Migration powers should be devolved to Scotland, think tank claims

Control over migration should be devolved at least in part to Scotland through initiatives such as “regional visas”, a think tank has recommended.

In its Future of Europe report, the Scottish Centre for European Relations (SCER) has made a series of recommendations for Scotland, the UK and EU.

One 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 among 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.

Among the actions suggested for the EU are major eurozone reform, with a significant central fiscal or fiscal coordination function said to be “essential to address future asymmetric shocks”.

The report warns unless the EU creates a stronger coordinated industrial policy response, large member states will likely be encouraged to go ahead with unilateral actions “with significant risks of single market and external economic policy fragmentation”.

The EU is also urged to build on its best strategies in key areas such as development, human rights and climate change and “continue to be a leading voice in promoting the benefits of multilateralism”.

Both the UK and Scotland are urged to fully comply with EU law on air quality pollution.

SCER director Kirsty Hughes said: “The Scottish Government must develop a stronger, clearer and consistent strategic framework for its European and wider para-diplomacy.

“Whatever happens next with Brexit, or with the independence debate, Scotland needs a strategic approach now to promote Scottish interests in, and Scotland’s contribution to, our shared European future. Brexit must not distract from this.”

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