Our SNP MEP, Alyn Smith, issues regular newsletters on events in Europe which have an impact on Scotland. With the continuing BREXIT negotiations we thought we would publish Alyn’s updates here to keep you abreast of events.
Scotland in Europe Update: January 12th 2018
I hope you all had a good Christmas and Hogmanay and are now rested for what promises to be a busy 2018. If we are to have a deal it must be concluded within the next ten months or there will not be sufficient time for the European Council and Parliament to ratify the deal before the March 2019 exit date. There is an awful lot to be done in that time and it is going to be a big ask to get the deal done.
These negotiations mean that Brexit is going to become far more real to people as the lies and wishful thinking of the Leave campaign collide with reality. Things are going to be unpredictable and fast moving. Even this week Nigel Farage and the Leave.eu campaign headed by Aaron Banks have called for a second EU referendum! Who would have bet on that last week?
Frankly, I am not sure we are there yet. If there was a feeling in England that the Brexit vote was somehow stolen, especially by a liberal elite aided and abetted by the Scots and the Irish, then it would put rocket boosters on the next iteration of UKIP – which would be more like Britain First – and we would be back here again in a few years’ time. I wrote more about this in response to a piece from Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations, you can read her piece here
and mine here:
I’ve always been clear that EU membership, ideally as an independent state but even as part of the UK, is in Scotland’s best interests. In the EU referendum, Scotland voted to remain. This is our starting point and our clear position. In 2018 I will continue to do everything possible to make that a reality.
This week, Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener of Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee confirmed that “The committee is unanimous in its view that it is not in a position to recommend Legislative Consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.”
David Davis – having repeatedly threatened a no deal scenario – bizarrely now seems surprised that the EU is starting to prepare for one.
I could not put it better than the EU Commission spokesperson: “We are surprised that the UK is surprised that we are preparing for a scenario announced by the UK government itself”.
David Davis and Philip Hammond have been in Germany pleading for a special deal for financial services.
But Germany’s position has always been clear: the integrity of the Single Market comes first.
A new study has revealed that international students are worth about 10 times more to the UK economy than they cost the taxpayer.
The Mayor of London has published research showing that a hard Brexit could result in losing almost £50bn in UK-wide investment by 2030.
The UK is cutting the number of diplomats in Asia because of the need for more diplomats to work on Brexit.
The UK is apparently considering applying to join the Trans Pacific Partnership after Brexit. Joining an agreement focussed on trade on the other side of the world will not replace losing our membership of one of the world’s largest single markets that is on our doorstep.
Michael Gove is being forced to continue existing farm payments for 5 years.
A number of MEPs from across the political spectrum have urged Theresa May to stay in the Single Market.
Around 132,000 UK firms could face paying VAT upfront for goods imported from the EU after Brexit.
GlaxoSmithKline has warned that up to £70m will be diverted from developing new cancer drugs as the company prepares for the impact of Brexit.
Finally, Michel Barnier delivered an important speech outlining his views on the future deal between the UK and the EU. They are well worth reading, particularly the last line.
“What kind of future relationship does the UK want with the European Union?
“We don’t yet have the answer to this question. However, we can proceed by deduction, based on the Union’s legal system and the UK’s red lines. By officially drawing these red lines, the UK is itself closing the doors, one by one.
“The British government wants to end the free movement of persons, which is indivisible from the other three freedoms. It has therefore indicated its intention of leaving the Single Market.
“The British government wants to recover its independence to negotiate international agreements. It has therefore confirmed its intention of leaving the Customs Union.
“The UK no longer wishes to recognise the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which guarantees the application of our common rules.
“It follows that the only model possible is a free trade agreement, which could obviate the need for trade barriers, such as customs duties, and could facilitate customs procedures and product certification.
“This will of course be adapted to the specificities of the relationship between the EU and the UK, in the same way that our agreement with Canada is not identical to our agreements with Korea or Japan.
“But one thing is clear: a free trade agreement, however ambitious, cannot include all the benefits of the Customs Union and the Single Market.”
1 September 2017
So, that was the third round of negotiations. I must admit, even I thought this was the week when the UK would get serious. In reality, nothing has happened. As Michel Barnier, the lead EU negotiator, said at the end of the week “we made no decisive progress on the main subjects”.
