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.
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:
The EU internal market for freight is highly integrated and allows for unlimited international traffic between Member States, including cross-trade (cross-border journeys between countries other than the operator’s home country) and some cabotage (journeys which begin and end within another country). Although the UK seeks to retain current levels of market access, the only non-EU Member States which have EU-levels of access are the EEA countries and Switzerland, which apply the relevant EU rules.
86% of the freight traffic moved in and out of the UK (not including Ireland) is currently moved by non-UK operators, which suggests that EU27 haulage operators have a strong interest in retaining current levels of reciprocal market access. Despite this, the European Commission has suggested that the Government’s red lines mean that a UK-EU agreement will involve a switch to a quota-based system; UK freight groups are overwhelmingly opposed to a permit system, which would increase costs for businesses and consumers.
The European Conference of Ministers of Transport’s (ECMT) multilateral permit system will provide limited fallback access for approximately 5–10% of UK operators. Cabotage is particularly common on the island of Ireland and this activity is facilitated by common rules on haulage; the Northern Ireland Assembly has legislative competence for road haulage and trailer registration. Transport-related qualifications and certificates have not been included in the citizens’ rights section of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
Negotiations to finalise the EU’s “Clean Energy for all Europeans” proposals are at an advanced stage. We considered various letters from the Government on energy efficiency, renewable energy and on governance. While agreement is in sight, we note that the respective positions of the Council and European Parliament on targets for both renewable energy and energy efficiency are divergent, and so reaching agreement by the end of June will be challenging. The Government is negotiating in an expectation that the UK will apply the legislation.
Not cleared; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
The Committee had previously asked the Ministers for information on how, during the post-Brexit implementation period, the UK will engage in the design of detailed EU fishing rules that will apply to the UK but will be proposed and adopted after the UK’s exit from the EU. While the Minister sets out his expectation that the UK will be fully involved and able to effectively represent UK fisheries interests, he is not able to substantiate this with any detail and acknowledges that discussion on those arrangements are yet to take place. Recognising the need for that discussion, the Committee requests a further update by the end of August.
Cleared; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
The Bulgarian Presidency seeks to agree a General Approach on the Regulation safeguarding competition in air transport at the 7 June Transport Council. The proposed Regulation would replace the Regulation (EU) 868/2004 which is unfit for purpose due to its narrow scope. The proposal would enable individual carriers and Member States to make complaints in their own right, and introduce investigation procedures covering the violation of applicable international obligations as well as practices adopted by either a third country or a third-country entity affecting competition and causing injury or threat of injury to Union air carriers.
The Government considers the latest text to be better aligned with UK objectives than the original proposal and wishes to participate in Council to ensure the best outcome for the UK. The draft compromise text now recognises that fair competition between air carriers should preferably be addressed in the context of air transport or air services agreements with third countries; contains provisions enabling an investigation to be suspended if the Member States involved intend to address the practice being investigated under an applicable agreement with that country; and states that harm to consumers should be specifically considered in investigations and when decisions to impose redressive measures are proposed.
On Brexit, the Regulation could apply to UK stakeholders after the end of the implementation period if there were concerns about unfair competition, but this is not a major concern as the UK has a highly liberalised aviation sector. Moreover, it is probable that the issue will be addressed within the future economic partnership, which would then take precedent over this Regulation.
Not cleared from scrutiny; scrutiny waiver granted; updates requested.
The Government has written in advance of the 8 June Telecoms Council, at which a General Approach on this proposal is sought. The Regulation would give the European Union Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) a permanent mandate, and create a new Cybersecurity Certification Framework, which would enable the Commission to adopt EU-wide cybersecurity certification schemes in the form of implementing acts. ENISA would play a central role in the development of such schemes, supported by a Cybersecurity Certification Group consisting of national certification supervisory authorities of all Member States. The Minister (Margot James MP) and her predecessor (Matthew Hancock MP) has previously thoroughly addressed the Committee’s questions about the implications of EU exit for cybersecurity.
The Minister assures the Committee, in response to a question in its previous report, that under the latest compromise text if the Commission wishes to adopt implementing acts which would establish a specific cybersecurity certification scheme those implementing acts must be adopted in accordance with the more stringent examination procedure. However, a new issue has arisen: the three “assurance levels” model—basic, substantial or high—that is proposed for EU cybersecurity certification schemes potentially conflicts with the Government’s Secure by Design initiative, which focusses on the processes by which internet connected products and services are developed. The Minister states that some measures have already been taken in negotiations to increase the flexibility of this framework, and that the Government’s support for a General Approach “will be dependent on reaching a satisfactory compromise in relation to the points noted above on ‘assurance levels’. Due to this remaining point of concern the Committee wishes to retain the proposal under scrutiny. A waiver is therefore granted, rather than clearance from scrutiny.
Not cleared from scrutiny; waiver granted; updates requested.
