Select Committee on European Communities Second Report


Letter from Melanie Johnson MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am writing to bring you and the members of your Committee up to date on our dealings with the Council Legal Service over the right of the UK to vote on certain items of secondary Community legislation relating to the ECB and adopted under Article 106(6) of the EC Treaty.

  You may recall that my predecessor, Patricia Hewitt, wrote to you in February, in response to various questions raised by your Committee concerning this legislation. Her letter explained that the Government was, at that time, in the process of attempting to agree language on voting rights with the Council Legal Service to record in the minutes of the 23 November 1998 ECOFIN Council which adopted the legislation in question. We were also discussing language to incorporate in the minutes of the 29 June 1998 General Affairs Council which adopted earlier legislation under Article 106(6). The letter indicated that, if suitable language could not be agreed, it would be open to the UK to make a unilateral statement for the minutes, setting out our view that the UK and the other Outs were entitled to vote.

  In the event, we were unable to agree language with the Council Legal Service to record in the minutes of the November ECOFIN Council which, in our view, did not prejudice our position on voting rights. The Government has therefore tabled a UK statement in the minutes of both the ECOFIN Council and the GAC, explaining the basis for our view that the UK was entitled to vote on the adoption of legislation under Article 106(6). At the same time, nine of the participating Member States have tabled a further statement in the ECOFIN minutes, which sets out their alternative understanding. I attach for information the relevant extracts from the Council minutes.

8 October 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Melanie Johnson MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury

  Thank you for your letter of 8 October, bringing us up to date with the position on the disagreement about whether the United Kingdom should have been entitled to vote on these Regulations, even though it is not participating in EMU. I am sorry to say that we had not received Patricia Hewitt's letter of 12 February on this subject, but we now have a copy, and we understand the present position.

  However, to say that we understand the position does not mean that we approve of it, we are glad to see that the Government has been keeping up the pressure on this matter.

10 November 1999

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