6th Report, 2012 (Session 4): The EU-related engagement of the Scottish Parliament's Committees 2011-2012

SP Paper 213

EU/S4/12/R6

6th Report, 2012 (Session 4)

The EU-related engagement of the Scottish Parliament's Committees 2011-2012

Remit and membership

Remit:

The remit of the European and External Relations Committee is to consider and report on-

(a) proposals for European Communities legislation;
(b) the implementation of European Communities legislation;
(c) any European Communities or European Union issue;
(d) the development and implementation of the Scottish Administration's links with countries and territories outside Scotland, the European Communities (and their institutions) and other international organisations; and
(e) co-ordination of the international activities of the Scottish Administration.

(Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 6.8)

Membership:

Clare Adamson
Helen Eadie
Bill Kidd
Hanzala Malik (Deputy Convener)
Jamie McGrigor
Christina McKelvie (Convener)
Aileen McLeod

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Ian Duncan

Assistant Clerk
Jennifer Bell
Jenny Goldsmith

Committee Assistant
Eileen Martin

The EU-related engagement of the Scottish Parliament's Committees 2011-2012

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Introduction & background

1. The purpose of this report is to summarise the EU-related policy engagement of the Scottish Parliament’s subject committees and Equal Opportunities Committee for the 2011-2012 period, as envisaged in the Parliament’s EU Strategy.

2. The Scottish Parliament debated and agreed to introduce a Parliament-wide strategy for EU engagement and scrutiny on 9 December 2010. The debate followed a detailed inquiry into the Treaty of Lisbon and its implications for subnational parliaments conducted by the European & External Relations (EER) Committee (4th report, 2010).

3. The strategy sets out the role of the Parliament with regards to EU matters, which is ‘to scrutinise the Scottish Government and its EU engagement’. To fulfil this scrutiny function, the Parliament agreed to:

  • develop an early engagement approach and set an ‘upstream’ agenda based upon intelligence gathering and analysis of EU policy making at the earliest (pre-legislative) stages; and
  • mainstream the scrutiny of draft EU legislation to subject committees.

Committee engagement with EU issues

4. The EU Strategy was launched in November 2011, with co-ordinated consideration of the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2012 and related documents. The Parliament’s European Officer co-ordinated the scrutiny and engagement by the committees. Each Committee produced a report detailing agreed EU priorities and proposed engagement. These reports were assembled into a single compendium report and considered by the EER Committee at its meeting of 6 March 2012.

5. The EER Committee report formed the basis for a chamber debate on the Parliament’s Committees’ priorities, which took place in March 2012.

Audit of committee engagement

6. The EU Strategy contains an annual audit of committee engagement, to take place before the next cycle of the strategy, i.e. autumn 2012. The EER Committee has previously agreed that it would monitor the EU Strategy using such an audit in the interests of ensuring that the Strategy was working effectively. The responses to the audit from each committee are annexed to this report.

7. It should be noted that both the Local Government Committee and the Education Committee did not determine any EU priorities for the period 2011 – 2012 and so have not submitted a contribution to this report.

ANNEXE A

Extract from the minute of the European and External Relations Committee

14th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4)

Thursday 1 November 2012

Scottish Parliament EU strategy (in private): The Committee agreed to a draft report on EU engagement under the Scottish Parliament EU Strategy from 2011- 2012.

Annexe B

ECONOMY, ENERGY AND TOURISM COMMITTEE
EU ENGAGEMENT 2011 – 2012

EU reporter: Stuart McMillan MSP (until 18 September 2012)

Agreed committee priorities

  • Communication on an Internal Energy Market (with particular emphasis on the development of a North Sea Grid)
  • Communication on energy efficiency
  • State aid as follows (Strategic Initiative in the field of substantive State aid rules; Review of the State aid rescue and restructuring guidelines; Review of the State aid de minimis; Review of the State aid research and development and innovation framework
  • Financial Services

Committee actions

  • Due to a lack of progress in relation to the Committee’s agreed priorities, no specific action was taken by the Committee during the course of the year
  • During its inquiry into the achievability of the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets, the Committee considered issues surrounding integration with the European energy market through interconnection. In particular, it scrutinised the actions of the UK and Scottish Governments regarding the issue of interconnection via the North Sea Countries Offshore Grid Initiative.

