British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part I: ‘Competences About Right, so Far’

EPIN Working Papers No. 35

19 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013

See all articles by Michael Emerson

Michael Emerson

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Steven Blockmans

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS); University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Date Written: October 29, 2013

Abstract

The first in a series for a CEPS-EPIN project entitled “The British Question and the Search for a Fresh European Narrative” this paper is pegged on an ambitious ongoing exercise by the British government to review all the competences of the European Union. The intention is that this should provide a basis for informed debate before the referendum on the UK remaining in the EU or not, which is scheduled for 2017.

This paper summarises the first six reviews, each of which runs to around 80 pages, covering foreign policy, development policy, taxation, the single market, food safety, and public health. The present authors then add their own assessments of these materials.

While understandably giving due place to British interests, they are of general European relevance. The substantive conclusions of this first set of reviews are that the competences of the EU are judged by respondents to be ‘about right’ on the whole, which came as a surprise to eurosceptic MPs and the tabloid media. Our own view is that the reviews are objective and impressively researched, and these populist complaints are illustrating the huge gap between the views of informed stakeholders and general public opinion, and therefore also the hazard of subjecting the ‘in or out’ choice for decision by referendum. If the referendum is to endorse the UK’s continuing membership there will have to emerge some fresh popular narratives about the EU. The paper therefore concludes with some thoughts along these lines, both for the UK and the EU as a whole.

Keywords: UK, EU, British interests, European Union

Suggested Citation

Emerson, Michael and Blockmans, Steven, British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part I: ‘Competences About Right, so Far’ (October 29, 2013). EPIN Working Papers No. 35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2350139

Michael Emerson (Contact Author)

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Steven Blockmans

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance ( email )

P.O.Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA
Netherlands

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