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EU/S3/10/R1

1st Report, 2010 (Session 3)

Europe 2020

Remit and membership

Remit:

The remit of the European and External Relations Committee is to consider and report on-

(a) proposals for European Communities legislation;
(b) the implementation of European Communities legislation;
(c) any European Communities or European Union issue;
(d) the development and implementation of the Scottish Administration's links with countries and territories outside Scotland, the European Communities (and their institutions) and other international organisations; and
(e) co-ordination of the international activities of the Scottish Administration.

(Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 6.8)

Membership:

Rhona Brankin
Ted Brocklebank
Patricia Ferguson
Jamie Hepburn
Jim Hume
Michael Matheson (Deputy Convener)
Irene Oldfather (Convener)
Sandra White

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Lynn Tullis
Simon Watkins

Assistant Clerk
Lewis McNaughton

Committee Assistant
Kathleen Wallace

Europe 2020

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Europe 2020 strategy1 (paragraphs 8-14)

The Committee welcomes the high level of importance that has been placed on agreeing Europe 2020.

The Committee hopes that lessons can be learned from the failures of the Lisbon Strategy and that, as a result, Europe 2020 can be implemented effectively.

The Committee acknowledges that the Europe 2020 strategy is also subject to further agreement by the European Council.  The Committee, therefore, considers that continued engagement in the development of Europe 2020 is critical at both UK and EU levels.

Europe 2020 and the Scottish and UK Governments’ priorities (paragraphs 15-21)

The Committee welcomes the fact that Europe 2020 and the Scottish and UK Governments’ economic strategies are travelling in the same direction.  The Committee urges both governments to continue to work closely together in the development and implementation of Europe 2020.

The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government monitor Scotland's progress against each of the Europe 2020 targets and that this information be made available on the Government's website.

Gaps in the EU 2020 consultation2 document (paragraphs 22-57)

The Committee wishes to raise a number of concerns that have been reported to it in evidence, regarding the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation document.  The Committee invites the Scottish and UK Governments and the EU to take these into account in the further development and implementation of Europe 2020.

The Strategy requires—

  • a greater recognition of the role of regions in implementing the strategy;
  • the greater involvement of civil society and social partners;
  • an extension of the definition of skills and lifelong learning to encompass more vocational training through, for example, further education;
  • an extension of the definition of innovation beyond scientific and technological research;
  • a greater emphasis on the role of SMEs and more consideration given to the ways in which governments can support SMEs; and
  • the full integration of the principles of a low-carbon economy, including the development of associated technologies, across all policy areas.

Also, the Committee recognises that one way to support SMEs is through public procurement, and urges the Scottish Government to maximise the access of SMEs to public procurement contracts and to increase businesses’ awareness of the Public Contracts Scotland portal.

A collaborative approach and a move away from silo-working (paragraphs 58-68)

The Committee recognises that the Strategy must engage with all levels of society, including regions and the broad range of stakeholders.  The Committee welcomes the Commission's emphasis on the importance of an inclusive approach and to partnership working at a local level.  The Committee believes that, without such an approach, Europe 2020 will not be successful and that the role of regions and stakeholders will be crucial in the implementation of the Strategy.

The Committee calls upon the Scottish Government to ensure that Scottish stakeholders are engaged in the process and to undertake to keep relevant organisations informed of future developments and opportunities to input their views.

In addition, the Committee considers that it will have an important role to play in the continued monitoring of the implementation of the Strategy and is committed to ensuring that subject committees are informed of further developments.  The Committee would also be interested in working alongside the Scottish Government and Scottish stakeholders to ensure Scotland's interests are promoted in the implementation phases of Europe 2020, particularly in connection with the development of national reform programmes.

Process for responding to EU 2020 (paragraphs 69-73)

The Committee notes the concerns mentioned in evidence about the short timescale for responding to the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation.  The Committee considers that further work needs to be done to ensure that stakeholders are fully engaged in the process of preparing the national reform programmes and are able to input their views.

introduction

Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth3

1. The European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy (“the Strategy”) is the successor to the Lisbon Strategy on Growth and Jobs, which was launched in 2000 with the aim of the EU becoming the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.

2. In November 2009, the Commission issued a public consultation on the successor strategy to Lisbon, to span from 2010 to 2020 – this was described as the “EU 2020” Strategy.4  On the basis of the responses received to the consultation, the Commission published its proposals for the (renamed) Europe 2020 strategy on 3 March 2010.

