§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)
The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) adopted the proposal to revise the staff regulations for EU officials on 22 March. While we noted that European Scrutiny Committee had withheld clearance from the proposal when it met on 17 March and had recommended the document (15185/03) for debate, we supported the adoption of the proposal at the 22 March GAERC. We considered that the proposal met agreed UK priorities in the reform of the careers structure, pensions and pay of EU officials and would promote merit, efficiency and staff development and deliver significant long-term savings in the EU budget.
I regret, however, that we were unable to arrange the debate prior to agreement. This was due to the tight timeframe involved. As the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bill Rammell) explained in his letter to the Chairman of the Committee on 19 March, the GAERC needed to agree to the proposal in March to ensure that the new regulations would be in place in time for enlargement on 1 May. The debate with European Standing Committee B has now been scheduled for 23 June. My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Dr Denis MacShane) will be leading the debate.