Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report

Scrutiny Clearance: Amendment to Article 10.2 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of The European Central Bank

  I understand that Sub-Committee A has not yet had a chance to scrutinise European Community documents numbers 6163/03 and 6684/03, concerning amendments to Article 10.2 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and of the European Central Bank (ECB).

  As you know, these documents form the basis for a Decision on changes to the voting modalities in the ECB's Governing Council by the Council of the European Union meeting in the composition of Heads of State or Government. Heads are expected to consider this issue on Friday, 21 March 2003.

  While I regret that the documents have not yet been scrutinised, I believe it would be inappropriate to maintain a scrutiny reserve on this issue when it is discussed by Heads of State or Government on 21 March. As I said in my Explanatory Memorandum (EM) of 8 March 2003, the UK supports the existence of an effective decision-making body in the ECB. Given the provisions of the "enabling clause" inserted into the ESCB Statute under the Treaty of Nice and the requirement for unanimity in both the Governing Council and the Council, the Government believes that the ECB Recommendation probably represents the only feasible proposal achievable at the current stage.

  May I remind you, as set out in my EM, that amendment to the ESCB Statute will only enter into force once it has been ratified by all EU Member States. After its adoption by the Council, the Decision will be laid before the UK Parliament, prior to ratification, in accordance with the Ponsonby Rule.

20 March 2003

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