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Scotland in Europe Update 22nd December 2017

It has been a long year, and the ongoing failures of the Brexiters gives no joy to the rest of us tied to the train crash they have set in motion. This week we finally saw some of the UK’s fabled impact assessments. There were no revelations since much of what they contained was simply an assessment of the status quo. The report on fisheries noted without irony that “there is a concentration of activity in coastal towns.” Who knew?!

We need to see serious work that actually lays out the future choices we must make. As Phase 2 progresses it will become harder and harder for the Brexiters to maintain their fantasies as they collide with reality.

This is not going to be easy for the rest of us, watching the mess unfold. Empathy fatigue can happen to the best of us. Why bother working and hoping for a better future when all you can see is progress being rolled back? Because when enough people fight back, it can change society for the better. If you refuse to be bowed by cynicism, if you keep caring about people who are being forgotten or left behind, and if you refuse to withdraw from society, I promise you that you are making a difference.

Across the country, there are people working quietly and constantly for a better future. There’s a reason A Christmas Carol is a classic. The novel is an iron fist in a velvet glove, where the curmudgeonly misanthrope looks out of the window and sees terrible shades moaning in torment – nothing to do with demons or pitchforks but because they’re too late to help their fellow man. Weighed down by chains and safeboxes, they try to touch the living but are doomed to watch helplessly in the cold, unheard, unheeded, unmourned. Orwell wrote Dickens had the “face of a man who is generously angry” and he was right. Dickens saw what happens when people withdraw from the world and refuse to recognise our common humanity.

So let’s get out there and be the change we want to see.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. The team and I will be taking a wee break over Christmas and Hogmanay, so unless something truly remarkable happens the next post will be the week commencing the 8th January.

You can read more of my end of year thoughts in this week’s National column.

Some of the woeful Brexit sectoral analyses of the UK Government have been published here.

In contrast, the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs has produced this detailed report on the implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, this is just one of many such detailed reports from the EU.

The Commission has released this slide explaining how the UK’s red lines mean that a Canada style deal is the only available option. Unfortunately, this means leaving the Single Market, which will be disastrous for Scotland.

Michel Barnier has again emphasised that there will not be a special deal for the city of London.

The Commission put forward a draft set of guidelines for the next phase of the negotiations. These will need to be approved by the member states before they are adopted. They contain a clarification to the UK that during any transition period EU law will have same legal effect as it currently does.

and an annex containing some more detail:

Joan McAlpine MSP, Chair of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament Len Duvall, Chair of the EU Exit Working Group of the London Assembly, and David Rees AM, Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee of the National Assembly for Wales, have written a letter asking the UK to guarantee that any future funding arrangements do not fall below those currently coming from the EU.

Undertakers near the Irish border are concerned that a hard border is going to cause a host of problems.

The IMF have confirmed that Brexit is already badly damaging the UK's economy

Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, has warned that UK farmers will be the big losers from Brexit. (In French).

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee published a report on sanctions policy post-Brexit.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, has warned that the Brexiters might be coming for your paid holidays.

Finally, I want to make it clear that citizens' rights remain high on my personal list of priorities for 2018. If you know anyone who's worried about their future as an EU citizen in Scotland or as an expat in Europe, please let them know. Let's take the festive period to reflect and recover, and come back ready for 2018.