All Commons Briefing Papers
86 Documents
09.11.2016Applying to the European Court of Human Rights
Members of Parliament are often asked how constituents can take a case to the European Court of Human Rights. This Commons Library briefing summarises the main features of the process, and emphasises recent changes to it.
08.09.2016Brexit: trade aspects
This note looks at possible options for the UK's trading relationship with the EU, post-Brexit.
26.08.2016Brexit: impact across policy areas
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the current situation in a range of policy areas and considers what impact Brexit might have. This will depend, among other things, on the Brexit negotiations, whether the UK stays in the European Economic Area and how the Government fills any policy gaps left by withdrawal.
28.07.2016Brexit: some legal and constitutional issues and alternatives to EU membership
This paper considers how the UK will leave the EU, some legal and constitutional issues, and possible alternatives to EU membership. What is the process for leaving the EU? Will the UK join a different grouping of states or go it alone? Will EU or UK citizens or businesses have any vested rights?
05.07.2016Russian foreign and security policy
How is Russian foreign policy made, and what are the motive forces behind it? How does that play out around the world and in Russian relations with the West?
30.06.2016Brexit: what happens next?
Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, what will happen next? This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the immediate consequences of the vote and some of the longer term implications. This paper considers various questions about UK withdrawal from the EU and what is likely to happen in the coming weeks and months. The issues include the method of leaving the EU, continuing parliamentary scrutiny of EU business and the withdrawal negotiations, and the implications of Brexit for Scotland and Gibraltar.
30.06.2016Brexit: how does the Article 50 process work?
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the process of withdrawing from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. There could be a complex and difficult negotiation lasting two years or more, or the UK could leave without settling its exit terms or its future relationship with the EU.
29.06.2016The French Nuclear Deterrent
The French nuclear deterrent is the one that is most often compared to the UK's nuclear forces. While there are similarities in terms of policy, posture and size, there are also significant differences in terms of industrial support and cost. All of the major political parties in France also support an independent nuclear deterrent, in contrast to the UK; while domestic support is also high. This paper examines the French nuclear deterrent in greater detail. It is also part of a wider Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
07.06.2016A new UK judge for the European Court of Human Rights
Who will be the UK's new judge for the European Court of Human Rights? This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the two-stage process, the UK candidates, and recent criticisms and reforms.
26.05.2016EU Referendum: analysis of the UK's new EU Settlement
This Commons Library briefing looks at the new Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union agreed at the European Council on 17-19 February 2016. The Settlement consists of seven texts: a Decision and a Statement of Heads of State or Government and five Declarations.
12.05.2016UK cases at the European Court of Human Rights since 1975
This note lists brief details of UK cases at the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] since 1975.
30.12.2015EU referendum: reform negotiations June to December 2015
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the Prime Minister's proposed reforms, the launch of the UK reform agenda at the European Council in June 2015 and EU institutional initiatives of relevance to the Government's reform agenda. It also considers the level of support for the UK from other EU Member States, the role - if any - of the devolved administrations in the negotiations, public opinion, the referendum campaigns and other recent developments.
04.12.2015The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
A briefing on the background, negotiation process and controversial points of the proposed EU-US free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
18.11.2015France and Article 42(7) of the Treaty on the European Union
In response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris France invoked Article 42(7) of the Treaty in the European Union on 17 November 2015. That article obligates all EU Member States to provide France with aid and assistance, although it does not go so far as to confer a security commitment, akin to NATO's Article V. This paper looks briefly at Article 42(7) TEU and the implications for the UK.
16.11.2015"Ever Closer Union" in the EU Treaties and Court of Justice case law
"Ever closer union" is an EU aim and is enshrined in the EU Treaties. David Cameron wanted to exempt the UK from it, and this has been achieved in the new settlement for the UK in the EU. This note looks at the background to 'ever closer union', its survival through several Treaty changes and its use by the EU Court of Justice.
16.11.2015Famagusta debate
The House of Commons is debating a Backbench Business motion on 16 November 2015 that calls for the Cypriot city of Famagusta to be returned by Turkey to its 'lawful inhabitants'.
