HL Deb 11 October 2000 vol 617 cc38-9WA
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(a) whether they will publish the terms of the recent communication to the Government from the Commission of the European Communities under Regulation EC. No. 2679/98, 7 December 1998, relating to obstacles to free movement of goods, and the terms of their reply;

(b) whether no action, or failure to act, within the United Kingdom constitutes an "obstacle" under that regulation if is lawful under the laws of the United Kingdom; and

(c) whether they are obliged to enact any new review procedure by reason of paragraph 3 of the Resolution of the Council and Representatives of Governments which accompanied that regulation. [HL3845]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville):

(a) The Government have not received a communication from the European Commission under Regulation 2679/98 on the free movement of goods.

(b) Under the terms of the regulation, the Commission, if it considers that an obstacle to the free movement of goods is occurring in a member state, whether as a result of action or inaction on the part of the member state, will notify the member state of its reasons and request the member state to take all necessary and proportionate measures to remove the obstacle. If the obstacle is not removed then the Commission could institute proceedings against a member state for failure to ensure free movement of goods provided for in the EC Treaty. Ultimately the ECJ would decide whether a breach of the treaty had occurred.

(c) The Government do not believe that they are under any obligation to enact any new review procedure. Individuals harmed as a result of a breach of Articles 28 and 29 of the treaty could take the state concerned to court and claim compensation if they could prove a sufficiently serious breach of Community law.