Embargo: Immediate Friday 28 March 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Constitution Committee has concluded that the Lisbon Treaty and the European Union (Amendment) Bill are likely to have no major damaging impact on the constitution of the UK.

In respect of the UK's right to "opt in" or "opt out" of certain EU policies, the Committee recommends that the European Union (Amendment) Bill be amended so that the Government must secure the approval of both Houses of Parliament before exercising any such opt-out or opt-in.

Highlighting the important interpretative role of the European courts, the Committee also calls on the Government to produce an annual report on their assessment of the impact on the UK of the rulings of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Committee welcomes the new level of control (set out in the EU (Amendment) Bill, which would implement the Treaty) that Parliament would be given over possible future amendments to the two main Treaties which underpin the EU. The Committee calls on the Government to provide a full list of 'passerelle' provisions, so that Parliament can decide during the passage of the Bill which of these provisions ought to be subject to parliamentary approval before they can be activated.

The Committee concludes that the Treaty would make no alteration to the relationship between the principles of primacy of EU law and parliamentary sovereignty; and would have no constitutional implications for UK citizenship.

The Committee also reports that the new arrangements with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights would have no significant impact.

The Committee's report calls on the Government to ensure that the key Treaties of the EU undergo no further major change for the foreseeable future, in order to provide a period of stability during which the new arrangements can be established.

The Chairman of the Constitution Committee, Lord Goodlad, commented:

"The Committee believes that it is essential for Parliament to be given a veto over the Government's use of the UK's power to opt in or opt out of particular EU measures, because use of these powers will affect the final impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the UK.

"In terms of the European Union (Amendment) Bill which implements the Lisbon Treaty, the Committee warmly welcomes the added powers that Parliament will have over future changes to the way in which affairs of the EU are conducted. The Committee believes that the Government should provide a comprehensive list of 'passerelle' provisions so that Parliament itself can decide, during the passage of the Bill, which of these provisions should be subject to parliamentary approval.

"The Committee is concerned about the frequency with which the rules underpinning the EU are changed, and call on the Government to work to ensure that no further major amendments to the Treaties are made in the near future."

Notes to Editors

  1. The report, The European Union (Amendment) Bill and Lisbon Treaty: Implications for the British Constitution, is published by The Stationery Office. House of Lords Constitution Committee, 6th Report of 2007/08, HL Paper 84.
  2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at:
  3. This report is intended to complement the major report on the EU Treaty recently published by the Lords European Union Committee.
  4. The Members of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution are:

Viscount Bledisloe

Lord Peston

Lord Goodlad (Chairman)

Baroness Quin

Lord Lyell of Markyate

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

Lord Morris of Aberavon

Lord Rowlands

Lord Norton of Louth

Lord Smith of Clifton

Baroness O'Cathain

Lord Woolf