Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Dawn Primarolo MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury

  On 26 October, you submitted an explanatory memorandum on Document 10636/98, on the establishment of a Central Risk/Analysis Unit.

  Although I sifted this document as requiring no further scrutiny (C972nd sift, to November 1998), I would welcome an explanation for the long delay in producing an explanatory note on this document. The document was dated 24 July, but the explanatory memorandum was not submitted until 26 October. Your paragraph on the timetable notes that the Austrian Presidency is seeking agreement to this proposal in December. Although, in this case, no further scrutiny seemed to be required, I am sure that you will appreciate the difficulties which such long delays cause for my Committee.

19 November 1998

Letter from Dawn Primarolo MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 19 November 1998 and your confirmation that this document has cleared scrutiny. You asked for an explanation of the delay in producing an explanatory note.

  This document was first tabled by the Austrian Presidency for discussion by expert customs officials on 17 September. At this stage the Presidency tabled it as an "information only" document; it was non-binding in nature and had no legislative implications. In the light of this my officials took the view that, in accordance with the then-extant guidelines on Third Pillar matters, it did not need to be deposited. It was only later, at the meeting of the official-level Customs Co-operation Working Group in Brussels on 1 and 2 October, that the Presidency announced it had decided to submit the document to the Justice and Home Affairs Council in December for formal endorsement. Accordingly at this stage an explanatory note was produced and the document duly deposited.

  The date quoted on the document (24 July 1998) is the date it was first available in German. It was not available in English until 8 September. It is common practice for Third Pillar documents to retain the date that they were produced in the orginal language even though translated versions may not appear, as in this case, for several months.

  The Committee may wish to note that the document will not now be going to the Justice and Home Affairs Council in December and is scheduled for further discussion at official working group level.

30 November 1998

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