3. The Commission’s Strategy emphasised the need for collective action to ensure that Europe successfully emerges from the financial crisis.  The Commission described the Strategy on its website—

“Europe can succeed if it acts collectively, as a Union.  The Europe 2020 strategy put forward by the Commission sets out a vision of Europe's social market economy for the 21st century.  It shows how the EU can come out stronger from the crisis and how it can be turned into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.  To deliver rapid and lasting results, stronger economic governance will be required.”5

4. The European Council reached agreement on the direction of the Strategy in March 2010, and formal adoption of the Strategy is expected to take place in June 2010.  Assuming that agreement is reached in June, individual member states will be tasked with developing their own National Reform Programmes for the implementation of the Strategy.

Committee inquiry

5. Due to other pressures on its work programme and the relatively short timescale for responding to the Commission’s consultation, the Committee was unable to take evidence and submit a response to the Commission’s public consultation.  However, in recognition of the significance of the development of the new Strategy, the Committee agreed to conduct a short inquiry, focusing on Scotland’s performance against the Lisbon Strategy’s targets; how the new Strategy should address the failings of the Lisbon Strategy; the overall impressions of the European Commission’s consultation; the key aspects of the new Strategy for Scotland and how Scotland can make progress against the objectives; and what support is required from Government to ensure the success of the Strategy.  The Committee agreed to report its findings early in 2010.

6. The Committee sought evidence across Scotland from the business sector, local government, education, skills and energy bodies, and the voluntary sector.  The Committee also heard evidence from Commission officials who were directly responsible for the development of the strategy in Brussels.  The timing of the Committee’s inquiry – which preceded the publication of the final proposals for its Strategy – was reflected in the evidence, much of which referred directly to the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation.

7. A list of those who contributed oral evidence to the Committee’s inquiry is included in the extracts of the minutes of proceedings at Annexe A; and the Official Reports are included at Annexe B.  A list of those who provided written evidence is included at Annexe C (the written submissions are published on the Parliament’s website6).

COMMITTEE REPORT

Europe 2020 strategy7

8. The evidence that the Committee received broadly supported the Commission’s drive to implement the Strategy.  For example, Scottish Enterprise expressed support for the vision and sentiments contained in the Commission’s consultation document8, and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) was “pleased that the Commission recognises this area of work as one of Europe’s key priorities, and that it is clearly keen to act very quickly.”9

9. There was recognition in evidence that the Strategy was needed to combat the immediate consequences of the economic crisis, but there was also an acknowledgement that the longer term challenges of climate change and demography needed to be met.  The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) considered that—

“Much of the next decade will be dominated by the consequences of the current economic crisis. Unemployment is likely to remain higher than pre crisis levels up to at least 2015/2016; and taxation will be higher and public spending lower as debts have to be repaid. At the same time the environmental crisis needs to be tackled, and the demographic position is difficult with increased numbers of pensioners and lower numbers of working age persons.”10

10. Whilst the impact of the recession was accepted, some saw it as providing an opportunity.  The Scottish European Green Energy Centre (SEGEC) suggested that “times of depression present an opportunity to deliver huge step change if things are dealt with correctly.”11

11. The West of Scotland Colleges Partnership (WoSCoP) made a similar point—

“The financial crisis has been a significant brake on continuing progress. However, it does afford an opportunity for a critical re-assessment of the Lisbon Agenda, its relevance and the utility and effectiveness of the instruments available to the Commission, member states and regions during its implementation.”12

12. The Committee welcomes the high level of importance that has been placed on agreeing Europe 2020.

13. The Committee hopes that lessons can be learned from the failures of the Lisbon Strategy and that, as a result, Europe 2020 can be implemented effectively.

14. The Committee acknowledges that the Europe 2020 strategy is also subject to further agreement by the European Council.  The Committee, therefore, considers that continued engagement in the development of Europe 2020 is critical at both UK and EU levels.

EU 2020 Strategy and the Scottish and UK Governments’ priorities

15. The Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy is aligned with the aims of the Lisbon Strategy.  Thus, it is not surprising that, as the Committee heard in evidence, the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation was widely regarded as being consistent with the Scottish Government’s economic priorities.

16. Scottish Enterprise stated that—

“Scottish interests are already well aligned with the general objectives of the EU 2020 strategy through the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy and the commitment already made in Scotland to focus on moving to a greener, lower carbon economy.”13

17. Similarly, the STUC considered that “the priorities set out in the Commission’s paper are consistent with the Scottish Government’s policy framework14; and SDS noted that both the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy and the proposals for EU 2020 are well-aligned – “sustainable growth and jobs are at the heart of both.”15

18. There was also broad agreement between the Scottish and UK Governments in terms of their submissions to the EU 2020 consultation.  Some key priorities appeared in both, including the creation of new jobs; building more inclusive labour markets and reducing inequality; the importance of education and training in equipping the workforce with new skills; the growth in innovative industries; and supporting businesses and promoting an entrepreneurial culture.  Many of these priorities were also reflected in evidence received from Scottish stakeholders during the course of the Committee’s inquiry.

