HL Deb 28 February 1995 vol 561 cc93-4WA
Lord Marlesford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will publish in the Official Report the text of the letter dated 10th January 1995 from the Parliamentary Secretary (Lords) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to Lord Marlesford, describing the circumstances in which the Council of Ministers of the European Union can recall for decision proposals made by the European Commission which have been made under delegation of powers by the Council to the Commission.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe)

Yes. The text of my letter of 10 January 1995 to the noble Lord is published below:

"During questions on 14 December about the EC proposal which would set limits for nitrate in lettuce and spinach, you asked whether the Council could recall particular Commission proposals for implementing measures. In reply, I noted that Commission proposals have had to return to the Council but, when we spoke afterwards, I promised to write providing a full answer to your question.

"Article 145 of the Treaty, which deals with the delegation of implementing powers to the Commission, allows the Council to impose procedural requirements on the way the Commission exercises such powers: and also provides for those procedures to be codified in advance in a Council Decision. The Decision in question (No 87.373, known as the Comitology Decision) lays down three main types of procedure each involving Committees composed of representatives of Member States—Advisory Committee, Management Committee and Regulatory Committee—chaired by the Commission, which deliver opinions on proposals for Commission legislation.

"Both the Management Committee and Regulatory Committee procedures, but not the Advisory Committee procedure, require proposals to be referred to the Council for decision in certain circumstances. Under the Management Committee procedure, a proposal must be referred to the Council where the Committee votes against it by qualified majority, while the Regulatory Committee procedure requires the proposal to he submitted to the Council if the Committee does not approve the measure by qualified majority. The Management Committee and Regulatory Committee procedures come in two variants but in each case the Council has a period of time in which to take a different decision. In addition, the Comitology Decision sets out a further procedure which may be applied when the Council confers powers on the Commission to take safeguard measures. This does not include a specific provision for a procedure involving a Committee; instead, any Member State may appeal to the Council.

"The Comitology Decision does not specify which procedure should apply to particular subjects. However, for important matters, including the management of the agricultural commodities and fisheries markets, food law, animal and plant health, the Council has in delegating implementing powers to the Commission specified one of the procedures, usually either the Management or Regulatory Committee, which provide for recourse to the Council. The Commission's proposal on nitrates in lettuce and spinach is, for example, subject to the Regulatory Committee procedure.

"I hope you find this information helpful".