Select Committee on European Union Fiftieth Report


Evidence from the Commission on the Commission's Annual Work Programme


Background

1.  The Commission's Annual Work Programme is one of the main elements of the annual planning cycle in the European Commission. When this procedure was introduced in 2001 the Government argued that a second chamber of the European Parliament was required to scrutinise such over-arching policy documents. This Committee rejected that proposal, and suggested instead that there was a need for thorough scrutiny of the Work Programme by national parliaments.

2.  In July 2002 the Committee published a report detailing how national parliaments could best scrutinise the Annual Work Programme[1]. The Committee concluded that there should be annual parliamentary scrutiny of the work programme on the basis of a final draft produced by the Commission in September. This resulted in our first evidence session with the Commission in October 2002 which was later published[2].

Annual Work Programme 2004

3.  The purpose of this Report is to present to the House our session of evidence with the Commission held on 19 November 2003 which was based on the Commission's draft of the Work Programme. We are grateful to the Commission witnesses for appearing before us. An index of the topics covered in the evidence appears below.

4.  In devising the Legislative Programme for 2004 the Commission has been faced with two over-riding constraints: the need to integrate the ten new Member States and the European elections in June and the end of this Commission's mandate (see Box). As a result, the Legislative Programme for 2004 has been reduced to those initiatives that are said to be 'absolutely necessary and feasible'[3].

5.  Our seven Sub-Committees will pursue individual policy questions raised during this evidence as part of their ongoing scrutiny over the coming year. The Committee intends to report again to the House in the New Year on any substantive issues arising from the final text of the Annual Work Programme for 2004 when deposited for scrutiny. In the meantime, we make this Report for the information of the House.

6.  The topics covered in the evidence printed below are as follows:

  • Introduction (Q 1)
  • General Questions
    • Multi-Annual Programming (QQ 2-4)
    • Better Law Making (Q 5)
    • Impact Assessments (QQ 6, 7)
    • Volume and Timing of Proposals (Q 8)
  • Economic Affairs (QQ 9-12)
  • External Affairs (Q 13)
  • Environment and Agriculture (QQ 14-17)
  • Justice and Home Affairs (QQ 18-20)
  • Law and Institutions (Q 21)



1   The Scrutiny of European Union Business: The Commission's Annual Work Programme (HL Paper 141, 25th Report session 2001-02, 2 July 2002) Back

2   The Commission's Annual Work Programme 2003 (HL Paper 188, 38th Report session 2001-02, 5 November 2002) Back

3   The Commission's Legislative and Work Programme for 2004 (COM(2003) 645 final, 29 October 2003), p.3 Back


 
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