Select Committee on European Communities Eleventh Report



Letter from the Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister for Transport, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am writing further to Explanatory Memorandum 5803/96 COM (96) 57 FINAL of 18 April 1996 and the Supplementary Memorandum of 2 July 1996 (copies enclosed), which were produced in response to the European Commission's White Paper of March 1996 on Air Traffic Management - Freeing Europe's Airspace".

  As you may know, the Lords Committee considered the Community proposals and produced a report in July 1996 for the information of the House in which it recommended that the House's attention be drawn to the important questions raised in the White Paper. Paragraph 93 on page 18 gave the Committee's view of Community membership of EUROCONTROL:

  The Committee is, therefore, very strongly of the opinion that the Community should not itself become a member either of ECAC or EUROCONTROL, or of any new, unified European air traffic management body that might be established in their place."

  The previous Government responded to the report in October 1996.

  Since the publication of the White Paper, Europe's future involvement in Air Traffic Management (ATM) has been under consideration by Member States. At the June 1997 Transport Council, Ministers were asked to agree conclusions (by unanimity) on the future of ATM in Europe. Although our agreed line for the Council was that further work was needed on the practicalities and implications of Community membership of EUROCONTROL before it would be appropriate to take a decision, it quickly became clear that all other Member States did not oppose the principle of the Community becoming a member of EUROCONTROL. This was the first Transport Council meeting following the general election. Taking that into account I did not consider that this was an issue on which we should block progress unilaterally, so did not oppose the conclusions to the report. Accordingly, it was agreed inter alia that:

  Although there are also other options for Community involvement, the Council is of the view that membership is the most adequate form to express the involvement of the Community in EUROCONTROL."

  In the conclusions, the Council has instructed COREPER to prepare a list of the areas of Community competence that could be included in a draft negotiating mandate on Community membership of EUROCONTROL. An interim report will be submitted to the December Council. We expect that Ministers will be asked to vote (by qualified majority) on a negotiating mandate at that, or a subsequent, Council.

21 October 1997

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee to The Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister for Transport, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter of 21 October concerning the Commission's proposal that the Community should become a member of the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL).

  You refer to the Committee's report on the subject (15th Report, 1995-96, HL Paper 105) which concluded that Community membership of EUROCONTROL was undesirable, but explain why the Government has now agreed to such membership in principle.

  I have passed your letter to Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee B, which conducted the enquiry on which the Committee's report was based. Although the Sub-Committee may be disappointed by the outcome, I am sure they will be grateful to you for having kept the Committee informed of developments.

29 October 1997

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