The Scottish Parliament should change the way it engages with the European Union and scrutinises EU matters to take advantage of new opportunities for enhanced engagement created by the introduction of the Treaty of Lisbon, according to a Holyrood committee.
The European and External Relations Committee welcomed the new opportunities and called for a wide-ranging review of the processes and mechanisms the Parliament uses to engage with the European Union, particularly the European Commission and the European Parliament, the Scottish and UK governments, and the devolved administrations.
The call for a review is contained in the committee’s report on the impact of the Treaty of Lisbon on Scotland which is published today. The document recommends the creation of a European strategy for engagement and scrutiny for the Scottish Parliament, clearly defining objectives and priorities, setting out the roles and responsibilities of each of the parliamentary committees, and the processes and mechanisms required to ensure effective scrutiny of European matters.
European and External Relations Committee Convener Irene Oldfather MSP said: “The changes to institutional and decision-making structures introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon offer new and effective routes of influence for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government in the EU decision-making process.
“There is a need to improve Scottish Parliament scrutiny of the existing mechanisms to ensure representation of the Scottish position in the UK negotiating line.
“The committee inquiry shows that there are key areas where we can improve the engagement and scrutiny process, not only in terms of the European and External Relations Committee but also for the Scottish Parliament more widely.”
Specific areas highlighted by the report include:
- that subject committees of the Scottish Parliament have a stronger and higher profile role in scrutinising EU matters
- finding new ways for parliamentary committees and Scottish MEPs to engage on a formal and informal basis
- increased levels of transparency around the Scottish Government’s interaction with the UK government on EU matters
- that the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee further considers the implications associated with the extension of EU competence into the areas of Freedom, Security and Justice for Scotland, and the consequences of the UK opt-in.
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