Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


HEALTH AND CONSUMER PROTECTION STRATEGY (8064/05, 9405/06)

Letter from Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP, Minister of State, Department of Health to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 31 October[207] to Lord Warner on the above communication from the European Commission. I apologise for the long delay in replying. There have been a number of recent and significant developments which have a direct impact on your concerns and I wanted to be able to update you on the latest position.

  Firstly, the Committee wished to consider the budget. This will not be finalised until inter-institutional agreement has been signed off on the financial perspective (in the next few weeks). However, an increase of the order proposed is certainly out of the question. (Indicative figures released by the Commission in February suggest funding levels similar to the current programmes, although this may increase following the final budget deal).

  Secondly, the Committee wished to consider the nature of actions at Community level in the proposal. The Commission have indicated that now the budget is close to being finalised they expect to revise the proposal, possibly reducing the number of actions. The European Parliament have also voted for amendments to the actions. The Commission are aiming to produce a revised proposal at the end of May.

  The Government has given careful consideration to the issue of the Community's competence to enact the measure as originally proposed. The view reached is that the health and consumer aspects of the decision appear broadly to be within the competence of articles 152 and 153. However, it is important to ensure that specific projects do not lead to initiatives that go beyond the scope of the Treaty. UK officials will seek a clarification in the revised text to this effect.

  Given the developments outlined above, there will be no discussion of this proposal at the Health Council in June. I will be in a better position to supply further additional information when we have the promised revised proposal from the Commission and clarity about the budget and the actions proposed.

  Finally, you mention the importance of evaluation of the current programme, particularly in relation to awareness-raising campaigns for public health. The Government has joined with other Member States to emphasise this point to the Commission at Council Working Groups.

8 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 8 May which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 18 May.

  We are grateful for this interim report and note that you expect the proposed budget to be clarified shortly, following the final settlement of the inter-institutional agreement on the Financial Perspective, and that the Commission will submit a revised proposal by the end of this month. We also note that, in the circumstances, the Proposal will not be discussed at the Health Council in June.

  We are glad to see that you have taken on board the points made in my letter dated 31 October 2005 to Norman Warner and will expect these considerations to be borne in mind when the revised Proposal is examined.

  In the circumstances, we will continue to retain the above document under scrutiny pending submission of an Explanatory Memorandum on the revised Proposal.

19 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP

  Your Explanatory Memorandum (EM) dated 21 June was considered by Sub-Committee G on 6 July together with the separate EM submitted by the DTI on the parallel amended Proposal for the consumer protection aspects (9909/06), on which I have written separately to your colleague Ian McCartney.

  We note that the amended Proposal (reference 9909/06) replaces the earlier Proposal (reference 8064/05) about which I last wrote to you on 19 May and which can now be released from scrutiny.

  As I have commented in my letter to Ian McCartney, we note that the Government prefers the division into separate public health and consumer protection programmes, as now proposed. We also note that the new programme is less ambitious than its predecessor, reflecting the reduced budget allocation.

  So far as the amended Proposal on public health aspects (reference 9905/06) is concerned, we note that the Government is broadly satisfied with the revised programme. We agree that data on socio-economic factors and on the impact of other policies on health should be included in the proposed data collection activities to include, so long as this can be done within the national constraints and available data. We also support your wish to ensure that more emphasis is given to qualitative as well as quantitative evaluation, with stronger focus on monitoring outcomes and the impact of individual projects. We hope that other Member States will back your efforts to secure these improvements in Working Group negotiations.

  We are grateful for your assurance that, even though the revised programme appears to be within the competence of Article 152, officials will seek a clarification in the text to emphasise the individual projects must not go beyond the scope of the Treaty.

  Your EM does not mention consultation with stakeholders. We presume that this is under way and that the results will be reflected in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which you have promised.

  We would also welcome an indication of the likely timescale for Council consideration as soon as the Finnish Presidency have made that clear.

  The new document (reference 9905/06) will be retained under scrutiny pending your reply.

6 July 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your request of 6 July 2006 for further information on this proposal.

  Negotiations on the proposal will get underway in the Council Public Health Working Group this month. I look forward to providing you with an update on the progress of these negotiations, and in particular on the points you raise in your letter, following your return from Summer recess. We will also ensure that our Regulatory Impact Assessment is forwarded to you at this time. This will reflect our stakeholder consultation earlier this year on the original proposal and on possible revisions.

12 July 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 12 July which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 20 July.

  We note that Working Group negotiations on the Proposal are expected to start this month. We are grateful to you for promising to report on the progress of those negotiations and to submit a Regulatory Impact Assessment, reflecting stakeholder consultation, for consideration after the Summer Recess. We are content with this and will continue to retain the document under scrutiny pending your promised report. When you do report we hope that you will be able to give us a clearer indication of the likely timescale for Council consideration.

20 July 2006



207   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 624. Back


 
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