Supplementary memorandum from the Secretary
of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Letter from the Foreign Secretary to Donald
Anderson MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee
At the evidence session before the Committee
on 13 March about the prospects for the Barcelona European Council,
I offered to provide a note on the proposals made by Javier Solana
in a paper on reforming the Council for enlargement.
It is in everyone's interests to reform the
Council. Institutions designed for six are already under strain
with fifteen members. The next enlargement will create an EU of
up to 25. Reform is needed to ensure the Council does not lose
its effectiveness in providing strategic direction and democratic
accountability in the EU.
The Convention on the Future of Europe will,
of course, consider reform of the Council. Some measures such
as changing the system of six-monthly rotating Presidencies, would
require Treaty change in the 2004 IGC. They will therefore be
discussed in the Convention.
But there are practical steps to improve the
efficiency of the Council which do not require Treaty change and
could therefore be made before the Convention finishes its work.
It was agreed at Barcelona that the Presidency will take forward
Solana's proposals and consult Member States bilaterally between
now and the Seville European Council with a view to taking decisions
then. The attached paper sets out the UK response to Solana's
proposals on these. I hope the Committee will find it helpful.