Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Ninth Report



TWENTY-NINTH REPORT

The European Scrutiny Committee has agreed to the following Report:—

 

1. WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 

(23416)

7727/2/02

Draft Council Conclusions for the preparation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 August - 4 September 2002).

Legal base:

   

Deposited in Parliament:

29 April 2002

Department:

International Development

Basis of consideration:

EM of 29 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None; but see (23325) 6524/02 HC 152-xxiv (2001-02), paragraph 13 (17 April 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

30 May Development Council

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

For debate in European Standing Committee B

 

 

The draft Conclusions

    1. The draft Conclusions stress that, ten years after the Rio conference, the world is still confronted with the challenges of endemic poverty and environmental degradation. It recalls the agreement adopted at the European Council in Göteborg and again in Barcelona that the EU's strategy for sustainable development should be complemented by an external dimension. The strategy is not just an action plan for the EU. It will make an essential contribution to the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August 2002.
    2. The Conclusions welcome the Commission Communication, Towards a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development[1]. It identifies the main elements of the external dimension of the EU strategy, as well as the "strategic components for the outcome of the WSSD".
    3. The Conclusions stress that the EU will endeavour to make a strong contribution to the Summit. Its intention is to promote an 'action-oriented outcome' and effective implementation of the results. These should build on Agenda 21[2] and the development goals and targets agreed internationally since 1992.
    4. The actions which the EU will take fall under the same headings in the Conclusions as in the Communication, though "Sustainable management of natural and environmental resources" has been replaced by "Reversing environmental degradation". The 'Fight against Poverty' is emphasised and there is a commitment to give further emphasis to poverty reduction in co-operation policies.
    5. The key priorities selected for action at the WSSD are:

    • water[3]. The EU is firmly committed to the Millennium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation;

    • energy for sustainable development. The EU is firmly committed to providing, by 2015, clean, affordable energy to two billion people who currently do not have access to appropriate energy services;

    • natural resources (fisheries, forestry). The EU is firmly committed to reversing the decline in global fish stocks by 2015 and to fighting illegal logging;

    • health. The EU is firmly committed to the health goals in the Millennium Declaration[4]. It will accelerate action on communicable diseases and support access to, and tiered pricing of, medicines;

    • education;

    • governance; and

    • global public goods[5]. The EU will propose setting up a Task Force and will explore innovative mechanisms for international financial solidarity.

    1. The draft concludes by saying that, in all the actions, the EU will pay special attention to, and provide strong support for, the efforts that the African countries themselves are making to achieve sustainable development.
    2. The Government's view

    3. The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short) says:
    4. "The UK's strategic objective for the summit is 'making globalisation work for all, especially for the poorest'. Priorities for action include freshwater, sanitation and energy. The draft Conclusions reflect these objectives well. They highlight poverty eradication as a key issue and identify 'making globalisation work for sustainable development' as one of the main challenges.

      "The draft Conclusions refer to the development and launching of EU initiatives on energy and water. The content of these initiatives is the subject of discussion between Member States and the Commission. The Government is working to ensure that these initiatives reflect existing development priorities and are based around nationally owned poverty reduction strategies."

      Conclusion

    5. The Secretary of State endorses the Conclusions as reflecting well the objectives of the UK for the Summit and says that the Government will be working to ensure that the crucial preparatory meeting in Bali reflects the UK's priorities.
    6. The depressing fact that the Conclusions highlight is that, despite a string of international conferences since Rio, the list of serious problems which need to be dealt with, urgently, seems to get longer and effective solutions are proving elusive. The stress by the EU on "an action-oriented outcome" and "effective implementation" is therefore welcome.
    7. We consider that this document raises issues which should be debated. The debate should take place before the Summer Recess, so that the House can give its views before the World Summit on Sustainable Development starts in August.
    8. 2. DRUG TRAFFICKING ON THE HIGH SEAS

       

      (a)

      (23299)

      5382/02

       

      (b)

      (23320)

      5563/02

       

      Initiative of the Kingdom of Spain with a view to adopting a Council Act establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, the Convention on the suspension by customs administrations of illicit drug trafficking on the high seas.

       

      Initiative by the Kingdom of Spain on the conclusion of a Convention on the suppression by customs administrations of illicit drugs trafficking on the high seas: Accompanying memorandum and financial fact sheet.

