Malcolm on the EU and public procurement to help Scotland during the recession
The EU and Scots law Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Executive how many EU directives have been transposed into Scots law in the past three months. (S3O-6197)

The Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution (Michael Russell):
Just as the Scottish Government is united on the subject of the previous question, we are united on this one.

Since 1 December 2008, a total of four directives have been transposed into Scots law.

Malcolm Chisholm:
I welcome Michael Russell to his first question time as Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution. I hope that the omission of the word "Europe" from his title is not of any significance.

Will the minister turn his attention to the accelerated procedures under the public procurement directive that were triggered within the past three months by the Commission and Council of Ministers because of the exceptional nature of the current economic situation? Will he explain why the Scottish Government's response to that is so unremittingly negative in tone? The Scottish procurement policy note is almost an exercise in giving reasons not to employ the accelerated procedures.

Michael Russell:
I think that the member is talking about his interpretation of the policy note rather than the facts of that note. As a Government, we are strongly committed to ensuring that all resources that can be brought forward are brought forward to meet the present difficult circumstances. For example, in advance of next weekend's European Council meeting, discussion is continuing on how the European reflationary package might make available resources that can be focused on real need in Scotland.

The transposition of directives is a complex process that involves a range of issues, including the requirements of Scots law and the requirement to ensure that the directives do not bear down unfairly on Scottish businesses and organisations that are struggling during the recession. If there is any way in which we can ensure that the procurement process benefits Scotland more, members should be under no doubt that we will take that route.
March 12th 2009, (Column 15761-2)