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More Powers for the Scottish Parliament: Scottish Government Proposals

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CHAPTER 7

SCOTLAND'S PLACE IN THE WORLD

Scotland should be empowered to have a stronger and more clearly articulated voice on the international stage. This is essential to ensure the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government can play a stronger role in decision-making on issues within their responsibilities or which affect their interests, and to enhance their ability to promote Scottish products and businesses internationally.

Additional powers should include specific competence for Scotland to act directly in the European Union and internationally, to:

  • improve Scotland's sustainable economic performance
  • maintain the integrity of Scottish Government policy in devolved areas
  • make a distinctive contribution to global challenges

Within the context of the UK, Scotland should have the competence to act internationally in devolved areas and also a formal role in determining the UK's priorities, policies and positions on reserved matters that affect Scottish interests.

Scotland has always welcomed migrants. Scotland's economy needs a healthy growth in the working population and migrants boost our economic base and enrich our culture. Our welcome for migrants and asylum seekers is also an important part of international reputation. Devolved competence over aspects of immigration policies would enable Scotland to better address our economic needs.

Specific proposals and opportunities

  • The EU exercises considerable influence over economic prosperity and social welfare. Scotland should have guaranteed rights to engage directly with EU institutions and EU decision-making processes in areas of devolved competence. A statutory mechanism should be put in place to enable Scotland to jointly develop, influence and represent UK policy positions on broader European matters (for example on EU reform or treaty change)
  • The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament should have a right to influence the priorities and be directly involved in the business planning of the departments, agencies, embassies, consulates and offices overseas that promote the UK's commercial and cultural interests, to ensure Scotland's distinctive interests are secured. UK agencies and overseas operations should be accountable to the Scottish Parliament for their pursuit of these interests
  • Scotland should have competence to initiate, negotiate, sign and ratify international agreements that relate to devolved matters; and to work with international partners to directly promote and protect Scottish interests and make a contribution as a good global citizen. Scotland should also have a formal role in determining the UK's priorities, policies and positions on international agreements relating to reserved matters that affect Scottish interests
  • Scotland should be able to work with certainty and stability for the people and countries it engages with through its current international development activity. This should be given legislative underpinning rather than relying on permission from the UK Government that can be removed at any time. A commensurate share of the UK's current international development budget for relevant countries would provide targeted, effective, efficient and innovative activity to help fight poverty worldwide
  • Scotland should have the power to engage internationally to protect, enshrine and promote human rights and to act to secure equality and social justice for all, including Scotland's ongoing commitment to the fundamental principles and values set out in the ECHR. Through this Scotland can build on the work undertaken in international development, gender equality and climate justice. This could include the power to ratify optional protocols to UN human rights conventions in relation to Scotland, and for Scotland to be able to submit reports to UN human rights reporting bodies
  • To establish a new partnership between the Scottish and UK Governments on international and European matters the two governments should develop a statutory Co-operation Agreement with strong bilateral inter-governmental and information-sharing arrangements, and swift dispute-resolution mechanisms. This would complement the Memorandum of Understanding that guides the way all parts of the UK should work together
  • Scotland's economy needs sustained, long-term growth in the working population. Scotland should have competence over certain aspects of immigration policy - for example the post study work visa - in order to better meet our particular economic needs