Select Committee on European Communities Twelfth Report


Letter from Angela Browning, MP, Parliamentary Secretary (Commons), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am very sorry for the delay in replying to your letter of 20 November 1996[6] about the proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a European Agency for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection. I have noted that the European Communities Committee is unable to lift the scrutiny reserve on this proposal until it has details of the costs involved and the benefits of the establishment of an Agency.

  In the event however, the Council was not asked to reach a political agreement on any issues of principle relating to the possible establishment of an Agency. Instead, after a short discussion it:

    (a)   noted the Commission's assurance that the transfer of the existing Inspection Office to the Irish Republic would be completed as soon as possible;

    (b)   agreed that all necessary measures should be taken to ensure the smooth functioning of the Office during the transfer;

    (c)   agreed that the proposal for an Agency should be reconsidered when the Opinion of the European Parliament was available (it has not yet been received), without prejudice to the position of Member States; and

    (d)   noted the current staffing position in the Commission's veterinary service, and asked the Commission to take any necessary measures to ensure adequate staff are available for the Office to carry out its tasks effectively and efficiently, and to ensure the Community can carry out its supervisory responsibilities.

  These conclusions were not endorsed by the Commission. Nevertheless, the proposal has now effectively been deferred, and discussion will not be re-opened until the European Parliament's Opinion has been received. There is at present no indication as to when that may be. For the moment therefore, efforts are concentrating on the successful transfer of the Office to its new premises in the Irish Republic, and it may be some time before the outstanding issues on the possible establishment of an Agency are revisited.

  As I indicated previously however, I would expect to submit a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum reporting on the outcome of any further discussions (and on the financial details in particular) before any final decisions are made, whenever that might be.

16 January 1997

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Angela Browning, MP, Parliamentary Secretary (Commons), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  Thank you for your letter of 16 January, giving an account of further developments on this document. Your letter has been considered by both the European Communities Committee and its Sub-Committee D.

  The Committee is pleased to note that attention is being given to the efficient transfer of the existing Inspection Office to its new location in the Irish Republic. As I indicated previously, the Committee does not intend to lift the scrutiny reserve until a full compliance cost assessment is available.

22 January 1997

6  Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 5th Report, Session 1996-97, pp. 20-21. Back

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