The Deputy First Minister John Swinney, undertook a series of engagements in Brussels as part of a planned visit on the 21 September 2015.
Speech at Bruegel
The centre-piece to the day was a speech and discussion with the OECD on Inclusive Growth hosted by leading economic think-tank Bruegel. Mr Swinney addressed a packed audience from the EU Institutions, academia, think-tanks and lobbyists on how Scotland’s Economic Strategy has set a dual mandate to deliver economic success alongside a fairer and more inclusive economy.
The Deputy First Minister’s speech at Bruegel emphasised how inclusive growth cuts right across the Scottish Government’s priority areas. It is embedded within our intentions to invest, to promote internationalisation and innovation so that the benefits of growth can be shared more equally across all sections of our society – from early years, childcare and education, to the provision of affordable housing, improving wages and working conditions and boosting productivity.
Mr Swinney was joined on the panel by Romina Boarini from the OECD who explained the OECD's work on inclusive growth. She highlighted both the similarities in definition between the Scottish Government and the OECD and showed some key statistics demonstrating the progress Scotland has made against different measures, including multidimensional living standards. Ms Boarini sought to draw out the key win-win policies for growth and inclusivity including access to education, active labour market policies and participation of women in the workplace. She concluded her intervention by acknowledging the widespread interest in Scotland’s efforts and describing Scotland as an inclusive growth incubator.
Audience comments and questions following the interventions showed that there is significant interest in how businesses in Scotland are being incentivised to adopt a living wage, and the development of indicators to measure progress with reference to ‘Beyond GDP’. In response to this, DFM was able to highlight the Scottish Business Pledge and the National Performance Framework, providing an effective overview of the progress being made in Scotland measured against a broad range of indictors.
A Full Programme
Alongside his speech at Bruegel, the Deputy First Minister met with Jonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union; and separately, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici.
Meeting Commissioner Hill, Mr Swinney described the Scottish Government’s economic approach, with secure foundations in place and use of capital investment and innovation to promote growth particularly among SMEs. The Commissioner outlined his vision of a Capital Markets Union and the role of the European Fund for Strategic Investment.
Commissioner Moscovici recognised the valuable contribution Scotland is providing to the UK’s work on Europe 2020, noting with interest the Scottish Government’s consultation response on the future of Europe 2020. Discussing the importance of high quality public investments to generate inclusive economic growth the Deputy First Minister underlined the Scottish Government’s record on capital infrastructure investment and the positive economic impacts of such projects, highlighting the Borders Railway and the new Forth Crossing.
At the end of the day the Deputy First Minister met with Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive of another of the main Brussels-based think tanks, the European Policy Centre, to discuss the range of stakeholder views on EU issues across the policy community in Brussels.