Other EU engagement

  • None

ubsidiarity

  • Number of proposals received: None

Number of issues referred to European & External Relations Committee

  • None

Other comments

N/A

ANNEXE C

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMITTEE
EU ENGAGEMENT 2011 – 2012

EU reporter: John Finnie MSP

Agreed committee priorities

  • Child Poverty (legislative recommendation)
  • Advancing Roma integration – First report of the European Commission (non-legislative communication)
  • European Accessibility Act: improving accessibility of goods and services in the Internal Market (legislative directive)
  • Improving the gender balance in the boards of companies listed on stock exchanges (could be legislative or non-legislative)
  • Consultation of the European social partners on the review of the Directive on equal pay (non-legislative)

Committee actions

  • Child Poverty (legislative recommendation)

    o The Child Poverty legislative recommendation is relevant to the Committee’s forthcoming Women and Work inquiry and will be considered as part of that inquiry. Date: early 2013. Outcome: n/a. Follow-up: early 2013.

  • Advancing Roma integration – First report of the European Commission (non-legislative communication)

    o The Committee has undertaken and continues to undertake significant work on Scottish Gypsy/Travellers. The non-legislative communication on advancing Roma integration is relevant to the second phase, on Where Gypsy/Travellers Live, and will be considered when the Committee decides on its approach. Date: late 2012. Outcome: n/a. Follow-up: late 2012.

  • European Accessibility Act: improving accessibility of goods and services in the Internal Market (legislative directive)

    o The Committee is keeping a watching brief on the legislative directive. Date: on-going. Outcome: n/a. Follow-up: when relevant.

  • Improving the gender balance in the boards of companies listed on stock exchanges (could be legislative or non-legislative)

    o The Committee is keeping a watching brief. Also relevant to the Women and Work inquiry. Date: on-going/early 2013. Outcome: n/a. Follow-up: when relevant/early 2013.

  • Consultation of the European social partners on the review of the Directive on equal pay (non-legislative)

    o Relevant to and will be considered in the Women and Work inquiry. Date: early 2013. Outcome: n/a. Follow-up: early 2013.

Other EU engagement

None

Subsidiarity

No red proposals received

Number of issues referred to European & External Relations Committee

None

Other comments

None

ANNEXE D

HEALTH AND SPORT COMMITTEE
EU ENGAGEMENT 2011 - 2012

Previous EU reporters: Mary Fee and Richard Lyle

Agreed Committee priorities

  • Revision of the Tobacco Products Directive
  • Package of Innovation in Health – Medical Devices

The Committee also agreed to monitor

  • The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing

    o Some initiatives related to the Partnership began in 2012
    o The overarching objective is to increase by 2 years the average number of healthy life years in the EU by 2020

Committee actions

  • Revision of the Tobacco Products Directive
    • The Committee considered at its meeting on 7 February 2012
    • It wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy on 8 February 2012 to establish the Scottish Government’s position
    • Reply received on 25 February 2012
    • SG continuing close working with Department of Health as they work with the Commission and member states
    • SG also reported a joint UK-wide consultation on plain packaging and stated that any decision on the matter for Scotland would be informed by consideration of the results of this consultation and of the review of the Directive
    • The review of the Directive is expected to be published before the end of 2012
  • Package of Innovation in Health
    • The Committee considered at its meeting on 7 February 2012
    • It wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on 8 February 2012 to establish the Scottish Government’s position
    • Reply received on 25 February 2012
    • SG stated its position as “generally supportive of this initiative but will continue to follow developments and is mindful of possible resource and/or regulatory implications”

