We know that charities, social enterprises and community groups make Scotland a better place, and that’s why SCVO’s mission is to develop a confident voluntary sector in Scotland. But our mission is also about promoting this vibrant sector to engage at UK level when opportunities arise. 

Back in September, the UK government launched a consultation on the engagement of civil society in the implementation of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). That agreement creates two new structures for civil society to engage with decision-makers on the new relationship between the UK and the EU: 

  • A Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) for discussion at the UK level between stakeholders and the UK Government. 
  • A UK / EU Civil Society Forum (CSF) at the transnational level for civic society dialogue between the UK and EU.  

SCVO worked with its sister councils (WCVA, NVCO and NICVA) and additional stakeholders to produce a four nations’ sector response to the consultation. In that response we asked for the voluntary sector to ‘have the same level of representation as the other parts of UK civil society’, and ‘for devolved voices to be heard’ on DAG and CSF. 

The UK Government has now responded and issued a call for expressions of interest (EoI) for representative organisations to join the UK DAG and/or CSF.  

We are disappointed that the EoI is very technical in its focus, suggesting that applicant organisations need to have a detailed understanding of the intricacies of trade policy. We continue to believe that it is important that both DAG and CSF have an excellent representation of Scotland’s civil society across a wide variety of interests.  

Representation from the voluntary sector is crucial because these structures will enable the UK Government and the EU to listen to, and take on board the views of, civil society in understanding the impact the new relationship is having on organisations and communities. We know that many organisations across the sector have relevant expertise to share on these groups.  

SCVO will be putting in an expression of interest because we believe that the voluntary sector should be represented on both groups. Even though the criteria outlined appear quite technical, we would encourage other voluntary organisations across Scotland to apply too.  

Timescales are very tight and the closing date for applications is 9 November 2021. To apply organisations must send a cover letter (1000 words max) to tcadomesticadvisory@cabinetoffice.gov.uk by 11:59 pm on 9th November [applications are for organisations rather than individuals].

Details about the Trade & Cooperation Agreement can be found here

Details about the call for expressions of interest can be found here

Note: Following Brexit, SCVO is keen to gather evidence on the sector’s interest in the implementation/impact of post-EU arrangements. It would be helpful if you could please let us know if you are applying to become a member of either group and whether you have been successful or not in due course. Thanks!