HC Deb 27 November 1998 vol 321 cc34-5W
Yvette Cooper

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EU Internal Market Council on 9 November. [61910]

Mr. Mandelson

My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe represented the UK at the Internal Market Council in Brussels on 9 November.

The Council considered three elements of the Single Market Action Plan, which aims to improve the operation of the Single Market. It discussed the rolling Joint Work Programme of the three Presidencies; Member States' progress towards implementation of the Single Market Action Plan; and mutual recognition. The Commission presented the latest Single Market Scoreboard, which showed that the number of directives not yet implemented in all Member States had been cut from 26.7 per cent. last November to 14.9 per cent. currently and noted that, at 15 October, 40 actions out of 66 of the Single Market Action Plan had been completed. There was agreement that the Single Market Scoreboard should be regularly updated to help maintain progress in building the Internal Market. The Commission gave a progress report on its work on mutual recognition of national standards.

The Commission introduced an open debate on legislative simplification with a report on the simpler Legislation for the Internal Market (SLIM) initiative. The Council expressed general support for continuing SLIM and Business Test Panels, the Commission initiative aimed at improving consultation with business on the likely impact of selected legislative proposals.

The Commission represented reports on: the Expert Committee on Commercial Communications, which is addressing trade barriers in the field of advertising, Public Procurement; a proposal for a directive which aims to set noise limits for tyres; the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the Single Market; the intervention mechanism aimed at removing obstacles to the Free Movement; the intervention mechanism aimed at removing obstacles to the Free Movement of Goods; and Units of Measurements (Supplementary Indications), with the Commission announcing its intention to extend dual metric-imperial marketing for a further ten years.

The Council reached political agreement on a measure on cableways, which harmonises safety aspect of cableways installations, and on the fee arrangements structure for the European Medicine Evaluation Agency (by a qualified majority with UK and Germany maintaining scrutiny reserves).

The Council also briefly discussed the draft chocolate directive and agreed to reconsider the dossier after further work by the Commission.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the issue of economic reform and organisation of Council business.