The Scottish Government's overseas work should have an overarching strategy against which it can be considered and evaluated, and should align with domestic priorities, a Holyrood committee has reported.

MSPs on the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs & Culture Committee conducted an inquiry ahead of an expected revision of the Government's International Framework. Their report notes a lot of work ongoing in relation to working with Europe and the EU, working with the wider world, and international development.

They also identify a range of initiatives, strategies, policy statements and frameworks which they believe could be better aligned to ensure clarity on fundamental questions such as what we are doing, why we are doing it and how well we are doing it.

To achieve this, the committee wants the Scottish Government’s refreshed International Framework to set out an overarching strategy against which all work can be measured and proposals considered. It also recommends that this framework should align to the Government’s National Performance Framework, and that the Scottish Government should clarify how its strategy will interact with that of the UK Government on international work.

The committee shares the view of the majority of witnesses that "while a focus on Europe is expected to be a priority for the Scottish Government, wider external engagement – for reasons of trade, culture, education etc – is also necessary; and should be informed by a strategic approach, one with a clear geographical and thematic rationale". They also believe it is important to ensure alignment between domestic policy and external action.

Noting the importance placed on policy coherence by the OECD and UN, the latter’s sustainable development goals including a policy coherence target, the committee concludes: "In the interests of rigorous decision making and accountability, we must be provided with sufficient information to determine where there is policy coherence, where it is lacking, or where the case can be made for trade-offs or compromise.

"Policy coherence will also require a better understanding and profile of international development issues across the Scottish Government and its agencies. We recognise that there are assessment tools of which the Scottish Government can make more use in formulating policy, and likewise for the Scottish Parliament to inform our scrutiny work."

Committee convener Clare Adamson MSP commented: "The Scottish Government’s international work rightly encompasses a wide range of activities – supporting business and trade, building policy, cultural and educational links, and promoting international development and climate justice efforts.

"Our committee wants to see the Scottish Government’s new International Framework set out an explicit strategy, linked to the National Performance Framework so we can provide proper scrutiny, and to provide clarity for all those engaged with the Scottish Government’s international work – including businesses, universities and NGOs."

Read the report here.