Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Elliot Morley MP, Minister of State for Climate Change and Environment, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman

  I am writing to you to inform you about the conclusion of the negotiations on these dossiers. Final agreement was reached between the Council and the European Parliament at the Conciliation Committee meeting on 31 January 2006.

  The Commons scrutiny debate was on 14 January 2004 and I provided further information on 25 April, 13 July, Lord Whitty wrote on 24 August 2004 and I wrote again on 28 July 2005. In my most recent letter of 14 December 2005[86] wrote to provide an update on the EP's Second Reading and to provide a final account of the progress made during our Presidency of the European Union.

  At the Conciliation Committee meeting, agreement was reached on a compromise package, taking account of the amendments proposed by the EP at their second reading. The Council rejected EP amendments intended to enable Member States to go further in their national legislation than the Treaty allows, which could have led to distortion of the internal market. As a compromise, the Committee agreed a new paragraph 3 in article 9, which provides for a time limited derogation (until 31 December 2012) from the placing on the market provisions, for those Member States that had stricter national measures in place as at 31 December 2005. Such existing stricter national measures must be compatible with the Treaty. Further additional text (new article 14) permits Member States to maintain or introduce more stringent measures in relation to use and placing on the market prohibitions and labelling but these measures must again be compatible with the Treaty.

  The Council accepted other EP amendments or negotiated satisfactory compromises on a range of technical amendments. The Council was also successful in developing compromises that addressed Member States' concerns about the possible introduction of disproportionate and unjustified Regulatory burdens.

  One amendment to the Directive was agreed. A new paragraph 6 to article 5 permits Member States to promote alternative (ie those that do not use f gases) mobile air-conditioning systems which are efficient, innovative and further reduce the climate impact. Such action must however be without prejudice to relevant Community law.

  The agreed texts now have to be formally adopted by the Council and the European Parliament before they are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

  The outcomes are in line with UK objectives, including on the legal base of the Regulation, and on the technical amendments. While the UK was unable to conclude this negotiation during our Presidency of the EU, the Austrian's thanked the UK for their work towards setting up the final agreement in the Conciliation Committee.

  The main body of the provisions in the Regulation are set to apply from mid 2007 (one year and 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union), with further provisions applying from one or two years after that date. Defra will lead on the implementation of the Regulation while DfT will transpose and lead on implementation of the Directive.

25 March 2006

86   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 340. Back

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