Other EU engagement

  • EU Legislative Proposal (Health for Growth Programme)
    • The Committee considered this at its meeting on 17 January 2012
    • It wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on 18 January 2012 to ascertain its position and inquire:
      • To what extend the NHS in Scotland benefitted from the programme during the periods 2003-07 and 2008013
      • To what extend the NHS in Scotland will benefit from the four key objectives
      • What discussions the SG has had with Department of Health
      • Whether it shares the UK Government’s concern at “competence creep”
    • Cabinet Secretary replied on 31 January setting out the figures and also commenting: “We have set out that we are broadly content with the proposal but have noted that we share the UK Government’s concerns on “competence creep””.
  • EU Proposal for Amending The Transparency Directive (full title: Proposal for Amending the Transparency Directive Regulating the Pricing of Medicinal Products for Human Use and their Inclusion within the scope of National Health Insurance Systems)
    • The Committee considered this at its meeting on 17 April 2012
    • It wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on 20 April 2012 to ascertain its position and inquire:
      • The impact on quality of health care and cost for the NHS in Scotland
      • What discussion the SG has had with the Department of Health
      • The nature of any such discussions
      • Whether it shares the view of UK Government that “the consistency of the Commission’s proposals with the principle of subsidiarity has yet to be examined”
      • More information about the move towards a system of Value-based Pricing (VBP)
    • Cabinet Secretary replied on 3 June 2012 stating that discussions across Member States were at an early stage and the SG supported the UK Government position regarding examination of the proposals against subsidiarity principles
    • She also set out that while the matter was devolved, the SG were working closely with Department of Health colleagues
    • And that the Department of Health would be consulting on the likely costs and benefits of VBP

Subsidiarity

  • 16 proposals in total were received via the EERC between June 2011 and August 2012
  • 2 were considered by the Health and Sport Committee
  • 2 raised the possible issue of subsidiarity

Number of issues referred to European & External Relations Committee

  • None. However, in pursuit of its on-going work on the priorities identified, the Committee has stated that it would welcome support from the EERC, the Brussels Officer and the SPICe Senior Researcher on European Issues

Other comments

  • It is anticipated that the Committee will wish to monitor progress with the on-going legal challenge to minimum pricing at EC level

ANNEXE E

INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPITAL INVESTMENT COMMITTEE
EU ENGAGEMENT 2011 – 2012

EU Reporter: Aileen McLeod MSP

Agreed committee priorities

  • Review of State aid guidelines for broadband networks
  • The Digital Agenda for Europe
  • Directives on public procurement
  • Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)
  • Passenger rights in all transport modes
  • Draft regulation on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market
  • Smart ticketing, multimodal scheduling, information, online reservation
  • Framework for future EU ports policy
  • Revising passenger ship safety
  • Safeguarding Europe’s Water Resources (EU water blueprint)

Committee actions

Introduction

1. The Committee agreed its EU priorities on 22 February 2012. The Committee also agreed to seek details from the Scottish Government on the level of engagement that Ministers and officials had undertaken, or planned, in relation to each of the Committee’s priority topics. The Committee considered the Government’s response at its meeting on 10 July 2012.
2. Although Aileen McLeod left the ICI Committee in September, she prepared this report as well as a written update on each of the Committee’s EU priorities, both of which were considered in October. The ICI Committee agreed to note this report and to submit it to the EERC.

Review of State aid guidelines for broadband networks

3. In the course of taking evidence from Scottish stakeholders and the Scottish Government in relation to the inquiry into broadband infrastructure (2011-12), the Committee questioned witnesses on the EU funding mechanisms for rolling out superfast broadband and on the level of support provided by central government for this purpose. The Committee included discussion of these issues in its Report.
4. The Committee agreed to consider the draft EU guidelines in conjunction with follow-up work on its broadband infrastructure inquiry. The Committee will undertake this follow-up work at a suitable point later in the Session.
5. In September 2012, the Committee submitted its Report on broadband infrastructure to the European Commission in response to the consultation on the Revision of the guidelines on public funding to broadband networks.

