Documents Considered by the Committee on 22 October 2014 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


6 Road safety

Committee's assessment Legally and politically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information awaited

Document detailsDraft Directive facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences:
Legal baseArticle 91 TFEU; co-decision; QMV
DepartmentTransport
Document number(36243), 12107/14 + ADD 1, COM(14) 476

Summary and Committee's conclusions

6.1 In May the Court of Justice annulled Directive 2011/82/EU Directive, which was intended to facilitate cross border enforcement in the field of road safety, by supporting Member States in the investigation of eight offences committed by drivers in other Member States. The objection to the Directive was that it had a JHA legal base — Article 87(2) TFEU, which incidentally allowed the UK and Ireland to choose not to participate and meant that it could not apply to Denmark. However, the Court maintained the Directive's effects until the entry into force within a reasonable period of time of a new Directive based on Article 91(1)(c) TFEU, a transport legal base.

6.2 The Commission has therefore issued this new proposal for a Directive to replace the one annulled. The content is the same as Directive 2011/82/EU, with the exception of the change of legal base, deletion of text about the non-application of the Directive to those Member States (including the UK) that had not been party to the original measure and associated amendments in the recitals.

6.3 We recognised, given that many Member States will have already gone far in transposing the annulled Directive, that there would be little appetite for changing the substance of the new proposal. Nevertheless, we noted the concerns the Government had expressed to us and urged it to press for amelioration of those concerns, even though this might necessitate the Presidency slowing the push for Council agreement. We noted also that a two-year deadline, say from April 2015, for transposition by the UK (and Denmark and Ireland) would allow time for amendments to the Directive helpful to the UK, following the Commission's review of the Directive, due by November 2016. We kept the proposal under scrutiny pending a report from the Government on any success it had on slowing the Council consideration of the draft Directive and in achieving amendments to it.

6.4 The Government tells us now that it was unable to achieve postponement of the Council decision on a general approach but that a two-year period for transposition, that is, until May 2017, and the protection of personal data it was seeking were secured.

6.5 We recognise the very limited timetable set for adoption of this legislation by the Court of Justice and the value, in the circumstances, of the amendments achieved for the UK (and Ireland and Denmark). However we will keep the document under scrutiny until we have confirmation that the amendments have been secured in discussion with the European Parliament.

Full details of the documents: Draft Directive facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences: (36243), 12107/14 + ADD 1, COM(14) 476.

Background

6.6 In March 2008 the Commission proposed a Directive facilitating cross border enforcement in the field of road safety, the purpose being to support Member States in the investigation of eight offences committed by drivers in other Member States. The proposal was published with a transport legal base — Article 71(1)(c) of the Treaty establishing the European Community. In 2010 Member States unanimously agreed to take the proposal forward with a JHA legal base — Article 87(2) TFEU. In October 2011 the proposal was adopted accordingly as Directive 2011/82/EU. As the measure cited a JHA legal base, the UK and Ireland's opt-in applied and Denmark was automatically not a party. The UK and Ireland decided not to opt in.

6.7 The Commission did not agree with the change of legal base and petitioned the Court of Justice in 2012. In May this year the Court agreed with the Commission and annulled the Directive, but maintained its effects until the entry into force within a reasonable period of time of a new Directive based on Article 91(1)(c) TFEU, a transport legal base.

6.8 The Commission has therefore issued this new proposal for a Directive facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences. The content of the new proposal is the same as the annulled Directive 2011/82/EU, with the exception of the change of legal base, deletion of text about the non-application of the Directive to those Member States (including the UK) that had not been party to the original measure and associated amendments in the recitals.

6.9 When we considered this proposal, in September, the Government told us that, as with previous proposals on this subject, the Government has five broad themes of concern. These are pursuit of registered keepers for fines, transfer of court cases between Member States, data protection, costs of the mechanism and the relationship to Prüm Council Decisions on data exchange. We also heard that it was possible that the Italian Presidency would seek agreement on this measure at the Transport Council of 8 October.

6.10 We recognised, given that many Member States will have already gone far in transposing the annulled Directive, that there would be little appetite for changing the substance of the new proposal. Nevertheless, we noted the concerns the Government had expressed to us and urged it to press for amelioration of those concerns, even though this might necessitate the Presidency slowing the push for Council agreement. We noted also that a two-year deadline, say from April 2015, for transposition by the UK (and Denmark and Ireland) would allow time for amendments to the Directive helpful to the UK, following the Commission's review of the Directive, due by November 2016.

6.11 We asked for a report from the Government on any success it had on slowing the Council consideration of the draft Directive and in achieving amendments to it. Meanwhile the document remained under scrutiny.

The Minister's letter of 14 October 2014

6.12 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill), writes now that the Presidency did indeed seek agreement on a general approach at October Transport Council. He tells us that the UK and Ireland lodged a joint minute statement (which we annex) expressing concerns over both the speed with which the Commission and Presidency were moving and the possible precedent set by the Court of Justice decision for future measures. The Minister says that he reiterated these points orally in the Council meeting. He continues that it was, however, not possible to obtain any pause in the timetable for discussion and agreement of this proposal and that the UK abstained on it.

6.13 The Minister does say that some useful agreements and concessions were, however, secured, explaining that:

·  UK, Ireland and Denmark will receive the same two-year transposition period as the other Member States originally had;

·  thus the Government has until May 2017 to make the necessary changes to allow this measure to be introduced;

·  there is a clear understanding of the basis on which personal data should be transferred — that is, in accordance with the 1995 Data Protection Directive (in keeping with this measure being negotiated under Article 91(1)(c) TFEU rather than Title V (Justice and Home Affairs); and

·  in the Government's view this is entirely proper, which is also the view of the European Data Protection Supervisor.

6.14 The Minister comments further that:

·  although the Government had hoped that it would be possible to delay the general approach to allow more time to fully consider the text and complete parliamentary scrutiny, it does recognise that the deadline set by the Court for replacement of the annulled Directive by 5 May 2015 limited the Presidency's options;

·  there are a number of further stages that must be completed before the Presidency can reach a deal with the European Parliament and bring the proposal back to the Council for final adoption to allow it to come into force ahead of the 5 May deadline;

·  the European Parliament's TRAN Committee will need to grant a mandate for its Rapporteur to open trilogue discussions with the Presidency, and the next available Committee meeting is for this to take place will be the week beginning 3 November;

·  the Council working group will meet in early November to discuss its approach for the trilogues;

·  the TRAN Committee will also have to have a post-trilogue vote to ensure that the mandate is kept to — the earliest opportunity for this is 2 December;

·  the jurist-linguist process will then begin — the Council Secretariat hopes that this process can be completed in time to allow the European Parliament to adopt the proposal in Plenary by February 2015;

·  the proposal will then go back to the Council for final adoption in February or March 2015;

·  it will then need to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union, which the Council Secretariat hopes will be a matter of two or three weeks and a further 20 days must elapse before entry into force; and

·  the expectation therefore is that the Directive will come into force in late April or early May 2015 in advance of the 5 May 2015 deadline set by the Court.

6.15 The Minister concludes that the Government will seek to engage proactively with MEPs during their discussion of this measure.

Previous Committee Reports

Twelfth Report, HC 219-xii (2014-15), chapter 7 (10 September 2014).


 
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