Select Committee on European Communities Twelfth Report



Letter from James Clappison, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  We have had some correspondence[9] in recent months about the proposal for a Council Decision establishing the SAVE II energy efficiency programme. I am now writing to inform you that the proposal was adopted, as an "A" Point item, at the Council of Culture Ministers on Monday, 16 December.

  We had satisfied ourselves, before this decision was taken, that, as the proposal was in line with that which your Committee cleared earlier in the year, there was no need for further Parliamentary Scrutiny. But I had wanted to ensure that you were aware of our view before the proposal went forward for final adoption. I very much regret, therefore, that because of the rapid progress on this proposal in the past few days, I was unable to do this.

  Your Committee considered an Explanatory Memorandum dated 27 June. As indicated in that Explanatory Memorandum, a Common Position on the proposal was adopted at a Council of Ministers on 8 July, with the proposal then being submitted to the European Parliament for a second reading according to the co-operation procedure. The agreed text was the same as that submitted to your Committee with the Explanatory Memorandum.

  On 12 November, the European Parliament gave its opinion on the second reading, recommending some 14 amendments to the proposed Decision. The Commission subsequently re-examined the proposal and submitted to the Council, on 2 December, a revised proposal, taking into account the amendments proposed by the Parliament. The official text of this Commission document is not yet available. The Energy Council on 3 December took note of the position, and requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to proceed rapidly with re-examination of the proposal with a view to getting an early decision.

  The re-examined proposal was considered by the Council Working Group on Energy on 4 December. The meeting, recognising the importance of having the programme adopted rapidly, decided to maintain the Common Position of the Council unchanged, i.e., in line with the papers sent with EM No. 7618/96 dated 27 June, which the Committee saw earlier this year. I welcome the fact that the decision to proceed on the basis of the Common Position cleared the way for the Decision to be adopted before the end of the current year. As earlier Explanatory Memoranda have indicated, the UK supports the SAVE II programme, and was happy to proceed on the basis of the Common Position. In particular, a number of the amendments proposed by the Commission, following those recommended by the European Parliament, would have been unacceptable to the UK, on policy grounds, as well as to other Member States. Adoption of the Decision allows the Commission to make effective use of the budget allocated to the programme for the current year - from which a number of UK interests will benefit.

  Nevertheless, I am sorry that I was not able to explain the position to you in advance.

  I am writing in similar terms to Jimmy Hood.

24 December 1996

9  Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 5th Report, Session 1996-97, p. 23. Back

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