The Digital Agenda for Europe

6. In the course of taking evidence from Scottish stakeholders and the Scottish Government in relation to the inquiry into broadband infrastructure (2011-12), the Committee questioned witnesses on the EU targets for faster broadband speeds. The Committee included discussion of this issue in its Report.
7. The Committee agreed to monitor the progress of the Digital Agenda and the sourcing of potential EU funding for Scotland in conjunction with follow-up work on its inquiry into broadband infrastructure. The Committee will undertake this follow-up work at a suitable point later in the Session.
8. The Committee also agreed to monitor the European Commission activity in relation to high-speed broadband networks and to submit its Report on broadband infrastructure to the Commission in response to the consultation on the Initiative to reduce the cost of rolling out high speed communication infrastructure in Europe.

Directives on public procurement

9. In the course of general evidence-taking sessions in June and October 2011, the Committee questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment on the EU framework for public procurement and its connection with any future Scottish legislation on the subject.
10. The Committee also raised relevant issues regarding the development of the EU public procurement directives during informal briefings with Scottish Government officials and the Jimmy Reid Foundation (in April and June 2012, respectively). The Committee will continue to raise relevant EU issues during a future briefing from the David Hume Institute, which will include participation by the Scottish Futures Trust, and in the course of its scrutiny of the review of public procurement in Scotland and the forthcoming Public Procurement Bill.

Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)

11. The Committee agreed to include discussion on the TEN-T in conjunction with its work on the update of the STPR and NTS and in relation to future consideration of high speed rail developments.
12. The EU Reporter undertook to keep the Committee updated on the European Parliament consideration of TEN-T and on developments relating to the associated funding stream (Connecting Europe Facility).

Passenger rights in all transport modes

13. The Committee agreed to monitor the development of the European Commission proposals in relation to transport rights.

Draft regulation on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market

14. The Committee agreed to monitor the development of the European Commission proposals in relation to the framework. The EU Reporter undertook to keep the Committee updated on progress regarding the proposal and made contact with the relevant officials in the Scottish Government on the issue.

Smart ticketing, multimodal scheduling, information, online reservation

15. The Committee agreed to monitor the development of the Commission’s proposals for lorry parking slots in connection with maritime freight along with other Intelligent Transport System-related proposals.

Framework for future EU ports policy

16. The Committee considered that the proposals could merit further consideration and, as a first step, instructed the EU Reporter to seek further details from the European Commission and report to the Committee.
17. The EU Reporter met, in July 2012, with Scottish Government officials in Brussels and, in September 2012, with the Head of the Ports and Harbours Team in Edinburgh. The Reporter also made contact with the lead officials in the European Commission Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport and the Transport Secretary of the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels.
18. In addition, the Reporter approached the British Ports Association, which provided a briefing ahead of a conference on Ports Policy in Brussels. The Scottish Parliament European Officer provided feedback to the Committee from the conference.

Revising passenger ship safety

19. The Committee requested a copy of the Scottish Government response to the European Commission’s consultation on passenger ship safety. The EU Reporter undertook to keep the Committee updated on progress regarding the proposal and to assess any potential implications for Scotland.

Safeguarding Europe’s Water Resources (EU water blueprint)

20. Due to its relevance to the Water Resources (Scotland) Bill and the forthcoming public procurement Bill, this topic was subsequently added to the Committee’s original list of EU priorities. However, because the topic sits with the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, the ICI Committee has agreed to provide updates on any work that it undertakes to the Rural Committee.
21. In the context of its scrutiny of the Bill, the Committee questioned witnesses on their views of the development of EU water initiatives. The Committee intends to raise this issue with the Deputy First Minister/Cabinet Secretary when she gives evidence to the Committee on the Bill in November 2012.
22. In addition, the Committee agreed to seek details about how the Scottish Government has engaged and plans to engage on the EU policy as it develops, and what the Government considers are the implications for Scotland and in particular whether it considers there to be any potential subsidiarity concerns. The response from the Scottish Government has not yet been received.

