Yesterday’s plenary meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee appears to have gone well. One person involved described it privately as ‘intergovernmental in character’, making it quite a change from previous plenary meetings. The Scottish Government’s news release, including the text of the official communique, is here, and it’s also available from the Welsh Assembly Government here. (Neither the Northern Ireland Executive nor the UK Government have yet put it on their websites, and indeed looking at the various UK Government sites you’d never know a JMC meeting had taken place at all.)
Although the headline on several stories and news releases relates to progress on the ‘respect agenda’, the meeting clearly looked at a wide range of other issues. The key points from it are:
- a work programme for further meetings for the coming year, and publication of an annual report on the previous year’s work of the JMC.
- ‘full involvement’ of the devolved administrations in work on the UK Comprehensive spending Review, which appears to be done through the Finance Ministers’ Quadrilateral meetings.
- referral of the dispute about the regeneration funding for the 2012 Olympics to the formal dispute resolution procedure, agreed in March.
- greater willingness for the UK Government to allow the devolved administrations to attend and speak at EU Council of Ministers’ meetings.
The plenary JMC was followed by a meeting of the JMC Europe, though this hasn’t been publicly announced and no communique has so far been issued. (That’s no surprise – it’s standard practice for such meetings.) That may explain the large delegation from the Scottish Government for the plenary JMC meeting, with Alex Salmond, John Swinney and Fiona Hyslop all attending.