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International strategy should be linked to domestic priorities, say MSPs

Committee convener Clare Adamson said the Scottish Government’s international work encompassed a wide range of activities (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)
Committee convener Clare Adamson said the Scottish Government’s international work encompassed a wide range of activities (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

The Scottish Government’s new international framework should seek to link domestic priorities to work being carried out overseas, a Holyrood committee has recommended.

MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee also said that while a focus on Europe was “expected to be a priority” for ministers, there should also be a “wider external engagement”.

The committee considered international policy at the same time as the Scottish Government has committed to producing a revised framework for overseas relations.

This should be ready “shortly”, MSPs were told, with the framework aiming to set out the underlying values for this international engagement as well as demonstrating  Scotland’s “wish to be a good global citizen”.

The MSPs made clear they believed it was “important to ensure alignment between domestic policy and external action”.

They added: “Issues prioritised in external relations should be driven by, match and inform domestic priorities; be that working towards a well-being economy, sustainable development, promoting gender equality or protecting human rights etc.”

The committee’s report stressed it was “essential that both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament continue to have a strong relationship with the EU”.

But the MSPs also stated: “While a focus on Europe is expected to be a priority for the Scottish Government, wider external engagement – for reasons of trade, culture, education etc – is also necessary.”

The revised international framework should set out values and objectives linked to the Scottish Government’s domestic agenda, the committee recommended.

It should also prioritise countries, regions and policy themes and also provide a “clear rationale” for these decisions.

Overall, the committee said the revised international framework should “provide the basis for Scotland to offer leadership and present new ways of thinking about our place and influence in the world”.

Committee convener Clare Adamson said: “The Scottish Government’s international work rightly encompasses a wide range of activities – supporting business and trade, building policy, cultural and educational links, and promoting international development and climate justice efforts.

“Our committee wants to see the Scottish Government’s new international framework set out an explicit strategy, linked to the national performance framework so we can provide proper scrutiny, and to provide clarity for all those engaged with the Scottish Government’s international work – including businesses, universities and NGOs.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Work on the Global Affairs Framework is continuing and the framework will be published in due course.”

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