Documents considered by the Committee on 16 May 2018 Contents

7European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) 2062/94.

Legal base

Article 153(2)(a) TFEU, QMV, ordinary legislative procedure

Department

Health and Safety Executive

Document Number

(38025), 11531/16, COM(16) 528

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

7.1The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) collects, analyses and disseminates technical, scientific and economic information on occupational safety and health, such as identifying practical solutions to improving health and safety in small and medium enterprises. The Agency has no regulatory powers. In 2016, the Commission proposed to update the Agency’s objectives and tasks in the light of changing circumstances and changes that have been agreed for all EU agencies under the Common Approach to EU Decentralised Agencies.78

7.2The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work (Sarah Newton) explains that negotiations on this proposal had been delayed in order to align the outcome with parallel proposals on other agencies (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training), as well as the more recent proposal on the European Labour Authority. Negotiations between the EU institutions have recently begun and agreement could be swift, as the institutions are broadly aligned. Differences that remain to be resolved concern a proposed extension of the Agency’s remit to include a policy role and a more prescriptive approach to gender representation on the management board. Concerning future UK engagement in the Agency, the Minister notes that the approach to agencies forms part of the ongoing negotiations regarding UK withdrawal, but she observes that the regulation allows for cooperation agreements with third countries.

7.3We note that the differences between the institutions are relatively minor and, as such, we are content to clear the proposal from scrutiny on the understanding that the Minister will keep us updated as negotiations progress.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) 2062/94: (38025), 11531/16, COM(16) 528.

Background

7.4Background to the Agency and further information on the proposal were set out in our Report of 14 September 2016.

7.5When our predecessors first considered the proposal, they raised issues about the legal base, the size of the management board, the timing and nature of an evaluation, the implications of Brexit and the progress of negotiations. These issues have largely been resolved as set out in our Report of 7 December 2016 and the most recent letter from the Minister. A letter was also received from the then Minister (Penny Mordaunt) on 31 August 2017,79 noting that there was little to report since she wrote in advance of the December 2017 Council meeting.

The Minister’s letter of 3 May 201880

7.6The Minister explains that trilogue negotiations between the EU institutions began on 24 April. The delay from the adoption of the European Parliament’s first position in July 2017 was due in part, she says, to the consolidation of the trilogue process for the current proposals on three EU agencies81 and the interaction with the recently published European Labour Authority proposal.

7.7The Minister expects the trilogues on EU-OSHA to be uncontentious given the similar positions of the institutions and could be completed before the summer, but notes that a few differences remain to be resolved:

“The European Parliament position promotes a policy role for the EU agency, which is an expansion of its remit and could distract from its primary research and information dissemination role. The UK also supports a voluntary approach to gender representation on the agency’s management board over the more prescriptive approach favoured by the European Parliament. My officials will keep these matters under review during trilogues in close collaboration with the UK permanent representation to the EU.”

7.8Regarding Brexit, the Minister confirms that the UK’s approach to future membership of EU agencies is subject to the ongoing negotiation on the withdrawal agreement, but she notes that the EU-OSHA regulation will permit a cooperation agreement with third countries in future, subject to the agreement of both parties.

7.9The Minister concludes by setting out the timetable. She warns that a swift outcome is possible and requests that the Committee waive scrutiny in case the proposal moves to a vote in Council before she is able to update the Committee again.

Previous Committee Reports

Twenty-second Report HC 71–xx (2016–17), chapter 6 (7 December 2016); Eleventh Report HC 71–ix (2016–17), chapter 4 (14 September 2016).


79 Letter from Penny Mordaunt to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee dated 31 October 2017

80 Letter from Sarah Newton to Sir William Cash dated 3 May 2018.

81 EU-OSHA, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).




Published: 22 May 2018