29.10.2015European Union (Approvals) Bill 2015-16
This Bill fulfils a requirement of the European Union Act 2011 that EU legislative proposals based on the 'catch-all' Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union must be approved by an Act of Parliament before the UK can support their adoption in the EU Council. The Bill deals with two relatively uncontroversial proposals concerning the Republic of Macedonia becoming an observer on an EU human rights body and a draft decision on the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment.
13.10.2015Greek debt crisis: background and developments in 2015
This briefing provides background to and analysis of developments in the Greek debt crisis, including an overview of the origins of the crisis, a review of latest developments and examines what would happen if Greece left the Eurozone.
08.09.2015Migration pressures in Europe
The crisis over deaths in of migrants in the Mediterranean has brought calls for decisive action from the EU.
18.08.2015Cuba and the United States - how close can they get?
Since December 2014, when the Presidents of the US and Cuba announced the beginning of a rapprochement, there have been developments on both sides. The US has eased travel and commerce restrictions; in April the two leaders met in person and in May 2015 the US officially lifted its designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. In July both countries opened embassies in the other country. But much remains to be done before relations can be considered 'normal' and it is far from clear how close the two countries will get. This note looks at what has happened so far and obstacles to be overcome.
18.06.2015The European Arrest Warrant
This note considers the European Arrest Warrant, including an overview of the benefits it brings and the criticisms it gives rise to. Parliament has made a number of recent changes to the regime aimed at addressing criticism, and subsequently voted in favour of the UK remaining within the European Arrest Warrant framework.
10.06.2015Turkey's 2015 elections: a change of direction?
What's next for Turkey? The AKP has lost power after 13 years in government, following a surge in support for the Kurdish HDP. Coalition negotiations may be underway, but fresh elections loom, and the uncertainty is likely to damage Turkey.
19.05.2015Key Issues for the 2015 Parliament
This book examines the key issues facing the House of Commons over the course of the 2015 Parliament - from the public finances to the UK's membership of the EU and from school places for children to climate change.
28.01.2015Greece's new anti-austerity coalition
The recent parliamentary election in Greece was a triumph for the radical left-wing Syriza party, which has now formed an anti-austerity coalition. What are the political and economic implications of these developments?
15.12.2014The UK in the European Union: in brief
What has happended in the European Economic Community since the UK joined in 1973?
09.12.2014Main Treaty amendments since the UK joined the EEC
Many argue that the EU is a far cry from what the UK signed up to in 1973. This note looks at the major Treaty changes since the UK joined the EEC in 1973.
09.09.2014Ukraine: towards a frozen conflict?
The conflict in Ukraine has caused more than 3,000 deaths since it broke out in March 2014. the EU and the US have imposed sanctions and more are pending, while NATO has stepped up its presence in Eastern Europe. A stable solution may be elusive, however
08.09.2014France: Government reshuffle
Details of the recent Government reshuffle in France.
11.07.2014Debate on possible independence of Catalonia: key issues
The Catalan Government hopes to hold a "consultation" on Catalan independence on 9 November 2014., but the Spanish Government hopes to prevent it from going ahead. This note provides an overview of the debate.
27.06.2014France's Front National (FN)
A brief profile of the far-right Front National (FN), led by Marine Le Pen, which obtained 24.9% of the vote in France in the recent European elections. This result was described as a 'political earthquake.'
18.06.2014European Union (Referendum) Bill and the Parliament Acts
The European Union (Referendum) Bill could be presented for Royal Assent under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 if it is passed by the House of Commons and rejected again by the House of Lords.
29.04.2014The European Union: a democratic institution?
The paper acknowledges the EU's 'democratic deficit' and considers the causes of this. In the context of future EU Treaty reform, it considers possible remedies for the democratic deficit, including those proposed by the UK Government.
21.02.2014Causes of the eurozone crisis: a summary
The causes of the eurozone crisis are summarised in this two-page overview, which examines why Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus have had to take emergency loans - or "bailouts" - from other eurozone and EU governments and the IMF.
16.12.2013Germany's 2013 election: shaping the future?
Where is Germany - the most influential country in Europe - heading, under its new grand coalition government?
11.12.2013Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
20.11.2013CAP reform 2014-2020: EU Agreement and Implementation in the UK and in Ireland
A new CAP refrorm package has been agreed for 2014-2020. This paper sets out the reactions and emerging implementation decisions of the four countries of the UK, and also of Ireland.