        

      Legal base:

      Article 34(2)(d) EU; consultation; unanimity

         

      Document originated:

      (a) 4 February 2002

      (b) 23 January 2002

      Deposited in Parliament:

      (a) and (b) 22 March 2002

      Department:

      HM Customs and Excise

      Basis of consideration:

      EM of 18 March 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      None

      To be discussed in Council:

      No date fixed

      Committee's assessment:

      Legally and politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Not cleared; further information requested

      Background

    9. This proposal by the Kingdom of Spain relates to the boarding and seizure of vessels on the high seas when it is suspected they are engaged in drug trafficking. A principal feature of the proposal is to allow the authorities of one Member State to board and seize a vessel flying the flag of another Member State, without first seeking the authorisation of the flag state.[6]
    10. Article 17 of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances provides that a Party may board and search a vessel on the high seas and flying the flag of another Party if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that it is engaged in illicit traffic, and if it has the authorisation of the flag State. Article 17(9) of the 1988 Convention provides for the parties to that Convention to consider entering into bilateral or regional arrangements to "carry out, or to enhance the effectiveness" of Article 17.
    11. The proposal for a Convention

    12. The proposal seeks the establishment, in accordance with Article 34(2)(d) EU, of a Convention which provides for jurisdiction and a "right of representation" i.e. the right of a non-flag State to take measures in relation to a vessel of a flag State on the high seas without first seeking authorisation.
    13. Articles 1 and 2 of the draft Convention deal with definitions and objectives respectively. Article 3 requires Member States to classify as criminal the possession for distribution, transport, transhipment, storage, sale, manufacture or processing of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances on board a vessel. Article 4 excludes warships and "official non-commercial public service vessels" from the scope of the Convention.
    14. Article 5(1) provides that, save as provided for in the Convention on mutual assistance and cooperation between customs administrations, a Member State is to exercise sole jurisdiction in relation to offences committed in its territorial and national waters, "including situations where offences originated or are due to be completed in another Member State"[7]. With respect to offences committed outside the territorial waters of a Member State, Article 5(2) provides that the flag State is to exercise "preferential jurisdiction".
    15. Article 6 is a key provision, introducing the "right of representation". Article 6(1) provides that where there are good grounds to suspect that an offence under Article 3[8] has been committed:
    16. "each Member State shall allow the other Member States a right of representation, which shall give legitimacy to action taken by ships or aircraft belonging to their respective customs administrations[9] against vessels from another Member State".

    17. Article 6(2) provides that in exercising the "right of representation", "official" ships or aircraft may give pursuit, stop and board the vessel, examine documents, identify and question persons on board, seize drugs, detain persons and escort the vessel to the nearest or most suitable port. These acts may be done "informing — beforehand if possible or immediately afterwards — the State whose flag was being flown by the vessel". The accompanying memorandum explains the reason for this proposal as being delay in obtaining the permission of the flag State. The memorandum also expresses the view that operations against drugs trafficking at sea are normally carried out at night, or at the weekend, and that delays in obtaining authorisation may result in the failure of the operation.
    18. Article 7 sets out a number of safeguards, requiring the intervening State to take due account of the need not to endanger the safety of life at sea, nor to prejudice the commercial and legal interests of the flag State or the commercial interests of third parties.
    19. Article 8 contains further rules on jurisdiction. Article 8(1) provides that each Member State is to have "preferential jurisdiction over its[10] vessels", but that it may surrender such jurisdiction in favour of the intervening State. Articles 8(2) to (4) provide for a procedure where the intervening State asserts jurisdiction. Article 8(5) provides that "urgent mandatory judicial proceedings" such as "the request to waive the exercise of preferential jurisdiction" shall be governed by the law of the intervening State.[11]
    20. Article 9 provides for the settlement of disputes on the application or interpretation of the Convention. In the first instance, these fall to be settled "by direct negotiation between the respective Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs"[12]. In the event that agreement cannot be reached, Article 9(2)and (3) provide for an interpretative jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in terms corresponding to those of Articles 35(7) EU. A Member State may also make a declaration under Article 9(4) to the effect that it accepts the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice to give preliminary rulings on the interpretation of the Convention. (These provisions correspond to those in Article 35(1), (2) and (5) EU).
    21. The Government's view

    22. In her Explanatory Memorandum of 18 March 2002 the Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo) explains that existing international conventions make provision for States to board another State's vessels with prior authorisation. The Minister comments that it is important for this system to work as smoothly as possible and adds that the Government will question the need for a new EU Convention in this area, given the existing body of international law.
    23. The Minister comments further:
    24. "The proposal raises some difficult legal and constitutional issues in relation to jurisdiction over the vessels of a flag state and any persons on board which the Government will explore in negotiations."