The situation is rapidly becoming a farce. From the very beginning the EU has made clear that citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border come first, and then talk of trade deals will follow.
David Davis signed up to this in the first round. It was not, as he promised, ‘the fight of the summer’ but something the UK just accepted. Now we are in September and the UK Government still does not have a position paper on the financial settlement. It has produced papers on other issues – which can’t be dealt with yet – the positions in which are not realistic. Michel Barnier put it well:
“The UK wants to take back control, it wants to adopt its own standards and regulations.
“But it also wants to have these standards recognised automatically in the EU. That is what UK papers ask for.
“This is simply impossible. You cannot be outside the Single Market and shape its legal order.”
The full text of his speech at the end of the negotiations is here:
And here are a few videos of the key sections.
For now, the talks are in deadlock. The UK Government needs to take responsibility and engage seriously with Brussels. A deal is possible, but will require two sides to make it. At the moment only the EU is stepping up to the plate.
This month I will be hosting a meet your MEP event discussing my work at the European Parliament, the EU referendum, and the future of Scotland’s place in Europe. If you want to come along you can register here:
Once again European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that a future EU-UK trading relationship could only be discussed once the exit terms are confirmed. I increasingly feel that he says this every week but since the UK still hasn’t worked it out, that is understandable.
Japan would like a trade deal with the UK, but the EU is the priority so the UK is back of the queue.
Theresa May has proposed to use the EU-Japan trade deal as a model. Vote Leave, Take Control, get a smaller duplicate of the same deal you could have had five years earlier
Keir Stammer wrote a piece stating that Labour will seek to remain in a Customs Union with the EU and within the Single Market during a transition. I just hope that Jeremy Corbyn will back him up…
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has condemned Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.
Iain Macwhirter wrote a brutal, and entirely correct, piece arguing that immigration has been great for Scotland. Anyone who lives here is one of us.
The Home Office has launched an inquiry into how a “seriously misleading” version of research into student migration was leaked to the press. The UK Statistics Authority chair has also expressed his concerns.
The Centre for European Reform has produced an interesting analysis on what the German elections mean for Brexit.
Brexit could harm African economies that trade with the UK, according to Peg Murray-Evans of the University of York.
The House of Commons all-party parliamentary group on EU Relations has made the case for continued membership of the Customs Union.
Two of the parties which may form a coalition with Angela Merkel’s have given their backing to an independent Scotland inside the European Union.
Finally, if you are in Edinburgh this Saturday the European Movement are campaigning against a hard Brexit. Anyone can join, so perhaps I’ll see you there!
11 August 2017
So this week the main action took place in Scotland as ministers from the Scottish and UK Governments met to discuss the Great Repeal Bill. The current bill is a blatant power grab and will mean a range of devolved policy areas currently controlled by the Scottish Parliament will be returned to Westminster and Whitehall.
As Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said:
“…following today’s meeting we remain absolutely clear that, as things stand, we will not recommend to the Scottish Parliament that it gives its consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
“That means that unless there are serious and significant changes to the proposed legislation, the strong likelihood is that the Scottish Parliament will vote against the repeal bill… UK Ministers should still be in no doubt – to override a vote of the Scottish Parliament and impose the EU Withdrawal Bill on Scotland would be an extraordinary and unprecedented step to take.”
The full Scottish Government statement is available here: https://news.gov.scot/news/brexit-bill-talks
Instead of delivering new powers to Scotland, Brexit is stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament and delivering it to ministers and civil servants in London.
As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more http://www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed.
According to the Times, legislation is being prepared to prevent individuals and companies from bringing compensation claims against the UK Government after Brexit. Someone is taking back control but it’s not the people of Scotland. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/brexit-bill-will-remove-right-to-sue-government-750dhfjj3
David Davis, UK Brexit Negotiator, has written a letter to the House of Commons that makes you start to question whether he really understands what a hard Brexit is!
“The EU has also confirmed that their offer only guarantees residence rights in the Member State in which a British national was resident at the point of our exit from the EU. It does not guarantee the holder of those residence rights any right to onward movement within the EU, for example to work or study in a neighbouring Member State.”
Well yes, that is how non-EU/EEA citizens are treated now. It appears that the message has not sunk in that a hard Brexit means us losing our rights.
