Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Fourth Report


9. PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE EVENT OF THE INSOLVENCY OF THEIR EMPLOYER


(23502)

COM(02) 265

Commission Opinion on the European Parliament's amendments to the Council's common position regarding the proposal for a Directive amending Council Directive 80/987/EEC on the approximation of the laws of Member States relating to the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer.

Legal base:Article 137(2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated:23 May 2002
Deposited in Parliament:28 May 2002
Department:Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 11 June and EM of 13 June 2002
Previous Committee Report:None; but see (22094) 5547/01: HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph 16 ( 21 November 2001).
To be discussed in Council:27 June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


Background

  9.1  This draft Directive is intended to update, rationalise and simplify the provisions of the original Insolvency Protection Directive (80/987/EEC). We cleared an earlier version of the document last November, but, as the Minister for Employment Relations and the Regions (Mr Alan Johnson) had expressed some concern about possible European Parliament amendments, we reminded him that we expected any significantly different text to be deposited with an Explanatory Memorandum.

  9.2  The Minister wrote on 11 June to update us on the situation. He explains that negotiations proceeded well and the UK was able to give its full support to a common position text agreed between the Member States at the end of 2001. At its second reading, the European Parliament adopted six amendments. None presented the UK with any problems.

  9.3  The Minister provided us with copies of the common position text and the European Parliament's amendments for information, and promised to forward the Commission's opinion on the amendments as soon as it was available in English, together with an Explanatory Memorandum.

The Commission's opinion

  9.4  In the event, we received the Commission's opinion and the Explanatory Memorandum so quickly that they virtually superseded the Minister's letter. The Commission accepts all the amendments in full.

The Government's view

  9.5  The Minister tells us that the adopted amendments extend and improve the common position text. The UK will be able to accommodate the amending Directive with only minimal change to its existing provisions. There will be no substantive increase in the minimum standards of employee protection currently guaranteed by the UK.

  9.6  The Minister reports that the Presidency hopes that the Directive will be adopted as an "A" point at the Agriculture Council on 27 June. Member States will then have three years in which to implement the measure.

Conclusion

  9.7  We understand that, by the time the common position text was published, matters had moved on so far that it was deemed to have been superseded. Given that the Minister has given us a detailed update on the situation, and has deposited the Commission opinion in time for us to consider it before the Council, we are content with the situation on this occasion. We ask, however, that in future he provide an Explanatory Memorandum when a common position has been agreed, even if an official text is not available.

  9.8  It is good to learn that negotiations have been concluded satisfactorily. We clear the document.


 
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Prepared 11 July 2002