Press release

Government launches Balance of Competences Review on the Free Movement of Persons

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

Call for evidence on the balance of powers between the United Kingdom and the European Union on the Free Movement of Persons.

The Government today launched a call for evidence on the balance of powers between the United Kingdom and the European Union on the Free Movement of Persons, 1 of the ‘4 Freedoms’ of the EU Internal Market.

The Foreign Secretary launched the cross-Government Balance of Competence Review in Parliament on 12 July 2012, taking forward the Coalition commitment to examine the balance of powers between the UK and the European Union.

The Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions are seeking views from individuals and groups with an interest or experience in policies covering the Free Movement of Persons, how the powers are used, and what that means for Britain.

The public call for evidence on the Free Movement of Persons will run for approximately 12 weeks from 15 May 2013 to 5 August 2013. Following the call for evidence, a report on the current balance of competence on Free Movement of Persons and what this means for the national interest will be published by summer 2013.

More information about the review and how to contribute is available at

More information

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 produce specific recommendations and will not prejudge future policy, nor will it look at alternative models for Britain’s overall relationship with the EU.

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 FCO website.

For the purposes of this review, we are using a broad definition of competence. Put simply, competence in this context is about everything deriving from EU law that affects what happens in the UK. That means examining all the areas where the Treaties give the EU competence to act, including the provisions in the Treaties giving the EU institutions the power to legislate, to adopt non-legislative acts, or to take any other sort of action. But it also means examining areas where the Treaties apply directly to the member states without needing any further action by the EU institutions. The EU’s competences are set out in the EU Treaties, which provide the basis for any actions the EU institutions take. The EU can only act within the limits of the competences conferred on it by the Treaties, and where the Treaties do not confer competences on the EU they remain with the member states.

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