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These notes refer to the European Union (Amendment) Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 12th March 2008 [HL Bill 40]
EUROPEAN UNION (AMENDMENT) BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the European Union (Amendment) Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 12th March 2008. They have been prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not appear to require explanation or comment, none is given.
3. This Bill is intended to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. The United Kingdom signed the Treaty on 13th December 2007. The Treaty has been published as Command Paper Cm 7294, European Community Series no. 13 (2007), entitled "Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community including the Protocols and Annexes, and Final Acts with Declarations".
4. The Treaty of Lisbon amends the principal EU Treaties, namely, the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community. A consolidated version of the TEU and Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (the re-named TEC) has been published as Command Paper Cm 7310, along with a comparative table of the current EU Treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon (Command Paper Cm 7311).
5. The principal changes made by the Treaty - see Articles 1 and 2 - are as follows:
? Institutional reforms, notably the creation of a President of the European Council elected by the European Council for a two and half year term (renewable once) and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy (a post which combines the
1 Further details on competences in the Lisbon Treaty are set out in the Minister for Europe's letter of 17th January 2008 to the House of Lords EU Select Committee, to be published with the House of Lords European Union Committee's 10th Report 2007-08 The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment (evidence, HL Paper 62-II)
6. Article 4 of the Treaty of Lisbon introduces Protocol no. 1 to the Treaty, which contains amendments to the Protocols currently annexed to the TEU, TEC and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community. The amendments include those to the current protocols for the UK's "opt in" arrangements with respect to Title IV TEC.
7. Article 4 also introduces Protocol no. 2 to the Treaty, which amends the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.
8. Article 5 provides for a comprehensive simplification of the numbering of Treaty articles, including cross-references within the treaties and secondary legislation of the European Union, in accordance with the table set out in the Annex to the Treaty. The numbers of articles in the TEU and the TEC which appear in the text of the articles of the Treaty of Lisbon are subject to the provisions of Article 5. The Bill and these Notes refer to articles of the TEU and the TEC as re-numbered in accordance with Article 5 and the Annex.
9. The other articles (Articles 3, 6 and 7) are formal and relate to the indefinite duration of the Treaty, ratification, and the authentic languages in which the Treaty is drawn up.
10. The Bill extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.
COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
11. The Bill has 8 clauses and a Schedule.
Clause 2: Addition to the list of treaties
12. This clause amends section 1 of the European Communities Act 1972 ("the 1972 Act"). It does so by adding to the list of treaties in section 1(2) of the 1972 Act the Treaty of Lisbon (including the Annex and the Protocols to the Treaty) with the exception of those provisions that concern the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy.
13. Section 1(2) of the 1972 Act originally contained a list of the Community Treaties in force when the United Kingdom joined the three European Communities - the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community (now called the European Community) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Further treaties have been added to the list by later Acts of Parliament. The last amending Treaty to be added to the list was the Treaty of Nice, the subject of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 2002. The last addition to the list was for the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, the subject of the European Communities (Accessions) Act 2006.
14. The effect of adding the Treaty of Lisbon's provisions to the list in section 1(2) is to give effect to those provisions in the law of the United Kingdom. In particular, section 2 of, and Schedule 2 to, the 1972 Act (which provide for the implementation generally of the Community Treaties) will apply in relation to the Treaty of Lisbon.
Clause 3: Changes of terminology
15. Article 1(2)(b) of the Treaty of Lisbon inserts in Article 1 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) a new third paragraph as follows:
16. The Treaty of Lisbon amends other provisions of the TEU and the Treaty establishing the European Community, which it renames as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
17. This clause makes, and provides power to make, changes in terminology used in legislation, in consequence of the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon.
18. Subsection (1) inserts in section 1(2) of the 1972 Act a definition of "the EU", to refer to the European Union, by reference to the Treaty of Maastricht which established it.
19. Following the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon, Euratom will remain a Community legally distinct from the European Union. But in many cases "the EU" will be a convenient and suitable term to denote collectively the European Union and Euratom. References to the EU in legislation are to include reference to the European Atomic Energy Community where the context either permits or requires such an interpretation (subsection (2)).
