Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Third Report


THE COMITOLOGY COMMITTEES


(a)
(23187)
5685/02
COM(01) 783

(b)
(23185)
5622/02
COM(01) 789


Annual Report on the working of the committees during 2000.



Draft Council Regulation adapting the provisions relating to committees which
assist the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers laid down in
Council instruments adopted under the assent procedure (unanimity);

Draft Regulation adapting the provisions relating to committees which assist
the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers laid down in
European Parliament and Council instruments adopted in accordance with the
procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty (qualified majority);

Draft Council Regulation adapting the provisions relating to committees which
assist the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers laid down in
Council instruments adopted in accordance with the consultation procedure
(qualified majority); and

Draft Council Regulation adapting the provisions relating to committees which
assist the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers laid down in
Council instruments adopted in accordance with the consultation procedure
(unanimity).


Legal base:(a) —
(b) according to the procedure for each Regulation
Documents originated:(a) 20 December 2001
(b) 27 December 2001
Forwarded to the Council: (a) 21 December 2001
(b) 27 December 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 14 February 2002
Department:Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration: EMs of 25 February 2002
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: Not applicable
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared



Background

  14.1  On 28 June 1999, the Council adopted a Decision[25], to simplify the procedures governing the 'comitology' committees. It repealed Council Decision 87/373/EEC. The purpose of the new Comitology Decision was to achieve:

    (1)  greater consistency and predictability in the choice of type of committee for similar kinds of legislation;

    (2)  a simplified process, which could more closely involve the scrutiny of the European Parliament; and

    (3)  improved access to information about the committees for members of the public.

  14.2  The report explains that:

    "The purpose of the comitology committees is to assist the Commission in exercising the implementing powers conferred on it by the legislator, i.e. the Council and the European Parliament. As opposed to other types of committees or expert groups, the comitology committees share three essential features.

    "Firstly, they were created by the legislator (the Council and European Parliament) in accordance with the 'legislative' procedures in force at the time the instrument under which they were established was adopted, namely the co-operation or advisory procedures and, ever since the Maastricht Treaty, the co-decision procedure. Hence, the legal basis of the comitology committees is enshrined in a so-called 'basic' instrument.

    "Secondly, their structure and working methods are in several respects standardised. A representative of the Commission chairs each committee, which consists of Member State representatives; these are the only 'members' of the committees. The committees intervene in the framework of the procedures set out in the basic legislative instrument, in compliance with the Council's comitology decision".

The Commission report

  14.3  The report is divided into three chapters:

    (1)  Preliminary Comments: This chapter sets out the characteristics of the comitology committees, in particular their legal nature and goal. It also covers the progress made to date on implementing changes to the comitology procedures made by Council Decision 1999/468/EC.

      It details the efforts made to enable the European Parliament's right of scrutiny to be observed in respect of implementing measures made pursuant to an act adopted under co-decision. The occasions when the committees have referred decisions to the Council in 2000 are mentioned.

      Finally, this chapter raises other issues relating to the comitology committees: the Lamfalussy report[26], which makes provision for two different types of committee designed to facilitate the decision-making process with regard to European securities market regulation; and the White Paper on Governance[27], in which the Commission proposes re-examining the conditions under which it adopts implementing measures and the need to maintain the existing committees.

    (2)  Horizontal Overview of the Activities: The second chapter consists of a series of tables illustrating the number of committees and types of procedures, the number of meetings of (and days spent by) these committee formations, and the number of consultations undertaken by the committees.

    (3)  Presentation of Activities by Sectoral Policy: This chapter, and its related Annex, present the outcomes from each comitology committee broken down by sector, and type of procedure.

The four draft Regulations

  14.4  The four draft Regulations are presented in one Commission document. The Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) says that they perform a technical exercise, necessary as a result of the adoption of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 repealing Council Decision 87/373/EEC of 13 July 1987, laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission (comitology). The 1999 Decision simplifies those procedures, reducing the main categories of committee from five to three. All legislation establishing committees during the period 1987 to 1999 needs to be amended to reflect the new simplified procedures. The method by which this will be done was agreed in 1999 and set out in a joint declaration of the Council and the Commission.

  14.5  The joint declaration specifies that the Council and the Commission agree that the provisions relating to committees which assist the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers, provided for in application of Council Decision 87/373/EEC, should be adjusted in order to align them with the provisions of Articles 3, 4 and 5 of Council Decision 1999/468/EC.

  14.6  The joint statement provides that such adjustment should be made as follows:

  • procedure I to be turned into the new advisory procedure;

  • procedures II(a) and II(b) to be turned into the new management procedure;

  • procedures III(a) and III(b) to be turned into the new regulatory procedure.

  14.7  However, the adjustment of the safeguard procedures should be done on a case-by-case basis.

  14.8  The four Regulations are a technical exercise to give effect to these adjustments. They bring into line with the Comitology Decision (i.e. Council Decision 1999/468/EC) the substantive legislation which establishes a committee on a particular subject. They do not affect the substantive provisions of the basic legislative acts or their application.

The Government's view

  14.9  The Minister comments:

    "The Government pushed hard for more information during the negotiation of the 1999 Decision, and so we welcome the publication of a report on the working of the committees, and the requirement to conduct a similar exercise on an annual basis. The House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities authoritative report 'Delegation of powers to the Commission: reforming Comitology' (Third Report, 2 February 1999) was similarly influential in securing this agreement. Such an exercise will go some way to making the internal workings of the institutions more transparent and accessible".

  14.10  On the four draft Regulations, the Minister says:

    "The Government supports these proposals as a follow-up technical exercise completing the process agreed by the 1999 Council Decision. This exercise will make a positive contribution to simplifying the workings of the comitology procedure, rendering it more accessible, transparent and effective".

Conclusion

  14.11  Although the draft Regulations are no more than a technical exercise, we report them as they provide a useful reminder of the nature and workings of the comitology committees, their function and the limits to their authority.

  14.12  The annual report is a development for which the Government pressed in the interests of greater transparency and accessibility. We welcome it and applaud the Lords' Committee for its contribution, through its report on the comitology committees, which the Minister describes as "similarly influential".

  14.13  We now clear the documents.



25  Council Decision 1999/468/EC. Back

26  (22154) 6554/01; see HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 24 (18 July 2001). Back

27  (23051) 15096/01; see HC 152-xxii (2001-02), paragraph 19 (20 March 2002). Back


 
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