Scrutiny of EU Proposals.

The first item is COM (2002) 759 on the approximation of the laws relating to electromagnetic compatibility. Although this proposal was initiated in 2002, it is still at an early stage of debate. Currently Directive No. 336 of 1989, as amended, provides for fixed electrical machinery and consumer type goods. The current measure provides separate and appropriate frameworks for both. An additional goal is that the most appropriate formalities are fulfilled for both types of equipment. One would not have the same formality for a minor piece of equipment as for a major piece of machinery. The National Standards Authority of Ireland has been retained by the Department to consult with industry in the matter.

The purpose of this regulation is to revise the existing directive on the electromagnetic compatibility of electric and electronic equipment. In doing so, it is to simplify regulatory procedures for manufacturers of electronic goods. It will also increase the quality of information and documentation for inspection authorities in the context of harmonised standards for certification and CE branding. It will guarantee better protection for consumers and provide simpler, clearer regulation for industry.

This measure, COM (2002) 759, aims to update the existing directive, as part of the simpler measure legislation of the Internal Market programme. The revision proposed, aims to clarify the scope of the directive by means of improved definitions; clarify the role of harmonised standards; simplify the conformity assessment procedure; and improve market surveillance through better traceability of the manufacturer. It is proposed that this measure does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed?

My concern is not about the directive, but as to which Department deals with these matters. It states in the documentation that it appeared at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, but upon further consideration, it was agreed that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment was more appropriate. How are these matters channelled into the relevant Departments? Does it arrive at some undefined desk somewhere and then that person decides which Department it goes to.

It depends on which of the Councils are dealing with it as to where the Commission will bring it. The difficulty is that there might not be in each Council's formation an exact counterpart to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Once it is clear which Department would be dealing with it at the Council, it is sent to that Department. In this case, the lead Department is Enterprise, Trade and Employment. In the UK, it is the Department of Education and Employment, so there is no exact national level.

One can imagine that proposals such as this arriving in limbo, resulting in a game of administrative ping pong deciding where it should reside.

It is probable that the Irish permanent representatives at COREPER that would guide it to the relevant Department. Is it agreed that COM (2002) 759 does not warrant further scrutiny? Agreed.

COM (2003) 175 is proposal on the management of fishing fleets registered in the outermost regions. The current management arrangements for fishing fleets provide that member states can grant public aid for fleet renewal over the period 2003 to 2004. However, the overall capacity of the fleets must be 3% less than on the levels at the end of 2002. More preferential arrangements were considered appropriate for fleets in the outermost regions, French overseas departments, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. This regulation provides for such preferential treatment. The boats concerned are small inshore vessels that engage in local fishing in these regions. Article 299[2] makes provision for such measures. The proposal does not have any implications for Ireland as we have no fishing interests in those regions. It is proposed that this measure does not warrant scrutiny.

It is not that we have fishing interests in those regions, but with the Atlantic Dawn we do have interests in other distant parts of the world. Are these boats, referred to in the document, local fishing boats in the Azores or the Canaries? Or are they part of the major Spanish and Portuguese fleets?

I understand the boats belong to the local fishermen for local fishing. I understand that if they wish to go further afield, they have to register again.

We should be supportive of such arrangements.

COM (2003) 277 deals with sweeteners in use of foodstuffs. Directive 35 of 1994 harmonises the use of sweeteners in foodstuffs. This directive sets out a list of authorised sweeteners, the foodstuffs in which they may be used and their conditions of use with a view to protecting public health. It is amended to take account of technical and scientific developments. The current measure, following such advice, proposes an amendment to provide for the authorisation of two new sweeteners, - sucralose and the salt of aspartame and acesulfame. It will reduce the maximum usable dosage for cyclamates - artificial sweeteners - through the deletion of certain categories of use, for example chewing gum. It will also confer on to the Commission, through the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, the power to decide whether a substance is a sweetener within the meaning of the directive.

The Department of Health and Children has indicated that it has no difficulties with the proposal to authorise these new sweeteners. Members might note that this proposal is an amended version of a proposal already considered by the sub-committee at its first substantive meeting on 10 October 2002. The original proposal COM (2002) 375 was referred to the Joint Committee on Health and Children. It is proposed that this measure does not warrant further scrutiny.

