Twenty-fifth Report of Session 2013-14 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

1 A Europe for Citizens Programme 2014-20



+ ADDs 1-2

COM(11) 884

Draft Council Regulation establishing for the period 2014-20 the Programme Europe for Citizens
Legal baseArticle 352; unanimity; EP consent
DepartmentCulture, Media and Sport
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 19 November 2013
Previous Committee ReportsHC 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 CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentLegally and politically important
Committee's decisionNot 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]

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

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Prepared 6 December 2013