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

Letter to The Rt Hon Lord Roper, Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, House of Lords, from Mr David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Thank you for your positive and proactive engagement in our recent meetings on how inter-parliamentary oversight of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) should be structured once the Western European Union Assembly is wound up.

I welcome your draft constitution and judge it provides a good basis for parliamentary discussion. In particular, I support your proposals that the new structure should add value to national scrutiny systems and that costs are borne by the "troika" parliaments. I also welcome that third states, such as EU candidate countries, will have a standing invitation. Given their important and valuable role in CSDP and the key partnership between the EU and NATO on security matters, I strongly believe that other countries—notably Norway—but also other non-EU European NATO members should be invited as a matter of course.

The date for closing the WEU Assembly, 30 June 2011, is fast approaching. I believe we share concerns that the European Parliament's influence may increase if there are no arrangements for inter-parliamentary debate in place by then. I therefore urge that the necessary arrangements between EU national parliaments and the European Parliament to decide on the new body be taken forward as a matter of some urgency, especially considering the potential difficulty in reaching an agreed arrangement at 27 plus the European Parliament. Understanding that it is for parliaments to drive this process, I am happy to consider ways I could expedite this process.

I am copying this letter to William Cash MP (Chair of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee), the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Defence Committee, Robert Walter MP, Alistair Doherty (Clerk to the Commons Committee), Les Saunders (Cabinet Office), Sarah Winter (Departmental Scrutiny Co-ordinator), Richard Everingham and David Beeney (Select Committee Liaison Officers).

29 November 2010

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