Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Ninth Report



10. HEALTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

 

(23351)

COM(02) 129

Commission Communication: Health and poverty reduction in developing countries.

Legal base:

   

Document originated:

22 March 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

3 April 2002

Department:

International Development

Basis of consideration:

EM of 10 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None

To be discussed in Council:

30 May 2002

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Cleared, but relevant to the debate on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (see paragraph 1 of this Report)

 

 

The document

    1. Introducing this Communication the Commission says that the world's developing countries suffer a huge burden of disease, much of which is preventable or manageable using available interventions. This toll of ill health and premature death affects the poor disproportionately. In many countries the situation is deteriorating with, in the most affected countries, reversal of the health and development gains of recent decades. This decline constitutes a public health crisis and a major development challenge to the international community. Improving the health of the poor is both a vital contribution to efforts to reduce poverty and a moral imperative.
    2. Current policy guidance for investment in health, AIDS and population activity is set out in a series of Community Communications and Resolutions dating from 1994. The Commission argues that the evolution of development assistance approaches in the European and global contexts, and the increasing clarity of the relationship between health and poverty, warrants a revision of guidance. The EC Development Policy of 2000 established poverty reduction as the overarching aim of the Community's development assistance. The increasing convergence of development objectives across the EU around the UN Millennium Development Goals[25] offers an opportunity to step up co-ordination between the Community's policies on health and those of the Member States.
    3. The EC's investment in knowledge and support for health, AIDS and population policies and programmes in developing countries has been substantial, with a current EC health and development portfolio of _1.4 billion. The Commission argues that the clear link between improved health and poverty reduction warrants further investment. It should build on its extensive experience, by employing a multi-sectoral approach at country level and deploying additional efforts at regional and global level.
    4. The Communication represents a substantial revision of earlier guidance to take into account the evolution of development assistance approaches and the increasing clarity of the relationship between health and poverty. It includes details of this relationship and outlines key elements of a coherent development approach to improve health and well-being.
    5. The Commission says that the Communication also establishes, for the first time, a single Community policy framework to guide investment in health, AIDS, and population within the context of overall European assistance to developing countries. It proposes four objectives for future Community support:

    • to improve health, AIDS and population outcomes at country level, especially amongst the poorest;

    • to maximise health benefits and minimise potentially negative health effects of EC support for other sectors;

    • to support equitable and fair health financing mechanisms; and

    • to invest in development of global public goods.

The Government's view

    1. The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short) comments:
    2. "The Government very much welcomes and supports the approach set out in the Communication. It is firmly in line with our focus on poverty reduction and with our emphasis on working more strategically with developing countries to help them deliver better health outcomes for the poor. It also reflects well the new understanding, which we share of the importance of investing in health as a means of achieving much broader poverty reduction.

      "We welcome also the proposed targeting of low-income countries, but are seeking clarification of the circumstances under which support might be channelled elsewhere. We would like to see greater recognition of the importance of neo-natal health. And we would like to see the Communication being clearer about how the Commission will give greater priority to health in more of its country programmes, given the strong case made for investing in health in the paper. Successful delivery of this approach will depend on achievement of significant reform of EC development".

      Conclusion

    3. The Commission has combined proposals for improving its own performance with a wider vision, in which it takes a fresh look at ensuring a more coherent approach to improving health in developing countries. It has recognised that it can add value to its support by adopting a regional approach in particular areas of activity, for example with demographic surveys and epidemic preparedness, human resources development and issues related to pharmaceutical policies.
    4. We welcome the thinking that is reflected in the Communication. It raises important issues which are relevant to the debate on the World Summit for Sustainable Development which we recommend elsewhere in this Report[26].
    5. We now clear the document.
    6. 11. PERSONAL DATA AND PRIVACY IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS

       

      (21561)

      10961/00

      COM(00) 385

      Draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector.

