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EU documents and explanatory memoranda

The Government must formally deposit an EU document in Parliament within two working days of its arrival at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. “Deposit” means that it’s submitted to the European Scrutiny Committee and is available in the Vote Office.

The Government must then submit an explanatory memorandum within 10 working days of depositing the document. This forms the Government’s evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee and triggers the start of the scrutiny process in the House of Commons.

EU documents and explanatory memoranda are available from the Vote Office and on the Government’s European Memoranda website. If a proposal is substantially amended or circumstances change, the Government must submit a supplementary explanatory memorandum.

Documents awaiting consideration by the European Scrutiny Committee are listed in its Remaining Business paper, which is on its website and available from Committee staff.

The scrutiny system is based on documents, but the European Scrutiny Committee doesn’t always have to wait for the publication of a document to begin the scrutiny process. If the document is unlikely to be available in time for scrutiny before a decision is reached in the Council of the European Union, the Government submit an unnumbered explanatory memorandum, which describes what is likely to be in the document. The European Scrutiny Committee can clear a proposal on the basis of an unnumbered explanatory memorandum, or it can be debated in place of the document.