Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from Helen Liddell MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am writing to keep you informed of the latest progress on the Broad Economic Guidelines.

  The Commission published their recommendation for the 1998 Broad Economic Guidelines on 13 May. I am arranging for the deposit of the enclosed explanatory memorandum which explains that the proposals contained in the Commission texts are consistent with many of the government's priorities. On 5 June, ECOFIN will draw up a draft for the Broad Economic Guidelines on the basis of the Commission's recommendation. This draft will be discussed by the European Council on 15 and 16 June.

  Given that the next Lords Chairman's sift is 1 June and Commons Committee meet on 3 June, it is not likely that parliamentary scrutiny will be cleared in advance of the 5 June ECOFIN. However there will be an opportunity for the Commission's recommendations to be scrutinised before the Broad Economic Guidelines are discussed by the Cardiff European Council.

  The draft Guidelines are adopted in ECOFIN by Qualified Majority, so a UK vote against, resulting from a scrutiny reserve, would not block the progress of the Broad Economic Guidelines together. However tabling a reserve would undermine our ability to influence the draft of the Guidelines to the UK's advantage. Therefore the UK will take an active part in framing the draft

  The text of the Commission's recommendation, dated 13 May with the Commission identification II/144/98, is as close to a final text as is likely to be available in the next week. We do not have it under council cover. If the final text proves to be different, we will send it to the Committees with an explanatory memorandum explaining the differences.

22 May 1998

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Helen Liddell MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury

  This document was considered by Sub-Committee A (Economic and Financial Affairs, Trade and External Relations) at its meeting on 9 June. As your letter to me made clear, as this important document was due to be discussed at ECOFIN on 5 June and at the European Council shortly afterwards, there is little opportunity for the Committee to make any input. Given that this is so, the Sub-Committee have asked me to reply to your letter of 22 May to ask whether, for the future (given that these documents recur annually) greater efforts might be made to deposit the explanatory memorandum sooner than the day after the House of Lords rises for the Whitsun recess. I appreciate that the Commission's text is dated 13 May but assume that earlier versions of the text are likely to have been available.

  This letter lifts the scrutiny reserve.

10 June 1998

Letter from Helen Liddell MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am writing to keep you informed of the latest progress on the broad economic guidelines.

  ECOFIN on 5 June formulated a draft of the 1998 guidelines based on the Commission's earlier recommendation. These draft guidelines are a revised version of the Commission's earlier recommendation. ECOFIN's draft of the guidelines have not been published and are therefore not formally depositable. However, in this case, I have arrangeed for deposit in Parliament of the draft revised broad guidelines on the basis of an advance copy of text 9061/98, on which an explanatory memorandum is being submitted today. Advance copies of both the text and memorandum are attached for your reference. They have thus been submitted to Parliament together with an explanatory memorandum. The guidelines were endorsed by the European Council without further amendment and are due to be adopted by ECOFIN on 6 July.

3 July 1998

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