Justice and Home Affairs discussed at second meeting of JMC (EN).
Living standards, home affairs and membership of the single market, and the importance of freedom of movement to the Scottish economy were central matters raised by Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell during the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations) today in Westminster.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson also attended the JMC (EN) to seek assurances that there will be urgent work done to secure continued co-operation with European partners on key justice and security issues. Mr Matheson told the JMC (EN) it is vital the current direct and positive relationships between police, the crown office and other parts of the Justice system with European institutions is preserved and strengthened.
Earlier in the day, Mr Russell appeared in front of the Scottish Affairs Committee to answer questions on Scotland’s relationship with the EU as the deadline for Article 50 approaches.
Minister for Europe Alastair Allan attended the JMC (Europe) this morning. Dr Allan then met with the UK Government’s Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill to discuss the unreasonably vague status of Scotland’s 181,000 fellow EU nationals. It was the first bilateral meeting a UK Immigration Minister has agreed to have with a Scottish Government Minister for more than five years.
Speaking after the JMC (EN), Mr Russell said:
“This is the second time the JMC (EN) has convened since the end of October, and while the frequency of meetings is welcome, and while we had the opportunity to press the importance of membership of the single market to Scotland, the lack of detail from the UK Government remains deeply concerning.
“It only follows that since the UK Government yesterday announced intensions to publish their Brexit plan, the Scottish Government can also expect to see the promised work plan, which is yet to materialise. Scotland cannot merely be treated as an interested party: Scotland deserves the right – and appropriate time – to contribute meaningfully to a proposition that will impact us all.
“The Justice Secretary Michael Matheson also attended today’s JMC (EN) to discuss the matter of home affairs, justice systems and security. Scotland has had a separate legal system for centuries, and sets a solid precedent that two systems can work side-by-side.
“Mr Matheson was clear that while today’s meeting was a helpful initial discussion, individual measures – such as public safety and security – need to be seen as a single package to best secure the fundamental freedoms the people and businesses of Scotland want to continue to enjoy.”