HC Deb 01 November 1996 vol 284 cc308-9W
Mr. Marlow

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what provisions based on majority voting govern the development of common policies by a group of EU countries in new areas using the services of existing European institutions. [1667]

Mr. David Davis

There are no general provisions of this kind. However, the social protocol annexed to the EC treaty allows the other 14 member states to use the existing institutions to pursue social policy measures in accordance with the agreement annexed to that protocol. In addition article 130K of the EC treaty allows a group of less than the 15 member states to participate in supplementary programmes under the research and development multiannual framework programme.

The broader issue of flexibility is currently under discussion at the intergovernmental conference. The UK has made clear that access by a group of EU countries to European Community institutions and mechanisms including the budget could only be considered where this was agreed by all.