Scottish Government meet Belgian foreign minister for Brexit talks 


Fiona Hyslop MSP welcomed to talks with Belgian depute leader in Brussels

SCOTLAND’S FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVE to protect links with the European Union has been welcomed by another European Government. 

Didier Reynders, the deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister for Belgium, hosted the Scottish Government for talks on Brexit and the single market in the nation’s capital yesterday (Monday 16 January). 

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, has led the Scottish Government effort with member states since Scotland voted in favour of remaining inside the European Union. 

Reynders, describing Hyslop as the “Scottish Foreign Affairs minister”, said their meeting discussed “Brexit”, the “Single Market”, and the “relation of Scotland with the EU”. 

The high level official meetings represent a significant diplomatic shift since the independence referendum of 2014, when states and EU institutions were cautious about intervening or engaging with the Scottish Government, for fear of upsetting relations with the UK Government. 

Hyslop also met with the Centre for European Policy Studies and addressed an audience at Europa Scotland, both on the government’s proposals to maintain close links with the European Union.

Since the EU referendum result First Minister Nicola Sturgeon or Hyslop have met government ministers from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden, Malta, Belgium, Iceland, and Norway. 

Sturgeon also met with the president of the EU Commission and the European Parliament in her trip to Brussels shortly after the result. 

The Scottish Parliament voted by 93 votes to 0 against (with 31 abstentions) in June 2016 for the Scottish Government “to have discussions with the UK Government, other devolved administrations, the EU institutions and member states to explore options for protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU”. 

The meeting with the Belgian government is particularly significant as it is a country with significant tensions between national-regions, Wallonia and Flanders. It may, therefore, have been expected to less welcoming of Scotland’s diplomatic efforts.  

Picture courtesy of Belgian Foreign Office 

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