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First reports in the Review of Balance of Competences published

The Coalition Government published yesterday the first six reports in the Review of the Balance of Competences

Following the launch of the Review of the Balance of Competences in July 2012, Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday welcomed the publication of the first set of six reports and invited contributions to the second set.

The Review of the Balance of Competences is part of a Coalition commitment to analyse and examine the UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU). yesterday saw the publication of the first set of reports, covering an overview of the single market, health, development co-operation and humanitarian aid, foreign policy, animal health and welfare and food safety, and taxation. Another 26 reports will be issued between now and the end of 2014. Once complete, the review will provide the most extensive analysis of the impact of EU membership on the UK ever undertaken.

Welcoming the publication of the reports, the Foreign Secretary said:

“For the first time, these reports bring together in one place evidence from across the spectrum to provide an accurate and detailed picture of the impact that the European Union has on our everyday lives. In some cases, they have confirmed and illustrated what we believed already. In others, they have thrown up new evidence and perspectives on our relationship with the EU.

“At a time when the EU is facing considerable challenges and discussion on the EU in Britain is intensifying, it is vitally important that the debate in the UK is as well-informed as possible. These reports make a valuable contribution not only to the debate in this country but also to the debate taking place in other European nations about the future of the EU.”

The reports were produced after extensive consultation with businesses, think tanks, academics and other bodies with direct experience of what EU membership means in practice. The final reports draw on evidence from right across the UK - from major businesses and think tanks like Open Europe, to professional and civil society organisations like the Royal Colleges and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. They also include input from international partners and organisations.

Contributors have provided many valuable examples of how EU membership affects the UK on a day-to-day basis. Some cases highlight the importance of maintaining national sovereignty in areas like direct taxation, to enable Member States to make decisions that safeguard their own national interests. Other examples illustrate areas where EU action has brought benefits to UK consumers and facilitated economic growth - for example, the role that the single market has played in bringing down the price of air transport and increasing the number of air routes in the EU.

The debate on reform is happening not just in the UK but right across Europe. Although the reports focus on the impact of EU action on the UK, many of the themes that emerge are likely to apply to our European partners, given the similar challenges we all face. These reports provide a serious and constructive contribution to this debate.

Departments are currently gathering evidence for the second set of reports, to be published before the end of the year. Reports in this semester will cover the Internal Market: Free movement of goods; Internal Market: Free movement of persons; Asylum and Immigration; Trade and Investment; Environment and Climate Change; Transport; Research and Development; Tourism, Culture and Sport; Civil Justice.

The deadline for evidence submission is early August 2013.

Further information

For more information please see our detailed guide to the review or join in the conversation on Twitter using #BOCReview.

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