      Legal base:

      Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting

         

      Department:

      Trade and Industry

      Basis of consideration:

      Minister's letter of 13 May 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph 18 (21 November 2001)

      To be discussed in Council:

      No date set

      Committee's assessment:

      Politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Cleared (decision reported on 21 November 2001)

       

       

      The draft Directive

    7. This draft Directive is one of seven proposals for legislation, known as the telecoms regulatory package, that will form the new regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services. The aim of this proposal is to adapt and update the existing provisions in the Telecoms Data Protection Directive[27] to take account of new and foreseeable developments in electronic communications and services. This should ensure that the same service is regulated in an equivalent manner and that consumers benefit from the same level of protection, regardless of which technology is used to deliver it.
    8. We last considered the proposal on 21 November 2001, when we cleared the draft that was to be put to the 6 December Telecoms Council. The Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness (Mr Douglas Alexander) has now written informing us of progress on this proposal. He recalls that in advance of that Council he sought clearance on the Government's position on two key and very contentious issues, in particular: data retention for law enforcement purposes and the treatment of unsolicited commercial e-mail.
    9. The Minister says that the Council reached a Common Position on these and that the draft Directive is now going through Second Reading in the European Parliament. Following discussions between the Presidency, Commission and MEPs, he thinks that it looks possible that a Second Reading Agreement can be concluded on the Directive, thereby avoiding the need for formal conciliation procedures. He writes to outline the shape of the possible compromise.
    10. The Minister says that there are now four areas where there are still differences of substance between the Common Position and the European Parliament. These are data retention for law enforcement purposes, the treatment of unsolicited commercial e-mail, regulation of 'cookies'[28] and similar devices used by website providers, and the rules for inclusion in subscriber directories. The Minister then comments:
    11. "Data Retention for Law Enforcement Purposes

      "The common position text incorporates an amendment to Article 15 of the Directive which would explicitly allow Member States to provide for the retention of data for law enforcement purposes, subject to the wider framework of community law. The UK pressed for this because we believe that it is crucial that the Directive includes no unintended restrictions on Member States' ability to act in this area: traffic data can be of critical importance to criminal investigations and we argued successfully at Council that Members States should be able to provide for the compulsory or voluntary retention of data by operators beyond their own business requirements. At their vote on 18 April, the lead committee in the European Parliament rejected this new wording and instead voted for amendments which would strictly curtail, if not rule out, the scope for data retention for law enforcement purposes.

      "However, negotiations with MEPs since then have indicated that the Parliament may be prepared to support the inclusion of the common position wording in Article 15[29], provided that the Article and the accompanying recital incorporate stronger safeguards against potential misuse, including a stronger link to the need to comply with the relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, and controls on the conditions of access to data retained under national provisions (for example, a requirement that access to such data must be subject to authorisation by judicial or other competent authorities). We would be prepared to support these amendments as part of an overall agreement.

      "Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail

      "On unsolicited commercial e-mail, we agreed in Council that the general rule should be opt-in but with an opt-out exemption for e-mail sent in the context of an existing customer relationship (so that a company could, for example, e-mail details of its latest products to its circulation list, provided that it had obtained the addresses on those lists directly from its customers in the course of a business relationship, and in accordance with underlying data protection rules).

      "The lead Committee has now indicated that it would be prepared to accept this approach, rather than holding out for Member States to be given the choice between opt-in and opt-out regulation for all unsolicited commercial e-mail, subject to some widening of the scope of the opt-out exemption. Specifically, they would favour dropping the requirement for e-mail addresses to be provided directly to the company concerned (they accept that address collection must comply with underlying data protection rules), and making it clear that companies may e-mail addressees who may have enquired about products and services without actually purchasing, again provided that the e-mail addresses have been fairly obtained in accordance with underlying data protection rules. We support both amendments as the basis of a compromise between the Council and the Parliament.

