Letter to Mr David Lidington MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office,from the Chair of
the Committee |
Thank you for your letter and attached "non-paper"
of 15 July sent to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee
and copied to me among others, concerning pan-European parliamentary
oversight of the Common Security and Defence Policy following
the dissolution of the WEU in mid-2011. The Foreign Affairs Committee
considered this matter at its meeting on 8 September.
The Committee does not wish to see the WEU Parliamentary
Assembly being dissolved without some form of successor body in
place, and regards it as essential that there should continue
to be an inter-parliamentary forum for discussion and oversight
of the CSDP, to reflect the nature and importance of the policy
area. Discussion and joint working with our colleagues from other
interested states can significantly enhance our national scrutiny
work, and may be a more efficient means of information exchange
for all of us involved than purely national processes.
The Committee endorses the Government's view that
post-WEU parliamentary oversight arrangements should reflect the
intergovernmental nature of the CSDP, and that national parliaments,
not the European Parliament, should be in the lead. The Committee
similarly shares your view that the need to bear down on costs
should be a leading consideration in settling post-WEU arrangements.
Of the options set out in your paper, the Committee
tends to favour some form of "conference of committees"-
type format i.e. a specialised COSAC, or a combined/enlarged/enhanced
version of the current Conference of Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairs and Conference of Defence Committee Chairs, to include
other representatives of these Committees. The Committee considers
that this type of model would create the strongest link with national
parliamentary scrutiny and allow the participation of Members
with specialist knowledge, without duplication of other international
bodies and with the best prospects of bearing down on costs. The
Committee also considers that the differences between this type
of model and a new, smaller assembly might be more bridgeable
than might appear. Nevertheless, a considerable number of potentially
awkward issues would remain to be resolved.
The Committee would be glad of a written update from
you as to how the Government envisages the process of agreeing
post-WEU arrangements being taken forward in the next few months.
The Committee would also welcome an early meeting with you to
discuss the issues further.
I am copying this letter to Mr Speaker, the Chairs
and Clerks of the European Scrutiny Committee and House of Lords
EU Committee, and Robert Walter MP.
9 September 2010