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Meeting summary: 4 November 2015

5 November 2015

The Committee considered the following documents:

Commission Work Programme 2016

On 27 October the Commission adopted its 2016 Work Programme, setting out how it plans to give practical effect to European Commission President Juncker's ten Political Guidelines, announced in July 2014. The previous European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) argued for improved scrutiny of the Commission Work Programme by the House of Commons, and recommended that the ESC in future work with other Select Committees to set out, in a single consolidated document, which of the Work Programme's proposals merited particular scrutiny. We are writing today to all Select Committees with an interest, asking for their assessments of the most important proposals in, and omissions from, the CWP 2016, and of any potential subsidiarity issues, by 4 December. We will draw on their responses in our scrutiny of the Work Programme in the coming weeks.

Restrictive measures against Iran: nuclear issues (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)

On 14 July 2015, the E3 3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States), supported by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Federica Mogherini), reached an agreement with Iran — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  On 20 July 2015, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 (2015), endorsing the JCPOA. Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1336 of 31 July 2015 and Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1327 of 31 July 2015 transposed the UNSCR into EU law. They were considered by the Committee on 9 September, and recommended for debate on the floor of the House, with that debate to take place as soon as possible after the House's return from the Conference recess.
 
These further documents make amendments to the long-standing EU nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, in accordance with the JCPOA. But they will not be implemented until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has taken the agreed steps on its nuclear programme. We remind the Government that it is now two months since that recommendation, and urge it to arrange the debate as soon as possible.  The documents remain under scrutiny, pending the holding of the debate, of which they should form part.

EU Special Representatives

EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) are appointed where the Council agrees with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that an additional EU presence on the ground is needed to deliver the political objectives of the Union. The EU currently has eight EUSRs in different countries and regions of the world. The EUSRs promote the EU's policies and interests in troubled regions and countries, and play an active role in efforts to consolidate peace, stability and the rule of law.
 
The EUSRs in question on this occasion — Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Horn of Africa, Kosovo, the Sahel — are plainly well suited to their brief, and performing well. The proposed 16-month mandate extensions raise no questions in and of themselves. But, as was noted in our Report last week on the EUSR for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, there is a long-standing and important, over-arching policy issue in play concerning who controls the EUSR's appointment and activities — the Council, as is the case now, in line with the purported Member State control of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); or the HR/European External Action Service (EEAS). Pending the Minister's response to our request for an update, that draft Council Decision remains under scrutiny. In the meantime, we clear these others from scrutiny, save for the one on the EUSR Sahel because of the legal and scrutiny issues that are raised in this case only.

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: Global satellite navigation systems [Commission Decision] (C); Collective redress [Commission Communication & Recommendation] (C)
  • Culture, Media and Sport: The Telecommunications Single Market [Commission Communication & Proposed Regulations] (C)
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Review of EU Biodiversity Strategy [Commission Report] (C)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan (C); EU and Georgia: EU Monitoring Mission [Council Decision] (C)
  • Justice: Collective redress [Commission Communication & Recommendation] (C)
  • HM Treasury: EU General Budget for 2016 [Proposed Decisions, Draft Budgets, Letter of amendment No. 1 & No 2] (C)

Further information

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