      "Cookies

      "On cookies, MEPs voted at first reading that there should be strict prior consent requirements for any form of software stored on web-visitors' terminals by web-site operators (these may be used by operators to track a user's progress through a website, or to verify a user's on-line identity, among other purposes). The Council agreed instead that cookies should be subject to a transparency requirement (i.e. that web-sites must provide information and a chance to refuse cookies). The lead Committee has voted in favour of this approach, but wants to remove the explicit requirement for prior information on cookies. This is in response to arguments from industry that the requirement for advance information is not necessary and if strictly interpreted could hinder the development and use of some web services. We support this; amendments along these lines are also likely to be acceptable to other Council members. Any cookies which involve the processing of personal data (not all do) are subject to separate requirements on fair processing under the framework Data Protection Directive[30] and the aim of any additional provision in this sectoral directive should simply be to require transparency and give users effective control.

      "Subscriber Directories

      "On subscriber directories, the lead committee has voted to replace the common position requirement for prior information and active consent to inclusion in subscriber directories with a simpler requirement that a subscriber must have full prior information about the potential uses of all the directories in which their details may be entered, but then be included unless they specifically refuse consent. We could accept this approach as part of an overall deal; an alternative version would allow Member States discretion to choose between opt-in and opt-out consent. Other concessions being considered by Council are on the transitional arrangements for directories, both on and off-line, which already exist when the new rules come into force, where we also believe there is room for an acceptable compromise".

    12. In conclusion, the Minister says:
    13. "I should stress that there is still a lot of work to be done on any compromise wording in the next week or so and it is by no means certain that a viable Second Reading deal can be formulated in advance of the Parliament's plenary vote on 29 May. However, I think that there is scope for a deal which would encompass the UK's negotiating aims, and that this has the potential to produce a result which is as good if not better than we could expect from formal conciliation proceedings. If an agreement is reached, we will submit an EM to you for clearance in advance of adoption".

      Conclusion

    14. The Minister has given us a clear and useful account of the state of progress on this Directive. As he has not provided us with any unofficial text, we do not have a document on which to place a scrutiny reserve. However, it is clear from his account that any text that emerges from a Second Reading Agreement is likely to be sufficiently different from that which we cleared before Common Position as to require clearance. The same would be true of any text which incorporates European Parliament amendments and which is substantially different from the one we cleared, whether it is a text subject to a Second Reading Agreement or one to be put to a Conciliation Committee.
    15. The Minister has undertaken to submit an Explanatory Memorandum for clearance in advance of adoption and we trust that he will indeed do so.
    16. The text on which we report in this paragraph was cleared last year.
    17. 12. IMPLEMENTATION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATORY PACKAGE

       

      (23027)

      14838/01

      COM(01) 706

      Commission Communication: Seventh Report on the Implementation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Package.

      Legal base:

         

      Department:

      Trade and Industry

      Basis of consideration:

      SEM of 8 May 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      HC 152-xviii (2001-02), paragraph 7 (6 February 2002) and HC 152-xix (2001-02), paragraph 8 (13 February 2002)

      Discussed in Council:

      6/7 December Transport and Telecommunications Council

      Committee's assessment:

      Politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Cleared

       

       

      Background

    18. This is the Commission's seventh report on telecommunications liberalisation in the Member States.[31] It reviews the major developments in telecommunications markets over the course of the year, analyses the effectiveness of the implementation of the key parts of the current regulatory framework and draws attention to the regulatory matters that are still to be resolved.
    19. When we considered the Communication on 6 February[32], we noted that, in his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness (Mr Douglas Alexander) concentrated on the comments made about the UK, without dealing in any detail with the barriers to competition elsewhere in the internal market. We considered it important that these should be drawn to Parliament's attention and asked him to provide us with a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum, noting which barriers are of particular concern to the British industry and telling us what the Government is doing to get them lifted.
    20. The Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum

    21. The Minister has now provided the Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum requested. In summarising the report he says that it:
    22. "identifies a number of barriers to competition, most of which arise from the failure of dominant operators to fully open up their networks to alternative operators. There are complaints about dominant operators' tardy and partial compliance with regulations requiring them to offer interconnection facilities for both local residential access and leased lines, the prices at which they offer them and the lack of transparent cost accounting in this area. The situation is exacerbated by the failure of NRAs to enforce the relevant regulations in all cases with robust and definite decisions; further delays in new operators' market plans are often caused by the dominant operators' appeals against such decisions.

