By Daniel Hunter

With little over two weeks left to contribute to the first wave of reports being completed as part of the Government’s Balance of Competence Review, the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, has been talking to senior business representatives about their views on what EU membership means for the UK, at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Centre for European Reform.

"Now more than ever, we want to hear from the widest range of voices in business and industry, from across think-tanks and in academia on how EU membership actually affects you," David Lidington said.

"The Balance of Competences Review is an important opportunity to make sure that your views are heard as part of an extensive and objective review of how EU legislation impacts here in the UK. It is the first time that any EU Member State has launched an exercise of this type. We hope that it will help inform the debate on how the EU can be more open, more flexible and more competitive — not just for the UK, but for the benefit of Europe as a whole."

An extensive programme of engagement is currently under way. Yesterday, experts from business, think tanks and academia took part in a workshop at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Senior officials explained the process for submitting evidence, whilst individual government departments presented key emerging themes. This was accompanied by an energetic discussion across all six reports due to be completed in the first semester.

The first six reports being compiled are: an overview of the Internal Market (Department for Business, Innovation & Skills); Taxation (Treasury); Foreign Policy (Foreign & Commonwealth Office); Development (Department for International Development); Health (Department of Health); and Animal Health and Welfare and Food Safety (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

The Balance of Competences Review is a two-year process, taking place between autumn 2012 and autumn 2014. Thirty-two individual reports covering all areas of EU competence are due to be completed over four semesters. Departments are gathering evidence now for the six reports being produced in the first semester.

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