According to a Parliament spokeswoman, an overwhelming majority of MEPs on the delegation agreed at the November 15 meeting to scrap all references to sunlight after two leading members relayed news of the new deal to them. The move was welcomed by centre-right and liberal deputies, who have opposed the measure, but came as a disappointment to some of their Socialist and Green counterparts. Critics claimed the clause would oblige bosses to make builders wear shirts, but supporters said it would help protect people who work outside from the dangers of skin cancer.

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne, one of the sunlight measure's fiercest opponents in Parliament, welcomed the confirmation that a deal had been reached. "This is a victory for common sense, it is no business of the EU to decide whether workers can wear shorts or be bare-chested", she said. "I wanted to take natural radiation out of the Directive from the start and this appears to have been achieved."

A fait accompli.

Official conciliation talks are due to begin between Parliament and Council on December 6. "Basically we have an agreement on the table now so few changes will have to be made", the EP spokeswoman said.

These Conciliation Committee talks come in the wake of a September 7 second-reading plenary vote in Parliament during which MEPs adopted a key compromise amendment (N[degrees] 5) stipulating that the sunlight measure would be non-binding and that it would be up to member states to decide under the subsidiarity principle whether or not to require employers to take measures to protect outdoor workers.

The Commission, which initially defended the sunlight clause, meanwhile responded to the vote with its own opinion (COM(2005)0526) on October 21. It accepted all of Parliament's changes bar Amendment 5 because it instead revised the Directive to take out sunlight altogether, even changing the title to add 'artificial' in brackets just to make sure there would be no more confusion about the issue.

One outstanding war of words.

Presently there is only one outstanding point left to agree on between Parliament and Council contained within Article 8...

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