Scrutiny Reform follow-up and Legacy Report - European Scrutiny Contents

9  Other developments

95. Since publication of the Scrutiny Reform report we have maintained a close interest in the work of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (known as COREPER), and the associated issue of the new arrangements for Qualified Majority Voting in Council introducing new 'voting weights' for Member States, which came into force in November 2014. The Scrutiny Reform Report contained a critique of the opaqueness of the current EU legislative process, and we note the contrast with the way legislation is passed in the Westminster system.69F[70]

96. Our Chairman asked the Prime Minister about this particular issue during a Liaison Committee hearing in February 2015, and the Prime Minister replied that "our representative on COREPER—normally, Ivan Rogers—is riding to instructions given to him by the British Government, by British Government Ministers. If you are trying to posit that he can take decisions totally independent of the Government he works for, he cannot. He has to negotiate hard. He has sometimes to think about what compromises to make", adding that "There are long communications such as, 'If it goes this way, should I vote that way?' There is an idea that there is some committee in Brussels deciding our future without reference to Ministers; that is not the case."70F[71]

97. Over the course of this Parliament the Chairman and members of the Committee have been active participants in COSAC (the regular Conference of EU Affairs Committees). We note and welcome the increased focus by COSAC on democratic legitimacy and the role of national parliaments, and the fact that our Chairman has been a major participant and lead speaker in those COSAC debates and the discussions on these issues in COSAC more generally.

98. Making scrutiny more effective for the duration of the EU legislative process is a high priority for EU Affairs Committees across Member States. Our successor Committee will wish, we are sure, to take a continued and close interest in the role of COREPER, the new arrangements for QMV in Council, and their implications for the democratic legitimacy of the EU, alongside the other recommendations of the Scrutiny Reform Report.

70   Scrutiny Reform Report, paras 72-78 Back

71   Liaison Committee, Oral evidence taken on 24 February 2015, HC 1015, Qq 71-72. See also Annex B of the Minister for Europe's letter submitted to us on 5 March, which notes that of the co-decision files completed under the Lithuanian Presidency between July and December 2013, of the 92 files, 44 were adopted as 'A' points and 48 as 'B' points (B points are subject to discussion, A points are taken without debate following agreement in COREPER). Back

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Prepared 25 March 2015