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The European Union (Continuity) Scotland Bill aims to give SNP ministers powers to align Scottish laws with those of the EU after Brexit. It would also establish Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS) to replace the EU’s oversight of environmental law.
87 MSPs voted in favour of the legislation while 27 votes mainly from the Scottish Conservatives following a vote in Holyrood.
But Scottish Constitution Secretary Michael Russell admitted there had been no discussions with Brussels on the new legislation, despite having talks about general Brexit negotiations.
Dean Lockhart, Scottish Conservative Constitution Spokesman, asked during a Holyrood Committee: “Have you had official talks with the EU about the effectiveness of the bill?”
Mr Russell responded during a meeting of Holyrood’s Europe Committee on Thursday: “There is no need to have official talks with the EU because, as your colleague keeps pointing out, these things will have been passed by the EU and will be on the shelf.
“We will endeavour to keep pace with them, so there is no need to have such talks.
“However, as new rules develop, I hope that we will be able to make our views known about them.
“Of course, those views will only be views.
“How much better would it be if we were at the table to help to shape the rules?
“That would be the real success.”
Mr Lockhart was critical of the legislation branding it a “power grab” by SNP government ministers.
The MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife argued the legislation would impose “barriers to trade, increase the cost of doing business and, ultimately, I’m afraid it will cost jobs and livelihoods across Scotland.
“Because there’s no doubt this legislation will damage Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK and beyond.”
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Westminster has also sent a warning over the laws claiming UK trade could be severely impacted especially as the UK internal market Bill is currently going through Parliament.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government has already stated clearly its commitment to maintaining our exceptionally high standards, including in areas such as the environment, which were often introduced before the EU introduced legislation.
“The devolved administration’s approach would separate Scotland from the rest of the UK – putting up trade barriers and creating further division, having walked away from work on the Internal Market last spring.
“Our UK Internal Market Bill is a vital piece of legislation which is clearly in the best interests of people across Scotland – protecting jobs, businesses and consumers.
“We will continue to work with the devolved administration on this vital legislation.”
The SNP administration in Edinburgh has been keen to stay linked to Brussels after 62 percent of the country voted to stay in the EU during the 2016 Brexit vote.
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