19. In relation to the UK Government’s submission to EU 2020, John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, indicated that “although we [the Scottish Government] were not party to it, we agree with and have no issue with much of it.”16  He also emphasised the importance of ensuring that the overall EU strategy complemented the work taking place at member-state level.  The Cabinet Secretary stated that “we do not want to come out of the discussion [on Europe 2020] with new targets that are at odds with the direction of thinking envisaged in our economic strategy targets.”17

20. The Committee welcomes the fact that Europe 2020 and the Scottish and UK Governments’ economic strategies are travelling in the same direction.  The Committee urges both governments to continue to work closely together in the development and implementation of Europe 2020.

21. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government monitor Scotland's progress against each of the Europe 2020 targets and that this information be made available on the Government's website.

Gaps in the EU 2020 consultation18 document

22. Despite the generally positive views on the need for a new EU-wide strategy, the Commission’s EU 2020 document was considered to be lacking in some areas.  In particular, the Committee received evidence that highlighted a number of gaps in relation to the role of regions; the inclusion of civil society and social partners; the definition of skills and lifelong learning; and the definition of innovation and the role of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); and climate change and renewable energy.

23 In making these remarks, some organisations acknowledged that, since the EU 2020 document had been published, further discussions had taken place and that some of the concerns expressed had either been addressed, or were due to be considered further at subsequent European Council meetings.

Role of regions

24 In written evidence, Scottish Enterprise was critical of the Lisbon Strategy’s focus on member state actions and its apparent lack of regard for the role of regions in meeting the strategy’s objectives.  Scottish Enterprise stated that—

“there was no standard mechanism under Lisbon for countries such as Scotland to directly contribute to, or measure their performance against, the Strategy’s targets. The focus of the Lisbon strategy was on member state actions.  The role of other actors, such as Europe’s regions, under the strategy was not articulated.  This may have led to a lack of clarity and completeness.

“Learning from the Lisbon experience, it will be crucial to the success of the EU 2020 strategy that clearer roles and specific responsibilities for delivery are given to bodies outwith member state governments.”19

25. Similarly, SDS suggested that Scotland would benefit “if EU 2020’s guidelines, under which member states will set national objectives, emphasised the importance of involving regions and sub-national Parliaments in developing these objectives.”20

26. European Commission officials described the problems that arose with the Lisbon Strategy as including a "lack of political ownership by member states and insufficient involvement of their regions, local levels and social partners."21  Commission officials considered, however, that "the role of regions is clearly present in the Commission's proposals for the new strategy that we issued on 3 March [the Europe 2020 proposals]."  They suggested that "a large chunk of the areas that are covered by this kind of structural reform agenda fall within the competence of regions"22 and said that—

"In our proposals we set out an important role for the regions. We are extending the partnership that we have between those at EU and national level to a partnership that involves all those within the member state who are crucial to this agenda: regions, communities, social partners and civil society.”23

27. Commission officials considered, however, that “the agenda is not something that we can or would like to impose from Brussels."24  They suggested that the process within individual member states that allows for regions and stakeholders to be involved is “ultimately up to member states to decide how they organise themselves.”25  Officials hoped that member states' national reform programmes would include details of the measures that will be taken to meet the targets, to what timescales and with what budgets, and how they will involve stakeholders in the process.26

The social dimension and involvement of civil society and social partners

28. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and STUC were critical of the 2005 revision of the Lisbon Strategy, which shifted focus away from the social and environmental pillars and towards the economic pillar.  The SCVO considered that this change in focus “fundamentally weakened the Lisbon Strategy”27 and, in relation to the successor strategy, stated—

“Unfortunately the 2020 Strategy does no better at affording sufficient weight to social and environmental issues that are fundamental requirements even to deliver its own aspirations for economic growth and competitiveness. The rhetoric around the desire for a ‘social Europe’ is there but not the actions, measures or outline target setting processes to back anything up.”28

29. The STUC also advocated a stronger emphasis in EU 2020 of social dimensions and considered that President Barroso’s ambition for “a new, much stronger focus on the social dimensions in Europe, at all levels of government” had not been adequately defined or reflected in EU 2020.29  In particular, the STUC considered that the EU 2020 document had insufficient regard for the role of social partners, or business representative organisations.  It suggested that European-level business representative organisations play an important role in assisting SMEs to influence and engage with Europe and hoped that the overlooking of this area in the consultation document “is not a signal that the role of social partners at EU level or member state level will be diluted in future.”30

30. Eurocarers31 suggested that EU2020 “should not repeat mistakes of measuring economic objectives purely through outputs and outcomes of paid employment and resulting wealth.”  It highlighted the increasingly large number of people who were undertaking an unpaid caring role in their community.

