Select Committee on European Scrutiny First Report


CIVIL AVIATION


(21159)
7589/00
COM(00) 121

Draft Council Regulation amending Council Regulation (EEC) No.
3922/91 on the harmonisation of technical requirements and
administrative procedures in the field of civil aviation.


Legal base: Article 80(2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Department: Environment, Transport and the Regions
Basis of consideration: SEM of 5 December 2000
Previous Committee Report: HC 23-xviii (1999-2000), paragraph 6 (17 May 2000)
To be discussed in Council: 20-21 December 2000
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but information on progress requested

Background

  10.1  The Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) is an associate body of the European Civil Aviation Conference and has been developing harmonised aviation safety standards since 1970. EC law requires Member States to belong to the JAA. A large number of the JAA requirements (JARs) have been adopted as the relevant EC standard and these are contained in Annex II to Regulation 3922/91.

  10.2  In 1995, the JAA adopted harmonised standards (JAR-OPS) for public transport aircraft.

  10.3  Earlier this year, the Commission proposed an amendment to Regulation 3922/91 in order to introduce harmonised safety standards for public transport aircraft operations. The Commission decided not simply to transpose the JAR-OPS requirements into Community law. It argued that some parts of the JAR-OPS were incompatible with Community law and policies and that some interested parties were not entirely happy with the detail of the JAR-OPS.

  10.4  We reported on the proposal on 17 May 2000. We noted that the Minister intended to provide a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum when the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority had had an opportunity to consider the proposal in more depth and after a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) had been completed. We left the document uncleared, pending receipt of the Minister's further advice and the RIA. We invited him to comment on the Commission's views on the compatibility of JAR-OPS with Community law and policies and on the merits or otherwise of any departure from JAR-OPS standards in the proposal. We also asked whether there were any implications arising from the Commission's approach for the Community's external competence in this field.

The Minister's Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum

  10.5  In his Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 5 December, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr Chris Mullin) explains the differences between the JAR-OPS document and the Commission's technical proposals based on JAR-OPS. The Commission has argued that cross-references in the JAR-OPS to other Joint Aviation Requirements which have not yet been adopted under Regulation 3922/91 cannot be included in the EU legislation because that legislation cannot require compliance with a specific document which is not already referenced in European law. The Government accepts this argument. Instead references are made to the "applicable rules" or "requirements" in the relevant field. The Minister also refers to some other technical areas where there are discrepancies between JAR-OPS and existing EU regulations and notes that the JAA is considering amendments to JAR-OPS to bring them into line with proposed EU requirements. The Commission proposal also includes requirements on cosmic radiation monitoring which are not included at present in JAR-OPS but, again, the Minister says that the JAA is already consulting on similar amendments.

  10.6  As regards external competence, the Minister says that the Community already has competence in the field of aviation safety through regulation 3922/91. That regulation already sets out in Annex II common Community technical requirements in the fields covered. The regulation provides for the Council to adopt more such requirements on the basis of Commission proposals. As such requirements are added — as the Commission now proposes — Community competence automatically increases and Member States' competence decreases. But this is simply extending the ambit of an existing area of Community external competence.

  10.7  The Minister says that the French Presidency has proposed a number of discussions in Council working groups, which have led to some proposed amendments, and will be pressing for a Common Position to be adopted at the Transport Council on 20-21 December. He says the most significant amendments relate to:

  • inclusion within the proposal of requirements on operators to ensure that cabin crew are properly trained. These requirements had been put forward in a separate draft directive on safety requirements and attestation of professional competence for cabin crew which we cleared on 21 April 1999. The Minister says that these requirements, as now included in the current proposal, meet many of the Government's concerns;

  • the date for bringing the technical requirements into force, which will be set at least six months later than that for the regulation as a whole. This delay will provide time to ensure that the technical details are brought into line with the most recent version of the JAR-OPS.

  10.8  The RIA the Minister has provided says that, as the majority of UK airlines are already operating to JAR-OPS requirements, there will no compliance cost for them if this proposal is adopted. The majority of small businesses, operating as air taxi services, have not yet moved on to JAR-OPS requirements. They would be required to do so if the proposal were adopted, though they would in due course have had to meet the JAR-OPS requirements anyway. Over 50 of these operators would incur average annual costs of around £2,500 to £20,000 per company. The RIA notes that adoption of directly applicable operations standards through the regulation will ensure that all EC operators apply the same high safety standards as those required by UK operators and that it is in the commercial interests of UK operators that its competitors should have to meet the same standards.

Conclusion

  10.9  We thank the Minister for his further advice. On the issue of external competence, what the Minister says seems to be consistent with the ERTA[25] principle (which states that the adoption of internal measures by the Community can give rise by implication to a power to act externally in the area covered by the measures). We recognise that there may be difficulties which prevent the adoption of a Common Position on 22-21 December. We ask the Minister to let us know the outcome of the discussion at that meeting. However we are content to clear the document.


25  Case 22/70 (Commission v. Council (ERTA) [1970] ECR 263. Back


 
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