Policy coherence must be a core priority for Scotland and EU says new report

Policy coherence must be a core priority for Scotland and EU says new report

On 6th May, the Edinburgh-based think tank, Scottish Centre on European Relations, published a comprehensive new report setting out the big future challenges for the EU – and Scotland’s contribution to that European future.

Amongst a plethora of important recommendations relating to different sectors across 17 chapters, the report includes a chapter specifically on development policy that highlights how both Scotland and the EU must make policy coherence a core priority. 

Another significant change recommended is devolving migration policy to Scotland, at least in part. The report suggests this could be achieved through “regional visas” or Scottish national insurance numbers.

The EU is recommended to consider having a more open migration policy and holding a Europe-wide debate on the issue, while the UK recommendations include ending the hostile environment policy on immigration.

Further recommendations for Scotland include creating a clear overarching European strategy involving ramping up its soft power and its ability to contribute to debates on industry and trade.

Specific to development policy, the report makes several recomendations for the EU, the UK and Scotland:

For the EU:

  • While welcoming the proposed increases in EU development and external funding, there is a risk that the EU’s neighbourhood is prioritised over key development needs and strategies. Civil society must scrutinise the implementation of the proposed new ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ (NDICI), assessing whether in practice it addresses the most pressing needs internationally, or rather prioritises the EU’s soft power and security.
  • Policy coherence must be a core priority. While the draft NDICI proposes 25% of the instrument focuses on climate objectives, several member states and EU policies still promote other policies that have negative climate impacts. Even if only applied to mitigation of climate breakdown, root-and-branch policy coherence would be transformative.

For the EU and UK:

  • If Brexit goes ahead, and if the UK retains its prominence in international development, the EU and international development would benefit enormously from including a post-Brexit UK in EU international development strategies and policies. Both the UK and EU should consider making this work.

For Scotland:

  • The Scottish government should aim to make Scotland a policy coherence case study and through that help to influence the EU to implement policy coherence – continuing to develop or sustain a strong Scotland-EU relationship even in the face of Brexit. Scotland’s ‘relational development’ model should be rigorously and independently evaluated and any advantages also presented as a case study.


Dr Cathy Ratcliff, author of the chapter on international development, is a development discourse analyst and an international development practitioner. She has worked in Scottish international development NGOs for 25 years, managing programmes departments and grants from a range of donors, including the European Commission, Scottish government and UK government. She currently volunteers for Alliance member Thrive.


Read the full report here.