23 Comitology: the working of the committees
in 2014 |
||Legally and politically important|
|Committee's decision||Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; relevant to the debate on the Better Regulation package recommended in European Committee C (decision reported on 21 July 2015)
|Document details||Commission Report on the working of the committees in 2014
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Document Numbers||(37079), 11807/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 418
Summary and Committee's conclusions
23.1 Committees, consisting of representatives of Member States,
exercise oversight of the use of implementing powers given to
the Commission in EU legislative acts pursuant to Article 291
TFEU. This process is known as "comitology".
23.2 The current document is the fourth annual report
on committee activities which the Commission is required to present
in accordance with Article 10(2) of the Comitology Regulation
(No. 182/2011).[ 131]
This Regulation introduced new comitology procedures: the advisory
(Article 4) and examination (Article 5) procedures. It is to be
reviewed in 2016.
23.3 All comitology procedures provided for in the
previous Comitology Decision,[ 132]
with the exception of the regulatory procedure with scrutiny (RPS),
were automatically updated to the new comitology procedures provided
for in the Comitology Regulation. In addition, in order to adapt
all RPS provisions in existing basic acts to the criteria laid
down in Articles 290 and 291 TFEU, the Commission adopted in 2013
three proposals to align a total of 200 basic acts which our predecessors
scrutinised.[ 133] In
November 2014, the Commission withdrew these proposals pending
the outcome of future discussions between the institutions in
the context of the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation
(IAA) (see paragraph 23.11 below for how our scrutiny of the Better
Regulation package[ 134]
is relevant to this document). The package includes a proposed
Common Understanding on Delegated Acts, annexed to the IAA, which
reassures Member States of early input into the delegated legislation
procedure and sets out, for the first time, some guidelines for
determining when procedure for the Commission to adopt EU subordinate
legislation should be the delegated legislation procedure or the
implementing legislation procedure.
23.4 The report gives an overview of developments
in the comitology system during 2014 when the committees were
operating under the new advisory and examination procedures, as
well as under the RPS (Article 5(a) of the Comitology Regulation).
All of these procedures are explained at paragraph 23.12 of this
23.5 The Commission sets out the number of committees,
meetings, opinions, implementing acts and the use of RPS. A working
document accompanies the report, providing detailed information
about the work of individual committees in different policy areas.
The detailed findings of the report are set out at paragraph 23.13
of this chapter.
23.6 In brief, the Commission confirms that there
were 14 fewer committees in operation in 2014 than in 2013. This
was essentially reflected in the reduced number of committees
using the examination procedure, whereas the number for committees
using the lighter touch advisory procedure remained static. There
was approximately a 10% reduction in the total number of implementing
acts adopted in 2014 under the new procedure. The majority of
decisions received positive opinions. The Commission also reports
that it completed a review of the rules of the appeals committee
in April 2014.
23.7 The Government welcomes the report as a tool
to assist the Government's critical assessment of the current
effectiveness of committees. It emphasises the importance of consideration
of Member States' views in any Council discussions on the use
of Delegated and Implementing Acts.
23.8 We report on this document to the House not
only because of the useful information it contains but also for
its relevance to the Better Regulation package which we recommended
for debate in European Committee C in our Report of 21 July. We
ask the Government to include this chapter of the Report in the
23.9 Before the debate takes place, we ask the
Minister to write to tell us whether the modest but notable reduction
in the use of implementing acts (which Member States have favoured
in the past as being subject to their greater control) has been
mirrored by an increase use of legislation by way of delegated
acts? Does the Minister expect that downwards trend in the use
of implementing acts to become more or less pronounced should
the Common Understanding on Delegated Acts be adopted? We ask
this question, having already noted the Government's response
to our Report of 21 July[ 135]
on how any choice remaining with the legislator between Delegated
or Implementing Acts might be made within the proposed new Common
23.10 We now clear the document under scrutiny.
details of the document:
Commission Report on
the working of the committees in 2014: (37079), 11807/15
+ ADD 1, COM(15) 418.
23.11 Our predecessors have scrutinised previous
annual Reports on the working of the Committees,[ 136]
focussing their attention on the question of how the choice of
whether the Commission should legislate by Delegated or Implementing
Acts is determined. Our Reports[ 137]
on the Better Regulation package are also relevant to the current
document. In our Report of on 21 July[ 138]
we recommended both the Commission Communication: Better regulation
for better results and the Commission Communication: Proposal
for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation[ 139]
for debate in European Committee C.
