EU Copyright Reform: needs more work

The European parliament today, by 438 votes to 226 against with 39 abstentions, voted to approve the negotiating mandate for the next stage of complex negotiations over the reform of Copyright in the digital Single Market.  The SNP European Group, Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith, supported a workable compromise between the most contentious elements of the Directive, in particular Articles 11 and 13, and the right of copyright holders to receive fair remuneration for their work when published online. 

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Scotland in Europe Update: 7th September 2018

This week has seen some good news for EU citizens as the Scottish Government unveiled its Programme for Government. Building upon existing SNP policy, the Government announced that it will bring forward legislation to ensure that all EU nationals resident in Scotland maintain their Scottish voting rights in the event that Brexit takes place.

It is very simple really: anyone living in Scotland is Scottish. We are a nation comfortable with multiple identities and nobody who lives here should be cut out of our society. After all, we need more people not fewer. I am proud that our Government is taking real moves to reassure people - who have paid us the supreme compliment of making Scotland their home - that they are welcome, valued and part of the community. 

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Scotland legislates to include EU nationals post-Brexit

Scotland's government has announced that it will bring forward legislation to ensure that all EU nationals resident in Scotland maintain their Scottish voting rights in the event that Brexit takes place.

The measure, announced as part of the Programme for Government, builds on the existing policy of the SNP that all residents in Scotland should have the same democratic equality as their neighbours.  In the referendum on Scotland's independence all EU nationals resident in Scotland had a right to vote.  The Electoral Franchise Bill will also implement reforms to ensure all legal residents, from all countries, will be able to vote.

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Scotland in Europe Update 31st August 2018

The next few weeks and months are going to be the Brexit endgame, and we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be distracted by the industrial scale amounts of chaff the opposition are going to throw out.

Scotland’s best future will come with independence, and the best route to that future is to ensure that EU membership is front and centre of our proposition.  In the meantime, stopping Brexit for the whole of the UK is in all our interests, but in my National column this week I tried to pin down some of the myths spreading about Scotland and the EU.

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Scotland in Europe Update 24th August 2018

So, this week the UK Government has unveiled their plans for a no deal scenario. A scenario which, according to the Government, will be simultaneously disastrous and fine. Indeed, as Ian Dunt noted, the beleaguered Brexit Secretary seemed to be like a steward explaining how in the event of a crash “the plane would hit the water smoothly, just like in those cartoons they put on the safety leaflets, and then happy families would slide down into the inflatable rafts.”

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Scotland in Europe Update 17th August 2018

This week showed that those advocating for Brexit have not looked to the past for inspiration, but instead suffer from delusions of resurrecting an idealised version of it. The dreams of a worldwide trading network built upon the Commonwealth (synonymous with “Empire” for many, let’s be honest) is one that holds sway with those who see the world through the grainy black-and-white images of an imagined 1940s British Pathé news report. For them, The Empire Strikes Back is a promise, not part of the Lucas filmography.

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Scotland in Europe Update 10th August 2018

Has Theresa May been talking to European leaders directly to bypass Michel Barnier? According to Alberto Nardelli, the Prime Minister had a phonecall with her Italian counterpart Guiseppe Conte yesterday – so far, so good – but instead of Number 10 listing it on the official site as it usually does, the Italian call appears to be missing.

According to Nardelli, May was pushing for the other EU member states to go beyond the Full Trade Agreement or EEA options proposed by the EU’s chief negotiator, and this isn’t the only secretive May phonecall to have taken place.

One of the reasons the EU is such a powerful trading and political unit is that 28 is a much larger number than one, and when the EU speaks, it speaks with a single voice following extensive negotiation, compromise, and discussion. For the Prime Minister of one member state to attempt to break this unity, it’s not a good look. While David Cameron put the Conservative party over the best interests of the country, Theresa May appears to be going one better and trying to put the Conservative party over the good of a continent.


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Scotland in Europe Update 3rd August 2018

“We’ll just revert to WTO terms!” shriek the Brexiteers when challenged that the EU stuff is a bit complex. I’ll let you into a secret: anyone saying that clearly doesn’t understand what they’re talking about and should be quarantined as a dangerous fool.

Scotland’s best interests are emphatically to stay in the EU, but let’s look at the reality of WTO membership. If you didn’t like Brussels, wait till you meet Geneva!

The first thing to understand is that the WTO is not dedicated to free trade or fair trade (note the lack of an “F” in the acronym), neither is it democratic nor accountable to you as a citizen.

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Scotland in Europe Update 27th July 2018

So this has been the week of ‘no deal’. The head of Amazon warned it could cause civic unrest. (; the NHS would need to stockpile drugs ( and the Brexit Secretary himself Dominic Raab has promised to make sure we don’t starve (

I must admit, all this hyperbole is rather too much, and I agree with Tánaiste Simon Coveney that there is far too much talk of a no deal:

To be clear, one of the most damaging myths which seems to be emerging is that a no-deal Brexit is somehow a realistic or desirable option. It would be a catastrophe. The laws which ensure food, people, and everything else can move in and out of the external UK borders would cease to apply. It is fall of Yugoslavia and USSR stuff. It is unconscionable.

I don’t deny there are some who are pushing for it, but I do not see it as a remotely likely scenario. The fact that it's the sorts of the people I dislike most talking about it makes me all the more suspicious.

You can read more of my thoughts on this in the my National column for the week:

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Scotland in Europe Update 20th July 2018

So what we all suspected is true. The Leave campaign cheated.

The sheer pace of the news cycle at the moment means it has been too easy for the Brexiters to move on but they must not be allowed to. The single most important decision the UK has made in 40 years was built upon a set of lies delivered by a set of cheats. Peter Geoghegan has covered this story from the beginning and it is well worth reading his thoughts:

And of course, you can read the full findings of the Electoral Commission here:

Meanwhile, the utter inability of the UK Government to negotiate in an effective manner means that the rest of the EU is getting increasingly concerned about no deal. To be clear, I still do not think that this is the most likely outcome, but the dangers of it keep increasing. The longer the UK Government continues to prioritise internal Tory squabbles, the more we risk reaching next March with no deal and all the potential chaos which that could cause.

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