Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


INTELLIGENT ENERGY FOR EUROPE

Letter from the Chairman to Brian Wilson MP, Minister of State for Energy and Construction, Department of Trade and Industry

  Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated 22 May which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 10 June.

  We are, in principle, content to see a continuation of a Community Energy Framework Programme, and we accept that the present proposal makes a great deal of sense, but we should like to have your assessment of the performance of the previous Framework Programme.

  Like you, we, too, are concerned about the establishment of an executive agency when we do not know what legal basis has been agreed for it. We should like to know why the Government believes the setting up of such an agency is necessary and how will it interact with similar bodies in member States. We also agree with your view that if outsourcing to an agency is eventually accepted, you will ensure that this does not diminish the Commission's responsibility to see that this programme meets its targets.

  We share your concern that, unless the programme is clearly identified as being separate from existing national programmes, there will be a danger of double counting benefits if EU and Member States' national funds support the same projects.

  As therefore intend to maintain the Scrutiny reserve on this document until such time as you are able to reassure us about the status of the proposed executive agency, the unambiguous definition of programmes, and the identification of targets which will be directly attributable to the programme.

12 June 2002

Letter from Brian Wilson MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 12 June, advising me that your committee intends to maintain the Scrutiny Reserve until such time as you have received assurances about the status of the proposed executive agency, the unambiguous definition of programmes and the identification of targets directly attributable to the programme.

  As you will know from the Explanatory Memorandum I submitted in May, these are also matters that concern us, and which we will be taking up in the negotiations. It is clear there will be substantial pressure to reach an early agreement on this programme in order to avoid a hiatus at the end of 2002. I have asked my officials to keep your clerk informed of developments and I will write again when there is anything substantial to report.

16 July 2002

INTELLIGENT ENERGY FOR EUROPE (2003-06) 8324/02

Letter from Brian Wilson MP, Minister of State for Energy and Construction to the Chairman

  I submitted an Explanatory Memorandum 8324/02 in May 2002 on the Commission's proposal; for the "Intelligent Energy for Europe" programme. Lord Brabazon wrote to me on 12 June 2002, maintaining your scrutiny reserve on this document because of a number of concerns, notably over the Commission's desire to delegate management of the programme to an Executive Agency.

  My officials have been keeping your clerk informed of progress on this dossier, and I am now Writing to inform you of the outcome of the European Parliament's first reading on 20 November and the Energy Council on 25 November.

  The European Parliament approved the Commission's proposal with amendments, the most significant of which was the call for the establishment of a European Intelligent Energy Agency (amds 9, 25) and that the budget for the programme be increased to

255 million (amd 41). A copy of the European Parliament's decision is enclosed.

  The Council reached political agreement on the programme, and I enclose a copy of the agreed text. I am satisfied that this text meets the concerns that I raised in my EM, and which you echoed in your reply to me. You will note that the text is wholly silent on the question of an agency and that the Commission is responsible for the programme.

  The instrument permitting the Commission to devolve certain tasks to agencies has now been adopted (Council Regulation laying down the statute for such agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes COM(2001) 808 final), and the Commission must present any proposals for any agency to a Regulatory Committee.

  The Commission may choose to go down the agency route for this programme (and it has not yet decided to do so). If so, it will need to get the approval of a regulatory committee of Member States—the strongest form of committee—for its proposals. And, even if this is approved, it cannot devolve the responsibility—the Commission remains answerable for this programme.

  In these circumstances, I would ask you to reconsider whether you can now lift your reserve on the Intelligent Energy programme. Concerns about the use of an agency are not strictly a matter for this proposed decision, and any concerns are better raised in response to a specific proposal from the Commission in the Regulatory Committee. We will ensure that the Regulatory Committee is kept informed of any such concerns via the UK representative.

21 December 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Mr Brian Wilson MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 21 December 2002 which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 13 January 2003.

  We note that you are satisfied that the agreed text reached in Council satisfies the concerns raised both in your original Explanatory Memorandum, and in the letter that Lord Brabazon of Tara sent to you on 12 June 2002.

  We are reluctant to lift the Scrutiny reserve on this document because it has not been the practice for the Government to resubmit documents when proposals are put by the Commission to the Regulatory Committee. If you are able to confirm that the Government will submit a separate Explanatory Memorandum on this issue if a specific proposal goes from the Commission to the Regulatory Committee under the comitology procedure, then we would, of course, be prepared to lift the Scrutiny reserve on this document now.

  If you are not able to give us this assurance, then we would be reluctant to lift the Scrutiny reserve on this document.

15 January 2003

Letter from Brian Wilson MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 15 January. I understand that you have a continuing concern about the use of an executive agency to manage the Intelligent Energy programme.

  When I last wrote to you, it was not certain that the Commission would seek to avail itself of this option to manage the programme. I now understand that they are working up such a proposal and hope to have it ready so that it can be sent to the Regulatory Committee immediately after final adoption of the Intelligent Energy programme, which is not expected before March.

  The Regulatory Committee has not yet met, and it is quite possible that the proposal for an agency to run the Intelligent Energy programme will be the first it is called on to consider. In these unusual circumstances, and given your continuing interest, I am happy to provide an Explanatory Memorandum on the Commission's proposal once it is made.

  In the light of this undertaking, I would be grateful if you could now lift the reserve on the Intelligent Energy Programme, as promised in your letter.

31 January 2003

Letter from the Chairman to Brian Wilson MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 31 January 2003 which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 10 February.

  Thank you for your assurance that you will provide an Explanatory Memorandum on a Commission proposal to the Regulatory Committee once it has been made. We accordingly lift the Scrutiny reserve on the "Intelligent Energy for Europe" (2003-06) programme.

12 February 2003


 
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