18 Trans-boundary effects of industrial
|Committee's decision||Cleared from scrutiny (decision reported on 19 November 2014)
|Document details||Draft Council Decisions relating to amendments to the Convention on the Trans-boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents
|Legal base||Articles 218(3), (4) and (9) TFEU; QMV
|Department||Work and Pensions
|Document numbers||(a) (36457), 14733/14 + ADD 1, COM(14) 652
(b) (36461), 14762/14 + ADD 1, COM(14) 651
Summary and Committee's conclusions
18.1 The UNECE Helsinki Convention applies to industrial
accidents at sites where activities capable of causing hazardous
trans-boundary effects take place, and has been implemented within
the EU, firstly by the so-called Seveso II Directive (96/82/EC),
and latterly by the Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EU).
18.2 These two draft Council Decisions relate to
areas of activity which were to be considered by the Parties to
the Convention in December 2014. Document (a) recommends that
the Council should agree to the EU supporting a proposal that
Annex I of the Convention should be brought into line with the
latest definitions in the Seveso III Directive, whilst document
(b) recommends that the EU should agree to participate in discussions
on four areas within the Convention on which a Working Group had
made recommendations, as well as on a proposition that UN Member
States which are not part of the UNECE region should nevertheless
be considered for accession to the Convention.
18.3 As we noted in our Report of 19 November 2014,
the Government supports both propositions, but said that, in addition
to the procedural legal bases, the substantive legal base of Article
192(1) TFEU should also be cited. We said that we supported this
view, and asked the Government to let us know what efforts it
had made to secure that additional legal base.
18.4 The Government has now written to say that it
was clear the UK did not have support from other Member States
for such an addition, but that, notwithstanding this, it had decided
to vote in favour of both Decisions in the Council, as being beneficial
to British business.
18.5 The reason why it is important for EU legislation
to cite its legal basis in full is to make it transparent that
the EU is only acting within the limits of the competences conferred
on it by the Treaties.
Simply citing a procedural legal basis alone does not fulfil
this function and is not usual practice. We therefore deprecate
the absence of a substantive legal basis for these Decisions.
Full details of the documents:
(a) Draft Council Decision on the position to be adopted, at
the Eight Conference of the Parties to the Helsinki Convention
on the Trans-boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents with regard
to the proposal for an amendment of Annex I: (36457), 14733/14
+ ADD 1, COM(14) 652 and (b) Draft Council Decision authorising
the opening of negotiations on the amendment of the Convention
on the Trans-boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents: (36461),
14762/14 + ADD 1, COM(14) 651.
18.6 The EU and its Member States are parties to
the UNECE (Helsinki) Convention on the Trans-boundary Effects
of Industrial Accidents, which has been implemented within the
EU by the so-called Seveso II Directive (96/82/EC), and latterly
by the Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EU), which must be implemented
in all Member States by 1 June 2015.
18.7 These two draft Council Decisions relate to
areas of activity mandated by the Parties to the Convention in
2012, and which were to be considered by them in December 2014.
First, Annex I of the Convention sets out the categories and named
substances for the purpose of defining hazardous activities, and
it is proposed that this should be brought into line with the
latest EU definitions in the Seveso III Directive. Document (a)
recommends that the Council should agree to the EU supporting
this course of action.
18.8 Secondly, a Working Group had been looking at
four areas within
the Convention, and had made recommendations to the Conference.
Document (b) simply seeks Council agreement to the EU participating
in discussion on these points (and on a proposition that UN member
states which are not part of the UNECE region should nevertheless
be considered for accession to the Convention). Any amendments
resulting from the ensuing negotiations would require a further
18.9 We were told that the UK supported both propositions,
which would have no material effect on the practical arrangements
within the UK, but that it had suggested that, in addition to
the procedural legal bases of Article 218 (9) in respect of document
(a) and Article 218 (3) and (4) TFEU in respect of document (b),
the legal base should include Article 192(1) TFEU. We supported
this view as essential in demonstrating the basis and extent of
the EU's competence to act in these matters, and, although we
decided to release the documents from scrutiny, we asked the Government
to write to us in due course to let us know what efforts it had
made to secure the citation of that additional legal base.
18.10 We have now received a letter of 17 March 2015
from the Minister for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work
and Pensions (Lord Freud) saying that other Member States had
not supported the UK on this point, and that, notwithstanding
this, the Government had voted in favour of both proposals in
the Council, as their adoption would be beneficial to British
Previous Committee Reports
Nineteenth Report HC 219-xix (2014-15), chapter 15
(19 November 2014).
69 See Case C-370/07 at para 49. Back
A revision of definitions to achieve consistency with other UNECE
Conventions, strengthened public participation, increasing the
frequency of meeting from biannual to annual, and clarifying the
application of the Convention to new Parties. Back