Documents considered by the Committee on 12 September 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:

Summary

Fisheries technical measures

The European Commission’s proposal to revise EU rules on technical fisheries measures—which will be incorporated into UK law once it has been adopted—has proven controversial due to ongoing debate over the sustainability of electric pulse fishing. This is a fishing method which uses an electric pulse to disturb flatfish on the seabed, rather than the more traditional chains. The UK Government has proposed a suspension of this method, which is largely used by the Dutch fleet, but faces resistance from other Member States. The European Parliament favours a ban. Noting the continued uncertainty over pulse fishing in particular, the Committee requests an update on progress.

Not cleared; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Fisheries control and enforcement

The EU’s existing fisheries control regime dates back to 2009, and thus pre-dates the 2013 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Commission proposes substantial changes, including provisions to align the control regime with aspects of the reformed CFP, such as the landing obligation (discard ban). Despite the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the proposal could potentially have significant implications for the UK as the rules would apply to UK vessels fishing in EU waters and the traceability requirements would apply to imports into the EU. The Committee therefore seeks clarification on the post-Brexit implications of these proposals.

Not cleared; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Future of the Common Agricultural Policy

The Committee considered new proposals on the shape of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 1 January 2021. The Minister is clear that the UK will not participate in the future CAP, preferring to develop its own agricultural policy. Nevertheless, while agri-food trade continues between the UK and the EU, the CAP is likely to have implications for the UK. This was acknowledged by the Secretary of State (The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP) in oral evidence to the Committee on 18 July. The Committee seeks clarification on the nature of those implications be clarified, as well as whether the UK is staying silent in the early discussions on the proposal or is engaging.

Not cleared; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Proposed Directive on Insolvency, Restructuring and Second Chances for Businesses and Entrepreneurs

The proposed Directive represents a significant, first attempt by the EU to harmonise national insolvency laws. It is unlikely that the UK would be legally obliged to implement it before the end of the expected transition/implementation period (31 December 2020). Nevertheless, the Government is working to achieve a favourable text and now requests a scrutiny waiver to enable it to actively engage in Council discussions prior to an expected General Approach at the Just and Home Affairs (JHA) Council of 11–12 October. We grant the waiver so that the Government can negotiate with an eye to its future relationship with the EU, particularly on cross-border insolvency. The Government is asked to fully update the Committee on the outcome of the Council meeting and to provide a copy of any agreed General Approach.

Not cleared from scrutiny but scrutiny waiver granted for a general approach sought in the JHA Council of 11–12 October; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Proposed Council Decisions on Personal data and the Council of Europe Convention

These proposed Council Decisions would authorise EU Member States to sign and ratify a Protocol amending a Council of Europe Convention on personal data protection (the Amending Protocol). The UK ratified the Convention in 1987. Authorisation is needed because the EU cannot yet be a party to the Convention, though it covers an area of (mostly) EU exclusive competence. However, the envisaged changes to the Convention will enable international organisations to accede. The EU is likely to become a Party once the Amending Protocol comes into force.

The proposed signature Decision was agreed on 26 June but we did not take issue with the Government overriding scrutiny when we considered the proposals in July. We were partly persuaded by the fact that being a party to the amended Convention would work in the UK’s favour in terms of a future data adequacy decision between the EU and UK after exit/transition. However, we asked the Government some questions about competence and transition and Brexit implications in respect of the Convention once the EU also becomes a party.

As the Government now responds satisfactorily to those questions, we are content to clear the proposed Decisions. This is also because the adoption of these Decisions is clearly in the UK’s interest and adoption of the ratification Decision is due later in September in any case. In any event, we hope the House will have the chance to hold the Government closely to account on the wider questions concerning future EU-UK data sharing.

Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the Science and Technology Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Exiting the EU Committee

Proposed Regulation on data protection rules applicable to EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies

This proposal replaces existing data protection rules for EU institutions and agencies with new rules based largely on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Minister reports that the proposal is near final adoption, the UK having abstained at a recent Council following trilogues. Given that the GDPR is already in force in Member States, it is in the UK’s interests for the EU institutions to be brought up to the same standard and to support the final adoption of the Regulation. The substance of the proposal has now also been agreed to all intents and purposes. For these reasons, we recommend clearance now, though with the expectation that some further information about the compromise text agreed and final confirmation of adoption is received from the Minister in due course

Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Trade deals and data flows between the EU and third countries: Commission Communication and proposed data flow provisions for trade agreements

We have had the Commission Communication on data-sharing between the EU and third countries under scrutiny for some 18 months. It is highly relevant to EU-UK data sharing at either exit/end of transition.

Recent developments, including the informal publication on the Council website of cross-border data flow provisions drafted by the Commission for inclusion in EU-third country trade agreements, have heightened the Brexit relevance of the Communication. Such provisions were not included in the EU-Japan trade deal because the Commission considered that negotiations on trade and personal data adequacy decisions should be kept separate. For this reason, the Committee originally recommended this document for debate together with the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) documents in its last Report of 23 May. However, the Government considered that it would prefer to keep complicated data issues separate from the debate on the overall trade deal and held the Japan EPA debate on 26 June without also debating the Communication.