31. Scotland’s Colleges also criticised the EU 2020 document for omitting social elements and highlighted that, “to underpin Europe's ambitions on people's freedom of movement, we need to recognise that mass migration places significant pressures on individual member states… in the EU 2020 vision, we are ignoring that issue yet again.”32 

32. SCVO supported the principles put forward by European civil society organisations to help integrate social, economic and environmental objectives and called for a greater emphasis on the role of civil society in the new strategy.  It stated that—

“Regrettably, the EU 2020 Strategy makes only one passing mention of civil society and even then it is only to ask for its support.  Civil society is not just a passive supporter but an essential partner that can contribute ideas, thinking, and people’s skills and time to play an important role in developing and delivering the Strategy.”33

33. SCVO34 and SDS35 expressed concern about the alleged misrepresentation by the Commission of social and environmental organisations’ views (included in the summary of consultation responses to EU 2020) as being ‘broadly supportive’ of the Strategy.  SCVO stated that this had “caused much anger and unnecessary friction between civil society representatives and Commission officials.”36

34. In response to the involvement of social partners and civil society in the implementation of the strategy, Commission officials confirmed that "they will play a very important role"—

“One often finds that the European countries where structural reforms have been undertaken successfully are those where there has been close involvement of the social partners early on, even at the stage of problem analysis, so that there is a shared assessment of where the problem lies and of what type of reforms need to be undertaken. The social partners will play an important role. We are already working closely with the European Economic and Social Committee, with which we have been involved in regular contact and debate."37

Definition of skills and lifelong learning

35. Other evidence received by the Committee referred to how learning and education are expressed in the EU 2020 strategy.  Skills Development Scotland emphasised the connectivity between learning and work and was critical of the way in which “the strategy views skills as almost temporary – they get people between jobs or take them to other learning. We would like skills to be represented as much more lifelong, important and vital in relation to social and career mobility and to be used far more effectively.”38

36. SDS also emphasised the importance of vocational learning and the role of further education and suggested that these should receive greater recognition in the Strategy.39  Similarly, WoSCoP40 highlighted the role of colleges which it suggested have, in many member states, “been considerably more successful than universities in widening access to learning, developing education-industry partnerships and work-based learning, developing education for digital and creative industries, promoting transnational mobility and structured work placements.”41 WoSCoP believed that the EU 2020 strategy should not, therefore, restrict its focus to universities only.

37. In response to these points, Commission officials referred to the initiative for new skills and new jobs and highlighted the Commission's view that "all the stages of life are important and must be addressed through a coherent set of actions.”42  They stated that "it is not just about secondary and tertiary education; it is also about lifelong learning and ensuring that we have a policy for pre-school education."43

38. Commission officials considered that the EU was not performing well in relation to lifelong learning and recognised that work needed to be done to go beyond what had been achieved under the Lisbon Strategy.  Officials stated that—

"We must make an effort in relation to the definition of lifelong learning and ensure that we work on incentives for employers and employees to invest in lifelong learning. Another important element of the policies that we need to work on as part of the flagship initiative is ensuring that the skills that we acquire meet the requirements of the labour market. Importantly, within that, we must anticipate the labour market's needs."44

Definition of innovation and the role of the SMEs

39. Evidence received by the Committee suggested that the definition of innovation should be more broadly drawn.  WoSCoP considered that the definitions of innovation and creativity to be applied in the EU 2020 Strategy "need to be extended and more grounded.”45 It described the definition of innovation contained in the Lisbon Strategy as too narrowly drawn and including purely scientific and technological research.  WoSCoP suggested that this "had the (unintended) consequence of overlooking more pragmatic examples of inventiveness and knowledge transfer in other domains."46

40. Similarly, Scottish Enterprise believed that "future innovation that will drive growth will likely encompass social and organisational innovation, as well as innovation stemming from more traditional R&D investment", and suggested that "existing definitions and parameters concerning innovation will be inadequate to bring on-board the majority of Europe’s businesses who are not directly engaged in activities related to technology or R&D."47

41. Scottish Enterprise also suggested that adopting a broader definition of innovation would assist in engaging with businesses.  Scottish Enterprise highlighted that most Scottish and European businesses were SMEs and suggested that "Europe and member states ought to have more cognisance of the importance of SMEs.”48  It considered, however, that the "current distance of SMEs from the agenda proposed in the [EU 2020] consultation document makes their engagement all the more challenging."  It suggested that—

"A radical shift in entrepreneurial capacity and attitudes toward innovation and innovative technology will be required to bridge the gap between these new strategy aspirations and activities on the ground to deliver growth."49

42. To achieve this, Scottish Enterprise suggested that a package of incentives for businesses will be essential to radically transform their business strategies and that delivering support – including leadership development and skills utilisation – "will be crucial in preparing enterprises for their engagement with a radically different economic marketplace."50   It also highlighted the crucial role of public sector bodies, such as development agencies, in providing support to enterprises.