Are these sweeteners derived from sugar cane or sugar beet?

I am not sure, but I believe they are artificially manufactured.

What is the base of the manufacture?

Does controlled chlorination of sucrose mean anything to Deputy Ned O'Keeffe?

No, as I am not a scientist.

I know there are difficulties in understanding these matters. However, if the Deputy requires further information, we can get it for him.

COM (2003) 306 deals with detergents. The objective of the proposal is the free movement of detergents in the internal market by supplementing existing chemical legislation and by updating the existing detergent directives. It focuses on biodegradability of surfactants, which are substances designed to reduce tension of liquid to allow it to better penetrate solids, and on the protection of the environment. It proposes new biodegradability tests which are applicable to all types of surfactants to ensure a higher level of environmental protection. An earlier draft of this regulation, COM (2002) 458, was brought to the sub-committee's attention in September 2002, and the recommendation was for no further scrutiny. Political agreement has been reached on this measure at Council. It is proposed that the measure does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

COM (2003) 357 concerns restrictions on economic and financial relations with Iraq. This proposal follows from UN Security Council Resolution 1483 that replaces earlier restrictive measures relating to Iraq. It also provides for a continuing ban on trade in military materials with Iraq.

The regulation would ban the trade in or transfer of Iraq's cultural heritage and in petroleum products, if payments for such products are not deposited into the development fund for Iraq.

It also covers the freezing of all funds and economic resources of former President Hussein, immediate members of his family and of senior officials of his regime. This proposal seeks to give an effect to a UN Security Council Resolution. It is therefore proposed that the measure does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The following proposals arose due to a Commission policy in 1987 to codify legislative Acts after no more than ten amendments, stressing that this is a minimum requirement and that, where possible, such codification should take place earlier. Codification involves no substantial changes in legislation, but simply brings together in one measure a series of related instruments. It is part of a process of simplifying and clarifying Community law so as to make it clearer and more accessible. It is understood from the Department of Agriculture and Food that a number of such codification measures are due shortly, and there are two on today's agenda from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The first measure is Com (2003) 252, regarding electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits. EU Directive 23 of 1972 was adopted with the aim of harmonising the laws of the member states relating to electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits. It was amended in 1993 by the marketing directive which provides for the applicationof a label to all electrical goods, which certifies that such goods conform with harmonised standards.

The current proposal seeks to codify both measures into a single instrument. It is proposed that this measure does not warrant further scrutiny.

On the blue explanation form, it says that it is somewhat unusual that this exercise is being undertaken, as it usually happens only when a significant number of amendments has been made to the original. Do we know why this one is being codified after only one amendment?

I asked the same question, because normally, they codify somewhere before it gets to ten amendments. They never let it go beyond ten. I think it is because it is a technical wording that they have the two amendments in one codified regulation, as being the best thing to do. It is a simplification measure.

Com (2003) 297 is another of these. It is a common organisation of the market in pigmeat. This is a technical regulation which seeks to update and codify all of the amendments that apply to the organisation of the pigmeat market. The market has been regulated by Com (1975) 75, as amended on ten occasions since then. This proposal simply codifies all of these amendments and the basic regulation into a new regulation. I am advised that the content does not change. It is proposed that this does not warrant further scrutiny.

We should get an opinion from our resident pig expert. It is too advanced for me.

I have no doubt that the Deputy concerned was aware of every comma in the regulation.

Com (2003) 243 has regard to injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests. In 1998, EU Directive No. 27 of 1998 on the protection of consumer's collective interests, known as the Injunctions Directive, was adopted. This measure provided that qualified entities, such as the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, can, for the purpose of protecting the collective interests of consumers, apply to the circuit court for an order requiring the cessation or prohibition of an infringement of the national law concerning misleading advertising, contracts negotiated away from business premises, consumer credit, television broadcasting activities, package travel, advertising of medicinal products, unfair terms in consumer contracts, timeshare and distance contracts.

Since 1998, four related directives have been enacted. These directives relate to the sale of consumer goods and guarantees, legal aspects on information society services, the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use and the distance marketing of financial services.

