“We don’t think it’s perfect, we think reform is both desirable and necessary, but we believe very strongly that Scotland’s interests are best served by being members of the European Union and we will argue that case strongly and positively.”
Nicola Sturgeon, May 2015
The Scottish Government and SNP MEPs have worked together to produce a series of proposals to improve the EU as we move forward. A more detailed version of these can be downloaded here, or in more detail from here.
The Scottish Government has already begun to work with our European partners to deliver these changes. There are a number of avenues through which this can be done despite the limitation imposed upon Scotland by the current constitutional settlement.
One example is through the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme that can be used to improve the way that EU regulation is made and to update burdensome legislation.
1) Setting Clear Priorities for EU Policies
EU policies must be the right ones for the citizens of Scotland and Europe as a whole. They must target the areas that are of the greatest importance whilst encouraging growth and competitiveness. There are five areas in particular that we feel need to be focussed upon:
- Youth employment
- Workers’ rights
- Climate change and energy security
- Public health
- Sustainable and inclusive growth
Some of these are fairly self-explanatory, for instance the EU must attempt to tackle low pay and the high levels of (particularly youth) unemployment that continue to be a major problem across the continent. Equally, the development of EU-wide energy markets based around lowering the production of greenhouse gases will need a more focussed policy response. Scotland continues to lead by example but more could be done to promote the development of renewable energy resources across the EU.
2) Regulatory Reform
The Scottish Government is keen to ensure that in areas where the EU is to support developed policy, it only does so when key objectives cannot be met by the actions of the Scottish Parliament.
Crucially, we feel that there is a greater need for regionalisation and flexibility within EU regulations. For example, through the increased use of directives rather than regulations, the EU could encourage harmonisation whilst allowing some flexibility.
In contrast to the UK Government, we believe the solution to regulatory problems is not deregulation but better regulation, based around these five criteria: