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Report on Assembly Committee Priorities for European Scrutiny 2015

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 11 March 2015

Reference: NIA 225/11-16

ISBN: 978-0-339-60571-8

Mandate Number: Mandate 2011/16 Thirteenth Report

report-on-assembly-committee-priorities-for-assembly-scrutiny-2015.pdf (2.99 mb)

Download the full report here.


1. This report sets out the European priorities for scrutiny by Assembly statutory committees for 2015. In setting their priorities committees have considered issues of relevance to them
which are included in the European Commission Work Programme for 2015.

2. The European Commission Work Programme is normally updated annually in the autumn. In 2014 elections to the European Parliament were held in May and a new Commission (the ‘Juncker Commission’) took office on 1 November. The 2015 work programme was therefore not adopted by the Commission until mid-December 2014.

3. The Commission Work Programme 2015 is significantly shorter than in previous years, containing 23 legislative and non-legislative policy initiatives. It also includes 80 proposals for withdrawal or modification and 79 actions for review under the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme. The Commission views this as a radically different approach and states

“What we commit to in this Work Programme are the things we will deliver in 2015. We will propose other actions to fulfil the ten priorities in our work programmes for future years – the preparatory work will start for some of these in 2015.” 1

The ten priorities are2:

  • A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment
  • A Connected Digital Single Market
  • A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy
  • A Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base
  • A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union
  • A Reasonable and Balanced Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.
  • An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust
  • Towards a New Policy on Migration
  • A Stronger Global Actor
  • A Union of Democratic Change

4. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office produced an Explanatory Memorandum on the Commission Work Programme 2015. This outlines the most significant initiatives and
the Government’s initial views on them. It includes details of measures within the work programme of interest to the devolved administrations and states

“The Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) has a close interest in the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, the Jobs and Growth Investment Programme, the Connecting Europe Facility, Horizon 2020, Digital Single Market, Regulatory Fitness and the EU Structural Funds Programme 2014-20. The NIE will also wish to follow developments in energy and climate change policy, waste policy, youth unemployment and TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership].”

5. In line with established practice, Assembly Research and Information Services (RaISe) produced an analysis of the Commission’s work programme which focused on devolved
issues of specific interest to statutory committees. The analysis is based upon a set of criteria agreed by the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on 24 October 2012. A copy of the analysis of the 2015 Commission Work Programme is included at Appendix 3.

6. The RaISe analysis was forwarded with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Explanatory Memorandum on 3 February 2015 to all statutory committees who were invited to provide a response detailing their European priorities for the year ahead. In addition to matters of relevance or interest from the Commission’s work programme, committees have highlighted other European related activity that they plan to undertake this year.

7. In following the approach taken in 2014 to streamline the reporting process, statutory committees have also provided a brief report on the activity undertaken on the 2014
European priorities as detailed in the Report on Assembly Committee Priorities for European Scrutiny in 2014.3

8. The key European priorities selected by Assembly committees for 2015 are set out below. The full reports, from each committee, including updates in respect of activity undertaken on 2014 priorities, are included at Appendix 2.

9. The Committee also wrote to the Northern Ireland Members of the European Parliament, members of the Committee of the Regions and representatives on the European Economic
and Social Committee for their views on priority areas for European engagement in 2015. The responses received are provided at Appendix 4.

10. The Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister will seek to hold a debate on this report following Easter 2015 recess.
Committee European Priorities 2015

11. The priorities for European engagement for statutory committees in 2015 are listed below.

Full details of individual committee responses are provided at Appendix 2.

Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Beef Labelling Rules
  • Fishing Authorisation Regulation
  • Common Fisheries Policy

Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure

  • A connected Digital Single Market
  • Study on the efficacy of co-and self-regulating aspects in promoting effective implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive for 2015; and Audiovisual
  • Media Services Directive (Evaluation of Study)
  • Creative Europe Programme (2014-2020)
  • Horizon 2020
  • European Capital of Culture
  • Sport (Erasmus+)
  • Workplan for Culture (2015-18)
  • Eels

Committee for Education

  • SEUPB Peace IV Programme including the proposed Shared Education elements Committee for Employment and Learning
  • Promoting integration and employability in the Labour Market
  • Labour Mobility Package
  • Mid-term Review of the Europe 2020 Strategy
  • Trade and Investment Strategy for Jobs and Growth
  • European Agenda on Migration
  • Recast and Merger of three Directives in the area of Information and Consultation of Workers

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

  • The Investment Plan for Europe
  • Mid-term Review of the Europe 2020 Strategy
  • Strategic Framework for the Energy Union
  • Internal Market Strategy for Goods and Services
  • Trade and Investment Strategy for Jobs and Growth

Committee for the Environment

  • Strategic Framework for the Energy Union
  • Communication on the Road to Paris – multilateral response to climate change
  • Evaluations carried out under the REFIT Programme

Committee for Finance and Personnel

  • PEACE and INTERREG Programmes
  • Public Procurement issues (including access for SMEs, social/community benefits, prompt payment to contractors and subcontractors
  • Evaluation of Directive 2007/66/EC relating to the improvement of the review procedures concerning the award of public contracts
  • Other policy and legislation influenced by European legislation, such as: access to finance for local businesses; Corporation Tax issues; Buildings Regulations; and Civil Law
  • Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety
  • Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill
  • Workforce Planning Review in support of Transforming Your Care, including best practice in other EU countries/regions 

Committee for Justice

  • Simplify access to justice; promote effective remedies and use of technological innovations including the use of e-justice
  • Reinforce the protection of victims
  • Human trafficking
  • Combatting serious and organised crime
  • Mutual recognition of decisions and judgements in civil and criminal matters
  • Scrutiny of EU legislative proposals requiring a UK opt-in decision
  • Continued monitoring of progress on issues highlighted previously:
    • 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
    • Establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) to protect the Financial Interests of the Union
    • Nuclear insurance and liability

Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister

  • Labour Mobility Package
  • European Agenda on Migration
  • EU Accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Subsidiarity monitoring

Committee for Regional Development

  • Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)

Committee for Social Development

  • Social investment through the European Social Fund
  • Social Inclusion





Download the full report here.

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