Minister Roche on the Report of the European Convention Working Group on Simplification of Instruments and Procedures
Responding to the Report of the Convention Working Group on Simplification, Minister Roche said:
Simplification is an issue that goes to the heart of the Convention's work of making the European Union more understandable and accessible to citizens.
There is much in the Working Group Report to welcome. The recommendations on transparency and quality of legislation are positive, although I do feel that it might have gone further to recommend that national and regional authorities would have greater leeway to take into account local factors in implementing EU legislation. It is a mistake to overly centralise decisions.
The reduction in the number of instruments and procedures is also welcome as a positive step towards making decision-making in the EU less complicated and more user-friendly. The Group's efforts in this regard are very positive and imaginative.
With regard to QMV, I believe that it should be used as far as possible. At the same time, there is a need to retain unanimity in a limited number of key areas. For Ireland, taxation is clearly one of those issues. The report's recognition of the need to take account of exceptions in areas of great political sensitivity for Member States is particularly welcome. I emphasised this principle in the Working Group and I am glad that the Report reflects this.
I am concerned about the possible implications of the recommendation
to abolish the distinction between compulsory expenditure and non-compulsory expenditure in the budgetary area. Whatever the procedure, it is vital that expenditure on the CAP remains ring-fenced so that farmers can have certainty over a multi-annual period. This principle needs to be protected.
There is one disappointment, however, the remit of the Group was very tightly drawn - I felt more time should have been directed towards bridging the gap between the EU and its citizens. There are very sound organisational, economic and political reasons for doing so. Instead of looking at this area, the Group focussed largely on internal issues. These are certainly of importance, but they are not of immediate significance to citizens. I will be pressing for the newly constituted Working Group on Social Europe, of which I will be a member, to look more closely at how the divide can be bridged