Scotland in Europe Update: 26th May 2017: Scotland in Europe Update: Flags fly half-mast for Manchester


In a sad week, the outrage which took place in Manchester is almost beyond comprehension.  It goes without saying that our thoughts have been with the victims, their families and friends, and the emergency services.  Across the EU flags were lowered and people gathered to pay their respects and emphasise their solidarity:

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Scotland in Europe update 19th May 2017

Sitting in Strasbourg this week debating the future of the EU negotiations whilst watching the UK General Election unfold was a surreal experience. The clock is ticking, we only have two years yet Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and then decided to waste precious time. It is a truly remarkable dereliction of duty.

Obviously, Theresa May could have held the election before triggering Article 50. This would have given her the maximum time to negotiate but instead she is playing politics with people’s lives. Remember – whatever the Tory manifesto asserts – a no deal WTO scenario would be disastrous for Scotland and the UK.


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"Scotland will not be silent" on Brexit

Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament, has today repeated the call for the EU to respect the wishes of the Scottish public to remain within "our European family" and to act now to protect the rights of citizens.

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Make food donations exempt from VAT, urges Alyn

The European Parliament has today (Tuesday) backed a report calling for drastic measures in tackling food waste, aiming to slash food waste by 50% by 2030. This is designed to help tackle the 1.3 billion tons, or approximately one third of all food produced for human consumption, that is wasted every year.

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On LGBTI rights: "Progress is reversible"

The Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith MEP has delivered a speech yesterday evening in the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, over the alarming situation of LGBTi rights and the EU guidelines to protect and uphold them, particularly in the aftermath of the revelations of LGBTi “purges” in Chechnya, Russia. The debate took place on the occasion of the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

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European Parliament needs to lead by example on EU nationals

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has raised the plight of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU in Brussels, saying that these rights must be agreed now before the rest of the Brexit negotiations


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Scotland in Europe Update: 12th May 2017

This week in the European Parliament there was an important joint hearing organised by the committees of Civil Liberties, Employment and Petitions. Many MEPs have emphasised the “moral duty” on all sides to end the uncertainty created for both EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU.

What we need to change the weather on this is a unilateral act of generosity. On past record of Theresa May as Home Secretary and indeed as Prime Minister, I don’t think we’re going to see that from the UK Government. 

If we agree that that act of generosity is in the interest of our citizens, surely the call should come from our parliament for that unilateral act of generosity to guarantee the rights of UK nationals across the EU.

That will put, I hope, intolerable pressure on the UK Government to change its tone, to change its rhetoric, and to match that ambition and generosity.

You can see my contribution here:

and watch the interview with me afterwards here:

Earlier in the week I was delighted by the result over the weekend from France, where Centrist Emmanuel Macron won a decisive victory over the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the French Presidential election, 66% to 34%. This was good news for Europe and bad news for the fascists, even if the fact they were in the second round at all should give us pause.  But a win is a win is a win, and after the seemingly endless gut punch that was 2016, we can be forgiven for focusing on a bit of cheery news for a change.

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

Yours aye,




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Scotland in Europe Update: 5th May 2017

"The rocks are out to get us!" shrieks the captain, whilst steering us towards rocks. The Prime Minister’s response to the account of her dinner with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker shows just how low she will stoop. As the Tories become increasingly shrill it is clear that they are putting their party’s narrow interests before the interests of either Scotland or the UK.

In case you missed it last weekend, the account of the dinner was published in FAZ, a German newspaper, and can be read here:

There is a good summary in English of the main points here:

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Scotland in Europe update: 28th April 2017

A few days ago, the European Commission’s draft negotiating directives for Brexit were made public. The top priority is to protect the rights of EU and UK citizens, in the UK and across the EU 27. For example, the European Commission wants to uphold the right of EU and UK citizens who have already worked, lived or retired in the UK or in the EU 27. The Commission's draft also looks at the cost of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and underlines its demand that the UK pays for the cost of Brexit, for instance the relocation of European agencies located in the UK.

This is the reality of these negotiations. The EU will act to protect its interests and we shouldn’t be surprised by this. It doesn’t mean to say that they will be punitive, but we shouldn’t expect the UK government to be handed everything it wants on a silver platter. If we are going to create any goodwill going into these discussions, the UK government must act - and must act now - for example to clarify the position of EU citizens currently in the UK.

You can read a copy of the draft directives here:

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Scotland in Europe Update: 21st April 2017

This week I have been in Taiwan, meeting the President and Ministers with an EU Foreign Affairs Committee delegation. Taiwan is looking to win more allies in the EU and although Taiwan’s most important relationship is with the USA they’re increasingly looking towards the EU as troubles in the region increase.

The news reached me as I landed in Taipei that there was to be a UK general election. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, went as far as to suggest this is a Brexit as directed by Alfred Hitchcock - I see where he is coming from!

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