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The Bill aims to approve two draft EU Council Regulations made under Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). They concern:

• access to the historical archives of the European institutions from a single location at the European Union Institute in Florence;

• the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme (promoting remembrance of Europe’s history) from 2014 to 2020.

Article 352 TFEU allows the EU to act where there is no specific applicable Treaty base, as long as this does not entail harmonisation or affect the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This Article, referred to as the “enabling clause”, requires the unanimous approval of the 28 EU Member States and the consent of the EP before a measure can be adopted.

In accordance with Section 8 of the European Union Act 2011, a Minister may only vote in favour of an Article 352 decision in the EU Council if the draft decision has been approved by an Act of Parliament. This was intended to give Parliament the power to veto any extension of EU competence into areas not covered by the EU Treaties, but one of its consequences has been that an Act of Parliament is now needed for fairly unimportant decisions for which there is no Treaty base, as well as the more significant ones.

The historical archives draft regulation concerns the deposit of the historical archives of the EU institutions (except the European Central Bank and the Court of Justice) at the European University Institute in Florence (EUI). The proposal formally confirms the role of the EUI in preserving the documents and making then publicly accessible. The UK Government generally approved of the draft provisions and the European Scrutiny Committee cleared it in December 2012.

The extended Europe for Citizens programme aims to promote active citizenship in Europe, including encouraging citizens to participate in constructing an ever closer, democratic, tolerant and culturally diverse European Union, and developing a European identity based on common values, history and culture. The Government believes the programme could support the UK Government’s aims and programmes, such as the Big Society and Positive for Youth, and that there would be potential benefits for UK civil society organisations, local authorities, grassroots sports and culture projects. The Government is concerned, however, that the proposed budget is an increase in current funding for the programme and said it would recommend a reduction during negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

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