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Committee Mandates

International Development written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the mandate of the Committee on Food Security and Food Aid 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.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development

Council Regulation (EC) No. 1292/96 of 27 June 1996 establishes the framework for European Community food aid policy, management and food aid operations. Article 26 of the regulation states that the Commission shall be assisted by a Food and Security and Food Aid Committee composed of representatives of the member states chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The committee is responsible for examining any implications for recipient countries of proposals to commit funds for food security, analysis and monitoring food security policies and examining proposals for joint initiatives with other Community instruments.

In the past 12 months the committee has met three times. The United Kingdom is represented by officials from the Department for International Development. Travel costs for DFID officials to attend meetings of the committee are met by the European Commission. Other costs incurred for attending this committee totalled £420 in the past 12 months.

The European Community's budget for food security and food aid operations in 2001 was 455 million euros and for 2002 has been set at 435 million euros. The United Kingdom's share of this is approximately 18 per cent. This figure includes the United Kingdom's mandatory contribution of £19 million under the terms of the 1999 Food Aid Convention.

Food security and food aid operations are of three main types; dealing with immediate food shortages, longer term operations to support food security and operations to improve early warning systems and storage programmes. Areas to have recently experienced severe food shortages include Ecuador, DPR Korea, Georgia, West Bank and Gaza, Burkina Faso and Afghanistan.

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 (Com(2201) 783 Final.

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.

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