The MPs on the Home Office Committee are off to Brussels later in the week and seem very interested in the whole issue of better scrutiny of EU law - which is a bit of a joke at the moment in the UK, despite the best efforts of the MPs on the relavent committees.
We wish them luck - the EU's powers over home affairs have grown amzingly quickly in recent years. The only thing the Hague Programme is really comparable with is the single market programme in the 1980s - it is enormous.
The Blair government seem to be hoping to ride the tiger and hoping to steer the whole thing in a direction they can live with. But given the sheer number of controversial measures in the pipeline - that may not be do-able.
Meanwhile, the Enviroment committee have got the Environment Agency to fess up that the EU's Emissions Trading System isn't working. Responding to questions from the Committee this morning, the Environment Agency was unable to name any individual case in which a firm had reduced emissions as a result of the scheme, saying “it’s not clear whether we’re seeing any environmental benefits as yet”.
The Committee alluded to the fact that the ETS had cost businesses £500m so far, and then asked whether the ETS has had any tangible effect in reducing carbon emissions. Pressed further on this the people from the Agency said “we have not been aware of any significant impact”.
The Committee then went on to cite Open Europe’s research on the costs of complying with the ETS for the NHS. The Agency expressed concern over “the proportionality of allocations” and admitted that including smaller activities in ETS may not be appropriate: “There is a case for changing what’s in it…excluding smaller activities”, arguing that excluding such activities from the ETS would have a “negligible” effect on the levels of emissions. Asked whether they agreed that the allocation of carbon emissions has been "inherently irrational” the Agency said “we can only agree with that”.