Select Committee on European Scrutiny First Report


INFORMING AND CONSULTING EMPLOYEES


(22445)
9305/01
COM(01) 296

Amended draft Directive establishing a general framework for improving information and consultation rights of employees in the European Community.


Legal base: Article 137 (2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 23 May 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 29 May 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 20 June 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: Official letter of 20 June 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21790) — : HC 23-xxx (1999-2000), paragraph 1 (22 November 2000)
Discussed in Council: 11 June 2001
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but request to be kept informed

Background

25.1  An earlier version of this draft Directive[47] was debated in European Standing Committee C on 28 February, although the House did not subsequently agree a motion before the dissolution of Parliament.

25.2  On 20 June, the Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Employment Relations and the Regions (Mr Alan Johnson) wrote to our Clerk to update the Committee on progress, and on developments at the Employment and Social Affairs Council on June 11.

The document

25.3  The document is a revised version of the Commission's original proposal which incorporates some of the European Parliament's amendments. It was circulated on 30 May in advance of the Employment and Social Affairs Council.

The letter from the Minister's Private Secretary

25.4  The Minister's Private Secretary explains that, in the event, the document was not considered by the Council. It was effectively superseded by a new text which the Presidency issued on 8 June, just before the Council meeting. At the meeting, it became clear that a qualified majority of Member States could accept the new text, with the addition of an amendment providing an opportunity to phase in the application of the measure to undertakings of between 50 and 150 employees.

25.5  The Minister's Private Secretary continues:

    "The UK indicated at the Council that it would join the consensus for a political agreement on the text. Not to do so would have put in jeopardy the package negotiated which in the Government's view is a considerable improvement on the original Commission proposal. The agreed text will allow for flexible arrangements, which can be adapted to suit the needs and practices of different undertakings. There is also the opportunity to phase-in the application of the Directive to undertakings of 50-150 employees, thus facilitating a smooth implementation."

25.6  Once the text has been consolidated, a common position will be adopted before the measure is sent to the European Parliament for its second reading.

Conclusion

25.7  Had there been a Committee in existence in early June, it would have commented adversely on the production of new texts so soon before the Council, since there would have been no time for their proper scrutiny.

25.8  As it is, we thank the Minister's Private Secretary for telling us what happened at the Council, and for giving us the reasons for the UK's actions. We clear the document, but ask to be kept informed as the draft Directive progresses through its final stages.



47  (21790) - ; see headnote to this paragraph. Back


 
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Prepared 30 July 2001