News

Parliament backs EU Continuity Bill

Published: 22 Dec 2020 19:23

Powers to allow alignment between devolved Scots and EU law as a result of Brexit.

New powers and measures to align devolved Scottish law with European Union (EU) legislation after the end of the Brexit transition period have been backed by MSPs.

The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill - which has passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament - will help Scotland continue to benefit from high European standards.

The Bill focuses on three key areas following the end of the transition period:

  • a discretionary power to enable Scottish Ministers to align devolved Scots law with EU legislation
  • provisions to ensure continuation of guiding principles on the environment in Scotland
  • establishment of new oversight body ‘Environmental Standards Scotland’ to replace the system of environmental governance provided by the institutions of the EU

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.

“We have heard the ambition of the people of Scotland to retain the closest links with the EU and to continue to meet the high European standards that presently serve us so well. It is completely unacceptable that Scotland has been taken out of the EU, but this Bill makes a start, at least, on meeting those ambitions.

“It will enable us, in devolved areas at least, to maintain alignment with Europe, when appropriate and practicable to do so. The Bill’s environmental principles and governance provisions will also help us to maintain high standards, in line with the EU, and avoid an environmental governance gap in Scotland.

“I am particularly pleased that, to a large extent, MSPs from across the Scottish Parliament came together to reach consensus on vital matters to ensure the Bill’s safe passage today.”

Background

Read more about the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill 2020

The Bill’s environmental principles and governance provisions have been designed to complement the Scottish Government’s Environment Strategy for Scotland, published in February, to protect and restore Scotland’s natural environment and live within the planet’s sustainable limits.

The new governance body Environmental Standards Scotland will have the power to investigate whether public authorities are failing to comply with environmental law, require a public authority to take steps to address its failure to comply with environmental law and investigate the effectiveness and delivery of environmental law by public authorities.