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Hello, and welcome to the website of Alyn Smith MEP. Here you can find out more information on my work in the European Parliament, sign up for my newsletter, and get in touch.

Below are some of the latest pieces from around the rest of the site, click read more to go to the full article. 

  • Scotland in Europe Update 15th December 2017

    As of this afternoon, we are onto phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations. The European Parliament and Council of the European Union have agreed with the Commission’s position. That does not mean a deal is completed on citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial obligations, and the Northern Ireland Border. A number of important issues remain outstanding but enough has been agreed for the dialogue to expand to cover other areas. I say this through gritted teeth but for good reason. For too many people in the UK, Brexit remains white noise, a false equivalence aided by an industrial-scale spin machine telling us that somehow, we’ll have our cake and eat it; it will be alright on the night because we’re special; we’re British.
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  • Statement on Citizens' Rights

    I believe it is utterly wrong for people to be placed in a situation where - after making a home, enriching a community, and contributing to society - they are now facing this awful uncertainty. The European Commission has produced the following 23-page memo on citizens' rights, which I believe may be of interest. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/2017-12-12_qa_citizens_rights.pdf
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  • EU must support democracy in Hong Kong

    Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has led a key report on Hong Kong twenty years after the UK’s handover to China, which was adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today with an overwhelming majority of 490 out of 589.  
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  • Scotland in Europe Update: 8th December 2017

    This week has been a blizzard of events in Brussels and London. On Monday Theresa May went to the Commission expecting to sign a deal and move on to the next phase of the negotiations for the UK to leave the EU. Whilst enjoying a lunch with Jean Claude Juncker the DUP held a press conference and then, following a subsequent phone call to May, it was all over for the day. As I wrote in the New Statesmen, the “have your cake and eat it” sloganeering is now crashing into hard reality and this was a great illustration. Nowhere has this been more apparent than Ireland. At the stroke of 23:00 on Brexit Day (note that Brexit happens at midnight, Brussels time) the border crashes into existence, unless a fix is found now. The Good Friday Agreement cannot be respected and there cannot be an open border in Ireland unless Northern Ireland is in the single market and customs union. (You can read the rest of my piece here: newstatesman.com/... ) The problem is real, and will not go away but after days of chasing, a suitably ambiguous form of words has been found: In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom committed to maintaining full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North - South cooperation, the all - island economy, and the protection of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. In this context, implementation and oversight mechanisms for the specific arrangements to be found will be established to safeguard the integrity of the internal market. This means that unless the UK finds a miraculous solution to leaving the single market and the customs union then Northern Ireland will remain part of both in some way, either alongside the whole of the UK or not. Although my article was written before this was decided I stand by my comments: rhetoric is not enough and the realities of international trade law mean we need solutions now. The UK must start by showing real flexibility within itself and with the EU to allow the various democratic mandates and legal realities that exist within these isles to be respected. Though the obvious solution is for the entirety of the UK to stay in the single market and the customs union, differentiated solutions can work and may prove essential before we get to the end of this process.  
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  • The EU's response to Catalonia was a poor show. Scotland should now offer to mediate

    I FELT and still do feel heartsick watching the events unfold in Catalonia. I also feel let down and dispirited by the response of the international community. Never has it been more clear that states do not have permanent friends or values, they only have permanent interests. Realpolitik is a cold, ugly thing to see in action. First published in The National, 06 October 2017
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  • Scots will realise independence in Europe is the only way out of this Brexit mess

    IF you voted Leave on the promise of more powers for Holyrood and a stronger Scottish Parliament, I’m sorry to say you’ve been had. As I write this, I find myself deflated by a vote in the House of Commons. You’d think I would know better by now. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has been in principle agreed by the House of Commons, and now moves on to the detailed consideration in the Commons and Lords. This despite a clear majority of Scots rejecting Brexit across every local authority in the land, and an even clearer majority of Scotland’s representatives in the Mother of Parliaments rejecting it too.  First published in The National, 13 September 2017
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  • We must work together to correct harmful immigration falsehoods

    IN the last few months I’ve grown really weary of unthinking tribalism in Scottish politics. Like many SNP types, I started my political journey identifying most closely with the Labour Party. I never joined the party, as my time in Brussels and London that crystallised my view that Scotland could be better independent, but I still rejoiced at the 1997 election when Tony Blair’s Labour swept away the Tories. I joined the SNP the week after. It turns out 20 years is a long time in politics! But I say all that to prove that I’m up for coalitions.  First published in The National, 2 August 2017
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  • Be warned: if the cyber extremists win then all of Scotland loses

    The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge one exists. I’m concerned about how politics and current affairs are discussed and debated online - worldwide and across the UK if it comes to it - but I think we need to do a few things differently in Scotland. The technological changes we’re currently going through in terms of how people access and process information about the world around us is unprecedented, similar only to the development of radio and TV mass media but much more powerful even than them. First published in The Sunday Herald, 9 July 2017 
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  • Scottish MEP welcomes German equal marriage vote

    Commenting on today’s vote by German MPs to legalise same-sex marriage, Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup said:
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  • Credit where it’s due – it’s EU that has ended mobile roaming charges

    ONE of the few good news stories to emerge from the UK’s decision to leave the EU is that people have started to engage with European politics in a more active way. I admit this is ironic but it means that for the first time people are aware of developments in the EU beyond that being covered by the major news outlets. First published in The National, 28 June 2017
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