Press release

Third set of Balance of Competences reports published

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

The Government has published 11 new reports in its Review of the Balance of EU Competences.

The Government has published 11 new reports in its Review of the Balance of EU Competences, bringing the total number of reports published to date to 25.

The Review of the Balance of Competences aims to analyse and examine the UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU). The new reports, the third set published as part of the review, cover the free movement of services; fisheries; agriculture; competition and consumer policy; cohesion; fundamental rights; social and employment policy; free movement of persons; financial services and the free movement of capital; EU budget; and energy.

Welcoming the publication of the reports, the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said:

This review is the most extensive analysis of the impact of EU membership on the UK ever undertaken and provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring together the views of a wide range of organisations and individuals to give a detailed picture of how the EU affects our everyday lives. With 25 reports now published, the Review is contributing a substantial body of evidence on what is working well and what is not.

These reports provide a timely contribution to the debate here and across Europe about the need for EU reform. Many themes emerging from the reports chime with the priorities that the UK and other Member States have identified for the next Commission, and underline the need for the EU to focus on those areas where it genuinely add values alongside pursuing an ambitious reform agenda for the benefit of all.

The 11 new reports were produced after extensive consultation with a wide range of interested parties from across the UK and beyond, including businesses, professional bodies and representative organisations, civil society organisations, think tanks, academics and members of the public. The reports draw on over 800 pieces of written evidence which together demonstrate why the EU needs ambitious reform to make it more open, competitive, flexible and democratically accountable, for the benefit of everyone in Europe, and pick up a number of themes from earlier semesters:

  • Respondents recognise the benefits of the Single Market, but highlight that more could be done to fully exploit its potential in areas such as services and energy.
  • They also commented that the UK has often been successful in shaping the EU agenda. The Fisheries report recognised the UK’s role in securing reform of the failed Common Fisheries Policy, while the EU Budget report highlighted the Prime Minister’s success in achieving a first ever cut to the EU’s long term spending plans.
  • Respondents also called for further progress in many areas. The need for better, and less, EU regulation was again a common theme across the reports, and the Financial Services report drew attention to the need to protect the rights of all EU Member States as the Eurozone integrate further.
  • Respondents highlighted the need for greater democratic accountability of EU institutions with some arguing that the ECJ had too wide a margin over interpretation of competence. For example, the Free Movement of Persons report outlines how successive judgements have extended the scope of these rights beyond their original intention.
  • Finally, many stated the importance of the EU focusing on those areas where it adds genuine value, with Member States retaining the ability to take actions appropriate to national circumstances, in recognition that one size does not always fit all.

Further information

The fourth and final set of reports is due to be published by the end of the year. All reports to date can be found here.

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