EUROPEAN UNION (ACCESSIONS) BILL |
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.