Why The Scottish Executive Fails In Europe

05 February 2007
SNP Unveil Policy Consultation

SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith has today issued a consultation on the failure of the current Executive to act effectively when it comes to Europe and European legislation. The consultation follows revelations that the actions of the Executive in Brussels are often frustrated by the UK departments.

The consultation paper includes an analysis of the status quo that finds limitations placed on the Scottish Executive by the Scotland Act 1998, in particular sections 57 and 58, are the root cause of Scotland's continuing underperformance in Europe. The consultation calls for their urgent repeal and invites comments on this solution to the current Scottish Executive's 'euro-malaise'.

The paper is being sent to a large audience of academics, commentators, lawyers, journalists and all MSPs, MPs and MEPs in order to encourage a serious debate. It is also available from www.alynsmith.eu to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Launching the paper Mr Smith said:

"Like most Scots I have watched our Executive stumble and blunder through EU rules on flights to the islands, waste management and public procurement, from the Noel Ruddle debacle at the very start of devolution to the booroch on ferry tendering, and wondered why they seem to do so badly.

"Our civil servants are no less able than those of any other country, yet Scotland consistently comes away from EU negotiations with a poor deal, and constantly appears to have difficulty in applying EU rules in Scotland in a way which helps, rather than hinders, the Scots people. Some of it is undoubtedly due to the politics of the current Labour/Liberal administration and the ignorance of Whitehall but I believe the answer has to be more substantive than 'they're just a bit rubbish'.

"We are well liked in Brussels with friends in high places. Yet we consistently miss opportunities and often just get it plain wrong.

"I have concluded that two little known sections of the Scotland Act place a fundamental restriction upon the freedom of the Scottish Executive to act in Scotland's interests in EU matters. These two sections must be cut from the Scotland Act before the Executive will ever be able to function properly in Europe and apply EU rules at home with the flexibility of our neighbours.

"The SNP will be bringing forward proposals explaining how Scotland's European performance will improve under an SNP Executive but without full independence we will always face problems.

"I believe it's time for normal, independent, status within the EU which will untie our hands. Others disagree but meantime let us not pretend that everything is peachy and cannot be improved. I have yet to find anyone in Scotland who can say hand on heart we could not be doing better in Europe and I hope to start a debate on what we need to do to get there."

Why The Executive Fails in Europe (PDF full version - 36Kb).