The current proposal seeks to codify the Injunctions Directive, taking into account the provisions of these four subsequent directives. It is proposed that this measure does not warrant further scrutiny. Agreed? Agreed.

To sum up, it is proposed that items 1.1 to 1.8, inclusive, do not warrant further scrutiny. The next set of proposals relate to a document which it is proposed to refer to sectoral committees for further scrutiny.

Com (2003) 199 has regard to the right of citizens of the European Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states. I draw committee members' attention to the opening sentence. The measure is described by the Department as being one of major significance. Further information received yesterday regarding this proposal has been circulated to members. At one level it can be viewed as a consolidation measure as it proposes to consolidate the existing body of two regulations and nine directives which currently relate to the free movement of EU citizens into one instrument.

I wish to point out the difference between codifying and consolidation. Codifying simply brings things together, while with consolidation one can add or delete. With consolidation, changes can be made.

However, the Commission, as part of the exercise, has also sought to widen the scope of the existing legislation in several areas, in particular in relation to the family, Article 2.

The stated directive of the proposal is to facilitate the right to free movement and residence by reducing administrative formalities to an absolute minimum; by creating as clear a definition as possible of the status of family members; by creating a permanent right of residence acquired after a continuous period of four years of legal residence in a member state and by restricting the possibility of member states to refuse or terminate right of residence on the grounds of public policy.

However, the use of very ambiguous language in article two of the proposal means that the full implications of the measure remain unclear. The Department has been asked for a supplementary note detailing precisely the principles taken from current European Court of Justice case law that are being given legislative force by this measure. We got some information on that in the note that arrived yesterday.

It is recommended that this measure be forwarded for further scrutiny to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights. It is also recommended that it be brought to the attention of other sectoral committees which might have an interest in this matter. Agreed? Agreed.

Regarding the distinction between consolidation and codification, is it correct that consolidation can involve no change, and codification can involve some change?

It is the other way around.

I was chairman of a consolidation committee, and the Attorney General had to certify that in fact there was no change at all.

That is because there was no change in the consolidation. The consolidation proposal in front of us involves change. They are widening the scope. With a codification they would simply bring things together.

There seem to be some changes involved here.

I think I will have to take up law.

I do not agree with the reference made. It is incorrect. It should be referred for further scrutiny.

There are implications in this that need very careful consideration. I think we should refer it.

Item 2.2 is Com (2003) 270, Green Paper on services of general interest. Services of general interest, SGIs, cover both market and non-market services, which public authorities class as being of general interest and subject to specific public service obligations. They include, amongst others, postal services, energy, health, education and social services. These services affect the whole role of public authorities in the market economy in two ways. First, they are designed to ensure the effective functioning of the market and, second, they ensure at the same time that citizens have access to certain essential services.

The Green Paper is centred around 30 questions, not of all of which will be relevant to certain public authorities or agencies. It is proposed to refer this Green Paper to the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Businesses for further scrutiny. It is also recommended that each Oireachtas committee should be asked to forward its observations, if any, to the sub-committee for consideration. Is that agreed? Agreed.

We now move to the proposals which have been adopted prior to scrutiny. I know concerns were raised at our previous meeting with regard to such proposals and we will come back to this matter at the end of the meeting.

The first item is COM (2003) 30 regarding Community tariff provisions laid down between the European Community and Chile. There is a slight difference in this case in so far as it was also an international treaty. As an international treaty, it was, in fact referred to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, but it should have come as a regulation in the normal course. It has been considered by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, so is it agreed to note? Agreed.

COM (2003) 141 relates to the administration of a tariff quota for imports of canned tuna. It follows a World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in November 2001, where both the Philippines and Thailand supported a consensus on the EC request for preferential treatment for canned tuna originating in the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific states. This consensus was arrived at, on the understanding that the EC had agreed to hold consultations on the matter. The consultations failed to agree on the rate of duty to be applied on imports of tuna from the Philippines and Thailand, which the EU set at 24% as against nil duties from ACP countries. Both the Philippines and Thailand argued that the rate constituted an undue impairment of their legitimate interests. The matter went to mediation under the auspices of the WTO. In December 2002 the mediator proposed that the tariff should be 12%ad valorem, and a quota of 25,000 tonnes for 2003. This opinion was acceptable to both parties. The measure was adopted by Council on 5 June 2003. I understand the Department has expressed its regret at the delay in presenting this measure. It is proposed to note. Is that Agreed? Agreed.

