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The government is carrying out a review of the EU's competences, which the Foreign Secretary launched in July 2012. This is an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK.

It is important that Britain has a clear sense of how its national interests interact with the EU's roles, particularly at a time of great change within the EU.

Government departments are consulting Parliament and its committees, business, the devolved administrations, and civil society to look in depth at how the EU's competences (the power to act in particular areas conferred on it by the EU Treaties) work in practice. The UK's European partners and EU institutions are also contributing evidence to the review, and it will examine issues that are of interest across the EU, seeking to improve understanding and engagement.

Government departments will then report on areas of competence and their findings will be published during the course of the review.