Letter to the Chair of the Committee from
Mr David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe,Foreign and Commonwealth
Thank you for your letter of 9 September setting
out the Foreign Affairs Committee's position on how parliamentary
oversight of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
should be structured once the Western European Union Assembly
is wound up.
I agree that there should continue to be an inter-parliamentary
forum for debate of CSDP and welcome your Committee's engagement
on this issue. I agree that both the Conference of Community and
European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union
(COSAC) and expanded Conference of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairs
(COFACC) models you suggest could provide a framework that would
meet the needs of parliamentarians to debate CSDP. As well as
capitalising on experience and expertise of the parliamentarians
who already attend these bodies, consolidating existing arrangements
should minimise bureaucracy and ensure cost-effectiveness.
Like you, I support the primacy of national parliamentary
scrutiny of CSDP, informed by contacts between European parliamentarians
and without the expansion of the European Parliament's competencies.
It is important that future arrangements also involve all EU Member
States and non-EU European NATO Allies, preferably with arrangements
for other candidate and third countries given the important role
that they play in CSDP and the key partnership between the EU
and NATO on security matters.
I expect to receive further views on future options
for inter-parliamentary scrutiny of CSDP from other parliamentarians,
in particular from Robert Walter MP. Once I have received further
views, I would be happy to have a meeting to discuss the issues
further with you and the Chairs of the European Scrutiny Committee,
the House of Lords EU Committee and Robert Walter MP, to whom
I am also copying this letter, in order to try to move towards
what I hope can be a consolidated UK Government and parliamentary
view towards this issue.
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.
24 September 2010