So, 2017 is here and it is going to be an important busy year for both Scotland and Europe.
It’s still January but already we’ve seen new developments. Malta has taken up the Presidency of the Council which confers upon the member state the authority to set the agenda, chair the meetings and generally develop the long-term priorities of the EU. It is far from a symbolic role.
Malta’s population is under 430,000 and they are in a position to exert real influence over the Brexit process. Whatever happens over the next few months, it should give us plenty to think about – for example, what an independent Scotland with a population of more than five million could achieve as a member of the EU. You can read a few more of my thoughts on this here:
Back in the UK Theresa May has still not outlined her Brexit strategy. The Pound reacted and fell again, she has promised to explain more next Tuesday, I don’t hold out much hope for good news.
As always, I’ll be sure to keep you up to date over the next year. Events will move fast so if you have friends who are interested feel free to pass this on and encourage them to sign up at:
Sir Ivan Rogers resigned as UK ambassador to the EU. His resignation letter is remarkable but mild compared to what I've heard privately several times from UK officials.
Sterling fell to a two month low as investors worried about Brexit.
Next week the European Parliament will elect a new President, you can read about the candidates in this article from politico.
The Green MEP running for the job has argued that Scotland’s voice must “be heard” in the negotiations.
Philippe Lamberts, the co-chair of the European Green Party/European Free Alliance, has said that he sees no obstacle to an independent Scotland joining the EU.
A record-breaking 733,060 Irish passports were issued last year.
This profound op-ed by Lord Kerr puts probing questions on the Brexit talks to Theresa May's Government. Lord Kerr was British representative to the EU (1990-5) and FCO permanent undersecretary (1997-2002)
75% of EU academics from the remaining 27 members have said they are “more likely to consider leaving” along with 40% of UK academics. These were the stark findings of a survey commissioned by the University and College Union
The Irish Government has sought reassurance that, as was the case in Germany, should Ireland unify then the North would be speedily brought into the EU post-Brexit.
A legal challenge in Ireland to ascertain whether Article 50 is revocable will be launched by the end of January.
Andrea Leadsom has promised a Brexit bonfire of regulation for farmers. Though there is always room to improve regulations she is proposing a wholesale removal of the environmental protections that are essential for the long term sustainability of farming in Scotland.
It is worth remembering how little she understands Scotland’s upland farmers. Whilst campaigning to leave she said “big fields do the sheep and those with the hill farms do the butterflies.”
New Zealand is looking to secure a trade deal with the EU quickly. New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English was in Brussels this week where he told reporters “when they are ready we’ll negotiate with the UK.” I am not sure that Theresa May is ready yet!
Japan is hoping to secure a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2017.
The Norwegian PM has warned that due to the lack of negotiating experience in the UK she fears a “very hard Brexit.”
Ireland should cut its ties with Brexit Britain is the view of Phil Hogan, Ireland’s EU Commissioner. It is an important reality check for London and contains a number of pointers for Scotland.
Because of leaving the EU the UK could lose nearly €40bn euros of funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds, and the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund according to the House of Commons Research Library.
On the 3rd February EU leaders will once again meet with the UK.
UCL have put together a detailed report on Brexit and Article 50.
The UK in a Changing Europe have also put together a summary of where they see events six months after the vote.
“Scotland knows what it wants with the EU, while London seems still not to know” is the view of the Centre for European Policy Studies.
Freedom of movement “is not something which can be traded away against trade principles or pressures alone” is the view of says Colin Imrie, policy analyst.