Documents considered by the Committee on Wednesday 23 March 2016 Contents

7Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

Committee’s assessment

Legally and Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing of the Paris Agreement

Legal base

Articles 192(1) and 218(5) TFEU; QMV

Department

Energy and Climate Change

Document Number

(37557), 6742/16, COM(16) 62

7.1In the light of the December 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Commission has now produced this draft Decision which authorises the President of the Council to decide who should sign the Agreement on behalf of the EU.

7.2This does not raise any difficulties for the UK, which regards signature of the Agreement as an important precursor to ratification by the EU, and will itself be signing in its own right. However, given the importance of the subject matter, we think it right to draw this development to the attention of the House. We shall however consider carefully the declaration of competence due to be lodged, in accordance with Article 20 of the Agreement, at the time of the EU’s conclusion (ratification); in particular the extent to which it indicates that the EU will be able to exercise any competence that is shared with the Member States.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: (37557), 6742/16, COM(16) 62.

Background

7.3On 21 July 2015, we drew to the attention of the House a Communication53 from the Commission setting out the steps which it believed the EU needed to take in advance of the conference to be held in Paris in December 2015 to reach an agreement, legally binding on all parties, on the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to contain the increase in global average temperatures compared with pre-industrial levels.

The current document

7.4Following the Agreement reached in Paris, the Commission has now brought forward this draft Council Decision which authorises the President of the Council to decide who should sign the Agreement on behalf of the EU.

The Government’s view

7.5In his Explanatory Memorandum of 17 March 2016, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) describes this as a straightforward proposal under Article 218(5) TFEU, with signature of the Agreement being an important precursor to ratification, which is expected to take place at a later date, probably after the conclusion of negotiations on the EU effort share for the 2030 climate and energy package, at which point it will be subject to Parliamentary approval in each Member State. (He suggests that the Commissioner responsible for Climate Action and Energy would be the natural choice to sign the Agreement on behalf of the EU, and adds that he will himself be signing on behalf of the UK.)

7.6In the meantime, he notes that signature in itself does not commit the EU or its Member States to implement the Agreement before ratification takes place, although he points out that the EU must in the meantime refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the Agreement, unless it subsequently expresses its intention not to become a Party to it.

Previous Committee Reports

None.

53 See (36686) 6588/15: First Report HC 342–i (2015–16), chapter 45 (21 July 2015).




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Prepared 30 March 2016