Open Europe Blog

Who cares about EU scrutiny?

The Hansard Society has today published a collection of essays on improving the current scrutiny of EU legislation in the UK Parliament – well worth a read. Open Europe’s Christopher Howarth contributed an essay arguing for greater powers for national parliaments arguing “Scrutiny without power is not scrutiny, it is ritual” – along with a series of detailed suggestions (more on those later). Other contributors include Bill Cash MP, Chris Heaton Harris MP, Robert Broadhurst, Gisela Stuart MP and Lord Boswell and the foreword is written by none other than the Europe Minister David Lidington MP.

However, reading those names you might be struck by the absence of those on the more EU integrationist side of the UK EU debate. Surely those on all sides of the political spectrum have an interest in the EU’s democratic accountability? Well here is what the Hansard Society’s Ruth Fox had to say:

“A majority of the authors – though not all – might be said to occupy the more eurosceptic end of the political spectrum. We invited a wide range of politicians across all the major parties to our seminar in September 2012 but those who accepted came, in the main, from the eurosceptic perspective. Similarly, we invited a number of pro-Europeans to contribute to this pamphlet but, disappointingly, there were few expressions of interest. This underlines the concern that those engaging with the detail of European issues are drawn from too narrow a tranche of parliamentary representatives.”

So there you have it. Why are those who argue for the UK’s place in Europe to remain unchanged and/or more integration so reluctant to say anything about increasing the ability of Parliament to scrutinise the goings on of the EU – what do they think they have to lose?

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