Press release

Government launches balance of competences review on information rights

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government has today launched a call for evidence on the balance of competences between the UK and the European Union in the area of information rights.

Scales of Justice

The government has today launched a call for evidence on the balance of competences between the UK and the European Union in the area of information rights.

Information rights provide individuals with rights concerning how their personal data is stored and used by others. Personal data can include anything that identifies someone, this may include health records, purchases and even library records. Information rights also include the right to access public information, such as official documents produced by government institutions.

The Balance of Competences Review was launched by the Foreign Secretary William Hague in July 2012 as part of the Coalition Government commitment to examine the balance of competences between the UK and the European Union.

The Ministry of Justice, which is leading on this strand of the review, would like to receive evidence from a wide range of interested parties, including business, organisations, privacy groups and the public, on the impact of this competence on their own area of expertise.

The call for evidence will be structured around a series of questions which include consideration of the impact of the EU’s information rights framework, its advantages and disadvantage for the UK and the future challenges and opportunities there are in respect of information rights.

The public call for evidence will run for 12 weeks. Anyone wishing to contribute is asked to send their views before 1 July 2014. Following the close of the call for evidence, a report on the Balance of Competences on Information Rights and what this means for the national interest is due to be published at the end of 2014.

Further information on the submission of evidence.

Notes to Editors

  1. Read and respond to the call for evidence
  2. The Balance of Competences review will provide an analysis of what the UK’s membership of the EU means for the UK national interest. It will not predetermine or prejudge proposals which either coalition party may make in the future either for changes to the EU or about the appropriate balance of competences.
  3. The review is broken down into a series of reports on specific areas of EU competence, spread over four semesters between autumn 2012 and autumn 2014. It is led by the Government but will also involve non-governmental experts, organisations and other individuals who wish to contribute their views. Foreign governments, including our EU partners and the EU institutions, are also being invited to submit responses. The process will be comprehensive, evidence-based and analytical. The progress of the review will be transparent, including in respect of the contributions submitted. Further information can be found on the Balance of Competences Review page’
  4. The term ‘competence’ is used to describe the powers, conferred on the EU by the Member States, to undertake specific actions. The EU’s competences are set out in the EU Treaties, which provide the legal basis for any actions taken by the EU institutions. The EU can only act within the limits of the competences conferred on it by the Treaties. This means there must be a legal basis for the EU to act.
  5. Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the Balance of Competence team by e-mail to fundamentalrightsBoC@justice.gsi.gov.uk
  6. For more information contact the MOJ Press Office newsdesk on 020 3334 3536 and follow us @MoJPress on Twitter.
Published 27 March 2014