43. SDS also believed that businesses, particularly SMEs, must be supported so that they can fully utilise the existing skills they have available to them.  The Committee notes that SDS is currently designing a number of employer-facing services intended to help businesses utilise employee skills.51

44. There was also some discussion of how public procurement policies could help to support SMEs.  Scottish Enterprise considered that “governments and the EU always procure from the big players” and suggested that “governments and the EU should also support SMEs to get involved in some of their large funding programmes.”52

45. The STUC believed that current EU public procurement legislation provided “sufficient scope to procure intelligently” and that “all the procurement issues reside at the Scottish level.”53  The STUC described the EU public procurement directive of 2006 as “a missed opportunity for Scotland”.  It suggested that the scope of the directive would have allowed for “employment, social and environmental objectives to be introduced into public contracts, which would have benefited local SMEs.”54  The STUC called for further work to be done to ensure that procuring authorities are aware of what can be done locally, under the directive.55

46. In giving evidence to the Committee, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth agreed that SMEs played an important role in the Scottish economy and that innovation should not be “the exclusive preserve of laboratories and high-tech environments.”56

47. The Cabinet Secretary also responded to some of the points raised in evidence to the Committee on the need to support SMEs.  He stated that the Scottish Government had taken measures, such as the business rate cut for small businesses to support internal development.  He also referred to support for businesses available through EU funding programmes, such as the Scottish co-investment fund and the Scottish seed fund that provide support to SMEs in innovation.57

48. The Committee is, however, mindful of the significant impact on approximately 40% of Scottish businesses of an increase in their rates valuation.58

49. In relation to the issue of public procurement, the Cabinet Secretary told the Committee that although the Scottish Government was “doing a lot in procurement” he was “certainly open to hearing about how we can do more.”59  He stated that—

“On issues that affect procurement, there are, for example, mistaken views that the European legislation somehow prohibits ensuring that local business enterprises can access Government procurement.  That is not my view at all.”60

Climate change and renewable energy

50. The Committee heard evidence about the significance that a low-carbon economy and the consequent development of new technologies could have for Scotland.  The STUC considered that there were opportunities for Scotland in terms of renewables on the basis of “our wind and marine resources, skills base and research advantage.”61  The STUC welcomed the suggestion in the EU 2020 document that “these will remain key areas for Europe thereby providing opportunities for Scotland.”62  It also suggested that, in order for Scotland to derive maximum advantage from any funding streams associated with EU 2020, such as for renewables, carbon capture and storage, and related research, the Scottish Government must work in partnership with Westminster.

51. In other evidence, SEGEC63 and Scottish Enterprise64 highlighted that much of the infrastructure associated with low-carbon technologies required long-term investment and acknowledged that the EU 2020 proposals involved a relatively short 10-year timeframe in which to make such advances.

52. In the Scottish Government’s submission to the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth highlighted climate change as an area of particular relevance to Scotland and called for climate change to be given “more over-arching importance in the consultation.”65  In the submission the Cabinet Secretary suggested that—

“a key element of the EU2020 strategy should be to promote a low carbon economy, and support transition to low carbon energy generation technologies such as the development and deployment of wind, wave and tidal and carbon sequestration and storage, (complemented by systems investments), as well as associated demand management measures, to help create a competitive, interconnected and greener economy.”66

53. The Cabinet Secretary considered that Scotland had “a distinctive opportunity to develop low-carbon activity… we have a significant proportion of European wave and tidal resource… we want to ensure that the opportunities that the strategy raises take due account of the significant shift that we want to make towards developing a low-carbon economy.”67

54. On the energy perspective, SEGEC argued, however, that the Scottish Government had underplayed its hand—

“because Scotland is at the forefront of pushing forward the energy agenda as far as the low-carbon economy is concerned.  There is an opportunity to teach Europe how to set targets and follow them up.”68

55. SEGEC referred to the strategic energy technology plan for Europe and suggested that the EU 2020 document offered an opportunity to “join up numerous dots”.69  It considered that the skills sets that are required for development and deployment of offshore wind and marine power, carbon capture and storage technologies are in the areas covered by the Commission’s EU 2020 strategy.

