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Balance of Competences

Volume 563: debated on Thursday 16 May 2013

Further to the oral statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), launching the review of the balance of competences on 12 July 2012, Official Report, column 468, and his written ministerial statement on the progress of the review on 23 October 2012, Official Report, column 46WS, we are today publishing a call for evidence for the tourism, culture, and sport report.

The report will be completed by the autumn of 2013 and will cover the overall application of EU competence in the tourism, culture, and sport sectors. In all three sectors that competence is supporting only, meaning that both the UK and the EU may act: and that action by either does not preclude action by the other. The report will be an opportunity to consider this relationship, and to examine the evidence concerning the impact of EU competences on the UK’s national interest in the sectors of tourism, culture, and sport.

The report will not cover EU competences which affect other sectors for which my Department is responsible, including electronic communications, media and the creative industries. This is because the EU does not exercise specific competence for these sectors. It does however act under a wide range of competences which have very significant impacts on them. Many of these relate to the internal market in services, where my Department will be working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in subsequent stages of the review. The Government equalities unit will be separately contributing to the review of the social and employment competence, on which work will start in the autumn of 2013.

The call for evidence period will last until early August. My Department will draw together the evidence into a draft, which will subsequently go through a process of scrutiny before publication in the autumn of 2013.

We will take a rigorous approach to the collection and analysis of evidence. The call for evidence sets out the scope of the report and includes both general and more sector-specific questions on which contributors are invited to focus. The evidence received—subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act—will be published alongside the final report.

My Department will pursue an active engagement process, consulting widely across Parliament and its committees, the tourism, culture and sport sectors, and the devolved Administrations in order to obtain evidence to contribute to our analysis of the issues. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review.

The result of the report will be a comprehensive analysis of EU competence in these sectors, and what this means for the United Kingdom. It will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership; and it will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The report will not produce specific policy recommendations.

I am arranging for “Review of the Balance Of Competences: Tourism, Culture and Sport—Call for Evidence” to be placed In the Libraries of both Houses.