Will the UK need to take further steps to extricate itself from the Single Market or does it automatically leave? According to George Bridges, a former minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, the UK Government is “considering what steps, if any, might need to be taken to formally terminate the EEA Agreement as a matter of international law.
Lord Neuberger, one of the UK’s most senior judges, has called on the UK Government to provide more clarity on whether UK courts will take into account rulings of the European court of justice after Brexit.
The European Union’s leading judge has suggested that the UK use the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) court post Brexit.
Guy Verhofstadt has emphasised that although he feels it is “Important for future generations that UK can continue to participate in Erasmus+” ultimately the choice will be made by the UK Government. This was in response to a piece in last week’s bulletin.
and the original piece:
This, from Professor Chris Grey of Royal Holloway, University of London, is a fascinating read. “Brexit, data protection, and the myth of ‘taking back control’”
Brexit is a “catastrophe” according to a former adviser of David Davis.
If “Global Britain’s” first act is to walk away from international commitments, how can this go well? David Allen Green explains why the UK is at such a disadvantage.
Fintan O’Toole explained in the Irish Times why the balance of power in the Brexit negotiations has shifted in Ireland’s favour.
Amsterdam has started to establish itself as the winner as firms seek a foothold within the EU post-Brexit.
Barry Eichengreen has written a piece in the Guardian explaining how the experts are being proved right on Brexit.
The Financial Times has put together a handy guide explaining the Customs Union
Finally, it is worth noting that, despite the assertions of Tory Ministers and the Daily Mail, the new security checks when entering Schengen were agreed to before the referendum and encouraged by Theresa May. The reason it adversely affects the UK is not because of Brexit but because it is not a member of Schengen. Politico explains it well here:
20 July 2017
Well, the second round of negotiations are complete and the good news is that nobody stormed out. Unfortunately, that really is the end of the good news.
The two big issues being negotiated were the financial settlement and EU citizens’ rights. On the first it was left to Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, to point out that unless the UK clarifies its position talks will stall:
“Comme je l’ai dit très clairement à David, une clarification de la position du Royaume-Uni est indispensable pour négocier et pour aboutir à des “progrès suffisants” sur ce dossier financier, qui est inséparable des autres dossiers du retrait.”
(“As I said very clearly to David, a clarification of the UK’s position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable for the other withdrawal dossiers”.)
It seems remarkable that over a year after the vote, and on the first issue to be discussed, the UK simply doesn’t have a complete proposal! The reality is that unless the UK brings something substantive forward, the talks will stall simply because there is nothing to talk about.
Secondly, on EU citizens’ rights – something the UK does have a position on – there is a “fundamental divergence” over how the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. should be guaranteed. You can read Barnier’s remarks in full here:
An illustration of how far the negotiations need to come is this document that was released. It is a joint technical comparison of the citizens’ rights negotiations; red is where the two sides disagree and the bottom line is that you will note there is an awful lot of red…
As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more at www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed
Around 60 of Scotland’s most high-profile academics and politicians have called for last year’s Brexit vote to be overturned as “its disastrous consequences become clearer every day”. This included the author of Article 50 (and me).
The full text can be read here.
And if you wish to add your name then you can sign this petition here.
Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre on European Relations has analysed whether an exit from Brexit is possible.
Alberto Nardelli’s write up of the second round of negotiations is a great overview of the week’s events.
The Scottish Government has produced a formal response to the UK Government’s Proposal on EU Citizens’ Rights. Mike Russell the Scottish Government Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe said:
“EU citizens make a vital contribution to Scotland and to our economy, society and culture. They must have clarity about their future rights and what Brexit will mean for them and their families.”
More information on what the Scottish Government is doing to help EU citizens can be found here.
The European Citizen Action Service and University of Sheffield School of Law have set up a Citizen Brexit Observatory in order to support the fair treatment of EU citizens.
I wrote a piece in L’Express calling for President Macron to not forget Scotland in the months to come.
Ian McConnell has written a sobering piece in the Herald assessing the damage to the economy:
“From an economic perspective and from the point of view of millions of UK households, we are a great deal behind where we might have been had it not been for the Brexit vote.
“And that is before we get to the colossal damage arising from the actual EU exit.”