Conclusions

56. The Committee wishes to raise a number of concerns that have been reported to it in evidence, regarding the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation document.  The Committee invites the Scottish and UK Governments and the EU to take these into account in the further development and implementation of Europe 2020.

The Strategy requires—

  • a greater recognition of the role of regions in implementing the strategy;
  • the greater involvement of civil society and social partners;
  • an extension of the definition of skills and lifelong learning to encompass more vocational training through, for example, further education;
  • an extension of the definition of innovation beyond scientific and technological research;
  • a greater emphasis on the role of SMEs and more consideration given to the ways in which governments can support SMEs; and
  • the full integration of the principles of a low-carbon economy, including the development of associated technologies, across all policy areas.

57. Also, the Committee recognises that one way to support SMEs is through public procurement, and urges the Scottish Government to maximise the access of SMEs to public procurement contracts and to increase businesses’ awareness of the Public Contracts Scotland portal.

A collaborative approach and a move away from silo-working

58 The Committee received evidence that indicated strong support for collaborative working and a move away from a silo-based style of working.  It was suggested that this shift would be required in order to enable the broad, over-arching targets of the strategy to be achieved.  For example, SEGEC considered that "there is effectively a four-layered paradigm: technical, economic, environmental and cultural.  Our discussions on each of those tend to be based in silos, and the joined-up activity that would enable us to have an impact on the 2020 targets does not come through in the consultation."70  SDS also suggested that "Scotland will derive greater benefit from EU 2020 if we take a collaborative, cohesive approach, both within Scotland and with partners across the EU"71; and SCVO stated that "unlike the Lisbon agenda, the [EU] 2020 Strategy mechanisms and targets must be developed with input from all stakeholders, at all levels and in all phases, to help to define individual national targets.”72

59. Scotland's Colleges made a similar point in relation to the various EU funding programmes and called for EU 2020 to act as an umbrella policy that takes in all the different programmes—

"Many individual funding programmes have similar themes, such as innovation, energy, sustainability and lifelong skills.  We would like in Scotland to harness the potential across all those initiatives by managing them together, rather than in silos.  So much that goes on is about individual departments or about policy falling within an individual area rather than about taking advantage of a cross-sectoral perspective in each and every programme."73

60. WoSCoP strongly supported the involvement of Scottish stakeholders in policy development.  It suggested that—

"one of Scotland’s strengths, in the context of the Lisbon and EU 2020 Strategies, is that almost the entire cast of relevant Scottish stakeholders has developed a capacity for partnership working that promotes dialogue and debate at policy and programme levels and encourages creativity and innovation in the use of funding and resources.

"This partnership model to policy evolution and programme implementation is one that WoSCoP would like the European Commission to embrace and apply in the EU 2020 Strategy as it would promote the identification of value in an (ongoing) evaluation of the strategy."74

61. To achieve this inclusive approach in Scotland, organisations called for the Scottish Government to take a leading role in bringing together stakeholders and encouraging linkages between sectors.  WoSCoP stated that "the single most significant form of support required from the Scottish Government is informed and inspirational leadership of a Team Scotland approach to the EU 2020 Strategy."75  SCVO called for government support to "break down the walls of the subject- and sector-specific silos to encourage cross-sectoral policy development, co-ordination, integration and monitoring"; and to "help all stakeholders exchange best practice and conduct national benchmarking."76

62. In relation to the EU 2020 consultation, Scottish Enterprise suggested that "the proposed Strategy requires greater focus on communicating its intentions to partners, stakeholders and citizens across the EU... without this, the proposed Strategy runs the risk of insufficient awareness and support being engendered due to lack of real debate on the issues across member states, regions and localities."77   Scottish Enterprise emphasised that support would be required from the Scottish Government to encourage the engagement of Scottish stakeholders in discussions on the development of the Strategy to raise awareness of these EU level developments and the opportunities they provide for Scotland.78

63. SDS suggested that the Scottish Government may consider it appropriate to adopt a co-ordinating role to ensure that all of Scotland’s relevant bodies appreciate what will be required of them, and that such an approach could make it possible to mainstream EU 2020 targets.79

64. In response to these suggestions that the Scottish Government should engage with Scottish stakeholders in relation to further discussions on Europe 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth confirmed that—

“we are involved in an active dialogue with stakeholders that is clearly influencing the Scottish Government’s submission to the European Commission.  It will also influence our discussions with the United Kingdom Government.”80

65. However, the Cabinet Secretary told the Committee that he would “be happy to explore whether we need to issue an invitation to particular stakeholders to contribute to that dialogue in advance of the finalisation of that work.”81

66. The Committee recognises that the Strategy must engage with all levels of society, including regions and the broad range of stakeholders.  The Committee welcomes the Commission's emphasis on the importance of an inclusive approach and to partnership working at a local level.  The Committee believes that, without such an approach, Europe 2020 will not be successful and that the role of regions and stakeholders will be crucial in the implementation of the Strategy.

