Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Joan Ryan MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office

  Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum of 19 July. The Commission's Communication will be considered by Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) immediately after the summer recess. In order to assist that work I should be grateful if you could provide some clarification of paragraph 16 of your Explanatory Memorandum.

  You say that the Government's preliminary views are "that there are both benefits and risks associated with any Council Decision". Are the benefits to which you refer the same benefits as are identified by the Commission (and listed in paragraph 12 of your Explanatory Memorandum)? If not what, in the Government's view, are the benefits? Finally, what, in the Government's view, are the risks associated with the Decision as proposed by the Commission and how are they ranked?

20 July 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, Minister of State, Home Office to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter to Joan Ryan of 20 July concerning the Commission Communication on the adaptation of the provisions of Title IV TEC relating to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice. I am responding on her behalf. You asked whether the benefits identified by the Government were the same as those identified by the Commission in its Communication. The Government is in the process of considering the Communication along with the Commission's justifications; in particular the Commission's analysis of gaps identified and whether a proposal based on Article 67(2) would address the issues raised. A measure which would improve the speed of cases referred to the ECJ would be beneficial and is something the UK could support in principle, however we must be satisfied that this would be a result of using Article 67(2). Whilst there may be potential benefits to such a proposal; including improved access to justice, there may also be risks. One such risk is that increased referrals to the ECJ could slow the Court's work with resulting decreased access to justice. Preliminary rulings currently take an average of 20.4 months to be completed, which may not represent effective judicial representation or access to justice. We will continue to examine all options associated with any proposal.

  Since detailed analysis of the communication is ongoing, I am afraid that I am unable to provide a full analysis of the risks and benefits at this stage. A more detailed response will be provided at a later date.

15 August 2006

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