Select Committee on European Union Eleventh Report


ELEVENTH REPORT


18 July 2000



By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.

ORDERED TO REPORT

THE 2000 INTER-GOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

1. Amendments to the Treaties establishing the European Union are determined by common accord at " a conference of representatives of the Member States" convened by the President of the Council.[1] Since February of this year, the Governments of the Member States have been engaged in such an Inter-Governmental Conference, or IGC as they are commonly called. The conference is expected to be concluded at the European Council to be held under the French Presidency, at Nice, on 7-8 December 2000, and to lead to a Treaty. The Treaty (of Nice) would need to be ratified by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

2. The IGC was begun under the Portuguese Presidency of the Union, and has now reached its halfway point. A progress report[2] was made by the Portuguese Presidency to the European Council meeting at Santa Maria de Feira, 19-20 June 2000. This report was endorsed by the European Council, and defines the agenda for the remaining stages of the IGC.

3. Our report gives an account of progress made in the IGC to date, and gives our opinion on the main items on the agenda which the European Council has endorsed.

STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT

4. Part 2 of this Report contains background information relevant to the IGC. Part 3 considers each of the main agenda items in turn, and gives our opinions and conclusions on them. These are shown in bold type.

CONDUCT OF THE INQUIRY

5. The inquiry was carried out by the Select Committee itself, rather than by a Sub-Committee. An informal working group of peers took most of the evidence, but our sessions were open to any member of the Select Committee, and several other members attended in the course of the inquiry. A list of the members of the Committee is to be found at Appendix 2. The members who took part in oral evidence sessions are listed at the beginning of each section of the minutes of evidence.

6. The Committee received written and oral evidence from the witnesses listed in Appendix 3. We made one visit, to Brussels, on 23-24 May, where we heard evidence from a wide range of witnesses. We are grateful to all of those who assisted us in our enquiry. Our thanks go, in particular, to Sir Stephen Wall, United Kingdom Permanent Representative in Brussels, and his staff at UKRep, both for the evidence they gave, and for the excellent arrangements they made for our visit to Brussels.

7. We have, in addition, taken account of a great deal of documentation made available by the European Community institutions. Most of these documents are available on the Internet through the websites of the various institutions[3]. The Conference documents have been supplied to the Committee (and to the other UK Parliament committees with an interest in the IGC) the by the Government, but they are also available on the Internet[4]. A list of previously published documents considered by the Committee will be found in Appendix 4.

WORK BEING UNDERTAKEN BY OTHER UK PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES

8. Two Committees in the House of Commons have a particular interest in the IGC. The European Scrutiny Committee's report was agreed on 15 May[5], and the Foreign Affairs Committee agreed their Report on 11 July[6]. Two of the Sub-Committees of our Committee have also been working on issues which are related to the IGC. Sub-Committee E has reported on the proposed EU Charter of Fundamental Rights[7], and Sub-Committee C is conducting an inquiry into recent developments in the Common European Policy on Security and Defence. It is expected that this report will be approved before the House rises for the Summer Recess[8].


1   Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Back

2   Inter-Governmental Conference on Institutional Reform: Presidency Report to the Feira European Council, Document CONFER 4750/00. Back

3   General IGC website: http://europa.eu.int/igc2000/index.htm

Update on general IGC website: http://europa.eu.int/igc2000/whatsnew_en.htm

Commission IGC website: http://europa.eu.int/comm/igc2000/index_en.htm

Council IGC website: http://db.consilium.eu.int/cig/default.asp?lang=eu

Parliament IGC website: http://www.europarl.eu.int/igc2000/en/default.htm

European Court of Justice: http://curia.eu.int/en/txts/intergov/index.htm

Member States: http://europa.eu.int/comm/igc2000/offdoc/memberstates/index_en.htm

Applicant States: http://europa.eu.int/comm/igc2000/offdoc/othersources/index_en.htm Back

4   http://elb/consilium.eu.int/cig/ Back

5   The 2000 Inter-Governmental Conference, 17th Report, Session 1999-2000, HC 23-xvii, available on the internet at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmeuleg/23-xvii/2302.htm  Back

6   Developments at the Inter-Governmental Conference 2000, 6th Report, Session 1999-2000, HC 384, available on the internet at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmfaff/384/38402.htm Back

7   8th Report, 1999-2000, HL Paper 67 Back

8   Available after publication on the internet on http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldeucom.htm  Back


 
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