Other EU engagement

23. In the course of general evidence-taking sessions in June and October 2011, the Committee questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment on potential EU funding streams for large infrastructure and housing projects, such as through structural funding and the JESSICA programme.
24. In its reports on the next ScotRail franchise (May 2012) and on the Draft Budget 2011-12 (November 2011), the Committee compared the performance and cost of Scotland’s (and the UK’s) railway to cheaper examples on the European continent.

Subsidiarity

Number of proposals received: 2

25. In February 2012, the Committee considered two directives that related to public procurement. The Committee considered the directives together because each raised the same subsidiarity concern, namely that a UK procurement body should be established. The UK and Scottish governments considered that this element of the directives should be revised because it did not take account of the division of legislative competence in the UK, where procurement is devolved, which therefore made the plans to create a UK body unworkable.
26. As advised by the EU Reporter, the Committee agreed that the directives raised subsidiarity concerns. The Committee communicated its view to the relevant House of Lords EU Sub-Committee and the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee. The Committee’s response contributed to the decision by the House of Commons to raise a Reasoned Opinion with the European Commission, which subsequently led to the revision of the directive in line with the Committee’s opinion.

Number of issues referred to European & External Relations Committee

27. None. The Committee has successfully incorporated its consideration of EU issues with other topics in the work programme, such as its broadband infrastructure inquiry, scrutiny of the Water Resources (Scotland) Bill, and informal briefings on public procurement. The Committee has, therefore, not had any call to refer issues to the EERC.

Other comments

28. The Committee recognises that it is important to engage with relevant EU issues at an early stage of policy development in order to have the best chance of influencing the process. The Committee will continue to plan its EU work programme with the aim of being able to engage with Scottish stakeholders and the European institutions at the earliest opportunity.

ANNEXE F

JUSTICE COMMITTEE
EU ENGAGEMENT 2011 - 2012

EU reporter: Roderick Campbell MSP

Agreed committee priorities

  • Special safeguards in criminal procedures for suspected or accused persons
  • Compensation of crime victims
  • Legal aid in criminal proceedings
  • Alternative dispute resolution instrument for business to business disputes
  • Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility

Committee actions

The Committee selected these priorities largely on the basis of their links to recent policies and initiatives at a domestic level and in some cases to its own established interests.

Special safeguards in criminal procedures for suspected or accused persons

  • On 21 February 2012, the Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice seeking details of how the EU proposal might impact on the Scottish Government’s plans in relation to implementing Lord Carloway’s recommendations arising from the review of criminal law and practice. In April 2012, the Cabinet Secretary responded that the Scottish Government expects there to be some overlap between the EU proposal and implementation of Lord Carloway’s recommendations, but because the timescales do not coincide it intends to introduce legislation to implement Carloway’s findings in 2013.

Compensation of crime victims

  • On 21 February 2012, the Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice seeking clarification as to how the EU proposal might affect its plans in relation to compensation for victims and the UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS). The Scottish Government responded in April 2012 that it was reviewing the possible implications for Scotland as negotiations on the EU initiative progress and that any legislation arising was likely to be included in a forthcoming Victims and Witnesses Bill. It also confirmed that the UK Government was considering whether the EU proposal would have any impact on the CICS. The Scottish Government intends to introduce a Victims and Witnesses Bill in early 2013.
  • At its meeting on 23 October 2012, the Committee agreed to write again to the Cabinet Secretary seeking clarification as to whether the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Victims and Witnesses Bill will contain any provisions arising from the EU initiative on compensation of crime victims.

Legal aid in criminal proceedings

  • On 21 February 2012, the Committee asked the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to clarify whether the EU proposal would have any effect on the Scottish Government’s plans for legal aid in criminal proceedings in Scotland. The Scottish Government responded in April 2012 that it did not anticipate the EU proposal having any impact on the Scottish legislation as the timescales do not correspond.