An issue relevant to both these matters has to do with the WTO. If an agreement is reached with the WTO in the forthcoming round, does that then become Community law? In other words, to what extent do the regulations catch up or is it a question that once WTO agreement is reached, that the Community is superseded?

I am advised that depending on the nature of the agreement, if the regulations are actually required to be turned into a directive, then they are dealt with in this way through the legislative procedure. If not, they can come into effect through administrative function.

We will now deal with CFSP measures, Common Foreign and Security Policy measures, which are to be noted by the sub-committee. Members will be aware that the Chair had been briefed of these agreements in advance, under the procedures for handling confidential measures. I was briefed before they were decided upon, in a written form.

CFSP (2003) 402 relates to the application of specific measures to combat terrorism. This updating measure is based on an earlier one scrutinised by the sub-committee. It lists individuals and groups concerning the application of specific measures to combat terrorism. It is proposed to note. Is that agreed? Agreed.

CFSP (2003) 423 relates to joint action on the European Union military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Operation Artemis is the deployment of an EU-led stabilisation force in the north-east of the Congo and is authorised by this CFSP joint action. The joint action is also based on a UN mandate through resolution 1484. This authorises the deployment until 1 September 2003 of an interim emergency force in Bunia. France, as the major contribution to the force, is the framework nation for the operation and as members will be aware, Ireland is currently contributing four military personnel to it. The operation is mandated to contribute to the stabilisation of the security situation in the Bunia region, which had seen renewed conflict in recent months. It is proposed to note the measure. Is that agreed? Agreed.

CFSP (2003) 444 relates to the common position on the International Criminal Court. This common position is effectively a reaffirmation of the EU's position of support for the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague. It could also be seen as a means to encourage associated countries to give their maximum support to the operation of the court. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The following joint actions relate to the further extension of the mandates of special representatives of the European Union in a number of troubled parts of the world. The sub-committee, at an earlier meeting, had examined each of these appointments of special representatives. I will take them together. They are simply extending mandates and we have already examined them.

Council document 10376/03, with regard to the Council joint action, extends the mandate of EU special representative to the Middle East, Mr. Miguel Moratinos.

CFSP (2003) 446 is a Council joint action, which extends the mandate of Mr. Alexis Brouhns as the special representative in FYROM until 31 December 2003.

CFSP (2003) 447 is a Council joint action, which extends the mandate of Mr. AldoAjello as the EU special representative to the African Great Lakes region, until 31 December 2003.

CFSP (2003) 448 is a Council joint action, which extends the mandate of Mr. Francesc Vendrell as the EU special representative in Afghanistan, until 31 December 2003.

CFSP (2003) 449 is a Council joint action, which extends the mandate of Mr. ErhardBusek as the special representative of theEuropean Union, to act as special co-ordinatorof the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europeuntil 31 December 2003. All of those areextending measures. Are there any commentsor can we note them all? Is that agreed?Agreed.

The last item on the scrutiny agenda to day is No. 51, which is a Title IV measure. This is Council document 9870/03 on the creation of an immigration liaison officers network. I understand that the legal basis for this proposal has been the subject of some discussion,with both Great Britain and the Republicof Ireland pointing out that they do notbelieve they are automatically party to this Schengen-related proposal. I also understand that both member states point out that compliance with this proposal does not arise from their existing information-sharing commitment within the Schengen context. The Department has also indicated that a number of member states which do not question the legal basisof the proposal, do however query the needfor it.

The proposed measure seeks to establish a formalised structure for co-operation between liaison officers from member states. Member states that argue against the need for such a formalised structure, I understand, point out that such co-operation is successfully achieved currently through existing informal arrangements. The Department has indicated that its proposal is likely to be amended to take account of Irish and British concerns over its legal basis and that therefore the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas will be required for this Title IV measure. It is proposed to forward this measure to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights for further consideration and that the Department be asked to keep that committee informed of developments concerning the debate on the legal basis of the proposal. Is that agreed? .Agreed.

The minutes of the meeting of 26 June 2003 have been circulated. Are the minutes agreed? Agreed.