The Government has today tabled its "European Union Bill", containing the so-called 'referendum lock' and 'sovereignty clause', which the Tories have said will prevent the transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels without the consent of the electorate and strengthen the power of Parliament.
The Bill is a welcome 'democratic break' on any major future treaties, for example, but it's going to take some thorough analysis before anyone can really say how it will stand up to all the potential permutations that EU politics is likely to throw up in future. Day-to-day transfers of power to Brussels can also be highly significant - and there's a bit too much ministerial discretion in the bill for comfort, i.e. on what constitutes a 'significant' transfer of powers.
As we have argued before, the current also Bill misses the opportunity to incorporate decisions on whether to opt in to new EU justice and home affairs laws. The Government should be required to seek the prior approval from Parliament before it can opt in to a JHA measure, such as the controversial European Investigation Order. An amendment to this should be added to the bill.
If this is included, and some of the other loopholes in the bill are closed, this would actually represent a very big step forward for democratic control over EU decision-making. MPs therefore have work to do.
Watch this space for more...