European Scrutiny Committee

No. 18
(Session 2003-04)



On Wednesday 15 September the European Scrutiny Committee will take evidence in public from Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the EU's constitutional treaty.  This evidence session will take place at 2.30 pm in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

The evidence will form part of an inquiry in which the Committee is examining certain aspects of the treaty, as follows:

  1. The practical consequences of the new references (in Articles 2 and 3) to the Union's values and objectives.

  2. Whether the treaty makes "enhanced cooperation" more likely.

  3. How public meetings of the Council when legislating would work in practice - in particular, how much would be public.

  4. How the new Council Presidency and new Foreign Minister would work, and the relationship between the European Council Presidency and the Presidency of individual Council formations.

  5. The extent to which the UK Government held its red lines over QMV relating to treaty changes, taxation, social security, defence, criminal procedural law, the system of own resources and the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

  6. The effectiveness of the emergency brakes in criminal justice and other matters.

  7. The effect of the "horizontal" clauses which govern the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

  8. The treaty's criminal justice provisions (following up the Committee's report of July 2003 on The Convention's proposals on criminal justice , HC 63-xxvi, 2002-03).

  9. What the consequences would be if the treaty is not ratified.

For further information telephone 020 7219 5467/3292

Note for Editors

The constitutional treaty was drawn up by the Convention on the Future of Europe, which consisted of government representatives, national parliamentarians, MEPs and members of the European Commission.  It was agreed, with amendments, in June by an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC), consisting of the Heads of State and Government of the countries of the European Union and of the accession countries (eight countries in eastern Europe and Cyprus and Malta - all now Member States).  The treaty needs to be ratified by each EU Member State to come into force.

The European Scrutiny Committee published several reports on the Convention's draft treaty, including its Twenty-fourth Report of Session 2002-03, The Convention on the Future of Europe and the Role of National Parliaments (HC 63-xxiv) and Twenty-sixth Report, The Convention's proposals on criminal justice (HC 63-xxvi).

The main purpose of the European Scrutiny Committee is to report to the House on the legal and political importance of each EU document and to determine which EU documents are debated.  Such debates take place either in a European Standing Committee or on the Floor of the House.  The Committee normally reports weekly on a range of documents when the House is sitting.  The Committee also monitors business in the Council of Ministers, especially the activities of UK Ministers in the Council, and produces occasional reports on wider EU developments.

The Committee has 14 Members, as follows:

Jimmy Hood MP (Chairman) - Labour - Clydesdale
Richard Bacon MP - Conservative - South Norfolk
William Cash MP - Conservative - Stone
Michael Connarty MP - Labour - Falkirk East
Wayne David MP - Labour - Caerphilly
Jim Dobbin MP - Labour/Co-op - Heywood & Middleton
Nick Harvey MP - Lib Dem - North Devon
David Heathcoat-Amory MP - Conservative - Wells
Sandra Osborne MP - Labour - Ayr
Anne Picking MP - Labour - East Lothian
Angus Robertson MP - SNP - Moray
John Robertson MP - Labour - Glasgow Anniesland
Anthony Steen MP - Conservative - Totnes
Bill Tynan MP - Labour - Hamilton South

The text of all Committee publications, including Press Notices and Reports, can be found on the Committee's website:          

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