      Conclusion

    25. We agree with the Minister that this proposal raises some difficult legal questions, such as its relationship with the draft Framework Decision on drug trafficking, and its effect on the jurisdiction currently asserted over attempts to import drugs into the national territory.
    26. More fundamentally, we do not consider that this proposal makes any convincing case for dispensing with the consent of the flag State before a vessel is boarded on the high seas. The alleged difficulties of communicating with the relevant authorities at night or at weekends are a matter for better administrative cooperation, not for displacing the exclusive jurisdiction of a State over a vessel flying its flag. We ask if the Minister shares this view, and if she would explain in more detail her concerns over the legal and constitutional issues she refers to in her Explanatory Memorandum.
    27. We shall hold the document under scrutiny pending the Minister's reply.
    28. 3. ENVIRONMENTAL LIABILITY

       

      (23199)

      6568/02

      COM(02) 17

      Draft Directive on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage.

      Legal base:

      Article 175(1) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting

         

      Document originated:

      23 January 2002

      Deposited in Parliament:

      21 March 2002

      Department:

      Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

      Basis of consideration:

      EM of 2 April 2002 and SEM of 30 April 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      None, but see footnote below

      To be discussed in Council:

      24 June 2002

      Committee's assessment:

      Legally and politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Not cleared; further information awaited

       

       

      Background

    29. Interest in the responsibility for dealing with environmental damage has intensified in recent years, and has been addressed at Community level in a number ways. In particular, Article 174(2) of the Treaty states that Community policy on the environment should be based on the precautionary principle, and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source, and that the polluter should pay.
    30. In February 2000, the Commission produced a White Paper[13] on the subject, which sought to address what constitutes environmental liability; the case for a Community environmental liability regime, and its possible features; the different options for Community action; and the implications of such action in terms of subsidiarity, proportionality and its economic impact. The main elements summarised in our predecessors' Report of 5 April 2002 were that:

    • environmental liability involved those who cause environmental damage being faced, not just with penal sanctions, but also with having to pay for remedying that damage: however, since there needed to be a causal link between identifiable polluters and concrete and quantifiable damage, this would not be a suitable instrument where pollution was of a widespread, diffuse character;

    • the case for a Community environmental liability regime, requiring polluters to pay for the damage they cause, rested on its preventive effect, leading to a reduction in pollution, to improved compliance with Community environmental legislation, and to the creation of a level playing field within the Internal Market;

    • possible features of such a regime might include environmental damage as well as "traditional" types of damage to persons or property, and be linked with the relevant Community environmental legislation: other aspects to be addressed included the distinction between strict and fault-based liability[14], the defences to be allowed (such as force majeure, the contribution to damage by a plaintiff, or intervention by a third party), the possibility of alleviating the burden of proof in favour of the plaintiff, access to justice (involving Member States in the first instance, but with the possibility of public interest groups acting on a subsidiary basis), and retrospection;

    • the different options for Community action included accession to the Council of Europe's Lugano Convention (which would provide comprehensive coverage, but also be wider in scope than most Member States would wish); a Community regime for transboundary damage only (which would be more defensible on subsidiarity grounds, but leave a number of gaps); action by Member States governed by a non-binding Community recommendation; and a Community directive: also, establishing liability on a sector-wide basis, notably in the area of biotechnology, would provide a more focussed approach than a horizontal measure, but the latter would on balance be more efficient and coherent;

    1. In summary, the Commission concluded that the most appropriate approach would be to establish a Community framework directive, providing for strict liability (with defences) to traditional and environmental damage caused by EC regulated dangerous activities, and fault-based liability for damage to biodiversity caused by non-dangerous activities.
    2. In their Report, our predecessors noted that the Government fully supported the principle of environmental liability as a way to remedy environmental damage, and that it accepted there were at present gaps in Community law arrangements. However, it also considered that the legal and procedural impact on UK law could be considerable, in that, as well as dealing with public law arrangements, the proposals concerned such issues as compensation, the rights of claimants and defendants, and rights of action by public interest groups. In addition, some of the proposals discussed appeared to raise issues of competence, including those dealing with private compensation and judicial arrangements; the incidence of clean-up costs among categories of business and sectors of society that might be affected; and any alleviation of the burden of proof could have financial implications in terms of both direct costs and the cost of mounting a defence against legal action (where greater litigation and legal uncertainty could arise).
    3. They concluded that, although the Commission envisaged bringing forward later in the year proposals for a framework Directive, the White Paper was a significant document in its own right, and should be debated in European Standing Committee A, so as to give the House the opportunity to question the Government at a formative stage. That debate was held on 14 June 2000, before which our predecessors had recorded in an Annex to their Report of 7 June 2000 the contents of a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum setting out the Government's views on a number of questions raised in their earlier Report.
    4. The current document

