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Meeting summary: 9 December 2015

9 December 2015

The Committee considered the following documents:

Commission Opinion on reintroduction of internal border controls by Austria and Germany

In this Opinion, the Commission reviews the reintroduction by Austria and Germany of internal border controls in September. It concludes that the controls were a necessary and proportionate response to counter a serious threat to public policy and internal security resulting from the unprecedented flow of migrants to, or across, their territories. The Opinion also notes, however, that the Schengen Borders Code imposes strict limits on the duration of the controls. If they are maintained, a further assessment will be necessary which may draw a different conclusion. The UK does not participate in the border control elements of Schengen. The Government recognises that the reintroduction of internal Schengen border controls "is ultimately a decision for the Schengen States", but expresses the UK's "strong interest" in ensuring that Schengen States effectively combat illegal transit into and across their borders, and that there is a strong external EU border. Given the pace of events, the Committee asks the Minister to provide an update on recent developments, to clarify how long the controls can remain in place, and to explain the Government's position on the effectiveness and sustainability of the framework established by the Schengen Borders Code for ensuring security within the Schengen free movement area. Meanwhile, the Commission Opinion remains under scrutiny.

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development

This is the successor to the EU's 2010-2015 GAP I (formally, the Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development, or GEWE).  The Commission to date has made slow progress in implementing GEWE in its development activity.  The Millennium Development Goals are to be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".
In its first Report on GAP II (the new EU Action Plan on GEWE) in October, the Committee retained the Commission Staff Working Document under scrutiny and asked the Minister (Baroness Verma) to provide her assessment of how the October "Development" Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on GAP II would ensure that words were turned into actions, and that those actions were properly evaluated.

Direction to the Commission

The last paragraph of the Council Conclusions provides clear direction to the Commission: "An institutional and cultural shift along with strengthened proactive leadership are a necessary precondition to achieve gender equality in all EU external relations, and for the full implementation of the thematic areas. The Council therefore calls on the Commission and the High Representative to ensure that this institutional cultural shift is realised quickly and in full. It will need to be accompanied by strong communication, adequate training and active involvement of EU Delegations and Member States' embassies."

There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming years to see how well the Commission, and the Member States, respond.  In the meantime, the Committee now clears the Commission Staff Working Document from scrutiny, and draws these developments to the attention of the International Development Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee.

Other legally and/or politically important documents

We are also reporting on documents relating to:

(‘NC' indicates document is ‘not cleared'; ‘C' indicates document is ‘cleared')

  • Business, Innovation and Skills: Accession of Liberia to the World Trade Organisation [Proposed Decision] (C); Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference – subset of Doha issues [Proposed Decision] (NC); WTO waiver on services for least developed countries: EU offer [Proposed Decision] (C); Single Market Strategy [Commission Communication] (NC)
  • Culture, Media and Sport: International cooperation to combat match-fixing [Proposed Decisions] (NC)
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Fisheries: catch quotas and effort limitation for 2016 [Proposed Regulation] (NC)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office: EU support for policing in Afghanistan [Council Decision] (C); EU Special Representatives: wider issues [Council Decision] (C)
  • International Development: Policy Coherence for Development [Commission Staff Working Document] (C)
  • HM Treasury: EU General Budget for 2016 [Proposed Decisions & Letters of amendments] (C); Capital Markets Union and related financial services  [Proposed Regulations & Commission Staff Working Documents] (C)

Further information

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