For years the EU has been trying to agree a proposed equal treatment Directive. A new Council text was produced in 2015 but is making very slow progress in the Council. It aims to extend protection against unfair discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, disability, age or sexual orientation beyond the labour market to housing, health care, social services, social security, education and the supply of goods and services. Even if adopted this year (very unlikely), long implementation dates of 4–5 years and longer mean that the UK would not have to implement the proposed Directive before the end of the transition period (31.12.20). It also mostly covers the same ground as the Equality Act 2010, though it also extends to:
The text might also cover multiple discrimination if a recent proposed amendment gains support. This would enable the combination of different grounds of discrimination in one claim. The dual discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (section 14) have never been brought into force and the Minister makes clear the Government’s opposition to the proposed amendment to the Directive. We ask the Government for further information on its position. We also welcome the Government’s vigilance on competence creep in relation to the proposal’s application to aspects of the provision of education.
Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Women and Equalities Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
The Government seeks a scrutiny waiver to participate in the agreement of a General Approach at Transport Council on 7 June regarding a proposed Regulation which would modify the single market rules governing access to the commercial road transport market. The Government is content with the Bulgarian Presidency’s compromise text and the Committee recommends granting a waiver as requested. Ahead of Council, the Government also seeks clearance of a technical proposal regarding hired vehicles, to allow transport operators to use them throughout the EU for up to four months (now reduced to one month). The proposal has few domestic implications for the UK, and so the Committee is willing to clear it from scrutiny.
The EU internal market for freight is highly integrated and allows for unlimited international traffic between Member States (including cross-border journeys where the operator’s home country is not involved) as well as some cabotage. The legal default of EU exit is that this regime will cease to apply. It appears to be the intention of both sets of negotiators to negotiate a UK-EU arrangement on this issue as part of the future relationship.
Although the UK seeks to retain current levels of market access, the only non-EU Member States which have EU-levels of access are the EEA countries and Switzerland, all of whom apply EU rules. In every other case, individual EU Member States negotiate quota and permit systems with third countries. The European Commission has suggested that a UK-EU agreement will inevitably involve a switch to a quota-based system, because of the Government’s red lines. This is striking given that over 86% of the freight traffic moved in and out of the UK (not including Ireland) is currently moved by non-UK operators, who would benefit from retaining high levels of reciprocal market access. We also note that transport-related qualifications and certificates have been excluded from the citizens’ rights section of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
UK freight groups are overwhelmingly opposed to a permit system which would increase costs for businesses and consumers. Nonetheless, the Committee concludes that addressing the wider range of customs and regulatory issues which will arise at the UK and EU’s external borders is of greater importance to haulage operators than retaining current levels of participation to the EU internal market for road transport. The Committee seeks further information on a number of haulage-related EU exit issues.
(a) draft Regulation 9668/17: not cleared from scrutiny; waiver granted; further information requested; (b) proposed Directive 9669/17: cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Transport Select Committee.
The Bulgarian Presidency is seeking a General Approach on 7 June on the proposed recast of the EETS (European Electronic Toll Service) Directive. The proposal seeks to facilitate the emergence of commercial EU-wide interoperable electronic road toll systems and to enable the cross-border exchange of information concerning the failure to pay road fees in the Union. The principal attraction of the proposal to the Government is that of making it easier to chase up non-payment of tolls by foreign drivers, which the Minister considers would improve compliance with tolling rules. The Minister considers the EETS aspect of the proposal is largely technical, and judges that a successful EETS would potentially benefit UK hauliers, who would have the option of subscribing to a single EETS service rather than having to comply with multiple distinct electronic tolling and charging systems across Europe. Follow-up with the department has clarified that, although EETS equipment would have to be compatible with the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation service, UK manufacturers will remain free to manufacture Galileo-compatible EETS equipment even if we no longer participate in the EU space programmes, as such systems would rely on the open, not the encrypted, service.
Cleared from scrutiny.
(‘NC’ indicates document is ‘not cleared’ from scrutiny; ‘C’ indicates document is ‘cleared’)
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Posting of workers Directive [Proposed Directive (NC)]; Energy Efficiency Directive [Proposed Directive (NC)]; EU Renewable Energy Directive [Proposed Directive (NC)]; Energy Union Governance [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Mobility Package: emissions and fuel consumption of heavy duty vehicles [(a) Proposed Regulation (C), (b) Commission Regulation (C)]
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Adoption of detailed EU fishing rules [Report (C)]; Mobility Package: emissions and fuel consumption of heavy duty vehicles [(a) Proposed Regulation (C), (b) Commission Regulation (C)]
Home Affairs Committee: International measures on safety and security at football matches [Proposed Decision (NC)]
International Trade Committee: Possible EU countermeasures to US tariffs on steel and aluminium [Proposed Regulation (NC)
Joint Committee on Human Rights: Equal Treatment [(a) (b), Proposed Directives (NC)]
Transport Committee: Mobility Package: emissions and fuel consumption of heavy duty vehicles [(a) Proposed Regulation (C), (b) Commission Regulation (C)]
Treasury Committee: SEPA: cost of cross-border money transfers [Proposed Regulation (NC)]
Women and Equalities Committee: Equal Treatment [(a) (b), Proposed Directives (NC)]
Published: 12 June 2018