Balance of Competences

Home Department written statement – made on 16th May 2013.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Minister for Immigration

I wish to inform the House that the Home Office is today publishing its calls for evidence on the asylum and immigration report and, together with the Department for Work and Pensions, the free movement of persons report of the balance of competences review, launched by the Foreign Secretary by oral statement before the House on 12 July 2012, Hansard, column 468.

Both reports will be completed by late 2013. The asylum and immigration report will cover the asylum and immigration competences that affect nationals from outside the EU/EEA, those not exercising EU/EEA rights, and the control of the UK’s borders. The asylum and immigration call for evidence has been divided into three sections for convenience—borders and visas; asylum; and legal migration—and in recognition of that fact that the UK’s participation operates differently in each area. Interested parties are invited to provide evidence with regard to each.

The free movement of persons report will cover the application and effect of the free movement of persons provisions, one of the “four freedoms” of the EU internal market. The free movement of persons report will focus on the implementation of the right of EU nationals to live, work and study abroad and rights to social security co-ordination under EU law. It will look at articles 18, 20, 21, 45-48 and 49-52 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the primary legislation which established the internal market. The report will also look at the relevant secondary legislation, which includes; directive 2004/38/EC (the “free movement directive”), regulation 883/2004 and its implementing regulation 987/2009, regulation 492/2011 and directive 2005/36/EC.

The Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions will seek evidence to conduct a rigorous analysis of EU competence in these areas. The calls for evidence set out the scope of the reports and include a series of broad questions, which provide a framework for interested groups to contribute to the reports. The evidence received—subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act— will be published alongside the final report in late 2013 and will be available on the new Government website www.gov.uk. The call for evidence period for both reports will last 12 weeks. The Home Office, together with the Department for Work and Pensions in the case of the free movement of persons report, will draw together the evidence and policy analysis into draft reports, which will subsequently go through a process of scrutiny before publication in late 2013.

The Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions will seek to consult widely across Parliament and its Committees, the devolved Administrations, business, civil society and other interested parties. We will also invite our EU partners and the EU institutions to contribute evidence to the reports. As the review is to be objective and evidence-based, it is important to encourage contributions from a wide range of interested parties to inform the policy debate.

The result of the reports will be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis of the balance of competences between the EU and the UK on the issues of asylum and immigration, and free movement of persons. It will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership; and it win provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The reports will not produce specific policy recommendations.

I am placing this document and the calls for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses. They will also be published on the Home Office website and the free movement of persons report will also be published on the Department for Work and Pensions website. Both reports will be accessible through the balance of competences review pages on GOV.UK.