail no significant additional public expenditure or changes to public service manpower.
REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESMENT
17. The Bill will have no direct impact on business. A Regulatory Impact Assessment of the indirect costs and benefits of this Bill is available to the public on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
18. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before second reading. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of that Act:
19. The European Union (Accessions) Bill will, if enacted, enter into force on Royal Assent.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2005||Prepared: 11 October 2005|