Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Twenty-First Report



17.  This bill relates to the Treaty ("the Accession Treaty") concerning the accession of ten new Members States to the European Union which was signed on 16 April 2003. The background and purpose of the bill are set out in the memorandum sent to the Committee by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The memorandum is printed at Annex 3 to this Report.


18.  The Accession Treaty grants nationals of two of the ten new Member States, Cyprus and Malta, the same rights to work in another Member State as are currently enjoyed by the nationals of existing Member States. The bill contains one delegated power, in clause 2, under which regulations made by the Secretary of State (subject to negative procedure) may provide for nationals of the other, eight acceding States (specified in clause 2(6)) ("the relevant acceding States") to enjoy the same rights of entry to and residence in the United Kingdom as workers who are nationals of the current European Economic Area.

19.  The need for this power is explained in the memorandum. Under the Accession Treaty, existing Member States will be able either to apply the provisions of Community law on free movement of workers from the eight relevant acceding States or, until 30 April 2009 (or, in limited circumstances, 30 April 2011), apply "national measures" or "bilateral agreements" (paragraphs 9 to 13). In December 2002, the Government announced that it would allow nationals of the eight relevant acceding States to work freely in the United Kingdom from the date of accession (paragraph 14). The memorandum states however (paragraph 18) that "in announcing its policy on free movement, the Government has emphasised the importance of providing safeguards in case the application of the policy should lead to unexpected and deleterious consequences for the labour market". Under the bill, if circumstances required, Ministers would have power to revoke or suspend the application of regulations or apply regulations to the nationals of the eight relevant acceding States in a modified or partial fashion.


20.  We are satisfied that this is an appropriate matter for delegated legislation but have concerns about the level of Parliamentary scrutiny. The period during which the power may be used is potentially one of seven years and the impact on the labour market of regulations (for example lifting restrictions imposed by earlier regulations) could be considerable. Since, under the relevant Treaty, nationals of the eight states have no immediate rights of entry, and there is no corresponding obligation on the United Kingdom to provide them, the scope for granting, or removing or suspending, rights over the transitional period is considerable. We have concluded that the appropriate level of scrutiny is the affirmative, rather than the negative procedure.

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