The current document
Summary of procedures
23.12 To assist understanding of the report's findings,
the Commission provides an explanation of the advisory, examination
and RPS procedures in the addendum to the report. The impact of
a committee's opinion on the Commission and the resulting implementing
act varies according to the type of procedure used.
i) The advisory procedure is a non-legally binding
procedure where the Commission "must take utmost account"
of the committee's view before deciding on the draft implementing
ii) The examination procedure, considered to
be more rigorous, is based on qualified majority voting. If a
qualified majority of the committee members vote in favour of
the decision (positive opinion), then the Commission adopts the
decision. In the event of a negative opinion (qualified majority
against) then the Commission cannot adopt it although
it can resubmit an amended version, or refer the original decision
to an Appeal Committee. In the absence of a qualified majority
in the Appeal Committee, the Commission can choose to adopt or
amend the act, though cannot do so in certain cases,[ 140]
where the Commission has the same options as under a negative
iii) Under RPS, the Commission is obliged to
adopt the measure following a positive opinion of the relevant
committee. In the case of negative or no opinion, the Commission
submits the proposal to the Council for decision. The Council
and the European Parliament can oppose the adoption of a draft
measure even if the committee has given a positive opinion.
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
23.13 The Commission confirms that in 2014:
were 287 committees in operation (14 fewer than in 2013).
· The advisory
procedure was used in 25 committees (same as in 2013).
· The examination
procedure was used in 103 committees (13 fewer than in 2013).
· A total of
22 committees (3 less than in 2013) also used RPS.
· The report
confirms that the Council opposed adoption of draft measures under
RPS in one case in 2014 (DG SANTE), same as in 2013.
· There were
137 committees which operated under multiple procedures.
· The report
shows that the total number of implementing acts adopted was 1,563
(153 less than in 2013) under the two new procedures, and a further
165 measures adopted under the RPS (6 less than in 2013).
· Similarly to
the previous year, the most active committees were those in the
and Food Safety (SANTE), including public health and safety of
food, animals or plants, which gave 799 opinions and adopted 695
and Innovation (RTD), which gave 152 opinions and adopted 150
(AGRI), which gave 141 opinions and adopted 135 acts.
to previous years, the majority of decisions listed in the addendum
received positive opinions from committees There were no negative
opinions issued, as in 2013;
· 'No opinion'
(no qualified majority in favour or against) was given on 40 occasions;
same as in 2013;
· 'No opinions'
occurred in the following areas: Secretariat General (13), Trade
(10), Taxation and customs (7), Health and Food Safety (3), Research
and innovation (2), Mobility and transport (2), International
cooperation and development (1), Maritime affairs and fisheries
(1), Budget (1).
The Government's view
23.14 In his Explanatory Memorandum[ 141]
of 22 September 2015, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington)
welcomes the Commission's report. He considers that this new statistical
and factual overview of the committees' activities assists the
Government's critical assessment of their effectiveness, following
the changes made by the Comitology Regulation in 2011.
23.15 After summarising the key findings of the Commission's
report, the Minister comments:
"The Government considers the Commission's
annual reviews to be important for building on and improving the
existing practice of the work of committees. The Government will
closely scrutinise the outcome of these reviews and emphasise
the importance of Member State views being taken into account
through all Council discussions on the use of Delegated and Implementing
Previous Committee Reports
None, but see (36353), 13389/14: Eighteenth Report
HC 219-xvii (2014-15), chapter 9 (5 November 2014) and Fifteenth
Report HC 219-xv (2014-15), chapter 7 (22 October 2014).
131 Regulation No. 182/2011 laying down the rules and
general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member
States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers. Back
132 Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999, OJ No. L 184, 17.07.99,
133 (35507), 15882/13: Draft Regulation adapting to Article 290 and
291 of the TFEU a number of legal acts providing for the use of
the regulatory procedure with scrutiny; (35189) 12730/13: Draft
Regulation adapting to Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning
of the European Union a number of legal acts providing for the
use of the regulatory procedure with scrutiny; (35179) 12539/13:
Draft Regulation adapting to Article 290 of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union a number of legal acts in the
area of Justice providing for the use of the regulatory procedure
with scrutiny. Back
134 This consists of (a) (36885), 9079/15 + ADDs 1-2, COM(15) 215:
Commission Communication: Better regulation for better results
- An EU agenda (b) (36888), 9121/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 216: Commission
Communication: Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on
Better Regulation. Back
135 This was reported in our Report of 9 September 2015. Back
136 See, for example, our predecessors' scrutiny of the 2014 report:
(36353), 13389/14: Eighteenth Report HC 219-xvii (2014-15), chapter 9
(5 November 2014) and Fifteenth Report HC 219-xv (2014-15), chapter 7
(22 October 2014). Back
137 Third Report HC 342-iii (2015-16), chapter 1 (9 September 2015). Back
138 First Report HC 342-i (2015-16), chapter 1 (21 July 2015). Back
139 See footnote 4 for details of these documents. Back
140 Where (i) the matter concerns taxation, financial services, protection
of health or safety of humans, animals or plants, or definitive
multilateral safeguard measures; (ii) the EU legislation provides
that it may not be adopted; or (iii) a simple majority of committee
members opposes the decision. Back
141 http://europeanmemoranda.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/files/2015/09/EM_11807-15.pdf. Back