The EU will be transparent in the negotiations – the Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group documents are available online.
A cross-party House of Lords report has urged the UK Government to work with the devolved governments and end its ‘top down’ approach.
SMEs in Germany have warned that Brexit only brings disadvantages.
Transcripts of Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt’s evidence submitted to the House of Lords have been published.
Despite UK Government assurances, UK supplies of isotopes for cancer treatment could be at risk from leaving Euratom.
Brexit will have a negative impact on the Scottish economy and housing market, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
There is a “substantial” risk that the UK will tumble out of the European Union without a Brexit deal, says Moody’s Investors Service.
This would be disastrous for Scotland and the UK, as this excellent piece from the UK in a Changing Europe illustrates.
This week’s Financial Times long read explores how industry is lobbying for the UK to continue mirroring EU legislation after Brexit
Citigroup has announced that Frankfurt will be its new European trading hub.
Ironically Frankfurt is running out of office space!
“The maintenance of unhindered data flows is therefore crucial, both for business and for effective police cooperation” is the view of a new House of Lords report.
Theresa May must “start being honest about the complexity of the challenge” says Gus O’Donnell, former head of the UK Civil Service.
A YouGov poll has revealed that a majority of those who support leaving the EU would allow freedom of movement to continue in exchange for access to the Single Market.
Kevin Pringle has also argued that “the majority must have the right to do what others deem wrong, but people also have the right to change their mind.”
Finally, more than 500,000 Irish passports have been issued to people living the UK during the first half of 2017 – an increase of almost 50%.
This has been a busy week in both Brussels and Westminster. Boris Johnson’s arrogant and ridiculous statement to the House of Commons that so far as honouring the UK’s financial commitments the EU could “Go whistle!” seems a long time ago. A few days later Michel Barnier’s rather dry response that: “I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking,” seemed rather apt since by the end of the week the UK Government has conceded it will pay something.
This reveals the process for the farce that it is. The worry is that it is too easy to just laugh at the madness and move on, but the dangers we face are far too serious for that. The Great Repeal Bill was published this week and is everything I feared it would be:
It would be difficult for anyone to disagree with Amnesty International and Liberty who together released a statement that: “the vote to leave the European Union was not a mandate for ministers to take rights away from people in the UK. Paying lip service to protecting our rights doesn’t count for anything if those protections are not in the legislation – in black and white.”
The bill is also a clampdown on the already limited powers of the Scottish Parliament. Forget delivering a whole set of new powers as the Leave campaign promised, Brexit is restricting the devolved governments more than ever.
A joint statement from the Scottish and Welsh Governments concludes that since the bill “imposes new restrictions on the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales… the Scottish and Welsh Governments cannot recommend that legislative consent is given.”
Brexit is being used as an excuse to remove the rights from the people and parliaments of these islands. The UK Government is hell-bent on pursuing the hardest possible Brexit and seems to not care about the human consequences of that. Rest assured, we will fight this and it is not over yet.
The UK must improve its offer to EU citizens or the European Parliament will veto the deal, according to Guy Verhofstadt and other MEPs representing three quarters of the Parliament
As they very reasonably point out, even Vote Leave during the referendum promised that EU citizens would be treated “no less favourably than they are at present”. A promise that has clearly been broken by the UK Government.
The SNP continues to work with our European allies. Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the EU.
And earlier in the week also spoke to Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The EU continues to be transparent and open, releasing this summary of the state of play of the Article 50 negotiations.
Ian Dunt’s analysis of the Great Repeal Bill is worth a read, ominously concluding that it “is as dangerous and far-reaching a piece of legislation as we have seen in our lifetimes.”
The UK Government has also started to (slowly) accept that the Brexit fantasy is just that. Firstly, by accepting that the Court of Justice of the European Union could have a role in any transition deal.
Secondly, by realising that the UK will have to honour its financial obligations as it leaves the EU.
Boris Johnson has revealed that there is no plan for what happens if we leave without a deal.
The UK Government (finally!) released some more position papers. The paper on judicial matters puts it on a collision course with the EU who rightly argue that any breach of EU law that takes place before we leave is a matter for the European Courts, even if the case is not lodged before the departure date.
The position paper on Nuclear Safety raises as many questions as answers. As the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) state it contains “very little detail”.
