EU: UK Select Committee slams G6's role
The House of lords Select Committee on the European Union has published a report on the G6 meetings comprised of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland (comprising three-quarters of the EU population): After Heiligendamm: doors ajar at Stratford-upon-Avon (pdf)
Following a similarly critical report on the Heiligendamm G6 meeting: Behind Closed Doors the Home Office promised to publish future conclusions of G6 meetings and the Home Secretary said he was prepared to appear before the Committee. The Home Office Minister in the Lords, Baroness Scotland, said the the conclusions of the Stratford meeting would be published on the Ministry's website.
In the event the version on the Home Office website was incomplete, with a section heading, first paragraph and the following two lines deleted leading the Committee to conclude that:
"The remainder of that section as published, is therefore incomprehensible"
The Committee says that the publication of an incomplete record "informally" is no substitute for a "written ministerial statement to parliament".
Moreover, after "numerous attempts" to try and find a date when the Home Secretary, John Reid, could appear before the committee they eventually had to give up. The report concludes that:
"it was perhaps unwise of him to give, and through his ministers to repeat, an undertaking to give us oral evidence about the meeting if he was not going to be able to satisfy that undertaking within a reasonable time."
The Committee's report is equally scathing about the Home Office Minister's contention that G6 :
""has no formal decision making powers - conclusions are formed and agreement reached on action to be taken by all or some of the participants. However nothing agreed informally by the G6 is binding on other EU Member States.
We regard this as a simplistic view."
Not only are the G6 states powerful ones representing three-quarters of the population of the EU:
"nothing they say or do, no conclusions they reach, however informally, can fail to have an influence, perhaps decisive, on the other
Member States.... in practical EU politics it is naive to suppose that prior agreement on an issue by the six largest Member States will fail to carry the day against all but the most concerted and determined
opposition from a number of the smaller Member States."
The government's contention that G6 was just a "talking shop" was also called into question by the letter sent by the six Home/Interior Ministers to the Finnish Council Presidency on 30 November 2006 putting forward their views on immigration, migration and other issues. This was intended to influence the discussion at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 4-5 December.
1. After Heiligendamm: doors ajar at Stratford-upon-Avon (pdf)
2. Behind Closed Doors
3. Statewatch: Behind closed doors - policy-making in secret intergovernmental and international fora
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