UK-EU reports

UK-EU reportsDuring 2013 and 2014, the British Government published a series of reports on every aspect of EU policies. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the ‘Review of the Balance of Competences between the UK and the EU’ would provide an informed and objective analysis ‘of where the EU helps and where it hampers’.Described by the then Foreign Secretary William Hague as ‘the most extensive analysis of the impact of EU membership on the UK ever undertaken’, the review addressed 32 specific areas of EU competence.Despite costing an estimated £5 million of public money, the reports were not widely publicised. In March 2015, the House of Lords European Union Committee published a review of the balance of competences exercise, in which – among other things – it criticised the Government for failing to produce a final analysis of the 32 reports. The only overall assessment of the reports available has been produced by a group of Senior European Experts – ‘an independent body consisting of former high-ranking British diplomats and civil servants, including several former UK ambassadors to the EU, and former officials of the institutions of the EU.’ The pro-EU organisation British Influence provides the group’s secretariat and makes its briefings available to the general public.According to the Senior European Experts summary Britain & the EU: What the Balance of Competences Review Found:On the question of competences (should more be decided at the national, rather than the European level?) the results of the review are clear. In none of the areas of policy examined did a convincing case emerge for transferring competences back from the EU to the UK. Although some contributors argued for a transferring in the EU’s competences, and others for its extension in a few areas, the 32 reports regularly conclude that, on balance, the evidence suggests that the existing situation is appropriate. In no case does the review recommend the transfer of competences to the national level.Commenting on the conclusion of the review, Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, said that it: ‘provides a wealth of material that anyone interested in reform can draw upon and the 32 reports provide evidence about every area of EU activity, allowing people to judge for themselves how the current arrangements are working. These reports provide further evidence of the need for a change in Britain’s relationship with the EU.’

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