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EU (Balance of Competences Review)

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 13 February 2014

I wish to update the House on the progress of the balance of competences review that I launched on behalf of the Government in July 2012. The first set of reports was published on 22 July 2013 and I am pleased to inform the House that the second set of reports has been published today on the gov.uk website. As per my written ministerial statement of 23 October 2012, Official Report, column 46WS, the reports were written by lead Departments for each policy area. This set of reports covers the single market: free movement of goods, asylum and non-EU migration, trade and investment, environment and climate change, transport, research and development, culture, tourism and sport, and civil judicial co-operation.

Calls for evidence for these reports were published in May 2013. As with the first set of reports, the level of interest shown was very welcome and the evidence we received was again of high quality. We received over 600 pieces of written evidence from parliamentary committees, Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, foreign Governments, local government, businesses, trade associations, think-tanks, academics, civil society groups, and professional membership associations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed, including the devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, for their continued involvement.

As with the first set of reports, each report draws on the evidence submitted to provide a wide-ranging and balanced analysis of the EU’s ability to act in a specific area, the impact that EU action has on the UK national interest, and the future challenges that may arise.

The reports have undergone rigorous internal challenge to ensure they are balanced, robust and evidence-based. Evidence submitted (subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act) has been published alongside the reports on the gov.uk website to ensure transparency.

Work is continuing on the report entitled “The Single Market: Free Movement of Persons” which will be published at a later date.

Calls for evidence for semester three reports were launched in October 2013 and closed in January. Reports in this semester cover: single market: services; single market: financial services and the free movement of capital; EU budget; cohesion; social and employment; agriculture; fisheries; competition and consumer policy; energy; and fundamental rights. Reports are expected to be published over summer 2014. Calls for evidence for semester four reports will launch in spring 2014.

The first two sets of reports and the calls for evidence for semester three reports are available at: https://www.gov. uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences . Copies of the second set of reports will be made available in the Libraries of both Houses and hard copies are also available in the Vote Office.