18.09.2013The economic impact of EU membership on the UK
How does membership of the EU affect the UK economy? How does the UK's situation compare with that of Norway or Switzerland? This note looks for the answers.
29.08.2013Military interventions: some comparisons
28.06.2013European Union (Referendum) Bill
This Private Member's Bill was introduced to the Commons on 19 June 2013 and is designed to require the holding of a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union (EU) before the end of 2017. This Paper has been prepared as a guide in advance of the second reading on Friday 5 July.
12.03.2013Cyprus property mis-selling disputes
Many British people have alleged that they were mis-sold property in Cyprus, and as a result cannot afford their mortgage payments, or are seeing their properties sold to pay off their developers' debts.
31.01.2013European Union (Approvals) Bill
The European Union (Approvals) Bill (HC Bill 121) aims to approve two draft EU Council decisions and one draft decision of the European Council (the EU Heads of State and Government).
14.01.2013Norway's relationship with the EU
Norway is not part of the EU, and although it has adopted large amounts of EU legislation, it has little influence.
21.12.2012Icy fishing: UK and Iceland fish stock disputes
In spite of generally excellent bilateral relations, Iceland and the UK have had a number of fisheries disputes. There are now increasing tensions between the two parties after Iceland started catching large quantities of mackerel. Iceland has been condemned for 'plundering' the stock and for threatening its long-term future. The stock is worth some £200 million to the UK economy. The dispute has become known as the Mackerel War.
14.12.2012The EU Budget 2007 - 2013
This note sets out the main principles that determine the shape and size of the European Union (EU) Budget for the period 2007-2013. It outlines the budget setting processes, contributions the UK makes, details of the UK abatement, and contributions by other Member States.
13.12.2012Iceland: an overview
2012 has seen Iceland gear up for parliamentary elections in 2013, with plans for a new constitution as it emerges from its financial crisis and proceeds with its application to join the EU.
01.11.2012European Union (Croatian Accession and Irish Protocol) Bill [Bill 76 of 2012-13]
Croatia is expected to join the EU in July 2013. This Bill would allow the UK to ratify Croatia's accession treaty and would also cover the Protocol to the Lisbon Treaty put forward by the Irish Government.
24.10.2012The eurozone crisis: action taken by the European Central Bank (ECB)
This note discusses some of the 'unconventional' measures taken by the ECB in response to the euro crisis and the political controversy they have generated.
20.09.2012UK-Italy trade statistics
This short note looks at UK/Italy trade statistics
16.07.2012Germany and the Euro Rescue Agreements
This Note looks at German political and public views of the euro rescue package, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and issues surrounding the ESM in Germany.
28.06.2012Turkey: recent developments
Turkey in the first half of 2012 has perhaps taken one step forward and two steps back. It is shifting towards a more 'normal' foreign policy; but it has made little progress towards EU accession; there has been a resurgence of violence around the Kurdish issue; and human rights seem to be slipping.
25.05.2012The eurozone crisis - rescuing Greece
Greece's long-standing public debt problem became a crisis at the start of 2010 and has since escalated to a point where it threatens the survival of the euro. This note describes the country's May 2010 and February 2012 bail-out agreements, the results of the May 2012 elections, future prospects, and implications of euro exit
16.05.2012In Brief: Ukraine and Euro2012
Ukraine is due to host the Euro2012 football competition jointly with Poland from 8 June to 1 July. Ukraine's human rights record has led to calls for a boycott.
14.05.2012The Croatia Accession Bill: an introduction
Croatia is expected to join the EU in July 2013. A Croatia Accession Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech, would allow the UK to ratify Croatia's accession treaty. But issues around the judiciary, corruption and shipyards are not yet fully resolved.
10.05.2012How the UK Government deals with EU Business
This Note looks at UK Government and Civil Service structures and culture; what happens at the UK-EU interface, and methods for transposing EU law into UK law.
01.05.2012In brief: Hollande or Sarkozy for President?
In the run-up to the second and final round of voting in France's presidential elections on Sunday 6 May 2012, the Socialist François Hollande still appears to be the favourite to win.
