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Have we got the balance right? Lords to investigate UK/EU balance of competences review


The House of Lords EU Committee will hold a short inquiry into the Government's Review of the Balance Competences between the UK and EU. The Review, launched in July 2012 and concluded in December 2014, was intended to be ‘an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK'.

The Review was conducted over four “semesters”, with each containing 6-10 reports on individual competences. Before each set of reports was published, and in order to inform their content, the relevant Government departments were responsible for taking evidence on their respective competences.

At the end of each semester, the Committee has written to the Minister for Europe, the Rt Hon David Lidington MP, assessing if the reports acknowledged relevant Committee Reports/scrutiny work where appropriate; if the reports adhere to the neutral and factual tone promised by the Foreign Secretary when he announced the Balance of Competences Review in July 2012; and how successful each Review/report has been in securing a diverse and balanced range of stakeholder input.

As the Review has now been completed, the Committee will consider the above questions in the round, as well as the overall conduct of the Review, and what the impact of the Review will be given the considerable resource required to support it.

The Committee will open the inquiry by taking evidence from academics from Liverpool University's European Law Unit at 4pm on Tuesday 10 February in Committee Room 4 of the House of Lords. Giving evidence will be:

  • Dr Thomas Horsley, co-director of the Liverpool European Law Unit and lecturer in EU law
  • Professor Michael Dougan, a Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law
  • Dr Samantha Currie, co-director of the Liverpool European Law Unit

Areas the Committee will question the witnesses on include:

  • Has the Review been conducted in a transparent and open way?
  • How balanced and diverse was the range of stakeholder input? Was the stakeholder engagement genuine and effective?
  • Were the conclusions of the reports based on evidence; or the selection of evidence based on pre-judged conclusions? 
  • What is your assessment of how the Government has publicised and used the results of this Review?  Has the Review met the intended desire to provoke a public debate on the relationship between the EU and the UK. If not, how could the reports be used to do so?
  • Other countries have completed similar exercises to this. In disseminating the reports, encouraging debate and applying the conclusions, what lessons might the Government draw from the experience of other countries that have completed exercises similar to this?

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament's Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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