Almost all law making at a European level has an impact on your life or the way you will live in the future.
The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government (set up by the Scotland Act 1998) have powers to act in the areas where the Scotland Act 1998 says they have power - these are called "devolved" areas.
Europe (as part of Foreign Affairs) is what is known as a 'reserved matter' which means that the Scottish Government does not have the right to make any legally binding decisions on the issue. So, for example, it could not decide that Scotland would join the Euro separately from the rest of the UK.
This means that it is necessary to work closely with the UK Government and UK Parliament to ensure that we are able to represent Scotland's particular perspective on important issues like Fisheries and the Common Agricultural Policy.
How does the Scottish Government deal with European Issues?
Within the Scottish Government officials from almost all policy areas need to be aware of European issues but we also have teams devoted to ensuring Scotland's voice is heard in Europe.
The Europe team based in Edinburgh are responsible for the Scottish Government's policy on EU engagement and ensure that activity and resources are focussed on the issues of greatest importance to Scotland as set out in the Action Plan for European Engagement. The team also offer advice and support on handling EU matters, including guidance on the implementation of EU obligations.
They also provide support for bilateral links with European countries, including assisting with inward and outward Ministerial visits, identify contacts in relevant consulates and embassies, and provide up to date information on current economic and political situations, and existing Scottish links.
The Scottish Government European Union Office (SGEUO) is based in Brussels. They support Government work on EU policy by helping officials strengthen their relationships with the EU Institutions and the UK Permanent Representation to the EU (UKRep) and other Member State and sub-Member State representations.
The team report on events and policy developments in Brussels to Ministers and officials, identify key issues for Scotland, and communicate to key EU partners what the Scottish Government's views are. They arrange cultural and policy related events to promote Scotland in Europe, for example, by bringing Scottish musicians to Brussels or holding seminars on specific policy topics.
The SGEUO provides the Scottish Government with its own distinct representation in Brussels, however, as part of the United Kingdom, they are also part of UKRep.
Scottish Parliamentary Committees
The Scottish Parliament is an important partner in achieving Scottish objectives in Europe. The European and External Relations Committee takes the lead in focusing the Parliament on the EU issues of greatest interest, while subject committees also consider EU policies falling within their remits e.g. Rural Affairs and Environment Committee discuss Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform. Scottish Ministers update committees and give evidence on The Scottish Government's European Affairs.