67. The Committee calls upon the Scottish Government to ensure that Scottish stakeholders are engaged in the process and to undertake to keep relevant organisations informed of future developments and opportunities to input their views.

68. In addition, the Committee considers that it will have an important role to play in the continued monitoring of the implementation of the Strategy and is committed to ensuring that subject committees are informed of further developments.  The Committee would also be interested in working alongside the Scottish Government and Scottish stakeholders to ensure Scotland's interests are promoted in the implementation phases of Europe 2020, particularly in connection with the development of national reform programmes.

Process for responding to EU 2020

69. Several responses to the Committee's call for evidence highlighted concerns about the timing of the Commission's EU 2020 consultation.  Scottish Enterprise considered it to be "highly regrettable that the short length of the consultation period and the fact that it fell during the winter holidays, gave little opportunity for stakeholders to reflect and exchange views on the ideas contained in the consultation document, and potentially limited their engagement in this first stage of debate on the future strategy."82  Similarly, SCVO reported that "many civil society organisations and networks (including ourselves) were unable to pull together a response in the time made available to us.”83  Similar concerns were expressed by the STUC84 and Skills Development Scotland85.

70. WoSCoP considered, however, that the "calendar for consultation is understandable in the context of the appointment of the new Commission."86  WoSCoP hoped that "further consideration of the Strategy, by the European Commission and the European Parliament, will open up further opportunities for more robust debate."87

71. In response to criticisms about the short timescale for responding to the EU 2020 consultation, Commission officials acknowledged that "the period was relatively short", but stated that "it is important to take into account the fact that, over quite an extensive period - a year or a year and a half - we have worked in the first instance with member states and national Lisbon co-ordinators to prepare the new strategy."88

72. In addition, Commission officials conveyed a sense of urgency in relation to the Strategy—

"It is not business as usual; we are confronting what is surely the most significant economic crisis since the Second World War. Responses need to come in quickly. We hear clearly from our citizens that they expect us to be capable of providing solutions rapidly at European level. That explains the urgency and the necessity to move quickly."89

73. The Committee notes the concerns mentioned in evidence about the short timescale for responding to the Commission’s EU 2020 consultation.  The Committee considers that further work needs to be done to ensure that stakeholders are fully engaged in the process of preparing the national reform programmes and are able to input their views.

Annexe A: EXTRACTS FROM THE MINUTES OF THE EUROPEAN AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE

1st Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 26 January 2010

1. Decision on taking business in private: The Committee agreed to take items 7 and 8 in private.

7. EU 2020 Strategy (in private): The Committee considered its approach to undertaking work in relation to the EU 2020 Strategy and agreed to seek further briefing and evidence on the Strategy.

2nd Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 9 February 2010

2. Decision on taking business in private: The Committee agreed to take items 6 and 7 in private.

7. EU 2020 Strategy (in private): The Committee agreed to take oral evidence from Scottish stakeholders on the EU 2020 Strategy at its meeting on 23 February, following which it will hold a video conference with European Commission officials and relevant MEPs. The Committee will then report its findings to the EU institutions in Brussels.

3rd Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 23 February 2010

1. Decision on taking business in private: The Committee agreed to take item 6 and future consideration of the issues arising from oral evidence in relation to its EU 2020 Strategy inquiry in private.

4. EU 2020 Strategy: The Committee took evidence from—

Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress;

Duncan Botting, Executive Chair of the Centre, Scottish European Green Energy Centre;

Vivienne Brown, Head of Education and Qualifications, Skills Development Scotland;

Morag Keith, Business Manager, West of Scotland Colleges’ Partnership;

Peter Kelly, Member of Policy Committee, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations;

Donald MacInnes, Chief Executive of Scotland Europa, Scottish Enterprise.

6. EU 2020 Strategy: The Committee considered the key issues arising from the oral evidence session.

4th Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 16 March 2010

2. Europe 2020 inquiry: The Committee took evidence by video conference from—

Tonnie De Koster, Team Leader, Strategic Objective Prosperity, European Commission.

6. Europe 2020 inquiry (in private): The Committee considered the key issues arising from the oral evidence session and agreed to report to the Scottish and UK Governments and to the EU institutions ahead of the European Council meeting in June 2010.