20. References in legislation to the original Communities - the European Community, the European Coal and Steel Community or Euratom - or to those European Communities collectively, are to be treated as referring to the EU, or as including a reference to the EU, as the case may require (subsection (6)).
21. Subsection (3) introduces the Schedule which sets out substitutions of terminology in the 1972 Act and the Interpretation Act 1978.
22. Subsections (4) and (5) provides a power for the Secretary of State to make orders, by statutory instrument, amending legislation - primary or secondary - to reflect changes in terminology or numbering arising out of the Treaty of Lisbon and to make incidental provision. Such orders are to be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
Clause 4: Increase of powers of the European Parliament
23. This clause is to meet the requirement of section 12 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 which provides that -
24. Several provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon increase the powers of the European Parliament, by increasing the number of provisions providing for EU legislation to be adopted by co-decision of the Council and the European Parliament.
Clause 5: Amendment of founding Treaties
25. This clause concerns treaties which amend the founding EU Treaties - following the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, these will be the Treaty establishing the European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.
26. The Treaty of Lisbon amends Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) concerning amendment of the Treaties so as to provide for an Ordinary revision procedure and Simplified revision procedures. (The Simplified Revision procedures, introduced by Article 48 (6) and (7) TEU as amended, are referred to in the Note on clause 6 below.)
27. The Treaty of Lisbon amends the procedure in a number of respects. Proposals for amendments may be made by the European Parliament as well as by the Member States and the Commission as at present. It is expressly provided that amendments may serve, inter alia, to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the European Union. The proposals must be notified to the national Parliaments of the Member States. A decision to examine proposed amendments must be made by the European Council (rather than the Council as at present). The European Central Bank must be consulted in the case of proposed institutional changes in the monetary area. Generally, a Convention must be convened to examine the proposals before an inter-governmental conference is convened. Such a Convention is to be composed of representatives of the national Parliaments of the Member States, the heads of State or Government of the Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission. The European Council may decide not to convene a Convention where the nature of proposed Treaty amendments would not justify establishing one.
28. This clause provides that, in future, every treaty agreed under the Ordinary revision procedure must be approved by an Act of Parliament before the United Kingdom may ratify it. Any increase in the competences of the EU will therefore be subject to prior Parliamentary approval.
Clause 6: Parliamentary control of decisions
29. This clause concerns certain provisions in the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union which enable the European Council or the Council to make decisions, the effect of which is to bring about changes in certain EU policies or changes in EU procedures for adopting legislation. The provisions concerned are listed in subsection (1).
30. The list comprises:
31. The clause provides that where any draft decision under the listed provisions comes before the European Council or the Council, the United Kingdom may not agree to the adoption of the decision, unless Parliamentary approval has first been given. That approval must be signified by the agreement of both Houses of Parliament to motions approving the Government's intention to support the decision.
32. The clause provides that a motion may include provision dispensing with the need for a further motion in respect of amendments to the draft decision.
Schedule: Changes of terminology
33. The Schedule, introduced by clause 3(3), provides for changes in certain terminology used in the European Communities Act 1972 and the Interpretation Act 1978. Almost all the changes involve the substitution in expressions using the word "Community" or "Communities" of the expression "EU". These substitutions reflect changes in terminology in the EU Treaties, mentioned in the note on clause 3 above.
34. References to "the European Court" are substituted for references to "the European Court or any court attached thereto", reflecting a change of nomenclature introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.
EFFECTS OF THIS BILL ON PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER
35. The Bill will have no direct financial impact on the United Kingdom. The amendments to the EU Treaties resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon will not fundamentally change the objectives and activities of the European Union and will not, therefore, have significant implications for the EU budget. There will be no substantive change in the EU budgetary system, and no commitment to the provision of new resources.
36. The Bill will not have implications for public sector manpower. Implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon and of the Bill will be activities of a similar nature to those already undertaken in implementation of the existing EU Treaties.
37. The Bill has no regulatory impact on business, charities or the voluntary sector.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
38. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act).
39. On 7th March 2008, the Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council made the following statement:
40. Clause 8 provides that, with the exception of clause 3 and the Schedule, the Bill will come into force on Royal Assent. Clause 3 and the Schedule are to be brought into force by commencement order.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2008||Prepared: 13 March 2008|