Alternative dispute resolution instrument for business to business disputes

  • In January 2012, the Committee considered an EU initiative on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes, which raised possible subsidiarity concerns. At its meeting on 23 October, the Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary seeking clarification as to whether the Scottish Government is content that this latest ADR proposal (on business to business disputes) will be compliant with the principle of subsidiarity.

Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility

  • At its meeting on 23 October, the Committee noted that Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility requires the European Commission to assess its application every five years and that the next review is taking place in 2012. The Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary seeking an update on the outcome of the review of Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 and an indication of whether there is likely to be any effect on domestic law.

Other EU engagement

  • At its meeting on 23 October, the Committee noted that the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, announced in a statement to the House of Commons on 15 October, that “the Government’s current thinking is that we will opt out of all pre-Lisbon police and criminal justice measures and then negotiated with the Commission and Member States to opt back into those individual measures which are in the national interest to rejoin”. The Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary seeking the Scottish Government’s views on this announcement and clarification as to the level of consultation that took place between the UK and Scottish governments in advance of the announcement.
  • The Committee’s EU reporter contributed to the EU debate on committee priorities on 21 March 2012.
  • Clerks and SPICe meet regularly with Scottish Government officials to receive updates on developments with the Committee’s EU priorities and other areas of interest and clerks met with the Head of The Law Societies Joint Brussels Office in September 2012 to look at ways in which they might assist the Committee’s consideration of its EU priorities, etc.

Subsidiarity

  • The Committee has considered one measure drawn to its attention as raising possible subsidiarity concerns: a proposal for an EU Directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes. Consideration took place on 17 January 2012 and included discussion of the UK Government’s position, the Scottish Government’s position as well as advice from the Scottish Parliament’s Solicitor’s Office, which had been obtained by the clerks in advance. Due to the Christmas recess, it was only possible for the Committee to consider the issue at one meeting, the day before the relevant House of Lords Committee’s consideration of the measure. The Committee therefore agreed to write to the House of Lords Committee noting that possible subsidiarity concerns had been highlighted, but that it had not had sufficient time to scrutinise and agree a clear position on the matter. The Committee understands that the outcome of member states’ negotiations on the measure is favourable to both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Number of issues referred to European & External Relations Committee

  • None.

Other comments

  • None.

ANNEXE G

RURAL AFFAIRS, CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE
EUROPEAN ENGAGEMENT 2011 - 2012

EU reporter: Jim Hume MSP

Background

The Scottish Parliament’s EU Strategy1 outlines the role of subject committees in early engagement and scrutiny of emerging EU Legislative proposals.

In performing this role, the Committee’s then EU Reporter Aileen McLeod MSP, analysed the European Commission’s work programme and the Committee agreed its EU priority issues for 2011-12.

Agreed committee priorities

In February 2012, the Committee wrote to the European and External Relations Committee (EERC) detailing its EU priorities and its plans to engage with the issues identified. The EERC reported in March 20122 on the Scottish Parliament’s priorities for 2012 which included details of this Committee’s EU engagement.

Following the agreement of its EU priorities, the Committee wrote to the Scottish Government on three new initiatives, the 7th Environmental Action Programme; Invasive Alien Species; and Maritime Spatial Planning.

The Annexe to this note contains details of the Committee’s EU engagement over the last year. A Copy of the response from the Scottish Government to issues raised by the Committee is attached as an Appendix.

Other EU engagement

In addition to the EU priorities detailed in the Annexe, the Committee has been heavily engaged in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Common Fisheries Policy

The European Commission proposals for the new Common Fisheries Policy were published on 13 July 2011. Agreement needs to be reached between the the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on the proposals, in order for the new policy to be implemented on 1 January 2013.

