Documents considered by the Committee on 22 February 2017 Contents

15EU Solidarity Fund

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

(a) Proposed Decision about European Union Solidarity Fund assistance to the UK, Cyprus and Portugal; (b) Draft Amending Budget No. 1/2017 accompanying the European Union Solidarity Fund proposal.

Legal base

(a) Council Regulation (EC) No. 2012/2002, ordinary legislative procedure, QMV; (b) Article 314 TFEU and Article 106a EURATOM, special legislative procedure, QMV

Department

HM Treasury

Document Numbers

(a) (38483), 5681/17, COM(17) 45; (b) (38486), 5682/17, COM(17) 46

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

15.1The Commission has proposed a Decision to approve awards from the European Union Solidarity Fund for disaster relief to the UK (for the winter 2015–16 flooding), Cyprus (for prolonged drought and two wild fires) and Portugal (for wild fires in Madeira). The Commission has also proposed a Draft Amending Budget to the 2017 Budget, in connection with these awards, with it undertaking to make compensating savings later in the year.

15.2The Government welcomes the award for the UK, while reminding us of its general advocacy of budgetary restraint and emphasising that these proposals will be budget neutral.

15.3While clearing these documents from scrutiny, we draw them to the attention of the House for the information they give in relation to the UK.

Full details of the documents

(a) Proposed Decision on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Portugal: (38483), 5681/17, COM(17)45; (b) Draft amending budget No 1 to the general budget for 2017 accompanying the proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Portugal: (38486), 5682/17, COM(17) 46.

Background

15.4The Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary matters provides the possibility of finance for (“mobilisation of”) the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF), which releases emergency financial aid following a major disaster in a Member State or candidate country.

15.5During the course of a financial year the Commission presents to the Council and European Parliament Draft Amending Budgets (DABs) proposing increases or reductions for revenue and expenditure in the current EU General Budget — there are normally about ten DABs each year.

The documents

15.6With its proposed Decision, document (a), the Commission suggests approval of applications to the EUSF from the UK, Cyprus and Portugal. It summarises the applications as follows:

United Kingdom

Cyprus

Portugal

15.7The advances for Cyprus and Portugal were paid from the €50 million (£43 million) reserve already budgeted for the EUSF, and the remaining balance for the payment of advances stands at €47 million (£40 million). The Commission’s assessment is that this is sufficient to fund new applications during the rest of the year.

15.8The total amount of this proposed use of the EUSF is €72 million (£62 million). The Commission has presented a DAB, document (b), alongside its proposals for the UK, Cyprus and Portugal to finance this amount. It proposes to fund this use of the EUSF by amending the 2017 Budget, to increase the budget line “Assistance to Member States in the event of a major natural disaster with serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy” by €72 million (£62 million) in commitment and payment appropriations. The Commission proposes to book this amount to a negative reserve of payment appropriations in another budget line. It says that it is confident that the full amount in payment appropriations can be found from redeployments within the 2017 Budget, but that due to the early stage of budgetary implementation, it is not yet in a position to identify any precise source.

The Government’s view

15.9In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 February 2017 the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke) first reiterates the Government’s standard mantra, in the context of the outcome of the EU referendum, that until the UK exits the EU it will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. He then says that:

Previous Committee Reports

None.





24 February 2017