Five senior nuclear scientists, including the chair of the UK Atomic Energy Agency, have said that the decision to leave Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community) will cause major problems for the UK’s research, energy production, and industry.
Camino Mortera-Martinez of the Centre for European Reform has written a fascinating article explaining how it may not be possible for the UK to remain in the European Arrest Warrant after leaving the EU.
“Only if agreement with the EU went far beyond the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU could it prevent the introduction of customs checks.” Peter Holmes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations has argued that a Turkey style deal may not be all people hope for.
61 per cent of Scottish firms believe that we should remain in both the single market and the customs union, according to a new British Chambers of Commerce survey.
“Leaving the customs union and the single market will impose significant extra bureaucracy on businesses, resulting in friction and cost for all concerned.” So says the Road Haulage Association.
Such concerns are justified as the UK’s public spending watchdog revealed that the UK’s new customs system “may need to be ready” for Brexit.
The UK Government has no “clear plan”, according to Paul Drechsler, President of the Confederation of British Industry.
Deloitte’s quarterly survey of chief financial officers found they were more worried about the economy than at any point in the past two and a half years.
Brexit will cause “higher prices, less choice and poorer quality” according to Justin King, former boss of Sainsbury’s.
My column this week is on Simone Veil, the Holocaust survivor, former President of the European Parliament, and fearless champion of women’s rights whose life is a reminder of why the EU was brought into being.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philipp has unveiled a variety of measures to attract UK firms to Paris post-Brexit.
1,000 solicitors from England and Wales have registered in Ireland since the Referendum – at least 10 times the regular annual number.
The Centre for European Policy Studies have put together a report on the Irish Border as a Customs Frontier after Brexit.
According to the National Farmers Union there is need for “a clear and unambiguous commitment from Government that farmers and growers will have access to sufficient numbers of permanent and seasonal workers from outside of the UK where necessary after the UK leaves the EU.”
Another week, another lie of the Leave campaign exposed for what it was. This time, it was the turn of the nonsense peddled about Turkey’s application to join the EU. My fellow MEPs and I passed a further report on Turkey’s application to join the EU. It re-stated our position to freeze all membership negotiations. For those of you interested, point 7 is the key line:
“[The European Parliament] Recalls its position from November 2016 to freeze the accession process with Turkey;”
The full text is of the report is available here:
Unfortunately, it is currently falling to EU politicians to step in and be honest to the UK about what Brexit means. Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the EU, has been pointing out what I have said for months: the ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ line is both dangerous and inaccurate. This was the focus of an important speech he made earlier this week that is well worth a read:
“I want to be very clear: in a classic negotiation, ‘no deal’ means a return to the status quo. In the case of Brexit, ‘no deal’ would be a return to a distant past.” Michel Barnier
Too many politicians (Corbyn included) are simply playing along with the Brexit fantasists rather than being honest. As I argued in my column this week, a second indyref isn’t going to happen immediately but all options, including the UK as a whole changing course away from Brexit, must be left on the table.
As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more at www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed .
The man who was in charge of Vote Leave admits that leaving the EU could be an error.
As the UK dreams of trade deals the EU delivers another, this time with Japan.
In response to the UK decision to renounce the London Fisheries Convention Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the EU, stated:
“UK denunciation of London Convention=no change: EU law/Common Fisheries Policy had superseded it. EU 27 interests=my priority for negs”
Ian Dunt summed up Michael Gove’s actions well as “meaningless, strategically counter-productive and designed primarily to make reactionaries feel better about themselves.” If you wish to understand the issues surrounding the London Fisheries Convention his article is a great summary.
‘Bloody difficult’ Britain has already blown its chances of a good deal from the EU27, according to Steve Bullock who worked at the UK Representation to the EU from 2010-2014.
“To make Brexit work, Britain needs to show Europe it cares” says John Bruton, Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland 1994-97.
“Put simply, for Ireland, the decision of the people of the UK to vote to withdraw from the EU is a bad thing.” This is the view of an Irish Seanad report on Brexit.
David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland, has called on Labour to fight to stop Brexit.
The UK should continue “full and continued engagement” with EU higher education programmes, according to an EU Report from the independent High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research & Innovation.
