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The Balance of Competences Review in the United Kingdom, 2012-2014

Written by David Eatock

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© viperagp / Fotolia

Against a backdrop of continuing and often intense political debate in the United Kingdom about its relationship with the rest of the European Union (EU), the Coalition Agreement of May 2010, underpinning the 2010-2015 Conservative–Liberal Democrat government, stated that the new administration would ‘examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences’, in the context of an overall government commitment to ‘ensure that there is no further transfer of sovereignty or powers’ to the EU during that five-year parliamentary term. This process was taken forward in a formal ‘Review of the Balance of Competences between the UK and the EU’, which was launched in July 2012 and concluded in December 2014.

The UK government’s official communication to the House of Commons and House of Lords to launch the Balance of Competences Review (Command Paper 8415) used a broad definition of EU competence, covering ‘everything deriving from EU law that affects what happens in the UK’. The review was to seek to examine all the areas where the Treaties gave the EU competence to act (see box below), and to audit what the EU did and how this affected the UK. The whole process would be ‘comprehensive, well informed and analytical’, gathering evidence to help inform public debate. Whilst the review would be government-led, it would also involve outside experts, organisations and individuals who wished to feed in their views on the issues covered.

Read the complete breifing on ‘The Balance of Competences Review in the United Kingdom, 2012-2014


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