Scotland in Europe update: December 2nd 2016

It has been a busy week and that means a bumper newsletter. Nicola Sturgeon visited Ireland to build alliances, some companies began to put in place their plans to face Brexit and more European politicians expressed their frustration with the UK government's lack of a plan.

In lighter news to celebrate St Andrew's Day, Belgium's much-loved Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels has been decked out in a custom kilt outfit made from a specially-designed "Scotland in Europe" tartan.

As announced at the unveiling by the President of the Society of Friends of the Mannekin Pis: "He's a true Scotsman too - we have checked!" You can read more here:

http://www.alynsmith.eu/belgium_s_mannekin_pis_is_a_true_scotsman

Obviously, there is a lot of uncertainty in the future relations of Scotland, and the UK, with the EU, but Scotland voted to remain and we will not be silent. Scotland voted to stay, we want to stay, and the EU wants to keep us, so we need to work together to find a solution. 

I'll keep these updates coming, and so if you have friends or family who want to join the mailing list, send them along to http://www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed

Yours aye,

Alyn

Nicola Sturgeon visited Dublin this week and delivered a speech to the Seanad.

https://twitter.com/rtenews/status/803574200279646208

The full text can be found here:

http://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/first-minister-address-to-seanad

After meeting the Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan she commented:

“Today’s meeting was very positive and builds on the strong links between Scotland and Ireland. We discussed a range of issues including economic cooperation, employability, social welfare and innovation. This follows on from a constructive meeting with the Taoiseach at British Irish Council last week.

“Following the Brexit vote, the Scottish – Irish relationship is more important than ever and today was an opportunity to strengthen our economic, political and cultural ties.”

https://firstminister.gov.scot/first-minister-in-dublin/

President Higgins hosted a lunch for First Minister of Scotland.

http://www.president.ie/en/diary/details/president-hosts-a-lunch-for-first-minister-of-scotland-nicola-sturgeon

The UK must work out it's position "as soon as possible" according to European Central Bank president Mario Draghi.

http://www.cityam.com/254537/draghi-takes-tough-line-uks-brexit-negotiations

The UK government’s cunning plan is to ‘Have cake and eat it’… I can’t say I am reassured...

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/28/uk-unlikely-to-stay-in-single-market-tory-document-suggests

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, has dismissed a group of MPs complaints as having “nothing to do with reality.” The uncertainty surrounding the rights of UK citizens living in Europe that they wrote to him about is actually because of Brexit.

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2016/11/47244651031_en.pdf

A link to the MPs' letter is available here and I have to say it is a disgraceful, shameless exercise in trying to shift the blame for the uncertainty they have caused.

https://www.michaeltomlinson.org.uk/sites/www.michaeltomlinson.org.uk/files/2016-11/Letter%20to%20Donald%20Tusk_1.pdf

Nicola Sturgeon came third in Euractiv's list of the top influencers on Brexit. 

https://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/11/Brochure-Brexit-50.pdf

The UK is out of the room as is shown by the next European Council meeting where there will be “An informal meeting of the 27 leaders will be held in the margins of the December European Council. The objective is to set out how the Brexit process will be handled by the EU 27 once the UK has notified.”

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2016/12/15-16/

Nicola Sturgeon has said that she is open minded about proposals to establish European associate citizenship for those in the UK that are interested.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/28/nicola-sturgeon-will-not-rule-out-associate-citizenship-of-eu-for-scotland

This was initially put forward by Charles Goerens, an MEP from Luxembourg whom I met with a few weeks ago.

https://twitter.com/AlynSmithMEP/status/796697017254866944

More information can be found in this handy FT briefing.

https://www.ft.com/content/6a4c958a-b563-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62

The most senior UK member of the European Court of Justice has argued that "ultimate authority" over Article 50 rests with the European Court. 

http://news.sky.com/story/european-court-of-justice-has-ultimate-authority-on-article-50-10677193

People are getting "fed up" with the arrogance of some UK politicians, according Manfred Weber MEP, leader of the largest group in the European Parliament.

https://twitter.com/camanpour/status/804045164893212672

In an effort to try and counter some of the impact of Brexit, Edinburgh Napier has launched a partnership with five other European universities.

https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/edinburgh-napier-joins-pan-european-urban-research-collaboration

The negotiation timeline is getting shorter; rumours now are that it could take place in just 15 months!

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-30/may-said-to-accept-time-is-tight-for-brexit-talks-at-15-months

Europe has been watching as UKIP elected (another) new leader.

http://www.elespanol.com/mundo/europa/20161128/174233511_0.html

Companies are starting to respond to the Brexit vote. They don’t have time to wait for the UK Government so they are making their own plans. 

Firstly, Berlin Hyp AG has delayed plans to open an office in the U.K due to Brexit

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-28/brexit-vote-leads-lender-berlin-hyp-to-postpone-london-expansion

Secondly, the first bank (of no doubt many) has decided to expand in Frankfurt after Brexit.

http://hessenschau.de/wirtschaft/erste-bank-entscheidet-sich-nach-brexit-fuer-frankfurt,ubs-nach-frankfurt-100.html

Jean Quatremer, one of France's most experienced EU reporters, was asked his opinion of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as he has worked in the same press rooms in Brussels for years, here is what he said: 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/25/boris-johnson-clown-eu-britain-foreign-secretary

 The Institute of International and European Affairs have produced a brief on “What does Brexit Mean for the Energy Sector in Ireland?” The conclusion “Uncertainty is the defining characteristic of this entire enterprise” is one I have heard many times over from business, charity and higher education.

http://www.iiea.com/ftp/Publications/2016/IIEA_PolicyBrief_Energy.pdf

Kirsty Hughes from Friends of Europe has produced a summary of where she thinks we are entitled “Brexit with the UK, independence, or a special deal?”

http://www.friendsofeurope.org/media/uploads/2016/11/FE-DP-Scotland_Nov_2016.pdf

The National Farmers Union of Scotland (along with those of England, Wales and Ulster have emphasised the importance of maintaining tariff free access to the Single Market. They also emphasised that EU workers must be allowed to remain as they are essential for the “delivery of high quality affordable food to consumers.”

https://www.nfuonline.com/assets/80325

The UK still needs to decide what it wants according French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britian-eu-france-ireland-idUKKBN13Q4DO

Finally, a former Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Wallace has argued that there is a "clear role" for the Scottish Parliament in the Conservatives so called 'Great Repeal Bill'. Though I would also argue there is a clear need for the Scottish Parliament to approve the activation of article 50.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38177064