Report on Assembly Committee Priorities for European Scrutiny in 2016

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 10 February 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78619-178-6

Mandate Number: NIA 303/11-16

report-on-assembly-committee-priorities-for-european-scrutiny-2016.pdf (6.98 mb)


1. This report sets out the European priorities for scrutiny by Assembly statutory committees for  2016. In setting their priorities committees have considered issues of relevance to them which are included in the European Commission Work Programme for 2016.


2.  The 2016 European Commission Work Programme[1] is titled "No time for business as usual" and was adopted on 27 October 2015. It is the second Work Programme of the 'Juncker Commission' and it reaffirms the commitment to the following ten political priorities, which were first set out in October 2014 by the then 'President Elect' Juncker.

The ten priorities are[2]:

    • A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment
    • A Connected Digital Single MarketA 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
    • A New Policy on MigrationA Stronger Global Actor
    • A Union of Democratic Change

3. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office produced an Explanatory Memorandum on  theCommission Work Programme 2016. 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 is interested in the Circular Economy and Digital Single Markets strategy, the Internal Market Strategy but also the European Fund for Strategic Investment and the financing of projects, including flexibility around cluster projects and the successful development and completion of the Trans-European Transport Network [TEN-T]; the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative and proposals on guidance to better help long-term unemployed return to work; the work life balance of working families with a view to increasing women's participation in the labour market and the Women on Boards Directive to be adopted in 2016, to support the objectives of the NI Gender Equality Strategy; progress on items within the Energy Union strategy and proposals for the integrated strategy for energy union research, innovation and competitiveness, EU US Free Trade Agreement [FTA], the implementation of the European Agenda on Security, a new migration policy, the Better Regulation inter-institutional agreement and the Multi annual financial framework {MFF]."[3]


4. 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 2016 Commission Work Programme is included at Appendix 4.

5.  The RaISe analysis was forwarded with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Explanatory Memorandum on 26 November 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.

6. In following the approach taken since 2014 to streamline the reporting process, statutory committees have also provided a brief report on the activity undertaken on the 2015 European priorities as detailed in the "Report on Assembly Committee Priorities for European Scrutiny in 2015".

7. The key European priorities selected by Assembly committees for 2016 are set out below. The full reports from each committee, including updates in respect of activity undertaken on 2015 priorities, are included at Appendix 3.

8. 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 2016. The responses received are provided at Appendix 3.


9. The priorities for European engagement for statutory committees in 2016 are listed below. Full details of individual committee responses are provided at Appendix 3.

10. The Committee would encourage statutory committees to include in their Legacy Reports an indication of the areas of EU activity that they may wish their successor committee to consider.

Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Dairy Crisis
  • Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP)
  • Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
  • Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
  • Better Regulation and EU Legislation
  • Legislation on Fisheries

Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure

  • Recreational Watercraft
  • Rights Revenues Collection

Committee for Education

  • The Commission Work Programme included no activities which were relevant to the Committee for Education.

Committee for Employment and Learning

  • New Skills Agenda for Europe
  • New Start for Working Parents
  • Labour Mobility Package

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

  • Review of Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020
  • Next steps for a sustainable European Future
  • Implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy
  • Energy Union Package
  • Follow-up to Single Market Strategy
  • Corporate Tax Package
  • Proposal for a Council Directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base
  • Follow-up to the Trade and Investment Strategy
  • Lifts (Directive 95/16/EC)
  • Energy Union Reporting Initiative
  • Review of the European Venture Capital (EUVECA) and European Social Entrepreneurship Fund (EUSEF) regulations
  • Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
  • Written Statement Directive 91/533/EC
  • Women on Boards
  • Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation of (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR)

Committee for the Environment

  • Maritime Marine Framework
  • Reduction of national emissions (NEC), 'Clean Air Directive'
  • EU Nature Legislation
  • Regulation (EU) No 660/2014 Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste

Committee for Finance and Personnel

  • Corporate Tax Package
  • Standard Procurement Document and Standard forms for Public Procurement

Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister was noted at the meeting of 2 Dec 2015 and the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety had no response to make.

Committee for Justice

  • Implementation of the European Agenda on Security
  • UK Participation in the Prüm Decisions
  • Human Trafficking
  • Fighting Money Laundering
  • EU Directive on Special Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings for Suspected or Accused Persons who are Vulnerable
  • EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol)
  • EU Passenger Name Record (PNR)
  • UK's opt-in decision

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

  • New Skills Agenda For Europe
  • New Start For Working Parents
  • Labour Mobility Package
  • Better Migration Management
  • Subsidiarity Monitoring

Committee for Regional Development

  • Multiannual Financial Framework
  • Proposal for a regulation establishing a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports
  • New public procurement by entities operating in the water, energy transport and postal services sector
  • EU Airport Noise Regulation (EU) No 598/2014
  • Proposals for a regulation amending Regulation (EC) No. 91/2003 on rail transport statistics
  • EU Maritime Legislation

Committee for Social Development

  • Integration of long-term unemployed
  • EU Urban Agenda

Links to Appendices

Printable version of Report can be accessed here

Minutes of Proceedings can be viewed here.

Written submissions can be viewed here.

Research Papers can be viewed here.



[3] (para. 50)

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