    5. As foreshadowed in the White Paper (see paragraph 3.2 above), the current document comprises a draft Directive which would give legal effect to the proposals contained in the White Paper. It would thus:

    • establish strict liability for damage to biodiversity, land, soil and water resources through a wide range of specified activities[15], and fault-based liability for damage to biodiversity through any other activities (as well as situations where there is an imminent threat of such damage occurring);

    • establish a regime under which the competent national authorities would have responsibility for management and enforcement, including securing or carrying out the restoration of damage to a baseline condition in accordance with established rules;

    • introduce the concept of compensation for interim losses, and of compensation remediation being provided elsewhere in cases where full remediation of the original resource is not possible;

    • in accordance with the "polluter pays" principle, enable the costs of preventive or restorative action to be recovered where operators are liable for the damage, but have failed to act as necessary;

    • require the Member States to assume subsidiary responsibility in cases where the polluter cannot be identified, lacks sufficient resources, or is not required to restore the damage;

    • allow persons adversely affected (or likely to be so affected) by environmental damage, or a qualified entity (non-governmental organisation), to lodge a request for action by the competent authority, and to seek judicial review of any such action (or inaction).

    1. The proposal would not cover damage (such as injury, and economic loss) to private interests, which would continue to be dealt with under existing national legislation; environmental damage which is of such a widespread or diffuse nature as to prevent a causal link with specific operators to be established; or where liability for compensation is provided for under specified international conventions relating to shipping, oil pollution, and nuclear liability, or under the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community. Nor would it apply to damage caused by activities carried out before 30 June 2005. It also provides for a range of defences and exemptions, including compliance with the terms of any permit issued and with the best available scientific and technical knowledge.
    2. The Government's view

    3. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 2 April 2002, the Minister of State (Environment) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Michael Meacher) said that the Government considers that action at Community level is "broadly justified" on environmental grounds under Article 175, and that it supports a regime which does not disrupt the coherence of well-established national arrangements providing liability for damage to private interests, or implementing international or Community obligations. In this respect, he pointed out that the proposal allows some flexibility for Member States to determine the appropriate institutional and procedural arrangements for implementing the Directive, and that the Government's view is that a European-wide liability regime to cover damage to land, water and biodiversity is likely to have environmental benefits in the UK and across the Community.
    4. However, the Minister also stressed that, although the UK currently has a very extensive regime governing liability for environmental damage, the scope and approach of the proposal differ in many respects, notably in envisaging more general protection and containing more stringent provisions on remediation. He therefore considered that extensive changes in UK nature conservation law would be needed, and that it might be necessary as well to amend other domestic regimes dealing with activities affected by the proposal, including agriculture, fisheries and waste. He also said that the proposal would have significant implications for the relevant national authorities, in that it would increase their ability to pass on to the polluter the costs of environmental damage and to ensure that the damage is restored, but that it would increase their enforcement role, and hence their operational costs, substantially.
    5. The Minister summarised the situation by saying that the Government does not have a final position on the details of the proposal pending clarification of a number of issues and consultation with affected interests. He identified the key issues as including the precise scope of the regime, the subsidiary responsibilities of Member States where the polluter cannot be made to pay, the likely impact on different sectors and business, and the nature and implications of the proposed defences and exemptions. He said that his department would be submitting "in the near future" a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, to be followed by a full Assessment when the final form of the proposal was clear, and taking full account of the outcome of the Government's consultations. In the meantime, he pointed out that the Commission's assessment is that overall the impact of the proposal would be cost neutral in that, rather than imposing additional aggregate costs, its principal effect would be to change the distribution of those arising at present — an assessment which the Government considered needed to be subjected to more rigorous analysis, in that it believed that there could be substantial additional costs for both the public and private sectors, albeit ones which should be balanced against the environmental benefits.
    6. Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 30 April 2002

