The Institute for Government is conducting a research project examining the current system of scrutiny of the European Union (EU) by the UK Parliament. No matter what happens in the forthcoming referendum on continued UK membership of the EU, Parliament will continue to play a role in scrutinising our relationship with the EU. It is therefore in everyone’s interests that it fulfils that role as effectively as possible.

Building on our existing research into the impact of scrutiny by parliamentary committees, the aim of the project is to identify insights that will support improvements to the parliamentary scrutiny system once the outcome of the referendum is known.

The research will draw on case studies of the ways in which parliaments in other European countries – inside and outside the EU – interact with the Union. Looking at what is done elsewhere will enable us to identify insights about how to maximise the effectiveness of the UK Parliament’s scrutiny of the EU.

Project plan

Based on a mix of interviews and research, the project will consider:

  • how the current parliamentary scrutiny system works

  • the options for reform that have been identified

  • the barriers to implementing those reforms.

In Spring 2016, we published a briefing note setting out how the current UK system of scrutiny works and previous recommendations for reform. This is accompanied by Parliamentary scrutiny of European Union legislation – a selection of international case studies analysing how other parliamentary systems scrutinise EU legislation and engage with the EU more generally. A final report, outlining our findings and thoughts on reform of the UK system, will follow later in 2016.


The team writes regular blog posts on issues relevant to the UK Parliament's relationship with Europe. Read Hannah White's blog on Parliamentary scrutiny of the European Union, Robyn Munro's blog on UK scrutiny of the European Union in five charts and Cath Haddon's blogs on Purdah and the role of the Civil Service in a referendum and Collective Cabinet responsibility in an EU referendum.

Project team

This project was led by Dr Hannah White, Programme Director at the Institute, with responsibility for our work on Parliament. The research team consisted of Robyn Munro and Louise Borjes.