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EU: Balance of Competences Review

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

I wish to update the House on the progress of the balance of competences review that my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) launched on behalf of the Government in July 2012. I am pleased to inform the House that the fourth and final set of reports has been published today on the website at: As per the written ministerial statement of 23 October 2012, the reports were written by lead departments for each policy area. This set of reports covers economic and monetary policy; education, vocational training and youth; enlargement; information rights; police and criminal justice; subsidiarity and proportionality; and voting, consular and statistics.

With publication of this final set of reports, all 32 reports in the balance of competences review are now complete. The review provides the most extensive analysis of EU membership ever undertaken by any member state and draws upon nearly 2,300 pieces of evidence to consider the impact that EU action has on the UK national interest and future challenges that may arise. In doing so, it provides an important contribution to the ongoing debate on EU reform and will be a valuable aid for future policy-makers, as well as a resource to enable people to judge for themselves how current arrangements are working.

Calls for evidence for fourth semester reports were published in March 2014. We saw a high level of interest and received nearly 350 pieces of written evidence. The review attracted input from a broad spectrum of experts and interested parties including parliamentary committees, Members of the European Parliament, the devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, business groups, think-tanks, academics, civil society groups and professional membership associations based both in the UK and beyond. The evidence we received in the fourth semester was again of high quality and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed.

As with previous semesters, 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—will be published alongside the reports on the website to ensure transparency.

The fourth semester reports, along with reports from all previous semesters, are available at: Copies of the reports will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and hard copies will be made available in the Vote and Printed Papers Offices.