The Report puts forward a proposal that would ensure continued scrutiny of this area of EU activity by a body of national parliamentarians, following the planned dissolution of the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) in mid-2011. The proposal was agreed by the Chairs of the House of Commons Foreign, Defence and European Scrutiny Committees and the House of Lords EU Committee and its Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy, and is supported by those Committees.
The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Ottaway MP, said:
"Given the inter-governmental nature of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy, and the significance of the EU activities involved, it is important that inter-parliamentary oversight in this field should be continued after the dissolution of the Western European Union (WEU), with national parliaments taking the lead. We see inter-parliamentary cooperation as adding value to the work that we and other national parliaments already carry out in this field.
The proposal which my Committee is putting forward today, with the support of other relevant Committees in both Houses of Parliament, would secure such scrutiny. At the same time, our proposal would not involve the creation of a new freestanding institution and would thereby minimise costs. We hope that our proposal makes a significant contribution to the international consultations that are underway on successor arrangements for the WEU Assembly."
The proposal which the Committee puts forward in its Report would see a maximum of six delegates per parliament, from EU Member States, candidate states and the European Parliament, meeting twice a year to hear and debate reports from top EU officials on EU foreign, defence and security policy. The meetings would not require a new standing secretariat, and costs would be borne by national parliaments.
Notes for editors:
The Member States of the Western European Union announced in March 2010 that they were dissolving the organisation, including its Assembly, with effect from mid-2011. The UK delegation to the Assembly comprises 18 members (13 MPs and five Members of the House of Lords) and 18 substitute members. The Assembly has a standing secretariat in Paris, and the costs of UK participation are shared between the Government and Parliament.
The Foreign Affairs Committee’s Report on Future inter-parliamentary scrutiny of EU foreign, defence and security policy has been published at 11.00 am (GMT) on Tuesday 18 January 2011. It is the Committee’s First Report of Session 2010-11 (PDF) (HC 697).