Documents considered by the Committee on 17 January 2018 Contents

Meeting Summary

The Committee looks at the significance of EU proposals and decides whether to clear the document from scrutiny or withhold clearance and ask questions of the Government. The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate.

Brexit-related issues

The Committee is now looking at documents in the light of the UK decision to withdraw from the EU. Issues are explored in greater detail in report chapters and, where appropriate, in the summaries below. The Committee notes that in the current week the following issues and questions have arisen in documents or in correspondence with Ministers:

Trans-European Energy Networks

SOLVIT Action Plan

.eu Top-Level Domain

Summary

EU Agenda for Education and Culture

The Committee considered the European Commission’s recent paper on the future development of EU culture and education policy. The document sets out the Commission’s intention to propose a number of initiatives in the coming years, including improved mutual recognition of diplomas and degrees; an EU Student Card to make academic records portable across borders; and increasing the uptake of available EU funding for the creative industries.

As the Commission document is light on the detail of these initiatives, the Committee has cleared it from scrutiny. However, we will assess any specific initiatives as and when they are proposed as the UK will retain an interest in possible participation in EU initiatives in this area after Brexit.

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Education Committee and the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee.

Trans-European Energy Networks

23 UK energy projects have been designated as “Projects of Common Interest” due to their contribution to developing further the EU’s internal energy market. This allows them to access funding and to benefit from simplified planning procedures. As UK projects will continue to benefit from this scheme until the end of 2020, the Committee identified this decision as the type of UK-relevant legislation which could be proposed, negotiated and agreed during a post-Brexit implementation period.

Cleared; drawn to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Exiting the European Union Committees.

World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference

The 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference took place in Buenos Aires on 10–13 December 2017. While there was no agreement on the main areas of discussion, the Government was pleased that progress was made at the plurilateral level (among groups of countries) on matters such as digital trade, investment facilitation and women’s economic empowerment. The Committee notes the outcome and draws it to the attention of the House given the increased focus on the WTO as the UK exits the EU.

Cleared on 6 December 2017; drawn to the attention of the International Trade Committee.

Compliance package: Action plan on the reinforcement of SOLVIT

A non-legislative Action Plan proposes to strengthen the role of national SOLVIT Centres in various ways, to improve compliance with Single Market rules. In a letter to the Committee, the Minister (Lord Henley) states that the Commission has already begun to implement the Action Plan, and that no further developments are expected in Council. On EU exit, the Minister (Lord Henley) states that SOLVIT will not form part of the Article 50 withdrawal agreement, but that it could continue to apply during the transition period, and could in principle form part of the future relationship. The Minister does not respond very clearly to the Committee’s questions about whether the Government anticipates that the legal changes that flow from a shift from EU membership to third country status will lead to an increase in demand for cross-border informal dispute resolution, and how it intends to ensure that this demand is met.

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested.

Report on .eu Top-Level Domain

.eu is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the European Union (EU). It is only available to persons, companies and organisations based in the EU/EEA. At present, there are 340,000 UK owners of .eu domain registrations, whose usage of .eu domain names potentially stands to be affected by EU exit. The Minister (Matthew Hancock) reports that stakeholders have not been very vocal about the issue. Stakeholder comments suggest that workarounds may exist for some UK users, particularly for multinationals with EU subsidiaries, but that continuing to use.eu domain names may be more difficult for individuals and smaller businesses.

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested.

International cooperation to combat match-fixing

The Commission has put forward proposals authorising the EU to participate in a Council of Europe Convention on match-fixing. The Government supports the Convention but questions whether it is necessary for the EU to become a party. It says that the UK cannot sign and ratify the Convention in its own right until the nature and extent of EU participation has been resolved. The Committee notes that the EU will be bound to participate if the Commission is able to establish that that EU has exclusive competence for parts of the Convention and that it has a realistic prospect of doing so in relatively minor areas. We consider that the proposals should be amended to make clear that EU participation in the Convention is limited to these areas and reiterate our position that the Government should resist further EU encroachment in areas where competence is shared between the EU and Member States. The Committee asks the Minister to explain why her Department has failed to comply with the Government’s own Code of Practice on Parliamentary scrutiny of justice and home affairs opt-in decisions and to indicate whether there are any other factors, apart from the unresolved question of EU participation, which are impeding the UK from signing the Convention.

Not cleared from scrutiny, further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Documents drawn to the attention of select committees:

(‘NC’ indicates document is ‘not cleared’ from scrutiny; ‘C’ indicates document is ‘cleared’)

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Trans-European Energy Networks [(a) Commission Delegated Regulation (C), (b) Commission Communication (C)]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee: International cooperation to combat match-fixing [(a) and (b) Proposed Decisions (NC)]; EU Agenda for Education and Culture [Commission Communication (C)]

Education Committee: EU Agenda for Education and Culture [Commission Communication (C)]

Exiting the European Union Committee: Trans-European Energy Networks [(a) Commission Delegated Regulation (C), (b) Commission Communication (C)]

International Trade Committee: World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference [Proposed Decision (C)]





19 December 2018