Tobias Lock of the Scottish Centre on European Relations has written an important paper on the so called ‘Great Repeal Bill’.
The Brexit talks may need to be lengthened, according Romanian MEP Siegfried Mureșan, spokesperson of the European People’s Party (the largest group in the European Parliament).
The European Council on Foreign Relations is moving operations to the continent because Brexit means it is no longer “appropriate” to be based exclusively in London.
The Institute for Government have put together this handy table explaining the differences between the EU and UK negotiating positions on EU citizens’ rights.
And a further handy explainer on the Customs Union.
Speaking of which… the CBI has argued that the UK must stay in the Single Market and Customs Union until a final EU trade deal is complete.
The text of the speech by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, titled “Scotland- EU Relations as Brexit Talks Unfold” can be read here.
Investment in the automotive industry fell by more than 30% according to figures compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
King’s College in London is considering a European Campus.
61 per cent of voters across the UK think that the Scottish Government should be at the table for the Brexit negations according to a Daily Record/Survation poll.
In other polling news, over 60% of UK Citizens want to keep their EU citizenship.
Helsinki has formally put itself forward to host the European Medical Agency, which will be leaving the UK as a consequence of Brexit.
Joseph Curtin of the Institute of International and European Affairs has written a report exploring the impact of Brexit on climate change.
Banks and investment firms are looking to move jobs to the since the European Union has made clear that so called “letterbox entities” will not be tolerated.
Deutsche Bank is planning to move large sections of its trading and investment-banking assets to Frankfurt.
23/6/2017 The negotiations have begun. I wondered how I’d feel watching the Tory minister negotiating away our future. Now I know. Angry. Scotland deserves better than this, as does the UK as a whole.
Once again, we’ve seen that Tory Prime Ministers prioritise their own party’s stability over all else. It’s painfully clear that the UK Government is woefully under-equipped to speak up for our country in global negotiations.
This was revealed as the UK caved to every single EU demand on day one. The promise from David Davis that the debate over the sequencing of negotiations would be “row of the summer” never emerged as he stood in the EU Commission press room announcing that he would follow the outline produced by the EU.
The Brexit fantasist view is already starting to collapse in the face of reality.
Last night the Prime Minister of the UK put forward a “generous offer” which will only remove some of the rights of EU citizens. (Guy Verhofstadt sums this up well twitter.com/GuyVerhofstadt/…)
Jean Claude Juncker is also right that “May’s offer on citizens’ rights is a first step, but not sufficient.” twitter.com/Mina_Andreeva/…
This is the sort of promise that could have been made a year ago. To call it generous is stretching credibility. We must still wait another week for the details but it will inevitably be an offer that results in EU citizens losing rights. Since the referendum last year, the Scottish Government has been vocal in demanding that the rights of EU nationals be guaranteed, and the SNP will continue to fight for that.
Prime Minister Theresa May has made clear that, in her view, EU citizens must trust the UK to guarantee their rights, not the EU Courts, which is clearly the opposite view to the EU27.
Ultimately as Manfred Weber MEP and leader of the largest group of the European Parliament has said: “If PM May cannot come up with a more concrete proposal it is quite worrying for the rest of the Brexit negotiations.”
As the UK loses all goodwill, it’s important that Scotland continues to project a positive vision of ourself to Europe. My views on Brexit haven’t changed one iota in the year that has passed since the vote. You can read more of my thoughts in today’s National:
We face a choice about the kind of country we want to be. Our attitude to the wider world will be integral to that choice, so let’s make sure we’re vocally and convincingly on the right side. As Michel Barnier said, the clock is ticking. Brexit is not in Scotland’s best interests.
Scotland voted for something different and I’m not going to be complicit in a colossal act of self-harm for the sake of the UK Tories.
This has barely started. Let’s see who lasts the course.
The UK and EU began the Brexit negotiations, following which the European Commission issued a document explaining what had been agreed.
Ian Dunt’s piece on the opening round is very good and rightly emphasises that “The first British defeat over Brexit happened in moments”.
This was echoed by Alberto Nardelli in an equally persuasive piece.
You can read the speech by Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, following the first round of Article 50 negotiations with the UK
“Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU. I told them that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So who knows. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” said Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says ‘door is always open’ to the UK changing its mind.
