Standing Council on Europe in a race against time to determine options for Scotland
THE EXPERTS investigating how best to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe have published details of their early progress.
The Scottish Government established Standing Council on Europe was set up in June when Scotland voted to remain in the EU as the rest of the UK voted to leave.
The group, composed of 18 figures from politics, diplomacy, business and research sectors, was tasked with examining the options for Scotland’s future.
This includes asserting the country’s priorities during future negotiations, and examining whether Scotland can remain within the EU.
Minutes of the council’s second meeting have been published by the government, providing greater detail on how exactly the work is being carried out.
On 29 August members met with four Scottish Government ministers – Nicola Sturgeon, Fiona Hyslop, Alasdair Allan, and Michael Russell.
Sturgeon gave a short introduction. The meeting was before Theresa May’s recent announcement that Article 50 will be triggered before the end of March 2017.
Following a presentation by Professor Drew Scott of Edinburgh University, the meeting discussed remaining part of the single market “on a UK or differentiated basis”, engaging with EU states directly, and forming working groups.
The four working groups focused on the economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote.
Without a UK negotiating position there remains continued uncertainty for financial services, exports, manufacturing, agriculture, science and university sectors and EU nationals.
With the two year period of negotiations expected to begin by March next year, the council has only a limited time to carry out wide ‘sectoral analysis’ of the economic impact of various Brexit possibilities on areas of specific importance to people in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is then faced with the task of trying to influence the UK Government and the EU to recognise and prioritise those interests. Four of the five parties in the Scottish Parliament – all except the Tories – backed a plan to try and keep Scotland in the European Union.
Sturgeon said following the referendum result that a second independence referendum was “highly likely”.
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