Engagement and scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament Committees on European Union (EU) matters has been praised today by the European and External Relations Committee. In its report, the Committee outlines the ongoing work across parliamentary committees that is ensuring effective scrutiny of the Scottish Government on EU matters of direct relevance to Scotland.
During the past year, the scope of consideration of the EU priorities by Committees has expanded, whilst the process for doing so has been streamlined. The result is that, despite extremely busy work programmes, the Committee has been effective in considering EU issues as an integral part of their work programmes, highlighting their relevance to domestic policies and legislation.
Convener of the European and External Relations Committee, Christina McKelvie MSP said:
“As our current inquiry on the process by which an independent Scotland would become an EU Member State demonstrates, EU matters have such a big impact on us all. It is so positive to see this trend in effective and meaningful scrutiny and mainstreaming of EU issues across the Parliament’s Committees. I look forward to hearing more from my colleagues in our Chamber debate later this month about how we can build on this progress.”
The Scottish Parliament debated and agreed to introduce a strategy for EU engagement and scrutiny in December 2010. The strategy sets out the role for the committees of the Parliament ‘to scrutinise the Scottish Government and its EU engagement’.
To fulfil this scrutiny function, the Parliament agreed to develop an early engagement approach; to mainstream the scrutiny of draft EU legislation to subject committees; and to mainstream the monitoring of the transposition and implementation of legislation to subject committees.
This year, the EERC agreed to adopt a more streamlined approach to consideration of EU engagement and scrutiny whereby relevant committees have been asked to report on both their engagement and scrutiny over the last year and their scrutiny priorities for the coming year.
In the past, committees identified their priorities on the basis of the European Commission’s work programme (CWP) for the coming year. This year, the EERC has sought to broaden the approach by inviting relevant committees to also consider the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Scottish Government’s Action Plan on European Engagement.