Data flow provisions, agreed by the EU’s Trade Policy Committee with feedback from Member States have now been formally published by the Commission. We understand they are to be tabled in the EU-Indonesia FTA negotiations and have been deposited by the Government as the Committee requested in its last Report. We now recommend those data flow provisions for debate together with the Communication so that a broad range of issues concerning EU-UK data-sharing, both within and outside a future trade deal can be thoroughly aired. We have been supported in wanting this debate by the Chair of the Science and Technology Committee. In summary, we seek clarity on what legal mechanism for data-sharing the UK is now seeking, the legal effect of the provisions to be included in trade deals, how these might assist the UK in any EU-UK trade deal and the adequacy of fall-back mechanisms for EU-UK data transfer in the event of “no-deal”.

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; document (b) recommended for debate together with document (a) (already recommended for debate by the Committee as reported on 23 May 2018); drawn to the attention of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the International Trade Committee, the Science and Technology Committee, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and the Exiting the EU Committee

Exchanging information on criminal convictions

The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) enables Member States to exchange information on the previous convictions of EU citizens so that they can be taken into account in criminal proceedings throughout the EU. The European Commission has put forward two proposals to improve the operation of ECRIS and make it a more effective tool for exchanging information on third country national offenders within the EU. The UK participates fully in ECRIS and has opted into both proposals. Negotiations are continuing within the Council. Although the deadline for bringing the new legislation into effect at national level is likely to extend beyond the transition/implementation period envisaged in the draft EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement (ending on 31 December 2020), the Government is keen to support the ECRIS package and intends these measures to be included in a future treaty with the EU on internal security. The Government recognises (in its Framework for the UK-EU Security Partnership) that there are “no viable existing third country alternatives” to ECRIS and that there would be “a clear mutual loss of operational law enforcement and criminal justice capability” and “substantial security consequences” if the UK were no longer able to participate in ECRIS and other elements of the EU’s internal security toolkit. The European Scrutiny Committee requests regular progress reports on the ECRIS negotiations and on negotiations for a new EU/UK internal security treaty.

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee, the Justice Committee and the Committee on Exiting the European Union.

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: Insolvency, Restructuring and Second Chances for Businesses and Entrepreneurs [(a) Proposed Directive (NC); (b) European Central Bank Opinion (NC)]; Common Rules for EU Internal Gas Market [Proposed Directive (NC)]; InvestEU Programme 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; European Defence Fund 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]

Defence Committee: European Peace Facility [Proposed Decision (NC)]; European Defence Fund 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee: Personal data and the Council of Europe Convention [Proposed Council Decisions (C)]; International measures on safety and security at football matches [Proposed Council Decision (C)]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Fisheries Conservation: Technical Measures [(a) Proposed Regulation (NC); (b) Proposed Regulation (C)]; Port reception facilities for waste from ships [Proposed Directive (NC)]

Environmental Audit Committee: Port reception facilities for waste from ships [Proposed Directive (NC)]

Exiting the European Union Committee: Personal data and the Council of Europe Convention [Proposed Council Decisions (C)]; Exchanging information on criminal convictions [(a) Proposed Directive (NC); (b) Proposed Regulation (NC)]

Foreign Affairs Committee: European Peace Facility [Proposed Decision (NC)]; Neighbourhood, Development & International Cooperation Instrument 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; The EU Emergency Travel Document [Proposed Directive (NC)]

Home Affairs Committee: Establishing a European network of immigration liaison officers [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Exchanging information on criminal convictions [(a) Proposed Directive (NC); (b) Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Fingerprinting of asylum applicants and irregular migrants: the Eurodac system [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; International measures on safety and security at football matches [Proposed Council Decision (C)]

International Development Committee: European Peace Facility [Proposed Decision (NC)]; Neighbourhood, Development & International Cooperation Instrument 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]

Joint Committee on Human Rights: Personal data and the Council of Europe Convention [Proposed Council Decisions (C)]

Justice Committee: Exchanging information on criminal convictions [(a) Proposed Directive (NC); (b) Proposed Regulation (NC)]

Public Accounts Committee: Long-term EU budget 2021–27 [(a) Proposed Regulation (NC); (b) Proposed Decision (NC)]

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: The EU Civil Protection Mechanism: strengthening EU disaster management [Proposed Decision (NC)]

Science and Technology Committee: Personal data and the Council of Europe Convention [Proposed Council Decisions (C)]

Transport Committee: Port reception facilities for waste from ships [Proposed Directive (NC)]

Treasury Committee: Long-term EU budget 2021–27 [(a) Proposed Regulation (NC); (b) Proposed Decision (NC)]; InvestEU Programme 2021–27 [Proposed Regulation (NC)]





Published: 18 September 2018