      "The report identifies as one of the key issues of concern lack of progress in local loop unbundling (LLU)... NRAs [are obliged] to set up arrangements whereby a dominant operator must make provision for competitors to have access to the twisted copper wire leading to a property (ie the "last mile" connection), for the purpose of supplying fast-speed internet and other services. However, progress in improving access for new market entrants through this mechanism has proved disappointing. Some dominant operators have sought to gain first mover advantage for their own retail digital subscriber line (DSL) services by prevaricating and delaying the delivery of lines to new market entrants and by the high prices they charge for wholesale access, which are sometimes higher than those for their own retail services. Another barrier to effective competition in this area has been failure to comply with the [legislation] by offering a sufficiently detailed reference offer for unbundled access. These problems have been particularly acute in Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal.

      "Similar problems have arisen in relation to the pricing and provisioning of leased lines, which are used by business for internet and e-commerce applications. Both the level of prices and length of supply times vary unreasonably between Member States, given that the regulatory framework provides for prices to be related to the cost of supplying the service."

    23. The report refers to complaints that the German National Regulatory Authority (NRA) had not been sufficiently rigorous in enforcing on Deutsche Telekom its time limits for delivery of leased lines. Spain and Italy also come in for some criticism.
    24. The report is also critical in many instances of the effectiveness of NRAs in making the best use of their powers to oblige dominant operators to open up the market to alternative operators. Germany is again a case in point. The report notes that new entrants take the view that the German framework does not provide for sufficient legal tools to allow RegTP, the German NRA, to enforce implementation of its decisions, and that the penalties provided do not constitute a sufficient incentive to comply with its decisions. In France, certain elements of the NRA's decisions on local loop unbundling have not been respected by France Telecom. Most market players are critical of the Netherlands NRA for its lack of speed and responsiveness, and its resolutions procedures are considered too lengthy to be effective.
    25. The Minister says:
    26. "The Committee asks which areas are of particular concern to British industry. Our soundings indicate that their preoccupations are substantially those identified in the report, to which they contributed. The main area of difference, however, is that the issue of LLU, which in the Report is presented as a major regulatory bottleneck, is not currently an area of major concern to British companies. Their main area of market interest is in corporate services, where market entry is still an attractive proposition, and their concern is focused on the high cost and delay in the provision of leased lines, coupled with what they perceive to be the inability of NRAs to address these problems effectively.

      "The Committee also asks what the Government is doing to get these barriers lifted. First, the Government strongly supports the Commission in its enforcement of the regulatory regime."

    27. The Minister then draws attention to infraction proceedings against Portugal, Greece and Germany in respect of their failure to implement properly the requirement to include shared access in a reference offer. He says that the Commission also instituted infraction proceedings against Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal in March 2002 in respect of their failure to offer a sufficiently "unbundled" reference offer (that is, to offer a choice of services to new market entrants rather than a take-it-or-leave-it package).
    28. The Minister says that a key aspect of the UK's encouragement of Commission action has been its support for the work of the Community bodies which scrutinise the operation of the telecoms regime and address practical regulatory issues. He describes the existing structure for co-operation between the Commission and the Member States and then explains that these will be changed by the new regulatory package which is due to be implemented into the national law of Member States by 24 July 2003.
    29. "The ONP and Licensing Committees will be replaced by a new Communications Committee, which will have powers to put greater pressure on NRAs to act effectively; for example, the Commission will be able, in consultation with the Committee, to block individual NRA decisions on the grounds of illegality or incompatibility with the Single Market. A new European Regulators Group is also to be set up through a Commission Decision to be published shortly. This is intended to provide a forum within which NRAs will share best practice and solutions to problems, leading to greater consistency in Member States' implementation of the new regime. The UK will continue to work within this new structure to support tight Commission enforcement of the new regulatory framework.

      "In addition, officials from the DTI and its regulatory agencies hold regular meetings with their counterparts in key Member States to compare progress in implementing Community liberalisation legislation, to examine problem areas and to share solutions.

