Select Committee on European Scrutiny Eighth Report


SCHOOL MILK


(20842)
14114/99
COM(99) 608

Draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No. 1255/99 on the common organisation of the market in milk and milk products.


Legal base: Articles 36 and 37 EC; consultation; qualified majority voting
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 7 March 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 23-ix (1999-2000), paragraph 9 (16 February 2000), HC 23-xiii (1999-2000), paragraph 26 (5 April 2000), and HC 23-xxvi (1999-2000), paragraph 12 (26 July 2000)
Discussed in Council: 17 July 2000
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared (decision reported on 16 February 2000)

Background

  15.1  Last year, we reported on a Commission proposal to reduce the level of the fully-funded Community subsidy for the provision of school milk. We noted in our Report of 26 July 2000 that the Agriculture Council on 17 July had unanimously agreed that, with effect from 1 January 2001, the rate of subsidy should be reduced from 95% to 75% of the target price for milk, but that this reduced rate would be funded entirely from the budget of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF). In addition, Member States would be able to make an additional contribution on eligible products, sourced from national exchequers, by means of a levy on the dairy sector, or by a voluntary contribution from the dairy industry. In our conclusion, we said that we would be interested to know whether the Government intended to make use in the UK of that facility (and, if so, which of the possible means outlined would be employed).

Minister's letter of 7 March 2001

  15.2  In her letter of 7 March 2001, the Minister of State (Commons) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (the Rt. Hon. Joyce Quin) says that the Government will make available £2.1 million a year in the UK for this purpose, of which £1.5 million will relate to England, £380,000 to Scotland, £80,000 to Wales, and £110,000 to Northern Ireland (though she adds that the amount in Wales is likely to exceed £80,000 in view of the National Assembly's commitment to provide free school milk to children aged between 5 and 11 years).

  15.3  The Minister also says that the UK participated actively in Brussels in simplifying the rules so as to reduce the burden on claimants. The changes secured include greater flexibility on claim periods, a reduction in the differential between whole milk and semi-skimmed milk rates, the removal of unnecessary quality control measures, and more flexibility on record keeping.

Conclusion

  15.4  We are grateful to the Minister for this further information, which does not of course affect our earlier clearance of this document.



 
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