    7. The Minister has since submitted a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 30 April 2002, enclosing the promised partial Regulatory Impact Assessment. However, he points out that, pending the outcome of the Government's public consultation on the proposals (on which responses have been sought by 24 May), this does not attempt to quantify either the burdens or the benefits, but rather seeks to identify the ways in which the measure might impose additional burdens within the UK.
    8. The Assessment suggests that the main direct effect of the proposal is likely to arise from the introduction of the concepts of equivalent compensation and interim losses, and the need for higher standards of remediation (to a previous baseline condition) than those required in the majority of the equivalent UK legislation. However, it also indicates that the number of such cases each year might be limited, in that only a few of the "many hundreds" of pollution incidents currently investigated by the enforcement agencies would be classed as significant in terms of the draft Directive.
    9. As regards the potential benefits, it suggests that, to the extent that restoration might not otherwise have occurred, the proposal would lead to environmental improvements, in addition to which successful action against polluters would encourage others to take more precautions, leading to fewer incidents overall. It also makes the point that a further incentive to potential polluters would arise if a need for a greater reliance on environmental insurance were to require them to demonstrate good performance, though it says that, in this and other respects, much would depend upon whether or not the present exclusion from the proposal of damage caused where an operator complies with the conditions of any permit is retained. As regards the sectors likely to be most affected, the Assessment identifies a broad range, including energy, metals, minerals, glass and ceramics, chemicals and fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, paper, textiles, food and drink, intensive farming, and waste management, plus, in the case of biodiversity damage, any operating within (or in close proximity to) protected sites. It also suggests, on the basis of the activities of the Environment Agency, that the sectors within the UK likely to experience greatest difficulties might include transport, water, chemicals, petroleum, and metals.
    10. Conclusion

    11. We note that this proposal is substantially based on the previous Commission White Paper, which was debated on 14 June 2000, and that, on the strength of the partial Regulatory Impact Assessment provided, the Government considers that the practical effect of its adoption within the UK may be limited. Nevertheless, this is still a potentially important proposal, and we would not want to take a final view on it until we have seen the full Regulatory Impact Assessment, which we understand the Government will be preparing when its consultation exercise ends on 24 May 2002. In this respect, we also note that, although the Commission is said to recognise that negotiations on the proposal could take up to three years, the Spanish Presidency apparently intends to try to secure political agreement at the meeting of the Environment Council on 24 June 2002.
    12. In view of this, and of the delays which have sometimes arisen within his department over the provision of full Regulatory Impact Assessments, we would expect the Minister to keep a close eye on progress within the Council. In particular, we would like him to ensure either that we receive such an Assessment in good time for a debate to be held, if we so recommend, before any agreement is reached in the Council, or that, if the Presidency insists on its present timetable, and a full Assessment has not by then been provided, the UK enters a parliament scrutiny reserve at the Council on 24 June.
    13. 4. CIVIL NUCLEAR MATERIAL: SAFEGUARDS

       

      (23386)

      7549/02

      COM(02)99

      Draft Council Decision approving a Commission Regulation on the application of Euratom safeguards.

      Legal base:

      Articles 77-79 and 81 Euratom; consultation; qualified majority voting

         

      Document originated:

      22 March 2002

      Deposited in Parliament:

      18 April 2002

      Department:

      Trade and Industry

      Basis of consideration:

      EM of 2 May 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      None

      To be discussed in Council:

      No date set

      Committee's assessment:

      Politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Not cleared; further information awaited

      Background

    14. The Commission is required under the Euratom Treaty to satisfy itself that civil nuclear material (essentially plutonium, uranium and thorium) in the Community is not diverted from its declared peaceful uses, and that obligations relating to international nuclear co-operation and safeguards agreements — most notably those between Member States, Euratom, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — are respected. More specifically, this requires those in possession of the relevant nuclear material to provide the Commission with information on the location and intended activities of the installation concerned, and to keep records (nuclear material accountancy reports) showing receipts, shipments and holdings. For its part, the Commission has powers to inspect the installations, material and records concerned in order to ensure that the information provided is correct and that material is present as reported, and it may also impose sanctions where Treaty obligations have been infringed.
    15. These various requirements are at present set out in Commission Regulation (Euratom) No. 3227/76[16], but, according to the Commission, there have been substantial changes in the global nuclear safeguards regime since the Regulation came into effect in 1977, notably additional protocols to existing safeguards agreements with the IAEA which strengthen the system and its capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. In addition, the Commission says that there have been changes in the wider nuclear environment, and major developments in the technology and practice of information processing. It has therefore proposed in the current document that these various changes in circumstances — together with the prospect of the further enlargement of the Community — should be dealt with by repealing Regulation 3227/76, and replacing it with a new, consolidated safeguards Regulation.
    16. The current document

    17. The Commission describes the main elements of the new Regulation as involving:

    • the inclusion of the provisions on reporting needed to comply with those parts of the additional IAEA protocols for which the Commission has (or shares with Member States) legal responsibility for providing information;

    • in the particular case of the reporting of waste, clear definitions of the various categories, new Inventory Change Codes, and special annexes for reporting transfers to reflect current practices in the industry and the experience gained under the Euratom Treaty;

    • a simplification of the content of reports provided by installations holding material of lower strategic value, and a reduction in their frequency;

    • a new reporting format;

    • a requirement for electronic recording and reporting.

