Select Committee on European Communities Third Report


22 July 1997

  By the Select Committee appointed to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion of the Committee, raise important questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which the Committee consider that the special attention of the House should be drawn.



  1.    At the European Council meeting in Amsterdam on 16-17 June 1997, the leaders of the 15 EU Member States reached agreement in principle on the text of a new Treaty. This text was released by the Presidency on 19 June 1997[1]. It is expected that the new Treaty will be signed in Amsterdam in October 1997 after further work has been done on the text and translations. The new Treaty is the outcome of over a year's work by the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) which began at Turin in March 1996.

  2.    Before the IGC opened, this Committee produced a report[2] which examined some key issues. Our approach in 1995 was summarised in paragraph 9 of our report:

    "The Committee's enquiry has concentrated on two main issues. The first, and the largest, is the question of the Institutions and the decision-making process in an expanding European Union. The subjects considered under this broad heading included qualified majority voting in the Council, the co-decision procedure between the Council and the European Parliament, the size and composition of the Commission and the role of the Court of Justice. As well as examining the roles of the Institutions, we have also considered the related questions of the role of national parliaments, the simplification of legislative acts and delegated legislation. The second main issue which we have considered is the functioning of the "pillars", including the question of defence."

  3.    The purpose of this present report is to compare our main conclusions in 1995 with the outcome of the IGC as reflected in the Treaty. We would wish to emphasise that this report is not a full summary of the Treaty. Appendix 2 to this Report contains a side-by-side presentation of the main conclusions of the 1995 report with the Treaty text.

  4.    The Committee has not, at this stage, come to any conclusions about the outcome of the IGC, although we look forward to discussing this matter with Foreign and Commonwealth Office ministers in the autumn. We hope, however, that this report may be found useful, particularly in advance of the debate in this House on 28 July.

  5.    This report is made to the House for information.

1   Document CONF/4001/97 Back

2   1996 Inter-Governmental Conference, 21st Report, Session 1994-95, HL Paper 105. Back

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Prepared 24 July 1997