I wish to inform the House that, further to the Foreign Secretary’s oral statement launching the review of the balance of competences in July 2012 and the written statements on the progress of the review in October 2012 and May 2013, the Ministry of Justice has published its call for evidence in the area of fundamental rights.
The report will be completed by summer 2014 and will cover the overall application and effect of EU instruments and action in the area of fundamental rights.
The call for evidence period will last 12 weeks. The Ministry of Justice will draw together the evidence and policy analysis into a first draft, which will go through a process of scrutiny before publication in summer 2014.
The report will focus on the European Union’s action on fundamental rights, but not on the European Union’s actions on each specific right: these are being covered by other, subject-specific reviews. The report will cover the EU’s fundamental rights framework including the treaties, case law and the charter of fundamental rights, as well the work of the Fundamental Rights Agency and the funding programmes on fundamental rights. It will also cover the European Union’s accession to the European convention on human rights, although the foreign policy review published in July 2013 has already referred to this.
The Ministry of Justice 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 a series of broad questions on which contributors are asked to focus. Interested parties are invited to provide evidence in relation to the impact or effect of the competence in their area of expertise. The evidence received (subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act) will be published alongside the final report in summer 2014 and will be available through the balance of competences review web pages on gov.uk.
The Department will pursue an active engagement process, consulting widely across Parliament and its relevant Committees, business, civil society, the devolved Administrations and legal practitioners. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review. As the review is to be objective and evidence-based, we will encourage the broadest possible range of interested parties to contribute.
The report will be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis of EU action in this area that will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership; it will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The report will not, however, produce specific policy recommendations.
I am placing the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses. The call for evidence will also be available through the balance of competences review pages on gov.uk.