Scotland in Europe Update 23rd March 2018

Welcome to this week’s Scotland in Europe update. Today my thoughts are with the people of France following the events in Trèbes. Speculation helps no one and so all we can do at this stage is give our condolences to those involved and keep them in our thoughts.

I also want to thank the many people who have been getting in touch to let me know how useful these updates have been. Your kind words are very much appreciated! 

In Brussels there have been two major developments. The first is that the EU27 and the UK have agreed a transition agreement… well they have agreed some of a transition agreement:

As Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator for the EU, said “we are not at the end of the road” but there is some good news. The confirmation that EU citizens coming to the UK will enjoy the same rights as those having arrived before the start of the transition is welcome, as is the clarity on the financial settlement.

However, if you clicked on the link you will see there are an awful lot of sections that remain in white, rather than green or yellow. This means they have not yet been agreed on. The most significant of these is the border on the island of Ireland. The can has been kicked a little further down the road because the UK has not yet accepted that its proposals for a future trade deal are incompatible with avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

This was emphasised further when the EU Council today agreed on guidelines for the negotiation of the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

Because of the UK’s self-imposed red lines, all that is on offer is a basic free trade deal that will be very damaging to Scotland’s economy. But none of this is over and there are some major hurdles to overcome before the end of the process.



The Scottish Parliament has passed a Continuity bill which will ensure that Scots law continues to operate effectively following withdrawal, should the Parliament be unable to consent to provisions in the UK Government’s withdrawal bill.

Why would the SNP want to be in the EU, but not the UK? I’m glad you asked!

The Inner House of the Court of Session have accepted our appeal on the revocability of Article 50. I and the other plaintiffs welcome the judgment and are heartened by many of the comments, especially Lord Carloway's statement that the issue is "of great importance".

The transition deal is too late to prevent businesses leaving the UK because of Brexit. 

“Put simply, the [UK] government are still in denial concerning what Brexit means and the kind of future relationship [which] might be available.” This is the view of Brigid Laffan, Director and Professor at the Robert Schumen Centre.

Katie Daughen of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has warned that there is no technology smart enough to solve the issues surrounding the Irish Border.

Charles Grant agrees that the Irish border issue is still where the whole deal could come unravelled.

I am proud to co-sign a letter from MEPs to the UK Government calling for clarity on the risks to Scots and Brits across the rest of the EU if Brexit happens. We will not allow their rights to be forgotten.

The House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee has recommended (despite dissent from the Brexiters) that “the Government should seek a limited extension to the Article 50 time to ensure that an agreement on the Future EU-UK Partnership is sufficiently detailed and comprehensive.”

The Economic and Social Research Institute has concluded that “Brexit price increases could affect poorer households most”

Skoda is to stop approving its cars in the UK due to Brexit.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has contradicted Theresa May in regard to the role that the European Court of Justice will have after Brexit.

Yorkshire and Humber MEP Richard Corbett, has warned that fish exports are under threat since “around 80 per cent of our fish is exported, most of it into the EU.” He went on to warn that “If tariffs are imposed then it will be a problem – these tariffs vary from five per cent for fresh salmon to up to 25 per cent for certain types of processed seafood.”

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are under pressure to explain what influence they have had on UK and US elections and referenda. 

The Institute for Government have put together a report on the negotiating stance of the EU27. 

It is worth noting that independent Ireland is enjoying solid support from across the EU.

Youth organisations are campaigning against the UK’s withdrawal form Erasmus+.

Showing that even the Brexit process is not without a sense of irony, the UK’s new Blue Passports will be made by a Franco-Dutch company.

"Never in British history have so many been lied to so much by so few," says Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex, in a spirited defence of migration.

Finally, Mairi Gougeon MSP has put together a list of 12 examples of projects that the EU funds across Scotland.