Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE—REGULATION 51 (8301/06)

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister of State for Transport, Department for Transport

  Sub-committee B considered this document, together with your Explanatory Memorandum, at its meeting on 8 May 2006.

  We share the concerns laid out in your Memorandum relating to the desirability of keeping to a minimum the period of double testing and over the choice of tyres for noise testing of heavy-duty vehicles. In the event of the Government being unable to secure changes on these two issues in Council, would the Government oppose the draft Decision? We will hold the proposal under scrutiny at this stage.

11 May 2006

Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 11 May in which you outlined your shared concern on the two issues of minimising the burden of double testing and tyre choice, as outlined in our explanatory memorandum.

  As you know the Commission chose (as is its right) to submit this proposal to Council for decision, having failed to obtain agreement in its regulatory committee. Based on what we know of other Member States' positions, it looks as though there will be no qualified majority either to adopt the proposal without amendment, or to reject it (effectively the only options open to the Council). Seven Member States abstained earlier, in the regulatory committee, on technical and/or procedural grounds. This puts the Commission in a very strong position—the comitology rules mean that the unamended proposal is adopted by default if Council cannot come to adecision within three months of the initial submission (ie by 4 July).

  It is however possible that in Council Working Group the Commission will agree to resubmit their proposal with amendments. We understand that they are willing to accept the minimising of the burden of double testing by modifying the test procedures. These changes-had achieved a broad level of support at the regulatory committee stage. This seems to be the easier ofour two concerns to resolve and is likely to satisfy all the big Member States. The Commission may also give some ground on the issue of tyre choice but I am not confident that such changes would go far enough to satisfy us.

  However, if the Commission do agree to the changes necessary to satisfy our concerns on double testing and tyre choice, then I propose to accept the amended proposal in due course. On the other hand, if we do not secure the necessary commitment from the Commission on both points, then I propose that we vote to reject the proposal in its entirety, albeit that this would be unlikely to prevent its adoption. I will, of course, report back to you as soon as possible on the outcome of this proposal in Council. This proposal is due to be discussed in a Council working group today, 12 June, and—if unamended—is expected to be taken at a Council shortly after that.

12 June 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP

  Thank you for your letter of 12 June, replying to my letter of 11 May. Sub-Committee B considered your letter at its meeting on 19 June.

  We are grateful to you for your update, and share your concerns that the two key issues of keeping to a minimum the period of double testing and of the choice of tyres for noise testing of heavy-duty vehicles remain unresolved.

  We note that the Council Working Group was due to discuss the proposal on 12 June. Can you inform us whether any amendments were made? We would also be grateful to learn of further any details of the timetable for the proposal which may have emerged.

  We will maintain the scrutiny reserve at this stage.

20 June 2006

Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the Chairman

  In my letter of 12 June I explained that, if the Commission. agreed to changes to the above proposal that would satisfy our concerns on double testing and tyre choice, then I intended to support the amended proposal. On the other hand, if we did not secure the necessary commitment from the Commission on these points, then I proposed that we vote to reject the proposal in its entirety.

  In the Working Group, the Commission agreed to an amendment to the double testing regime that simplifies the administrative mechanism of the regime—this is acceptable to us. The Commission also agreed to anamendment on tyre choice such that snow and special tyres will now be excluded from the test. Although the UK stressed its concern regarding the future potential and cost of lowering overall vehicle noise when such vehicles were tested with tyres having a tread depth of at least 80 per cent of that of a new tyre, there was no support from other Member States on this point. However,the exclusion of snow and special tyres from the noise test goes part of the way to addressing our concerns, as noted in the Explanatory Memorandum.

  In consequence, the amended proposal now largely addresses the concerns we raised in the Explanatory Memorandum. I am aware that only 2 Member States are likely to reject the compromise proposal when it comes before COREPER and, even if the UK did also decide to reject it, this would notconstitute a blocking minority.

  In view of this, and in order to protect the negotiated improvements to the measure, I propose to accept the amended proposal.

20 June 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP

  Thank you for your letter of 20 June. Sub-Committee B considered your letter at its meeting on 3 July.

  We are grateful to you for your update following the Working Group on 12 June. We note that a compromise has been secured which "now largely addresses the concerns" which you raised both over keeping to a minimum the period of double testing and over the choice of tyres for noise testing of heavy-duty vehicles.

  As a satisfactory resolution appears to have been reached, we are content to lift the scrutiny reserve on this proposal.

5 July 2006



 
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