      "Finally, where appropriate, the Government encourages companies which can produce a viable case of discriminatory behaviour by dominant operators to use competition law to obtain redress."

      The Government's view

    30. The Minister comments that:
    31. "While in general the report confirms continuing progress towards effective competition across Europe, barriers still exist in many markets in respect of the dominance of dominant operators and their reluctance to open up their networks to competitors, this situation being compounded in some Member States by the weakness of the NRA in enforcing the relevant regulations. The compilation and publication of the Commission's Seventh Report is a valuable tool for identifying these regulatory bottlenecks and enabling appropriate action to be taken."

      Conclusion

    32. We thank the Minister for giving us this much fuller picture of the findings of the implementation report and ask him to ensure that his Explanatory Memorandum on the eighth report is equally informative.
    33. We now clear the document.
    34. 13. EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT IN EUROPEAN CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES

       

      (23126)

      Draft Council Directive supplementing the Statute for a European Co-operative Society with regard to the involvement of employees.

       

      Legal base:

      Article 308 EC; consultation; unanimity

         

      Department:

      Trade and Industry

      Basis of consideration:

      Minister's letter of 10 May 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      HC 152-xix (2001-02), paragraph 11 (13 February 2002)

      To be discussed in Council:

      3 June 2002

      Committee's assessment:

      Politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Cleared

       

       

      Background

    35. The European Co-operative Statute consists of a Regulation[33], which sets out the framework for a European Co-operative Society (SCE), a new type of pan-European legal body, and a Directive, requiring a particular level of employee involvement in the SCE. The Statute will apply only to bodies that choose to form an SCE in order to operate in two or more Member States.
    36. When we considered the draft Directive in February (on the basis of an unofficial text which was a re-draft of the proposal from the early 1990s), we decided to keep it under scrutiny until we knew more about the outcome of negotiations on "ex novo" SCEs (those which do not have any employees when they are first established) and on SCEs with fewer than 50 employees. We also asked for an official text to be deposited as soon as possible.
    37. The Minister's letter

    38. The Minister for Employment Relations and the Regions (Mr Alan Johnson) has now written to update us on the progress of negotiations. He has also sent us an unofficial copy of the latest working text.
    39. The Minister tells us that, contrary to his earlier expectations, the draft Directive was not discussed at the Employment and Social Policy Council in March. Instead, the Presidency had merely summarised progress. However, the aim now is to reach a "general orientation" at the June meeting of the Council. If this is achieved, the European Parliament will have to be reconsulted since there have been significant modifications to the original proposal (now over ten years old) including a change to the proposed legal base.
    40. The Minister then tells us about the progress of negotiations on "ex novo" SCEs and on SCEs with fewer than 50 employees. There was no consensus for different treatment of SCEs with less than 50 employees. The Government was prepared to accept that position on condition that the smallest types of "ex novo" SCEs were provided with greater flexibility. That has now been achieved through a new Article 7a, as the Minister explains:
    41. "Where 'ex novo' SCEs employ fewer than 50 employees or employ 50 or more employees in only one Member State national rules on information and consultation of employees will apply. There will therefore be no need to agree an employee involvement procedure before such a SCE is registered....Where the number of employees reaches or exceeds 50 employees then the provisions set out in Articles 3 to7 for the opening of negotiations with the workforce for an employee involvement agreement will come into effect. In addition, a certain percentage of the total workforce can ask for the negotiation procedure to begin before the SCE has 50 employees (but after registration). The percentage has yet to be agreed, but is likely to be settled somewhere between 10% and 51% of the total workforce. The UK, in the company of other Member States, has argued that the percentage should be a significant number of the employees and certainly higher than 10%. Subject to a satisfactory outcome on this point, I consider that we will have achieved our objective of greater flexibility for small 'ex novo' co-operatives."

