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Eu Committees

Volume 405: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU Co-ordination Group to promote uniformity of application of the general system for the recognition of higher education diplomas (first general system), the number of times and the dates on which it has met since January 2002, the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, the decisions it has made since January 2002 and the means used to communicate these decisions to the House. [110501]

I have been asked to reply.The Department of Trade and Industry is represented in discussions at the EU Co-ordinators meetings on the first general system by the UK Co-ordinator for Directive 89/48, a post currently divided between two Range 8 government officials.The mandate for the Co-ordination Group of the first general system directive can be found in Article 9 (2) of Directive 89/48 EEC:

A co-ordinating group shall be set up under the aegis of the Commission, composed of the co-ordinators appointed by each Member State or their deputies and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The group normally meets twice yearly. However, this has not been the case in the last year as work on enlargement of the EU has meant that meetings of this group have had to be postponed. The only meeting held since January 2002 was on 9 July 2002. The next meeting will take place on 25 June 2003.

The main issues considered by the last meeting in July 2002 were:

The proposed reform of the recognition of professional qualifications which will simplify and consolidate the legislation in this area
State of accession negotiations
Entry into force of an agreement which extends the provisions of the first general system to Switzerland

Three academies are currently open, a further nine will open in September 2003. 12 academies are currently in development, and will open in 2004 or 2005, which were announced prior to the 2002 Education Act and are not included in the following table.

Notification of the measures transposing Directive 99/42
Discussion of the aew SOLVIT system, a mechanism for effective problem solving (including mutual recognition of qualifications problems) in the Internal Market
A pilot project to examine and assist physiotherapists working in other Member States
The use and legitimacy of bi-lateral agreements between various Member States for specific professions
Discussion of a new, computerised system to assist the health professions.

The main purpose of this committee is not decision making but:

to facilitate the implementation of this Directive,
to collect all useful information for its application in Member States.
The group may be consulted by the Commission on any changes to the existing system that may be contemplated.

Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission.

As an obligation to this Decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Commission Document 5685/02).

As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.