1 A Europe for Citizens Programme 2014-20|
+ ADDs 1-2
|Draft Council Regulation establishing for the period 2014-20 the Programme Europe for Citizens
|Legal base||Article 352; unanimity; EP consent
|Department||Culture, Media and Sport
|Basis of consideration||Minister's letter of 19 November 2013
|Previous Committee Reports||HC 83-xx (2013-14), chapter 8 (6 November 2013);
HC 86-i (2012-13), chapter 6 (9 May 2012);
HC 428-xlix (2010-12), chapter 4 (1 February 2012)
|Discussion in Council||No date set
|Committee's assessment||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision||Not cleared; recommended for debate in European Committee C
Background and previous scrutiny
1.1 The draft Regulation would establish a "Europe
for Citizens" Programme with a budget of 229 million
for the period 2014-20. It would ensure continuity of funding
for a range of activities already supported by the EU under the
current Europe for Citizens Programme (2007-13), but would focus
on two main "strands." The first, entitled "Remembrance
and European Citizenship", would support initiatives associated
with remembrance (for example, the causes and consequences of
totalitarianism in recent European history) and European identity.
The second, "Democratic engagement and civic participation",
would seek to develop citizens' understanding of, and opportunities
for involvement in, the EU policy-making process, and to encourage
volunteering. Our earlier Reports provide an overview of the
content of the draft Regulation and the Government's position.
1.2 As the legal base for the draft Regulation is
Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(TFEU), it is subject to section 8 of the European Union Act 2011
and requires an Act of Parliament before the Government may agree
to its formal adoption by the Council of Ministers, unless one
of the statutory exemptions in section 8(6) of the Act applies.
The Government has confirmed that none of the exemptions applies
and that an Act of Parliament is needed.
1.3 In his letter of 31 October 2013, the Minister
for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries (Mr Ed Vaizey)
informed us that the Government had succeeded in securing a reduction
in the budget for the Programme (down from 229 million in
the Commission's original proposal to 185 million) and indicated
that the draft Regulation had been "agreed" by the Council
and Commission and sent to the European Parliament for its consent.
Given that, under the terms of the European Union Act 2011, the
Government may not formally agree to be bound by the draft Regulation
until it has complied with the requirements set out in section
8 of the Act, and that the necessary legislation (the European
Union (Approvals) Bill) has yet to be endorsed by both Houses
of Parliament, we asked the Minister to explain the nature of
the "agreement" reached by the Commission and Council.
We also asked him to confirm that the Government would not be
in a position formally to approve the draft Regulation in the
Council of Ministers until the European Union (Approvals) Bill
had been enacted.
The Minister's letter of 19 November 2013
1.4 The Minister (Mr Ed Vaizey) clarifies that the
agreement referred to in his letter was that reached by COREPER
in March 2013 on the substance of the draft Regulation, with the
exception of the budget allocation, which has since been agreed
following the conclusion of negotiations on the EU's Multiannual
Financial Framework for 2014-20. He notes that the Commission
and Council both support the reduced budget for the Programme
and expects the European Parliament to give its consent shortly
so that the draft Regulation can be considered for final approval
at a future Council meeting.
1.5 Turning to the requirements of the European Union
Act, the Minister adds:
"I can of course confirm that the requirements
of section 8 of the 2011 European Union Act must be satisfied
before a Minister can agree to, or otherwise support, the adoption
of a measure based on Article 352 TFEU in Council. The obligation
is on Ministers to ensure that they have secured the necessary
approval before they vote in favour or otherwise approve a proposed
measure based on Article 352 TFEU in full or in part. This has
been made clear to our EU colleagues throughout the negotiations."
1.6 He concludes:
"Whether Ministers are able to approve (or otherwise
support) this draft Regulation will depend on whether the European
Union (Approvals) Bill is passed by Parliament."
1.7 We thank the Minister for his prompt response.
We note that the agreement referred to in his previous letter
concerned a working-level agreement on the content of the draft
Regulation, rather than formal approval by the Council of Ministers.
We welcome the Minister's assurance that formal agreement will
depend on the successful passage of the European Union (Approvals)
Bill through Parliament.
1.8 Whilst welcoming the reduction in the budget
agreed for the Programme, we question the justification for EU
expenditure in this area and recommend that the draft Regulation
should be debated in European Committee C.
1 See headnote. Back