To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the mandate of the Committee on certificates of specific character for agricultural products and foodstuffs is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement.
The mandate of the Committee on certificates of specific character is laid down in Article 19 of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2082/92. Its activities include assisting the Commission to decide on the registration of protected food names and to draw up Commission regulations relating to the operation of the scheme. It has not met over the last l2 months. When it does meet, the UK representation consists of two officials from DEFRA. There have been no costs associated with the work of the Committee over the last 12 months and there are no items currently under its consideration.
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