Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister of State for Transport, Department for Transport

  Sub-Committee B considered this document and your Explanatory Memorandum at its meeting on 6 February 2006 and agreed to maintain the scrutiny reserve, pending receipt and examination of the Regulatory Impact Assessment that you mentioned.

  We would also be grateful if you could inform us of any significant updates in the progress of negotiations on the Directive in the coming year.

  In paragraph 13 of your Explanatory Memorandum you state that you are satisfied that this issue cannot be dealt with by Member States. However, your Explanatory Memorandum makes no comment on the proportionality of this Proposal. We would be grateful for your views on that matter too.

  We noted that the Government is carrying out its own assessment of the costs and benefits of this Proposal. Will this be made available to the Committee well in advance of the June Council at which the Austrian Presidency aims to secure political agreement?

9 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP

  Sub-Committee B considered this document (5163/06), and your Explanatory Memorandum, at its meeting on 26 June 2006.

  We note that the Government still appear to have concerns over the inclusion of the article on fiscal incentives. We would be grateful to you for any updates on the progress of this proposal through the European Parliament. We note that in your previous EM, submitted in January, you expected the Austrian Presidency to seek agreement on the proposal in the June Environment Council. Can you give us an explanation for why this was not the case?

28 June 2006

Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 28 June 2006 informing me that Sub-Commitee B had considered the above documents and my Explanatory Memorandum at its meeting on 26 June.

  I confirm that we are continuing to oppose the inclusion of fiscal incentives in this proposal in negotiations. Should it prove impossible to secure the deletion of these provisions then we would not vote against an otherwise satisfactory compromise package. However, as on previous occasions, we would enter a minutes statement to record our opposition to the inclusion of fiscal provisions.

  As regards the general progress of the proposal, the Austrian Presidency deferred consideration by Council until the autumn due to delays in the European Parliament's consideration of the proposal. The Finnish Presidency remains hopeful that a First Reading agreement can be reached with the Parliament before the end of the year. The Parliament's Environment Committee recently considered the Rappoteur's draft report—which indicated broad support for Euro 5 and for the inclusion of a Euro 6 stage—but a substantial number of additional amendments have been tabled by its members and their vote has been deferred until 14 September 2006.

  Discussions in Council working groups have been continuing with broad support for the "Euro 5" proposal and also for the inclusion of a Euro 6 along the lines indicated in the Department's SEM. However a few of the larger Member States and the Commission's DG Enterprise (who are responsible for this proposal) do not yet support adoption of Euro 6 in this negotiation, preferring this to be dealt with later by a separate proposal. This would inevitably delay Euro 6 implementation and hence the air quality and health benefits it delivers. It would also reduce the notice given to industry of the standards, thus compromising product development planning. Should the Commission maintain its opposition a unanimous vote in favour by Member States would be required to secure the Euro 6 stage. The Presidency is therefore pressing the Commission to adopt Euro 6 within the current proposal. However I would expect that once the views of the Parliament are known the Commission and those Member States currently opposed to Euro 6 will indicate whether they have any flexibility over this issue.

  It is possible therefore that Member States will be in a position to reach agreement at the next Environmental Council on 23 October 2006. However, given that the position of most Member States in relation to the large number of amendments tabled by the Parliament remains uncertain, there is a significant risk that an agreement with the Parliament could take several months longer.

8 August 2006

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