Skip to main content

European Statutory Instruments Committee publishes twenty-second report

26 March 2021

Following the Committee's meeting on Tuesday 23 March, its twenty-second report of Session 2019-21 has been published.

Report findings

The Committee agreed that the negative procedure should apply to the following instruments:

  • The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2021
  • The Official Controls, Plant Health, Seeds and Seed Potatoes (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021
  • The European Union (European Schools) Regulations 2021
  • The Road Tunnel Safety (Amendment) Regulations 2021

The Committee agreed that the affirmative procedure should apply to the 'Criminal Justice (Electronic Commerce) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021'.

The purpose of this instrument is to amend domestic legislation which implements a reciprocal arrangement known as the 'Country of Origin principle' (CoOp) which forms part of the e-Commerce Directive.

The e-Commerce Directive applies to all EEA states with the aim of simplifying rules for companies when operating online across borders.

These rules apply to companies which meet the definition of 'information society services'.

This covers the vast majority of online service providers, for example online retailers, video sharing sites, search tools, social media platforms and internet service providers.

The instrument amends primary legislation. The changes made to each Act have substantially the same effect. In respect of domestic information society services providers, they remove liability under UK law for offences committed in EEA states, as well as the ability to prosecute those offences in the UK. In respect of EEA-based information society service providers, they remove the restriction on bringing prosecutions in the UK for offences committed in the UK.

The Committee is concerned that the effect of this instrument could be to dilute regulation of the international effect of publication of certain kinds of material (particularly online material with global reach) as it is not clear whether equivalent offences exist across the EEA.

Given the serious nature of the offences covered by the instrument, and the ambiguity surrounding parallel offences in other EEA countries, the Committee believes that this issue is of sufficient political importance to justify the scrutiny and debate afforded by affirmative resolution.

Proposed negative instruments

You can find proposed negative instruments, and follow their scrutiny journey, using the Parliamentary Statutory Instruments tracker.

The Committee welcomes comments from the public. If you would like to comment on a proposed negative instrument which has been laid for sifting by the committee please use our engagement tool ESIPET.

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright