It looks as if HMG is going ahead with the Balance of Competences Review and is, possibly, taking it all more seriously than many of us believed. Of course, the devil will, as ever, be in the detail and one can hardly trust the ministries and departments who are working on the reports.
In a Written Statement on October 23, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, explained the purpose and gave a timetable:
I wish to inform the House that, further to my oral statement at the launch of the balance of competences review on 12 July 2012, Official Repo rt, column 468, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today publishing the timetable for the review including departmental responsibility for the reports into each individual area of competence.
The review will complete its work during 2014 and will look at the scope of the EU’s competences (the power to act in particular areas conferred on it by the EU Treaties) as they affect the UK, how they are used, and what that means for Britain and our national interests.
The review will be divided into four semesters, each containing six to 10 reports. This will allow reports on related topics to be grouped together. The reports from each semester will be published at the end of that semester. If necessary, changes to this timetable will be made in order to take account of any events which could impact upon the timing of a report.
Fisheries is some way down the list. It will be Report 22 in Semester 3 that will be put together from autumn 2013 to spring 2014. According to Mr Hague's statement that must mean that the actual report will be published in the spring of 2014. Before that we need to ensure that information about the real situation with fisheries is widely spread and ideas alternative to the CFP are propounded.