Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to James Plaskitt MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions

  Your Explanatory Memorandum (EM) dated 10 May was considered by Sub-Committee G on 25 May.

  We note your confirmation that the partial Political Agreement was achieved, as expected, at the ESPHCA Council on 8 December 2005 leaving only the budgetary proposals to be settled.

  Your officials have confirmed that COREPER has endorsed the Working Group agreement on an overall budget of €658 million and the revised allocation of the budget, as set out in your EM, in preparation for the ESPHCA Council on 1 June at which political agreement to a Common Position will be sought. We also note from your EM that you have informal indications that the European Parliament may accept the budget of €658 million on Second Reading.

  Since this will be the last opportunity that the Committee will have of considering the Proposal before the Council meeting on 1 June, we are exceptionally prepared to release the scrutiny reserve on the above document to enable the Government to support the proposed Common Position at the Council. But this must be on the clear understanding that the overall budget finally agreed for the PROGRESS programme should not exceed €658 million.

  We look forward to your report on the outcome of the Council meeting.

25 May 2006

Letter from James Plaskitt MP to the Chairman

  I am happy to report that the 1 June Employment Council reached Political Agreement on the budget and percentage allocations between strands of activity for PROGRESS, which your committee cleared on 25 May (EM 8974/06).

  I am grateful for the co-operation from your committee in agreeing to clear the programme budget (€658 million at 2004 prices—the same basis as the overarching EU budget settlement—equivalent to €743 million when adjusted to take account of estimated future inflation year on year) in advance of the Commission's production of the attached 29 May text, which formally confirms the agreed budget allocation. This is consistent with the Inter Institutional Agreement, and we are hopeful that the European Parliament will also shortly endorse it.

  The text sets out a detailed technical statement of the budget breakdown, together with a recounting of the programme's high-level objectives, actions and evaluation measures.

14 June 2006

Letter from the Chairman to James Plaskitt MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 14 June, which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 22 June. We are grateful for your confirmation that the Employment Council on 1 June reached political agreement on the expected budget of €658 million at 2004 prices and on the percentage allocations for the PROGRESS programme as set out in your EM dated 10 May, on the basis of which we agreed to release the scrutiny reserve.

  We note that the settlement will be the equivalent of €743 million when adjusted to take account of estimated future inflation over the life of the programme. We also note that the European Parliament is expected to endorse the settlement shortly and would be grateful if you would confirm as soon as it has done so.

23 June 2006

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