30.03.2012In brief: provisions of the eurozone fiscal compact and economic issues
This note describes the 'fiscal compact' agreed by 25 EU Member States in March 2012 and associated economic issues.
27.03.2012The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union: political issues
This paper looks at the background to the TSCG, the reasons for the UK's non-participation and some of the issues it raises, such as its effectiveness, its relationship with the EU Treaties and EU law, the use of the EU institutions in a non-EU treaty, and whether it could give rise to a 'two-speed' Europe and further UK isolation in the EU.
28.02.2012In brief: French presidential elections 2012
France is holding Presidential elections in April and May 2012. The current favourite to win the elections is the Socialist Party's candidate, Francois Hollande.
20.10.2011In brief: leaving the European Union
The Lisbon Treaty allows EU Member States to leave the European Union. However, the process, as yet untested, would in all likelihood not be straightforward and would involve negotiating a new relationship for the UK with the EU.
19.10.2011UK Government opt-in decisions in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
The creation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice is based on the Tampere (1999-04), Hague (2004-09) and Stockholm (2010-14) programmes. It derives from the pre-Lisbon Title IV TEC (Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons) and Title VI TEU (Provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters) and is now Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the 'Area of freedom, security and justice' (AFSJ). The AFSJ therefore comprises policies relating to border controls, asylum and immigration; judicial cooperation in civil matters; judicial cooperation in criminal matters and police cooperation.
14.07.2011Turkey's 2011 elections and beyond
At Turkey's general elections on 12 June 2011, the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won nearly 50% of the overall vote. This was the first time that a ruling party in Turkey has increased its vote in a third term. In the medium term its biggest challenges will be drafting a new constitution, stabilising the economy, and negotiating changing regional relationships, but in the short term it needs to diffuse a crisis over MPs boycotting parliament.
04.05.2011International Court of Justice Opinion on Kosovo's declaration of independence
In July 2010 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Kosovo's declaration of independence on 17 February 2008 did not breach international law. The legal scope of the Opinion is extremely narrow, but its political implications could be very wide.
04.05.2011The European Court of Human Rights: the election of judges
This Note looks at some of the criticism of the European Court of Human Rights, in particular the procedure for selecting and electing judges to the Court, the quality and experience of those judges and proposals for reforming the selection criteria and method of appointment.
19.04.2011EU Legislation: Government action on 'gold-plating'
The Government aims to change the way in which EU law is transposed into national law in order to avoid 'gold-plating' and to minimise the burden of over-regulation on UK businesses. This Note looks at the main elements of the Government's principles for the implementation of EU law.
18.04.2011European Court of Human Rights rulings: are there options for governments?
This Note looks at European Court of Human Rights rulings on prisoner enfranchisement and what the UK Government might do in response to the Court's decisions in the cases of Hirst 2 and Greens and MT
14.04.2011The European Convention on Human Rights and the Court of Human Rights: issues and reforms
This Note looks at the history of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court of Human Rights, the Court's principles and requirements for implementation of its rulings, the supervision of judgments by the Committee of Ministers and reform measures to tackle the Court's shortcomings.
23.03.2011EU Accession to the European Convention on Human Rights
This Note looks at the background to and issues surrounding EU accession to the European Convention, UK Government views and Parliamentary scrutiny of the draft Council decision on the negotiation of an EU accession agreement.
07.02.2011The Government's Policy on Europe
This Note looks at the Government's policy on Europe: first, at the election manifestos of the two parties, the Coalition Programme for Government and the Government's response since May 2010 to matters concerning the EU.
17.01.2011The European External Action Service
This Note looks at the European External Action Service established by the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009 and provides links to relevant documentation.
13.10.2010How much legislation comes from Europe?
This paper explores various approaches to the question of how much national law is based on or influenced by EU law.
28.07.2010Property disputes in north Cyprus
Property ownership is a major issue in the divided island of Cyprus, not just for Cypriots but for British and other people. Many thousands of people were displaced after the Turkish intervention in 1974, abandoning their property, and in the north much of this has been transferred to other people without the original owner's consent. The resulting disputes have not only thwarted progress in reunification talks but also resulted in a large number of court cases.
28.07.2010In brief: a closed window in Cyprus?