David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland, has written a piece emphasising that “in a choice between a bad Brexit and one that’s even worse, the bad Brexit wins out. But these are not the only two options. The people changed their minds on Theresa May, why not on Brexit too?”
Former EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht thinks there is “a serious chance” that the UK will eventually remain in the European Union
The Irish Government and DUP are now at odds as the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has demanded “special status” for Northern Ireland after Brexit.
Lest we forget there was also a (very limited) Queen’s Speech this week. The devil will be in the detail but this analysis from Mark Elliot gives a nice overview of some of the many issues the Great Repeal Bills will face.
The EU referendum has resulted in a 254% increase in the number applying for French nationality.
“More than ever, clarity is needed on the UK’s approach to Brexit” is the view of Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow.
An immigration cap will harm UK economy, says Tesco chairman John Allen.
In a survey of global investors by Barclays Plc 64% of respondents are sceptical the exit will be orderly.
The “UK government must secure interim arrangements to safeguard future of UK motor industry and avoid a cliff edge” is the view of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT)
A number of researchers at the University of Edinburgh have produced an assessment of the various models which Scotland could adopt.
“The new, weakened UK government will need to define its negotiation position rather quickly and come to the table far more willing to compromise than has been the case for the last 11 months.” So says Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive and Chief Economist of the European Policy Centre.
Various SMEs have expressed their concern about the type of Brexit that the UK Government is pursuing.
Eurochild and Children in Scotland have called for the rights of children and young people to be protected and championed as part of the Brexit negotiations.
Filippo Biondi of the think tank Bruegel has written this piece on the future of the Irish border
Goldman Sachs Group is doubling the number of staff in Frankfurt.
France’s new Government Spokesperson announced plans to simplify the way EU laws are enforced in France, to capitalize on Brexit and attract more investors from London to Paris, stating “Our objective in improving how France enforces EU laws is to attract more financial services to Paris, and in the context of Brexit you know what that means.”
Finally, if you are looking for some bedtime reading, the UK in a Changing Europe project have produced a 60-page, 28-chapter report to look back on the previous year’s events.
|This week the EU quietly released two policy papers which lay out in great detail the EU 27’s stance on citizens’ rights and the financial settlement.
The paper on essential principles on citizens’ rights can be read here: ec.europa.eu/commission/…
and the paper on the essential principles on the financial settlement here: ec.europa.eu/commission/…
This includes a list of all the EU bodies for which the UK has some financial responsibility (including around 40 agencies). These show, once again the level of transparency that the EU is committed to. They also illustrate how well prepared the EU is for the negotiations ahead.
The contrast to the UK’s ‘make it up as we go along’ stance could not be starker.
Closer to home the SNP launched our manifesto for the General Election, reiterating that Scotland’s people must have a choice about our future, once the options become clear and before any doors are closed. One of those choices will be for Scotland to become independent and be a member state of the EU. The other will be Brexit Britain. You can read the full manifesto here:
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“If all the British pensioners who currently receive health care in other countries through EU agreements had to return, caring for them would require the NHS to spend an extra £1 billion a year.” This is the conclusion of a Nuffield Trust report on Brexit and the NHS
“Brexit poses many severe and immediate threats to the NHS, some of which are already apparent, like the loss of skilled health workers. Looking ahead, we can expect delayed approval of new drugs, weakening of environmental standards and working conditions, and even loss of access to the medical isotopes used for diagnosis and cancer treatment.” So says Professor McKee, Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
“The economic costs of Brexit would be twice as large in the no-deal case than if the UK remains in the Single Market” is the conclusion of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance Brief.
The SDLP calls for a referendum on a united Ireland to take place after the Brexit negotiations.
The UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 international treaties, according to the FT.
Stephen Gethins and Harry Theocharis have drafted an open Letter for Europe, calling European policy makers to take to the stage in unity, across borders and political parties – in order to shape an inclusive and constructive conversation on the future of Europe.
The UK has dropped to the bottom of G7 growth rankings as the referendum result begins to have an effect.
Any savings from the UK’s contributions to the EU will be ‘dwarfed by the economic losses’ of leaving the single market, according to this analysis in Euractiv.
Universities Scotland have launched their mini manifesto for the General Election which mostly concentrates on Brexit.