SCOTLAND should be given direct representation in the European Union and other international bodies in the package of powers currently being negotiated by the Smith Commission, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has told a Brussels think-tank.
Scottish interests are currently represented in the Council of Europe and other international state gatherings by UK ministers, who balance Scotland’s priorities with the other nations and regions of the UK.
But the SNP believe Scotland should have its own voice in the EU and internationally, and even take the lead role “in areas such as fisheries, where Scotland has the predominant interest within the UK”.
Scottish ministers say the Smith Commission must live up to pre-referendum unionist pledges of “devo max”, widely interpreted as the devolution of all powers but foreign affairs and defence.
Ms Hyslop has now told the European Policy Centre that the package of powers must also include an element of direct foreign representation as well.
She said: “Following the referendum, proposals for new powers will be developed by a Commission established by the UK Government and headed by Lord Smith of Kelvin.
“The important point here is that we are looking for powers for a purpose. We want to reflect Scottish views of the world with the aims of improving the lives of people in Scotland and contributing as a good global citizen.
“We are making the case that additional powers should include specific competence for Scotland to act directly in the European Union, and internationally, to improve Scotland’s sustainable economic performance, maintain the integrity of Scottish Government policy in its areas of responsibility and make a distinctive contribution to global challenges.
“Scotland’s relationship with the European Union is particularly important in this new debate.
“The EU exercises considerable influence over economic prosperity and social welfare - areas of policy that are either already the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament or expected to be transferred to Edinburgh through the Smith Commission process.
“Our strong belief is that Scotland should have guaranteed rights to engage directly with EU institutions and EU decision-making processes in these areas.
“Scotland remains an outward facing nation, keen to share our talents, goods and ideas with those around the world. This has not changed because of the result on 18 September. The job of the Scottish Government is now to ensure that the expectations of early and substantial change that were raised during the referendum campaign are met.
“This means transferring new powers and responsibilities to allow the Scottish Parliament and Government to tackle the challenges facing our nation.”
The Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith Commission states: “Scotland should be able to act directly in the European Union on fisheries, marine environment and food and drink exports, given their importance within the Scottish economy and the distinctive policy positions in Scotland. In areas such as fisheries, where Scotland has the predominant interest within the UK, Scotland should have the lead role at Council, where appropriate.”