Thirty-ninth Report of Session 2012-13 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

13   Transport security



SWD(12) 143

Commission Staff Working Document on transport security

Legal base
Basis of considerationTransport Committee's Opinion of 11 March 2013
Previous Committee ReportHC 86-viii (2012-13), chapter 6 (11 July 2012)
Discussion in CouncilNone planned
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


13.1  There are EU legislative requirements in the aviation and maritime security sectors, where risks routinely cross borders.

13.2  The Commission's March 2011 White Paper, "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area — towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system", announced its intention to establish a permanent advisory group on land transport security.[38] A Commission Decision of 31 May (2012/286/EU) established this as the Advisory Group on Land Transport Security. This forum of government and industry policy makers and experts on land transport and security will meet at least twice a year.

13.3  In May 2012 the Commission published this Staff Working Document to consider what the focus of EU activity on transport security should be. The Commission did not bring forward any legislative proposals, but it did suggest areas for consideration, some of which could lead to recommendations for legislation at a later stage. The document was largely concerned with the land transport sector, which, with the exception of the movement of dangerous goods, is the least regulated mode of transport at the EU level and where the Commission feels that there is a need to do more to improve security.

13.4  Land transport security as considered by the Commission, covers, due to its broad and complex nature, not only public transport, but also supply chain movements across several modes including inland waterways. The Commission set out a number of matters on which work might be taken forward across the transport modes.

13.5  When, in July 2012, we considered this document we noted the Government's reservations about the need for the sorts of EU activity on land transport security the Commission proposed and noted particularly its concerns, which we shared, about possible subsidiarity issues. However, before considering the matter further, we asked the Transport Committee, using our powers under Standing Order No. 143(11), for an Opinion on the document. We asked this as the possibility of legislation, which might be unnecessarily onerous for the land transport sector, was at a formative stage and we suggested that, in preparing this Opinion, the views of both the Government and industry as to what might be acceptable at EU level be sought. Meanwhile the document remained under scrutiny.[39]

The Transport Committee's Opinion

13.6  Having taken written and oral evidence from a range of witnesses the Transport Committee has now published its Report Land transport security — scope for further EU involvement, which is the Opinion we requested.[40] The Report sets out the existing arrangements for land transport security in the UK and then examines the reactions it received to the Commission's document and comes to some important conclusions, particularly for the Government.[41]

13.7  In a paragraph addressed directly to us the Transport Committee says:

"Overall, the tone of both industry's and the Government's response to the Commission's proposals can be summarised as a distinct lack of enthusiasm for further EU involvement in relation to land transport security. The majority of organisations that responded to our call for evidence called for better sharing of information and good practice across the EU, rather than use of the "blunt tool" of EU legislation. The issues raised in the Commission's document are significant and deserve proper consideration in the House of Commons if, and when, more detailed proposals come forward. We do not consider that a debate in a European Committee would be appropriate at this stage because of the lack of detail in the proposals as they stand. However, given the industry's strong disinclination towards EU legislation in this area, we recommend that the European Scrutiny Committee keep abreast of, and alert the House to, any further proposals as they arise from the Commission, with a view to recommending them for debate.[42]


13.8  We are grateful to the Transport Committee for its response to our request for an Opinion on the Commission's Staff Working Document. In the light of the Opinion we now clear the document from scrutiny, but will, of course, be ready to consider recommending any legislative proposals on land transport security, that may emerge from the Commission, for debate.

38   (32639) 8333/11: see HC 428-xxvi (2010-12), chapter 3 (11 May 2011) and Gen Co Debs, European Committee A, 4 July 2011, cols. 3-28. Back

39   See headnote. Back

40   Eleventh Report from the Transport Committee, 2012-13, Land transport security - scope for further EU involvement, HC 875. Back

41   Ibid, paras 35-36. Back

42   Ibid, para 34. Back

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Prepared 1 May 2013