Powers to ‘keep pace’ with EU law in devolved policy areas.
New powers and measures to align devolved Scots law with those in the European Union after the end of the Brexit transition period have been published.
The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill will allow or provide for continuity of provision that would otherwise be lost on withdrawal from the EU.
The Bill focuses on three headline areas:
- Part one, provides for a discretionary power which will enable Scottish Ministers to align devolved Scots law with EU legislation following the end of the transition period
- In Part two, provisions are made regarding domestic replacement arrangements for EU environmental principles and governance. This will ensure that there continues to be guiding principles on the environment in Scotland following the end of the transition period
- A new governance body, Environmental Standards Scotland, will be established to replace the system of environmental governance provided by the institutions of the European Union which will be lost at the end of the transition
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:
“The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland have consistently said they want to be in the EU and, despite Brexit, we are doing everything we can to stay close to our European partners.
“It is completely unacceptable that Scotland has been taken out of the EU but this Bill will enable us, in devolved areas at least, to ‘keep pace’ with Europe, when appropriate and practicable to do so.
“It is required as a direct result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and is more urgent because of the UK Government’s reckless refusal to ask for an extension to the Brexit transition period.
“The Bill’s proposals on environmental principles and governance will also help us to maintain high standards, in line with the EU, in Scotland. These important measures complement our Environment Strategy for Scotland vision, published in February, to help us as we protect and restore Scotland’s natural environment and strive to live within our planet’s sustainable limits.
“It proposes the creation of a new governance body - Environmental Standards Scotland - which will be able to investigate whether public authorities are failing to comply with environmental law, to take steps to ensure public authorities remedy any failure to comply with environmental law, as well as to investigate the effectiveness and delivery of environmental law by public authorities.”
In 2019, the Scottish Government consulted on maintaining the role of EU environmental principles in developing future Scottish environmental policy and legislation and maintaining effective, appropriate and proportionate environmental governance in Scotland. Responses to that consultation are reflected in the Bill. This is crucial because Scotland’s natural environment is our greatest national asset and is fundamental to our future, our health, our quality of life and our economy.