The Committee held evidence sessions on the reform of the CFP at its meetings in September and November 2011, which included a session with Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries. Based on this evidence, they wrote to the UK Government and Scottish Government (copied to the Westminster Committees); the European Commissioner; and the European Parliament’s fisheries committee outlining the Committee's main conclusions.

In January 2012, the Committee received a response3 from the Commissioner which noted the Committee’s concerns. The new CFP is due to enter into force on 1 January 2013.

The Committee will continue to scrutinise the reform of CFP proposals as part of its on-going work programme.

Common Agricultural Policy

The Committee scrutinised the European Commission’s proposed reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and took evidence on how these may affect Scotland at meetings on 14 September, 23 and 30 November 2011, and the 7 and 14 March 2012, which included hearing from Jim Paice MP Minister of State for Agriculture and Food. During considerations in January 2012, the Committee also held a debate in the Chamber of the Parliament on the issue.

In April 2012, the Committee wrote to the UK Government and Scottish Government (copied to the Westminster Committees); the European Commissioner; the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee; and to the Rapporteurs for the Agriculture Committee’s reports outlining the Committee’s views.

Among concerns raised by the Committee were the viability of achieving the proposed timetable of reforms by 2014 and Scotland’s share of support funds (pillar one and pillar two).

The Committee received a response from the UK Government and the European Commission in May 2012 and June 2012 respectively.4

The Committee questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment in September 2012 on CAP reform and related issues.

The Committee will continue to be heavily involved in the scrutiny of the reform of CFP and CAP and expects to continue this scrutiny by hearing from MEPs via videoconference in autumn 2012.

Brussels Bulletin

The European and External Relations Committee produce the weekly Brussels Bulletin detailing European issues which are of interest to the Scottish Parliament. The RACCE Committee considers items from the publication which fall under its remit.

Subsidiarity

In November 2011, the Committee considered the amended proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 and Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union.

This was the second time this issue has been brought to the attention of the Parliament. The previous consideration was in February 2011, by the then Rural Affairs and Environment (RAE) Committee. This document was a new EU proposal which superseded the proposal considered by the previous RAE Committee.

The Committee agreed to write a letter to the House of Lords' European Committee expressing concern over a possible breach of subsidiarity and agreed to write to the Scottish Government on the timescales given to consider this document.

Recommendation

This note and Annexe details of the Committee’s agreed EU priorities, other EU engagement and subsidiarity issues which could form the basis of a response to the EERC.

Annexe

Priority areas

7th Environmental Action Programme (7th EAP) (Legislative/ non-legislative)

Between March and June 2012, the European Commission held a consultation on the 7th EAP and recently published responses including the Scottish response which was drafted and co-ordinated by SEPA following a conference jointly organised by Scotland Europa. A proposal for the 7th EAP is expected in November 2012.

Engagement and update

The Committee wrote to the Scottish Government requesting information on what work is being done by the Scottish Government in advance of the publication of the 7th EAP. The Scottish Government responded, providing details of how the Government has fed into the development of the programme.

Invasive alien species (IAS) (Legislative)

The Commission held a consultation between January to April 2012 and responses were been analysed by the Commission. Legislative proposals are expected in November 2012.

Engagement and update

The Committee wrote to the Scottish Government requesting further information on the work being carried out to minimise the risk to Scotland. The response included details of how the Scottish Government is working with other UK administrations on an EU strategy and, in addition, details of measures designed to operate alongside commencement provisions of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) WANE Act in relation to non-native species. The response specifically referred to a draft code of practice which must be approved by the parliament.

In June 2012, the Committee took evidence from the Minister for Environment and Climate Change on the draft code of practice and recommended that it be approved.

Setting a framework for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) (Legislative)

The Commission plans to set a common EU-level framework for the development of maritime spatial planning by Member States which is due to be published in December 2012.

Engagement and update

The Committee wrote to the Scottish Government seeking its views on to what extent the publication of Scotland’s National Marine Plan meets the requirements proposed under this new EU legislation and what additional actions are required to be taken.

