Assembly Committees – Priorities for European Scrutiny in 2013
Committee: Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
Date: Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Reference: NIA 108/11-15
Mandate Report Number: Sixth Report
Together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report, Minutes of Evidence, and Written Submissions
The Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is a Statutory Committee established in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Belfast Agreement, Section 29 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and under Assembly Standing Order 48. The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and has a role in the initiation of legislation.
The Committee has power to:
- Consider and advise on Departmental Budgets and Annual Plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
- Approve relevant secondary legislation and take the Committee stage of relevant primary legislation;
- Call for persons and papers;
- Initiate inquiries and make reports; and
- Consider and advise on matters brought to the Committee by the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
1. This Report has its origins in one of the action points in the Inquiry into the Consideration of European Issues carried out by the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (the Committee) and published in February 2011:
… Research and Library Services will screen the annual European Legislative and Work Programme and produce a prioritised menu of scrutiny topics relevant to each statutory committee….
2. This action had largely been progressed on an individual committee basis with RaISe. The Assembly’s European Project Manager developed a proposal, based on the approach adopted in the Scottish Parliament, for a pilot project in which RaISe would carry out a single exercise to review the Commission’s Work Programme for 2013 for measures relevant to the work of all statutory committees.
3. The Chairpersons’ Liaison Group was briefed on the proposal in October 2012 and Chairpersons were content.
4. At its meeting on 24 October 2012, the Committee approved the proposed criteria to be used by RaISe in preparing its analysis of the Commission’s Work Programme and for prioritising items which statutory committees may wish to scrutinise. Following this, at its meeting on 12 December 2012, the Committee considered the RaISe analysis and formally agreed to forward the relevant section to each statutory committee and seek each committee’s views on its European priorities for the year ahead.
5. The Committee also agreed to write to Northern Ireland’s MEPs and to the Department to seek their views on the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2013.
6. Appendix 1 to the Report contains the responses received by the Committee.
7. Appendix 2 contains the responses received by the Committee from MEPs.
8. Appendix 3 contains the RaISe analysis of the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2013.
9. Some of the priorities identified by committees are listed in bullet point format below but reference should be made to the relevant committee response at Appendix 1 for more information on the priorities and proposed committee actions.
10. At the end of 2013 the Committee plans to ask statutory committees to contribute to a follow up Report on Committees European Activity in 2013 with a view to a take note debate on both Reports.
11. Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
- EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
- EU enlargement – in the context of the Executive’s priority to “Share our experience of conflict resolution to assist others”.
- Subsidiarity – developing effective systems for monitoring and scrutiny.
- Evaluation of PEACE III and implications for PEACE IV.
- Review of the role of the Committee’s EU advisory panel.
- Development and dissemination of expertise in drawing down competitive EU funding.
- Scrutiny of the implementation of Executive’s European Priorities for 2013/14 and the work of the Barosso Taskforce and Taskforce Working Group.
12. Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development
- Reform of Common Agriculture Policy.
- The Common Fisheries Policy.
- Implementation of EU Regulation – no “gold plating”.
- Scrutiny of the process and systems around Single Farm Payments.
- DARD’s response to infraction proceedings.
- DARD’s approach to other EU funding.
13. Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
- The Creative European Programme 2014-2020.
- Intellectual Property Rights Strategy.
- Online Distribution of Audio-visual Works in the EU (Green Paper).
- Draft Bill on music piracy and copyright protection.
- Term of Music Copyright Directive 2011/77/EU.
- Promoting Cultural and Creative Sectors for Growth and Jobs in the EU (European Commission Communication).
- Work Plan for Sport: Developing the European Dimension.
- Sport Sub-Programme.
- Horizon 2020.
14. Committee for Employment and Learning
- Proposals for reinforcing partnering in research and innovation in Horizon 2020.
- Modernisation of Public Employment Services.
- Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion.
- Review of the Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulations.
- State Aid modernisation – General Block Exemption Regulations.
- Internationalisation of Higher Education.
- State Aid modernisation in key sectors.
- European Platform to fight undeclared work.
15. Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
- The Annual Growth Survey.
- State Aid modernisation: General Block Exemption Regulation.
- State Aid modernisation in key sectors.
- Review of the Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation.
- Energy technologies and innovation in a future European Energy Policy and new climate and energy framework for the period to 2030.
- Reforming the internal market for industrial products.
- Fighting misappropriation of trade secrets.
- Reducing the cost of broadband infrastructure.
- Action Plan on Wireless Communications for a Connected Europe.
- Environmental climate and energy assessment framework to enable safe and secure unconventional hydrocarbon extraction.
16. Committee for the Environment
- EU’s Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change.
- The new Climate and Energy Framework for the period up to 2030.
- Review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and associated legislation.
- Review of Waste Policy and legislation.
- Environmental Climate and Energy assessment Framework to Enable Safe and Secure Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction.
- Post 2015 Development Agenda and the follow-up to Rio+20 including Development of Sustainable Development Goals.
17. Committee for Finance and Personnel
- Common Strategic Framework regulations and funds.
- Initiative on E-invoicing in the field of public procurement.
- Communication on guidelines for standards-based public procurement of ICT systems.
18. Committee for Justice
- Special Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings for Suspected or Accused Persons who are Vulnerable.
- Service in the Member States of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters.
- Framework for Administrative Measures for the Freezing of Funds, Financial Assets and Economic Gains of Persons and Entities Suspected of Terrorist Activities inside the EU.
- Fighting Money Laundering.
- Fighting Cigarette Smuggling.
- Initiatives on Firearms: Reducing Gun Crime in Europe.
- EU Directive on Human Trafficking.
- EU Directive on standards relating to the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.
- Primary legislation to permit the mutual recognition of judgements and probation decisions.
- The UK’s 2014 Opt-out decision.
19. Committee for Regional Development
- Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
- Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
20. Committee for Social Development
- The Bank Account Legislative Package.
- The European Platform to Fight Undeclared Work.
- Effective Institutions for occupational retirement pensions.
21. The Committee for Education and the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety reported that there were no measures relevant to their work identified in the RaISe analysis of the Commission’s Work Programme.