    42. The Minister tells us that the other main change to the text has been the addition of a new Article 7 b to accommodate one Member State in which employees who are not members are allowed to attend and vote at general meetings of the SCE or at its 'board of representatives'. He says:
    43. "I was prepared to accept this addition as this form of employee involvement was adequately ring-fenced and not capable of being exported to the UK or other Member States. This was achieved by the insertion of a new Article in the Regulation[34] which lays out the legal framework for the creation of the SCE form....It provides that this type of participation will only apply where an SCE is registered in a Member State whose law permits it and that the system cannot be exported to other Member States in cases of merger with an overseas co-operative or transfer of the registered office of an SCE. Article 7b of the Directive clarifies when this type of employee participation will be permissible subject to the limits laid down in [the new Article] of the Regulation."

          (The Minister provides us with an unofficial copy of the text of this new Article.)

    44. Finally, the Minister tells us:
    45. "In summary, subject to an acceptable outcome on the question of the percentage figure in relation to 'ex novo' SCEs, I consider that the current text of the Directive is acceptable to the UK and I intend to support it at Council on 3 June."

      Conclusion

    46. We thank the Minister for his helpful letter with its enclosures. We are pleased to learn that the provisions for small 'ex novo' SCEs are now more flexible.
    47. We clear the document, but still ask to receive a copy of the official text as soon as one is available.
    48. 14. PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY

       

      (23387)

      7597/02

      COM(02) 158

      Commission Communication on the enhanced safety of passenger ships in the Community; draft Council Directive on specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships; draft Council Directive amending Council Directive 98/18/EC of 17 March 1998, on safety rules and standards for passenger ships

      Legal base:

      Article 80(2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting

         

      Document originated:

      25 March 2002

      Deposited in Parliament:

      18 April 2002

      Department:

      Transport, Local Government and the Regions

      Basis of consideration:

      EM of 7 May 2002

      Previous Committee Report:

      None, but see (22660) HC 152-xv (2001-02), paragraph 2 (30 January 2002)

      To be discussed in Council:

      June 2002

      Committee's assessment:

      Politically important

      Committee's decision:

      Cleared

       

       

      Background

    49. The Commission's second White Paper on transport, "European Transport Policy for 2010: Time to Decide", which was adopted by the Commission on 12 September 2001, set out a comprehensive strategy aimed primarily at shifting the balance of transport in Europe from road and aviation towards rail, shipping and intermodal operations by 2010.[35] The White Paper included, amongst other things, a section entitled: 'Promoting Transport By Sea and Inland Transport' and stated: "the EU must have tougher rules on maritime safety beyond those proposed in the aftermath of the Erika disaster."
    50. The document

    51. The document comprises the Commission's views on enhanced safety standards for passenger ships and proposals for a Directive on specific stability requirements for roll on-roll off (ro-ro) passenger ships and an amending directive on safety rules and standards for passenger ships generally. The major measure in the Commission's Communication is the proposed application of Stockholm standards of survivability of ro-ro passenger ships. However, there are a number of other measures on safety rules and standards for passenger ships. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 7 May 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr David Jamieson)) says that the proposed Directive and Amending Directive would lay down a uniform level of specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships and secure further improvement in the safety of ro-ro ferries and passenger ships operating on international routes to and from EU ports, by 1st October 2010 at the latest. He says that this would be achieved by:
    52. "—  Enacting in Community law the Stockholm Agreement on ferry stability standards, and applying those standards to domestic ferries in addition to ferries engaged on international routes;

      "—  Improving the way in which Member States publish sea areas for the purpose of passenger ship operations;

      "—  Allowing for recent amendments to the Intemationa1 Maritime Organisation's (IMO) High Speed Craft (HSC) Code to be adopted into Community law through the Comitology procedure;

      "—  Requiring Member States to take reasonable and proportionate steps to improve access to passenger ships for persons with reduced mobility and to enhance safety standards on board for such people."

    53. The Minister adds:
    54. "In addition to the proposed legal measures, the Commission's communication calls for an increase in the limits of liability for damage caused to passengers carried by sea."

