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MPs lift lid on EU decision making

14 April 2016

EU laws affect us all, but how transparently are they made? The European Scrutiny Committee is looking at decisions in the Council, where national Ministers from each EU country meet to agree EU laws. The Committee is taking evidence from academics and from former Ministers, Sir Edward Davey and Owen Paterson, in the first session of its inquiry.


Wednesday 20 April 2016, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster

At 2.15pm

  • Professor Simon Hix, Harold Laski Professor of Political Science, London School of Economics
  • Dr Sara Hagemann, Assistant Professor, European Institute, London School of Economics

At 2.55pm

Purpose of session

The Committee will ask people with direct experience of Council negotiations how these play out in practice, how much ministerial input there is into the system, and whether there is sufficient accountability at national level in the process.

Experienced academics from the London School of Economics, Professor Simon Hix and Dr Sara Hagemann, will explain the difficulties that they have encountered when attempting to research Council decision-making. Sir Edward Davey and Owen Paterson — both Ministers in the Coalition Government — will comment from the perspective of Ministers who have been involved in EU negotiations.

Chair's comments

The Chairman of the Committee, Sir William Cash, said:

"We want to find out just how transparent decision making in the Council and its preparatory bodies are. At least 70% of decisions are not even taken by Ministers. So we want to shine a light on what is really going on and identify possible future changes that will help the public and national parliamentarians gain greater access."


Most EU laws, which are proposed by the European Commission, have to be agreed by both the European Parliament and the Council. The Council publishes its agendas, meets in public when it deliberates and votes on draft laws and publishes the outcome of votes on draft laws. Nonetheless much negotiation and discussion of the detail is taken outside these public proceedings, by the Council's preparatory bodies in private meetings (with technical discussions starting in Working Groups and advancing to the most senior preparatory body - the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the EU, known as Coreper).

Further information

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