APPENDIX 4: EXTRACTS TAKEN FROM A LETTER
TO THE CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE EUROPEAN UNION, HOUSE
OF LORDS FROM THE MINISTER FOR EUROPE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH
OFFICE RE: "COMMISSION COMMUNICATION ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE EUROMED PARTNERSHIP" DATED 20 DECEMBER 2005
Thank you for your letter of 24 November on your
decision to clear the above Commission Communication from scrutiny.
I am pleased that you agreed with the Commission's proposals for
a five-year work programme which will help move the Barcelona
Your letter asks for an explanation for the seven
month delay between the publication of the Commission Communication
and the Government's depositing of the text for scrutiny. The
Government shares your concern. The Commission produced its Communication
on 12 April and sent it to the Council Secretariat on 18 April.
However, it was not until 27 October that the Council Secretariat
circulated this document. The trigger for the Cabinet office to
request an Explanatory Memorandum from Government departments
is the circulation of a text from the Council Secretariat. I regret
that neither we nor the Cabinet Office spotted the time delay
in order to provide an explanation to your Committee before an
EM was submitted.
Officials at the United Kingdom Permanent Representation
to the European Union in Brussels have raised this issue with
the Council Secretariat and ascertained that this was an administrative
mistake, for which they apologise. A delay of seven months is
certainly not common and the Council Secretariat has highlighted
that this is an isolated case. Nevertheless, the Cabinet Office
and FCO will continue to monitor the situation.
Additionally, the FCO will ensure the same early
warning mechanism we have developed for legislative material (Joint
Actions, Common Positions etc) is transposed for non-legislative
documents, such as Commission Communications. I know your Committee
has acknowledged that the FCO has made great strides in recent
years in the early deposit of legislative material using unofficial
texts. A similar system, whereby the FCO submits Commission documents
at a suitable stage as unofficial text, would reap the same rewards
in those cases where the Council was likely to consider the document
quickly or where there was likely to be a delay in the text being
circulated by the Council Secretariat.