The Government's view

    1. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 2 May 2002, the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Small Business at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Nigel Griffiths) says that the UK has, since its accession to the Euratom Treaty, recognised the implementation of nuclear safeguards as an area of Commission competence, though he adds that, as a consequence, the UK (along with many other Member States) does not have either national legislation setting out nuclear safeguards reporting requirements or a domestic regulatory body to verify such reports.
    2. The Minister says that the UK has been vigorous in its support of international efforts to strengthen the safeguards system, and that what is now proposed is very much in line with its efforts to demonstrate its support for more widespread take-up and application of safeguards strengthening measures. However, he also says that the detail of the Commission proposals will need to be considered carefully to ensure that they will in fact achieve the aim of more efficient and timely reporting, particularly as regards the requirements for waste and their implications for operators of nuclear installations.
    3. Finally, the Minister points out that the operators of all major UK nuclear installations are being consulted on the proposed new Regulation, and that a full Regulatory Impact Assessment is being prepared. In the meantime, he says that an initial assessment of the expected costs suggests that, for the major operators, these could amount to between 1 million and 2 million initially, with recurring costs of less than 100,000, with the other main costs falling on the Commission itself, probably of the order of 4.3 million over a four year period, and 400,000 recurring thereafter.
    4. Conclusion

    5. On the face of it, these proposals appear sensible and straightforward, and, on the information provided so far, unlikely to raise any major points of concern. However, before taking a final view on them, we will await the Regulatory Impact Assessment which the Minister has said is being prepared.

 


1  (23325) 6524/02; see headnote. Back

2  Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations of the United Nations, governments... and others in every area in which human activity impacts on the environment. Agenda 21, along with the Rio Declaration of Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests, was adopted by more than 178 governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

 Back

3  (23331) 7233/02; see HC 152-xxvii (2001-02), paragraph 7 (1 May 2002) and (23447); see paragraph 8 of this Report. Back

4  The development goals in the UN Millennium Declaration include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combatting AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.  Back

5  International public goods (IPGs) are public goods whose provision or associated benefits spill over national boundaries. For example, reducing communicable disease or conflict in one country benefits at least neighbouring countries, and benefits may extend globally. Back

6  Such boarding and seizure is not permitted by customary international law, since apart from such cases as piracy or where specific agreement is made, jurisdiction is exclusive to the flag State - see Article 92 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Back

7  It is not clear if this would prevent a State from asserting jurisdiction over a conspiracy or attempt to import drugs into the national territory. It also seems inconsistent with the jurisdiction provisions in Article 9 of the draft Framework Decision on drug trafficking (23346) 7270/02: see HC 152- xxvi (2001-02), paragraph 4 (24 April2002). Back

8  Since the classification of the acts as criminal is made under the national law, the authorities of Member State A must make a decision as to whether there are good grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed under the law of Member State B. Back

9  Even taking into account the wide definition of 'customs authorities' in Article 1(e), it is not clear if warships qualify as 'belonging to their respective customs administrations'. Back

10  Presumably over vessels carrying its flag, rather than vessels in respect of which its nationals have beneficial ownership. Back

11  The meaning of this is not clear, since the response to a request to the flag State to waive jurisdiction is hardly a matter which falls for determination by judicial proceedings in the intervening State. Back

12  It is not clear why the draft should bind Member States as their internal organisation in this way. It is more usual to leave Member States to designate their own competent authorities. Back

13   (21012) 6230/00; see HC 23-xiii (1999-2000), paragraph 1 (5 April 2000) and HC 23-xx (1999-2000), paragraph 2 (7 June 2000). Official Report, European Standing Committee A, 14 June 2000. Back

14   Strict liability means that the liability falls on the polluter regardless of any question of negligence, whereas a negligence or fault-based regime is one in which preventive action by the polluter is relevant to determining whether he is liable or not. Back

15   These include the release of dangerous substances/hazardous emissions to water or the air, installations producing toxic chemicals, landfill sites and incineration plants. Back

16   OJ No. L.363, 31.12.76, p.1. Back

 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 27 May 2002