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We’re (slowly) winning the war on sensible EU law-making, claims Euro-MP

November 26, 2002 12:00 AM

West Midlands Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne has broadly welcomed the today’s conclusions by the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee on improving the way EU law is made.

Liz Lynne, a member of the Employment Committee, has long been campaigning for the European Commission to reform the way it drafts legislation by conducting comprehensive impact assessments and taking into account the latest scientific and medical evidence where appropriate.

Today’s debate was to decide a response by the Committee to a “Communication” drafted by the European Commission on impact assessment. The Committee’s draft opinion called for a more systematic process of impact assessment when drafting EU laws.

Liz Lynne tabled three amendments that sought to spell out an even more comprehensive process. Two of these amendments were passed, calling for scientific and medical evidence to be taken into account by the Commission and for the Commission to consult on whether legislation is necessary at all, or if instead an exchange of best practice should be the way forward (currently, the Commission decides this without consultation).

Her third amendment however was voted down by a coalition of Green and Socialist MEPs. This called for the Commission to look into the costs and benefits on both industries and workers across each and every Member State for all legislation, together with an independent body to monitor, control and report on how the Commission’s process of consultation and impact assessment works in practice.

Liz Lynne said:

“It has been a frustrating year on the Employment Committee, and a number of committee members including myself have spent a considerable time working on proposed directives to make them more realistic and rooted in scientific evidence. A lot of this time could be saved for concentrating on other things if the legislation put to us by the Commission had been comprehensively researched in the first place.

“Over the last few years, I have lost a number of battles over the need for comprehensive impact assessment, but overall, I believe I am winning the war. While I am of course disappointed not to have got all my amendments through today, two out of three isn’t bad.

“There is a growing body of opinion that the EU cannot continue deciding legislation in its current, haphazard way, especially after Enlargement in a couple of years’ time. I am optimistic that the Commission will take heed of these conclusions.

“I am concerned however at the admission by the Commission’s representative at today’s meeting that they will need to conduct a review on comprehensive impact assessments, implying that they haven’t done a full one before. Yet we have received repeated assurances in committee that the Commission has done these for a number of pieces of legislation. So what I would like to know is, have they been done or not?”