Holyrood and Europe - who does what?

This page explains the different roles of the Scottish Parliament and European Parliament.  

   The Scottish Parliament  The European Parliament


The European Union (EU)

Currently there are 28 countries in the EU, including the UK

How many chambers?

One chamber

One chamber

How many members?

129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)

751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)

How many members represent Scotland?

129 MSPs representing you on devolved matters

6 MEPs represent you in the European Parliament on EU wide issues which can be either devolved or reserved

Who does it scrutinise?

The Scottish Government and its agencies

The other EU institutions such as the European Commission

How are members elected?


73 constituency MSPs are elected by the first past the post system

56 regional MSPs are elected by proportional representation

751 MEPs are elected under some form of proportional representation (differences exist in the voting methods used by Member States)

When are elections?

The most recent Scottish Parliament election was held on 5 May 2016

Under the Scottish Parliament Elections (Dates) Act 2016, the next Scottish Parliament elections are scheduled to take place on 6 May 2021.

Elections every 5 years

So how does it work?

  Scottish Parliament                                      European Parliament
 Devolved or reserved?  Devolved matters  European Union (EU-wide) issues, which can be either devolved or reserved matters
 Who proposes laws?


 The Scottish Government



Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)



Committees of the Scottish Parliament


Private companies, individuals or groups

 The European Commission only
 Who examines the laws?


 The Scottish Parliament


Committees of the Scottish Parliament



 The European Parliament


The Council of Ministers


Committees of the European Parliament

 Who has the final say? MSPs


MEPs (though it must be implemented on a national level)

 Who implements the laws?  The Scottish Government  National Governments (could be the Scottish or the UK Government, depending on whether the issue is devolved or reserved)

Did you know?


All 6 MEPs for Scotland represent you regardless of where you live in Scotland.

You can find out which MEPs represent you here.

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