5th Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 23 March 2010

2. Europe 2020 inquiry: The Committee took evidence from—

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, and Jim Watson, Policy Adviser, Strategy and Economic Policy Division, Scottish Government.

6. Europe 2020 inquiry (in private): The Committee considered the key issues arising from the oral evidence session.

6th Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), Tuesday 20 April 2010

1. Decision on taking business in private: The Committee agreed to take items 5, 6 and 7 in private.

6. Europe 2020 inquiry (in private): The Committee agreed the draft report, subject to minor changes being made in the light of correspondence received from the Scottish Government. The Committee agreed to delegate authority to the Convener to arrange the transmission of the report to relevant recipients.

Annexe B: ORAL EVIDENCE

European and External Relations Committee 23 February 2010 (Cols 1415-1432)

European and External Relations Committee 16 March 2010 (Cols 1434-1443)

European and External Relations Committee 23 March 2010 (Cols 1472-1483)

Annexe c: WRITTEN EVIDENCE

The following written evidence was submitted to the Committee—

British Chambers of Commerce
submission to the Commission’s consultation (145KB pdf)*

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (62KB pdf)

Eurocarers
submission to the Commission’s consultation (38KB pdf)*

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (30KB pdf)

HM Government’s EU compact for Jobs and Growth
submission to the Commission’s consultation (609KB pdf)*

Scotland’s Colleges
submission to the Commission’s consultation (31KB pdf)*

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (50KB pdf)

Scottish Enterprise
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (33KB pdf)
submission to the Commission’s consultation (226KB pdf)*

Scottish Government
submission to the Commission’s consultation (41KB pdf)*

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (46KB pdf)

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (34KB pdf)

West of Scotland Colleges Partnership (WoSCoP)
submission to the Committee’s inquiry (421KB pdf)
supplementary submission to the Committee's inquiry (16KB pdf)

submission to the Commission’s consultation (193KB pdf)*

*  Submissions made to the Commission’s consultation relate to the public Consultation on the future “EU 2020” Strategy.

All written evidence received to the Committee’s inquiry is available on the Scottish Parliament’s website at:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/europe/inquiries/europe2020strategy/Europe2020Strategy_evid.htm


Footnotes:

1 The European Commission published its Europe 2020 proposals on 3 March 2010:
http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf/COMPLET%20EN%20BARROSO%20%20%20007%20-%20Europe%202020%20-%20EN%20version.pdf.

2 In the lead up to publishing its Europe 2020 proposals, the Commission launched a Consultation on the Future “EU 2020” Strategy on 24 November 2009.

3 The European Commission’s Europe 2020 homepage includes all relevant information regarding the strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/index_en.htm.

4 The European Commission launched its Consultation on the Future “EU 2020” Strategy on 24 November 2009.

5 See footnote 1.

7 The European Commission published its Europe 2020 proposals on 3 March 2010:
http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf/COMPLET%20EN%20BARROSO%20%20%20007%20-%20Europe%202020%20-%20EN%20version.pdf.

8 Scottish Enterperise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

9 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

10 STUC. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

11 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1422.

12 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

13 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

14 STUC. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

15 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

16 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1473.

17 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1474.

18 In the lead up to publishing its Europe 2020 proposals, the Commission launched a Consultation on the Future “EU 2020” Strategy on 24 November 2009.

19 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

20 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

21 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1437.

22 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1440.

23 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1440.

24 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1440.

25 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1438.

26 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1438.

27 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1420.

28 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

29 STUC. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

30 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1415.

31 Eurocarers. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

32 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1417.

33 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

34 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

35 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

36 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

37 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1440.

38 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1416.

39 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

40 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

41 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

42 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1443.

43 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1443.

44 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1443.

45 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

46 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

47 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

48 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1422.

49 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

50 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

51 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

52 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1422.

53 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1424.

54 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1424.

55 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1425.

56 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1476.

57 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1476.

58 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1477.

59 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1480.

60 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1480.

61 STUC. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

62 STUC. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

63 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1416.

64 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1418.

65 Scottish Government. Written submission to the European Commission.

66 Scottish Government. Written submission to the European Commission.

67 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1475.

68 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1419.

69 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1431.

70 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1416.

71 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

72 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

73 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Cols 1427-8.

74 WoSCoP. Supplementary written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

75 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

76 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

77 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

78 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

79 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

80 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1482.

81 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 March 2010, Col 1482.

82 Scottish Enterprise. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

83 SCVO. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

84 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 23 February 2010, Col 1415.

85 SDS. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

86 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

87 WoSCoP. Written submission to the European and External Relations Committee.

88 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1439.

89 Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee. Official Report, 16 March 2010, Col 1439.