Select Committee on European Communities Eleventh Report



Letter from Glenda Jackson CBE MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  At its meeting on 14 November 1996, your Sub-Committee considered an Explanatory Memorandum (EM) (10519/96). The Sub-Committee agreed to lift the scrutiny reserve for the time being but asked to be kept informed of progress in negotiations.

  The EM explained that the UK had no difficulty supporting measures which were contained within STCW 1995, but that the proposed directive went beyond STCW 1995 in a number of areas. Since then, negotiations at official level have sought to ensure that additional proposals were both workable and imposed no unnecessary burdens on industry. The EM mentioned three specific issues of concern at that time. During negotiations these issues have been addressed in the following way.

Issue and registration of certificates

  The text has been amended so that those requirements which might have caused the UK practical difficulties have been deleted. We can accept the amended text.

Accreditation of third country training institutes

  The Commission proposed that Member States should undertake an accreditation exercise for all third countries whose certificate holders might be employed on ships registered in Member States. This was opposed by the majority of Member States who felt that the Commission's proposals were inflexible and deliverable only with great difficulty. Having considered further the Commission's arguments, the UK has been persuaded of the majority opinion that the provision is unnecessary and bureaucratic in its proposed form. The issue is unresolved and is likely to be discussed at the Transport Council meeting in June, possibly on the basis of a compromise suggested by the Presidency.

Mandatory nature of certain provisions which are not mandatory in STCW 1995

  The proposal for the draft directive to make mandatory certain parts of the non-mandatory part (Part B) of the STCW Code has been withdrawn by the Commission. Member States accept that the Directive should refer to Part B but the precise wording of such a reference has not yet been agreed.

Cost to business

  The attached draft Compliance Cost Assessment (CCA) explains that there will be no additional cost to businesses in complying with the revised Directive. Those measures which are additional to the requirements of STCW 1995 are not expected to result in any additional costs for the UK shipping industry.


  It was previously intended that Member States should bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by 1 June 1997. However, given the slower than expected passage of the Directive, the date of implementation is expected to be 1 January 1999 or one year after the introduction of the Directive, whichever is later. It is hoped that the Directive will reach political agreement at the Transport Council meeting in June.

2 June 1997

Letter from Glenda Jackson CBE MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  On 17 October, my Department submitted an Explanatory Memorandum for the above proposed amending directive (reference number 10788/97). We have been informed that the proposal will go to the Agriculture Council for adoption today as an A" point. Since this proposed directive is very much supported by the UK, I have agreed that we will not maintain our scrutiny reserve. I am writing to explain that decision.

  The proposed directive was the subject of EM 10519/96, which was considered and cleared by your committee on 14 November 1996. The amendments which have been made since then are not of a fundamental nature. Indeed, as explained in my letter of 2 June 1997 to the Chairman of the House of Lords Sub-Committee B, all the areas of concern to the UK have been addressed satisfactorily. Political agreement was reached at the Transport Council meeting in June, on a text which included the revisions proposed in the Commission's document 10788/97.

  The proposed directive updates directive 94/58/EC in line with the revised international Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW Convention). The UK played a major role in the revision of the STCW Convention, and is fully committed to its implementation. The UK strongly supports the proposed directive as this will help to ensure a harmonised implementation of the revised Convention throughout the Member States of the European Community.

  It is unfortunate that the scrutiny procedure could not be completed before the vote was taken. However, in view of the beneficial nature of the proposed directive, and the fact the UK has previously agreed the proposal at a transport Council, I hope you will excuse our decision not to withhold agreement to the adoption of the proposed directive.

21 October 1997

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee to Glenda Jackson CBE MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter of 21 October.

  Since this matter is not a contentious one, and since the proposed Directive was previously cleared by the European Communities Committee without comment, I cannot take issue with your decision to agree to it at the Agricultural Council this week. However, it is always a matter of regret when the Government's commitment to honour the parliamentary scrutiny reserve is breached, and I hope, therefore, that this will not become a frequent occurrence.

22 October 1997

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