Documents considered by the Committee on 18 March 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


22 Transport of radioactive material

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document detailsDraft Council Regulation establishing a Community system for registering carriers of radioactive materials
Legal baseArticles 31 and 32 Euratom; consultation; QMV
DepartmentEnergy and Climate Change
Document numbers(a)  (33111), 13684/11 + ADDs 1-2, COM(11) 518

(b)  (34289), 14398/12 + ADDs 1-2, COM(12) 561

Summary and Committee's conclusions

22.1 Although the EU has long had in place arrangements to regulate the safe transport of radioactive goods, the Commission had expressed concern that these could result in carriers engaged in cross-border activities having to follow reporting and authorisation procedures in several Member States. In order to reduce this burden, it put forward in August 2011 a draft Regulation (document (a)), which would require carriers to register on a central Electronic System for Carrier Registration.

22.2 We noted on 19 October 2011 that there were a number of issues which the Government wished to explore further, and we therefore decided to report the proposal to the House, but to hold it under scrutiny, pending further information. We have since had a number of exchanges of correspondence with the Government, which have established that the original proposal had been withdrawn by the Commission, and replaced by another proposal (document (b)) which was very similar. It has also become clear that significant differences of view exist between the various Member States, and we have recently been told by the Government that the replacement proposal has been withdrawn as well.

22.3 These two proposals appear to have generated a significant amount of activity with little to show for it, but, given the strong reservations expressed by the UK on their content, that may be no bad thing. In any event, as both these documents have now been withdrawn, we are releasing them from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents: Draft Council Regulations establishing a Community system for registering carriers of radioactive materials: (33111), 13684/11 + ADDs 1-2, COM(11) (518) and (34289), 14398/12 + ADDs 1-2, COM(12) 561.

Background

22.4 Council Directive 96/2/9/Euratom lays down basic standards for the safety of workers and the general public through maximum permissible doses, maximum permissible exposures to radiation and contamination levels, and fundamental health surveillance principles. At the same time, Directive 2008/68/EC regulates the safe inland transport of dangerous goods generally, to which carriers of radioactive goods are also subject. However, as we noted in our Report of 19 October 2011, the Commission had expressed concern that the arrangements could result in carriers engaged in cross-border activities having to follow reporting and authorisation procedures in several Member States, which may have adopted different procedures.

22.5 In order to reduce the burden on carriers, and require only a single registration, it put forward in August 2011 a draft Regulation (document (a)), which would have required carriers of radioactive material using national and international road, rail and inland waterways transport[50] to register their intent to do so on a central Electronic System for Carrier Registration, and to be so authorised by the Competent Authority of the Member State of the carrier's head office (or, if the applicant is not established in a Member State, by the Competent Authority of the territory where the applicant intends to enter the EU).

22.6 In our Report of 19 October 2011, we noted that the Government did not believe that the perceived problems with the current arrangements had been properly defined by the Commission, and that it wished to explore these further. Also, although there had been some assessment of the need to simplify the legislation concerning radioactive material transport and of the proposed requirement for all carriers to be registered, the Government believed that further work was required to fully evaluate all the options. In view of this, we decided to report the proposal to the House, but to hold it under scrutiny, pending further information from the Government.

Subsequent developments

22.7 We subsequently received a letter of 11 October 2012 from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma), saying that, although the Government had concluded that the Commission had not made a persuasive case for the proposal, it had not managed to get it withdrawn, but that the Commission had replaced it with a further proposal (document (b)), which contained no material changes. She also said that the Government would now let us have an Impact Assessment.

22.8 In answer to a query raised by our Chairman, the Minister confirmed in a letter of 14 January 2013 that the original proposal had in fact now been withdrawn by the Commission, and she also enclosed the promised Impact Assessment, which suggested that the cost of the new proposal to UK businesses would be minimal. Our Chairman replied on 6 February 2013, thanking the Minister for this update and saying that we proposed to report these developments to the House in due course, once we had received further information on the Government's discussions with the Commission and other Member States on the various concerns which the UK had raised.

22.9 The Minister wrote again on 5 June 2013, saying that the then Presidency had established that Member States held very different views, with some favouring no regulation at all, whilst others favoured the proposed registration system, and some had reservations about the proposed legal base. She added that an ad hoc working group had been set up to explore ways to resolve the remaining issues, the UK's hope still being that this would recommend that the proposal should be dropped. This was followed by a further letter of 17 December 2013, saying that, in the light of the working group discussions, the Presidency did not intend to pursue the dossier at that level, as it believed the Commission needed to reflect further on the comments made by Member States. The Minister added that she thought it unlikely the Commission would bring forward a revised proposal quickly, but would write again if there was anything further to report.

Minister's letter of 19 February 2015

22.10 We have now received from the Minister a letter of 19 February 2015, saying that the proposal has been withdrawn.

Previous Committee Reports

(a)  Forty-third Report HC 428-xxxviii (2010-12), chapter 6 (19 October 2011).


50   Different arrangements already exist for air and sea transport. Back


 
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