Nordic Council (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 19 June 2013.

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Photo of Angus MacDonald Angus MacDonald Scottish National Party

8. To ask the Scottish Government when it last attended a meeting of the Nordic Council. (S4O-02279)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

As the member will be aware, the Scottish Government is not a member of the Nordic Council and has therefore not attended any meetings of that interparliamentary body, nor of its intergovernmental equivalent, the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The Nordic Council held its 50th anniversary overseas conference in the Scottish Parliament on 19 November 2002.

Photo of Angus MacDonald Angus MacDonald Scottish National Party

Socially, culturally and economically, Scotland has much to gain from greater involvement with the Nordic nations. Regular attendance as observers at the Nordic Council in the run-up to the independence referendum will allow Scotland to build closer ties with Norden and will allow for greater co-operation after independence. Does the cabinet secretary have any plans to arrange a visit by either ministers or officials to the Nordic Council in the near future?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has regular contact with the Nordic countries on a number of policies of common interest, including regional development, through the northern periphery and North Sea programmes, and knowledge exchange, through the Nordic horizons group, which the Scottish Government supports and funds. Those are examples of the improving engagement strategy between Scotland and the five Nordic countries, which will also be extended to include the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Currently, there is no mechanism for the Scottish Government to have observer status at the Nordic Council, although it is possible for MEPs from any member state to perform that role. We are taking forward our engagement with the Nordic countries in a variety of ways—I reassure the member on that point.