Documents considered by the Committee on 24 October 2018 Contents

2EU Programme for the Environment and Climate Action

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the Environmental Audit Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013

Legal base

Article 192 TFEU, Ordinary legislative procedure, QMV


Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Number

(39829), 9651/18 + ADDs 1–3, COM(18) 385

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

2.1“LIFE” is the EU’s funding Programme for environment and climate action, aiming to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation. We first considered the Commission’s proposal for the Programme over the period 2021–27, with a budget of €5.45 billion (£4.84 billion), at our meeting of 5 September 2018.31 In our Report, we raised a series of queries about UK participation in the next Programme.

2.2The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Dr Thérèse Coffey) has responded.32 On future UK participation, she states that the UK proposes to collaborate with the EU through new cooperative accords that provide for a more strategic approach than simply agreeing the UK’s participation in individual EU programmes on a case-by-case basis. Where such a cooperative accord was in place, she says, the UK would need to make appropriate financial contributions that would be agreed between both parties. There would also need to be governance arrangements that ensured both parties could shape the activity covered, recognising these will need to respect the autonomy of the EU’s decision making. On the specific third country provisions for the next LIFE Programme, she says that the Regulation remains subject to the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiation and, therefore, the final detail is not yet available.

2.3Concerning elements which might be helpful to the UK, the Minister observes that the proposed Regulation contains a number of sub-programmes which reflect domestic priorities, for example in relation to the 25 Year Environment Plan, the forthcoming Waste and Resources Strategy in England and the Clean Growth Strategy.

2.4Noting the Minister’s comments on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, a recent speech by the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, is relevant. Responding to the Government’s white paper on the future relationship, he expressed the EU’s willingness to support future UK participation in EU funding programmes, such as research, but using third country cooperation mechanisms under the next MFF.33

2.5We asked the Minister about future UK participation in the LIFE Programme, including potential UK participation on the basis of the proposed third country arrangements, which include restrictions on decision-making and requirements on financial management. She responded by stating that the UK Government is not intending to participate in the EU’s future programmes through established third country arrangements but by way of cooperative accords, allowing both partners a decision-making role. The Minister refrained from commenting on the third country arrangements in the draft LIFE Regulation as they are yet to be agreed.

2.6We note the Government’s position, but we also note that the EU—as expressed by Michel Barnier on 10 October—does not take the same view on arrangements for any future UK participation. While it may be possible to negotiate cooperative accords, it may also be the case that UK participation will need to be on the basis of the generic third country arrangements as agreed for each programme. We therefore believe that it would be prudent for the UK to engage actively in negotiations on this proposed Regulation with particular regard to the third country arrangements. We ask the Minister to set out the Government’s negotiating approach as regards those elements of the proposed Regulation.

2.7In our first Report on this proposal, we asked the Minister to set out the criteria that would be used to assess any financial contribution that the UK might make. Her response is silent on this question. We re-iterate the question and draw her attention to the Government’s recognition in a letter34 on future participation in ITER (the international nuclear fusion research project) that the starting point for the assessment of any UK contribution to that project would be “a standard GDP ratio-based mechanism”.35 If applied to the draft LIFE Programme for 2021–27, this could potentially require a UK contribution of €872 million (£774 million) over the seven years. We acknowledge that this figure is highly speculative.

2.8We would welcome a response to the above queries and an update on the progress of negotiations within ten working days. The proposal remains under scrutiny. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the Environmental Audit Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

Full details of the documents:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013: (39829), 9651/18 + ADDs 1–3 , COM(18) 385.

Previous Committee Reports

Thirty-seventh Report HC 301–xxxvi (2017–19), chapter 8 (5 September 2018).

31 Thirty-seventh Report HC 301–xxxvi (2017–19), chapter 8 (5 September 2018)

32 Letter from Dr Thérèse Coffey to Sir William Cash, dated 11 October 2018.

33 Translation from French, as expressed by Michel Barnier in his speech at the closing session of Eurochambre’s European Parliament of Enterprises 2018, 10 October 2018.

34 Letter from Sam Gyimah to Sir William Cash, dated 25 September 2018 regarding the Proposal for a Council Decision amending Decision 2007/198/Euratom establishing the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it (9868/18, COM(18) 445).

35 The contribution by third countries for participation in EU programmes is typically calculated by taking their share of GDP of the total GDP of the EU and the third country in question combined (i.e. the EU-27 and UK), and multiplying it by the budget for the EU programme in question. The proposed LIFE Programme budget is €5.45 billion, and the UK’s proportion of the combined GDP is 16%, this producing a total figure of €872 million (£774 million) and an annual figure of €125 million (£111 million).

Published: 30 October 2018