European Committee calls for greater engagement with Brussels

20/03/2007

Both the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive should play a stronger role in the development of European legislation, according to a report published today by the European and External Relations Committee.

View the committee report

An inquiry led by Jim Wallace MSP into the way in which the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive influence the development of European legislation, found that there was greater scope for earlier engagement. He also looked at the level of scrutiny in Denmark , Ireland and at Westminster, concluding it was much higher in these parliaments than at Holyrood.

Jim Wallace MSP, said:

"The European legislative process remains distant and largely obscure to many. We must examine more fully the detail of proposed legislation as it is being formed in Brussels and ensure that specific Scottish interests are taken into account. Greater transparency is central to this.

"Given the sheer volume of legislation which emerges from Brussels this lower level of scrutiny is perhaps unsurprising. Nevertheless, it is clear that we can do better, especially in relation to influencing the development of European legislation which relates to Scotland and I am pleased that the Committee has been so willing to continue to develop its scrutiny role in this area.”

The inquiry emerged out of concerns over the possible “gold-plating” of European legislation by the UK Government and “tartan-plating” on the part of the Scottish Executive. This led to allegations from some sectors of industry that the laws had been more rigorously translated in Scotland and the UK than in other European countries.

While there was no conclusive evidence that this “plating” was systematically taking place, the report does recommend:

  • the Scottish Parliament strengthens its role in influencing the development of European legislation in Brussels,
  • greater scrutiny of the Scottish Executive’s role in ensuring that Scottish interests are accounted for in the UK Government’s negotiating position on EU legislation as it relates to devolved matters;
  • greater transparency of the transposition process and welcomes the commitment of the Executive to provide transposition notes.

Convener of the European and External Relations Committee, Linda Fabiani MSP, said:

"This report is published at an apposite moment as we end the second session of the Parliament. Many of the recommendations have helped to inform the Committee’s legacy paper and it is hoped that our successor committee will find it useful in developing the effectiveness of its scrutiny of European legislation.”

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