Scotland should consider citizens’ assembly on Europe – report

The report considers Scotland’s contribution to Europe Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Scotland should consider establishing a citizens’ assembly on the country’s European interests, according to a new report.

A study by the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) evaluates the future challenges for the EU, and considers Scotland’s contribution to that future.

Ahead of the new session of the European Parliament, the report sets out a total of 40 recommendations on how such challenges can be met.

It also provides an analysis of how Scotland could look to develop its European role and indicates that the Scottish Government must develop a stronger and clearer strategy for promoting Scotland’s interests in Europe, regardless of Brexit.

In one of its key recommendations, it states that migration policy should be devolved in part or in whole and that the “hostile environment policy must end given the damage it is doing to the UK’s overall image, to its economy, and to the cultural sector”.

The report’s top recommendation to the Scottish Government is: “To develop a clear, overarching European strategy and vision, taking as its starting point the current major issues, priorities and strategic debates within, and facing, the EU.”

However, the report also considers the possibility of Scotland being viewed as a role model.

It read: “Scotland has many strengths in the EU context, and can in some ways look to act as a role model or innovator, in areas ranging from bringing youth and civil society into shaping policy to human rights (including socio-economic rights) to migration to climate change to development.

“These areas can help to provide the building blocks for a more coherent Scottish European strategy.”

It continues to state that Scotland needs to raise its European ambitions.

The report reads: “Scotland does not have devolved competences or great influence in all the big areas of challenge for the EU.

“But that is where the Scottish government and other actors – business, universities, NGOs, unions, media, the cultural sector and more – need to ensure their networks, policy and communication strategies are all as sharp as can be.

“Scotland needs to undertake bilateral audits of its European relations, establish civic dialogues on Europe and consider establishing a citizens’ assembly on Scotland’s European interests.”

In one of its main recommendations to the EU, it states that it should “develop a strong new overarching and inclusive strategy for sustainable development – a green new deal and a 21st-century industrial strategy”.

It adds: “This can help overcome divisions (social, political and economic) at home and internationally.”

Director of SCER Dr Kirsty Hughes, who edited the report, said: “The Scottish Government must develop a stronger, clearer and consistent strategic framework for its European and wider para-diplomacy.

“Whatever happens next with Brexit, or with the independence debate, Scotland needs a strategic approach now to promote Scottish interests in, and Scotland’s contribution to, our shared European future. Brexit must not distract from this.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has continuously said that the best outcome for Scotland is EU membership, which is what the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly for in 2016.

“The EU has given the UK more time under the extension period, that time must not be wasted. It is essential that there is a credible choice given to the people in a second EU referendum.

“The Scottish Government offered compromise in the form of membership of the European single market and customs union, that compromise has been repeatedly rejected by the UK Government.”