SCOTLAND needs a “comprehensive” plan for Europe – over and above its Brexit strategy, a think tank claims.

In a new paper , the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) says Brexit has “led to a narrowing of horizons” in Scotland and the UK at the same time as other member states focus on “major” issues including reform of the eurozone, climate change and geopolitical stability.

It argues that although the Scottish Government has a “much clearer” Brexit blueprint than its UK counterpart does, it lacks a “fully-fledged” international plan.

Director Dr Kirsty Hughes, who authored the report, says this is needed to help the country engage with international players and retain influence with the EU.

In the paper, released yesterday, Hughes says this should include tackling “challenges to democracy” within the multi-member bloc and developing a “fair, more open” EU migration policy.

The seven proposed policies also including an economic policy to drive “sustainable, fair and inclusive” growth, a green new deal strategy, protections for human rights, commitments to climate change targets and an emphasis on creating a “global EU” that promotes multilateralism and ensures its security.

The process to determine an official European strategy could, it is claimed, include establishing a citizens’ assembly on the subject as well as an independent expert commission on Scotland and Europe.

The SCER said: “The paper acknowledges that there are significant constraints for Scotland in terms of devolved powers, and the reserved nature of foreign policy. But at the same time there is considerable scope for smaller states and regions, given the nature of today’s internationalised world, to engage across multiple dimensions and issues.”

Looking to examples, the paper lays out Sweden’s six-priority strategy and that of the Netherlands, which has five key points.

It states: “Across the EU institutions and member states, Brexit is falling down the agenda, as other priorities come ever more to the fore. The EU27 are currently embroiled in political bargaining over who will get the top EU jobs in the next five year cycle – notably the presidents of the Commission and European Council. Major challenges within and beyond the EU – from reform of the eurozone to dealing with the challenges to democracy and rule of law in several member states to climate change and the unstable geopolitical environment are all under the spotlight.

“Yet, while the Scottish government has a Brexit strategy – a much clearer one than the current UK government – it lacks a genuine European strategy or fully-fledged wider international strategy. There are elements of such a European strategy to be found in particular policies and initiatives, likewise on the international front. But while EU member states are busy setting out what they want the EU to do in the next five years, no such strategic statement of interests is currently on offer from the Scottish government. Yet Brexit or not, where the EU goes next, with what priorities and goals is of fundamental importance to Scotland (and indeed to the UK).”

It adds: “Brexit has led to economic, political and social damage to Scotland and the UK. It has also led to a narrowing of horizons as the political crisis, and chaos, that is Brexit unfolds.

“But other big and urgent issues have not gone away. Engaging with those wider issues more comprehensively through building a European strategy for Scotland, and placing it at the heart of a wider international strategy, can open out our horizons again and give more weight to all the ways Scottish actors – government, political, business, civil society, cultural and more – continue to engage in Europe and the world.”

Hughes commented: “EU member states are busy setting out what they want the EU to do in the next five years but so far no such strategic statement of interests is currently on offer from the Scottish Government.

“Scotland should have a comprehensive European strategy.”