The Committee launched this inquiry in spring 2012 because it felt that the Prime Minister’s veto of EU Treaty change at the December 2011 European Council might mark a defining moment in the Government’s EU policy and the UK’s place in the EU, and that the matter therefore required the Committee’s scrutiny. Developments since December 2011 have borne out the Committee’s judgement on the importance of the current period for the UK’s EU policy. As part of its inquiry, the Committee took oral evidence on four occasions, received 42 written submissions, and visited Berlin, Berne, Brussels, Oslo and Paris.
The Committee published its main report in June 2013(“The future of the European Union: UK Government policy”). The report examined the key overarching principles of the Government’s policy for the UK’s place in the EU, principally with respect to the Eurozone. The report also started to explore some of the implications of the Prime Minister’s January 2013 commitment that a Conservative Government elected in the 2015 General Election would hold an ‘in/out’ referendum on the UK’s continued EU membership by the end of 2017.
UK influence in the EU emerged as the major underlying theme of the Committee’s inquiry. Several witnesses mentioned the presence of UK nationals on the staff of the EU institutions as a potential channel of UK influence. In early July 2013, the Committee published a second, short, report arising from its inquiry, on “The UK staff presence in the EU institutions”. The report presents information which the Committee had gathered on the numbers of UK nationals working for the main EU institutions and the Government’s efforts to increase them.