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Balance of Competences Review

Volume 563: debated on Tuesday 14 May 2013

I wish to update the House on the progress of the balance of competences review. My written statement last year, 23 October 2012, Official Report, column 46WS, set out the time lines for the review. I am pleased to report that the review is progressing and on track. The six first semester reports covering a synopsis of the internal market, taxation, foreign policy, development co-operation and humanitarian aid, health, and animal health and welfare and food safety are currently being drafted and will be published in early summer. We will launch calls for evidence for the nine reports in semester two this week.

Calls for evidence for the first semester reports were published in November and were open for three months. The evidence received has been high quality, and has provided a firm foundation to analyse the impact of EU competence in these areas. While responses were mainly from interested parties in the UK reflecting the focus on the national interest, we also received some evidence from foreign partners and international organisations. We intend to publish information on who submitted evidence alongside the final reports, subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

Reports will undergo rigorous internal scrutiny to ensure they are comprehensive, robust and evidence-based. They will then be presented to the European Affairs Committee for approval prior to being published.

Calls for evidence for the nine reports in semester two will be launched this week. Lead Ministers for each report will inform the House separately when their call for evidence is published. As with the first semester, Government Departments will consult widely, including Parliament and its committees, business, the devolved Administrations, and civil society in order to obtain evidence to contribute to their analysis of the issues. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review.