      The Government's view

    55. The Minister tells us that the Government generally welcomes the Commission's Communication. As regards extending the Stockholm Agreement standard to all EU ro-ro ferries, the Minister says:
    56. "The UK voluntarily applied Stockholm standards to ro-ro ferries, which go to sea, operating on our domestic routes. Extending Stockholm standards to all EU ro-ro ferries and all ferries calling at EU ports will benefit UK citizens travelling on ferries in Southern Europe, and the application of a Community standard no lower than that which already applies in the UK and some other Northern Member States would aid the operation of the EU single market. There is no evidence of opposition in other Member States to this proposal when applied to ferries operating on international routes...; the real issue for those Member States affected will be reaching a consensus on a timetable for introducing the higher Stockholm standards."

    57. As regards the introduction of safety and access requirements for passengers with reduced mobility, the Minister says:
    58. "There is much, which can be, and is being, done in the UK to improve the accessibility of passenger ships for such passengers and to enhance their safety when on board. We work closely with appropriate representative groups and the UK shipping industry to that end and produce guidance for the industry on making the sort of improvements the Commission is calling for. But there are practical limits on what can be done, at least in terms of modifying existing ships, and the Commission recognises that the requirements in terms of access to, and mobility within, the ship need to be 'reasonable' and 'proportionate'.

    59. On the Commission's public position on liability issues, the Minister says:
    60. "The principal international convention governing the liability of carrier of passengers by sea is the Athens Convention of 1994. The Commission's position in terms of increasing the levels of liability, introducing strict liability and extended liability in the case of fault or neglect is shared by the UK. We have taken a leading negotiating role in the IMO [International Maritime Organisation] in preparation for October's Diplomatic Conference. If the event that the international Diplomatic Conference fails to deliver what is required, then the Commission will propose Community legislation. If that were to happen, we would not rule out a regional solution, but we would see that as the second best outcome. An international agreement at the forthcoming Diplomatic Conference to revise the Athens Convention is our preferred outcome."

      Conclusion

    61. According to the Government, the Commission's proposals have wide support among international and Community industry and representative organisations, although there is a divided reaction among ship owners and operators to the proposed extension of the Stockholm Agreement standard to all EU roll on - roll off ferries.
    62. We understand that the UK Chamber of Shipping supports the proposed measures, but is concerned to ensure that the legislation on improving access and safety for persons with limited mobility recognises the practical constraints, at least in terms of existing ships. We also understand that there should be no direct financial implications for the UK shipping industry as a result of the Commission's proposals. We are pleased that some of the modifications necessary for improving access for persons with limited mobility have already been carried out on UK ships and that the amending Directive will not impose expenditure over and above that which the industry would anyway incur on an on-going basis through its work with representative groups and the Department under the auspices of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.
    63. We are content to clear the document.

 


25  These are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. See Annex to the Road Map towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration: A/56/326 of 6 September 2001. Back

26  See paragraph 1 above. Back

27  Directive 97/66/EC; OJ No. L 24, 30.1.98, p.1. Back

28  Cookies and similar devices are text files sent out by web-servers and stored on users' terminals. They are used by web-site operators to gather information about visitors to their sites, such as their Internet Service Provider, address, and sites/pages visited. Cookies can be a valuable tool for web-site operators; current uses include analysis of site-design effectiveness (by tracing the pattern of pages that users visit, for instance), and target advertising on sites (by rotating the adverts shown to repeat visitors to a site). They are particularly important in enabling on-line transactions because they can be used to verify a site-visitor's identity. However, cookies and similar devices do have privacy implications for users and the industry has responded both by developing cookie identification and rejection options for users, and by encouraging web-site operators to make it clear to visitors on the face of their site what their cookie policy is. Source: DTI. Back

29  Under Article 15, Member States may provide for the retention of data for a limited period on grounds including national or public security or the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences. Back

30  Directive 95/46/EC. Back

31  We cleared the Sixth Report on 7 February 2001 - (21940) 14511/00; see HC 28-v (2000-01), paragraph 15 (7 February 2001). Back

32  See headnote. Back

33  (23217) 15510/01; see paragraph 15 of this Report. Back

34  ibid. Back

35   The document was recommended for debate on 30 January 2002. The debate was held in European Standing Committee A on 13 March 2002.  Back

 
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