The last edition of this e-bulletin reported that the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee (the Committee) had written to the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture. The Committee had requested clarification of the Scottish Government's policy on the implementation of the EU Services Directive. The Minister's response has now been published on the Committee's website. To view the response please click here.

The Scottish Government's response explains that from the outset they have been content for a single consultation on implementation to take place, conducted by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). The BERR consultation has now closed and the UK Government plans to issue its response to the consultation by May 2008. Non-confidential individual responses are expected to be published at the same time.

According to the Scottish Government, the decision to have a single UK-wide consultation was taken because there has been no formal agreement on how the implementation of the directive will be delivered in relation to any devolved functions, in particular whether there will be a UK-wide implementation or not. They proceed on the understanding that BERR will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government across the whole scope of implementation, throughout and following the consultation.

In the meantime, Scottish Government officials continue to screen Scottish legislation and once they have a clearer indication of the volume of legislation that is affected and requiring change, they hope to be in a better position to make a decision on how implementation will be delivered in relation to any devolved functions. The Scottish Government note that in addition to the necessary bureaucracy involved in implementation, they will also be considering how best to mainstream awareness of the new commercial opportunities that the Directive will open up throughout Scotland's services market.

With regard to the Point of Single Contact (PSC), the Scottish Government is of the view that establishing a PSC for each Devolved Administration would result in duplication of resources and effort. It may also lead to confusion and complication while at the same time yielding no particular additional benefits. The Scottish Government is therefore of the view that one PSC for the whole of the UK is the appropriate way forward.

While discussing the response from the Scottish Government, the Committee noted that the Scottish Government has had no discussions to date with Scottish stakeholders on how the Directive should be implemented. Accordingly, the Committee has resolved to conduct a short inquiry and to invite written evidence from Scottish stakeholders followed by an oral evidence session at the Committee's meeting in April.