The Scottish Government responded providing details on the consultation and development of Scotland’s National Marine Plan which is due to be published later this year.

Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (Legislative)

The EIA Directive was identified as a potential instrument for a future simplification exercise. This aims to ensure that the Directive is implemented effectively and consistently across the EU and identify areas where improvements are needed. A consultation was carried out in 2010 followed by a stakeholder conference at the end of the year. A codified version of the original EIA Directive and its subsequent revisions was published at the end of 2011. The Commission plans to review the codified version later this year and publish proposals for changes.

Legislative proposals are expected in the autumn with a Council discussion planned in December. The new law should be adopted in the first quarter of 2014.

Engagement and update

The Committee noted the publication of the codified version of the Directive and will wait for legislative proposals to come forward before deciding on further action.

Safeguarding Europe's Water Resources (Legislative/ non-legislative)

The Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources is the European Commission’s response to ongoing problems with the water environment. It will assess the implementation and achievements of the current policy for freshwater (e.g. the Water Framework and Floods Directives) while identifying gaps and shortcomings. In March 2012, the European Commission launched a Consultation on Policy Options for the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's waters which closed in June. The Commission is expected to launch the blueprint in November.

Engagement and update

The Committee noted that post legislative scrutiny of water legislation (Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 and Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003) previously passed by the Parliament in Scotland could be helpful in identifying how effective the transposition of directives in this area has been. The Committee will consider action in this area as part of work programme planning for the longer term.

Animal and plant health package:

Animal Health Law (Legislative) Official controls along the food chain(Legislative); EU Plant Health Law (Legislative)

Following the proposals included in the new Animal Health Strategy for the EU (2007 – 2013), The EU is seeking to bring all animal health law under one joined up regulatory framework for consistency. A general review of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules is being planned. This should be a simplification exercise of existing legislation with no substantive policy changes planned. The Commission will also propose a new EU plant health regulation. Several consultations have been held and an economic study carried out.

These proposals are being considered together and there has been some delay in their implementation. It now looks likely that legislative proposals will come forward for all measures late in 2012 or early in 2013.

Engagement and update

The Committee continues to raise issues regarding the flexibility of the regulatory regime for animal health with the Cabinet Secretary during evidence sessions on related matters. The committee is keeping a watching brief on official controls along the food chain and EU Plant Health Law.

Areas of current Committee work

The Committee is already deeply involved in several European policy matters in particular the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and scrutiny of climate change legislation and implementation. The European Commission Work Programme for 2012 includes some areas linked with these policies where new initiatives are expected in 2012. These are listed below:

Future initiatives

The work programme also includes initiatives planned for future years. While these may be several years in the future, some require activity e.g. monitoring or review of previous policy in order to deliver in the planned time frame. The Committee notes the following—

  • Organic farming (Legislative);
  • New EU Forestry Strategy (Non-legislative);
  • EU Adaptation Strategy (Non-legislative) ;
  • Review of air quality policies (Legislative/ Non-legislative);
  • Maritime Surveillance
  • White Paper on Maritime surveillance (Non-legislative) ;
  • Integration of maritime surveillance: the implementation of the Common Information Sharing Environment including its financial aspects (Non-legislative);
  • Biodiversity Strategy (Non-legislative);
  • Initiatives planned for 2014
  • Environmental liability (Legislative/Non-legislative); and
  • Blue Growth: sustainable growth from the oceans, seas and coasts (Non-legislative).

Footnotes:

1 http://archive.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/europe/reports-10/eur10-04-02.htm#anna [accessed September 2012]

2 http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EuropeanandExternalRelationsCommittee/Reports/eur-12-01w.pdf [accessed September 2012]

3 http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_RuralAffairsClimateChangeandEnvironmentCommittee/Inquiries/CAB19_0113162725_001.pdf [Accessed September 2012]

4 http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees [Accessed September 2012]

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