Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  In my Explanatory Memorandum of 8 December I undertook to seek an explanation for the delay of the Commission Communication in the Council Secretariat between 24 October and 23 November.

  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 UK 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. This delay is regrettable. Fortunately, it is unusual for documents to be delayed like this, but we have registered our concern with the Council Secretariat concerning both this and the delay relating to the Commission Communication on the 10th Anniversary of the EuroMed Partnership.

  The FCO will continue to monitor their circulation of Council Communications to try and prevent any delays in the future. As set out in my December letter on the Commission Communication on the 10th Anniversary of the EuroMed Partnership, we will continue working to ensure that 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.

  The FCO has made great strides in recent years in the early deposit of legislative material using unofficial texts, which both Committees have recognised and welcomed. We will continue to work to ensure that the FCO submits Commission documents at a suitable stage as unofficial text.

16 January 2006

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007