The nationalist Dervis Eroglu won the April 2010 presidential elections in the 'Turkish Republic of North Cyprus' with just over 50% of the vote. Most commentators had argued that a win by Eroglu would close a window of opportunity for reunification, but peace talks have in fact resumed. Are these talks likely to bring progress, or is Eroglu really still in favour of a two-state solution?
08.04.2010UK Public Opinion on the European Union
This Note provides links to a selection of opinion polls showing UK views on different aspects of our membership of the European Union.
08.02.2010Implementing the Lisbon Treaty
This Note looks at how the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on 1 December 2009, is being implemented. It also considers how the UK might scrutinise the new procedures contained in the Treaty.
05.02.2010Where are Turkey's new international relations taking it?
Turkey's path in the international arena is changing, with a growing focus on its regional and eastern neighbours. However, commentators have yet to predict whether this change is deepening Turkey's relationship with the West or moving it away.
27.01.2010Turkey's energy politics
Turkey and its relations with its gas-rich neighbouring countries play a predominant role in the future of European energy security. Turkey hopes to use this as leverage in its aspirations to join the European Union. The array of Eurasian gas pipeline projects
15.01.2010Sources of International Social Statistics
International sources of social statistics. By Kathryn Keith. SN/SG/3140.
12.11.2009The Lisbon Treaty: choosing a President of the European Council
Now that all 27 Member States have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, the Swedish EU Presidency is holding an extraordinary meeting on 19 November 2009 to decide on the post-holders for the three new top jobs created by the Treaty. This Note looks at one of these posts - that of President of the European Council.
01.10.2009The 2009 Swedish Presidency of the EU
This Note looks at the Swedish European Union Presidency programme, its priorities and some of the issues and events that have dominated the first half of the Presidency. It also considers matters that are likely to occupy the Presidency until the end of 2009.
24.04.2009Russia and the West
A year on from Dmitry Medvedev's succession to the Kremlin, this paper analyses the evolution of Russian foreign policy under both Putin and Medvedev. It seeks to identify the main themes, interests, and objectives of Russian foreign policy, and to appraise the role of President Medvedev in the direction of Russian diplomacy and his relationship with Prime Minister Putin. In so doing, it examines, in detail, Russia's relationship with the United States, NATO, the EU, and the UK and analyses the role of energy in relations between Russia and the West. Finally, it looks ahead at the prospects for the relationship in light of President Obama's declared intention to press the 'reset' button in US-Russian relations.
17.02.2009Serbia: political and economic profile
This note provides a political and economic overview of the current situation in Serbia. It looks at the halting progress which Serbia is making toward integration into the EU, held up to a large extent by Serbia's failure to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and at the dynamic political landscape of 2008 with both presidential and parliamentary elections. Serbia continues to have difficult relationships with some of its neighbours, particularly Kosovo, and is awaiting the outcome of the International Court of Justice ruling on the legality of Kosovo's February 2007 declaration of independence. The note also looks at the current economic situation in Serbia. While Serbia had seen strong growth since 2000, accompanied by the implementation of reforms, following the conflicts and crises of the 1990s, Serbia has suffered under the global financial crisis, primarily because of its large current account deficit. Serbia also suffers from high levels of unemployment and poverty.
10.02.2009The Reflection Group Horizon 2020-2030
This Note considers the Reflection Group established by the European Council in December 2007 to discuss the future of Europe.
20.01.2009The Lisbon Treaty: the final four
This Note looks at progress in the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon which was signed in December 2007. It updates Research paper 08/66, "The Treaty of Lisbon: an Uncertain Future" 30 July 2008, in this regard.
05.12.2008Turkey Today
Turkey Today: An overview of the main issues affecting Turkey today
15.09.2003The Swedish referendum on the Euro
On 14 September 2003 Sweden held a referendum on adopting the euro. The 'no' campaign had led in opinion polls in the weeks and months before the vote. A few days before the referendum the Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, was murdered. The result of the referendum was a clear vote against adopting the euro.
07.07.2003A Draft Treaty Establishing a European Constitution
The draft treaty establishing a European constitution: technical and constitutional issues in Parts I and IV. House of Commons Library Research paper 03/60.