Future inter-parliamentary scrutiny of EU foreign, defence and security policy - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Letter to the Chair of the Committee from Mr David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe,Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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

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