Scotland in Europe Update 15th December 2017

As of this afternoon, we are onto phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations. The European Parliament and Council of the European Union have agreed with the Commission’s position. That does not mean a deal is completed on citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial obligations, and the Northern Ireland Border. A number of important issues remain outstanding but enough has been agreed for the dialogue to expand to cover other areas.

I say this through gritted teeth but for good reason. For too many people in the UK, Brexit remains white noise, a false equivalence aided by an industrial-scale spin machine telling us that somehow, we’ll have our cake and eat it; it will be alright on the night because we’re special; we’re British.

We need to see the detail. The line by line, the policy by policy, the nitty-gritty. People need to see what they’re going to lose for Brexit to become real. I spoke about this in the Parliament’s debate this week and you can watch my speech in full here:

You can also read the resolution we agreed to here:

The Council has also put down its criteria for a transition deal. These are very simple: that the UK will take all EU laws plus any new laws during the period; accept the jurisdiction of EU courts; make budget contributions; remain in the single market with freedom of movement; enforce EU customs tariff and duties but will not have any representation. The full guidelines are available here if you want to read.

Yours aye,



The week began with David Davis trying to undermine last week’s agreement between the UK and the Commission. To be clear, if the UK wants a deal at the end of this process, it will honour what has been agreed so far. You can read a full transcript of his comments here:

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar quickly responded, emphasising that both Ireland and the EU will be holding the UK to account. Indeed, the Council today emphasised that “the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible.”

The EU cannot negotiate properly until the UK Government finally confirms what future deal it wants. The Council has made this clear in its Phase 2 mandate. As Janan Ganesh points out, none of these look good.

The European Commission has produced the following 23-page memo on citizens' rights.

Theresa May lost a vote in the House of Commons which now ensures that MPs will have a vote on the final deal. Since the choice will be her deal or no deal this is important but more as an indication of the changing mood of the Commons than anything else.

“Ireland is proving what independence in Europe actually means – solidarity with 26 other member states against the UK” Jamie Ross on Scotland and Brexit is well worth a read.

A study by RAND has concluded that a ‘no deal’ scenario would result in a loss of nearly 5%, or $140 billion of UK GDP.

A senior European Medicines Agency official has warned that the UK’s departure will inevitably harm public health.

Der Spiegel has produced an in-depth piece looking at some of the horrendous harassment of EU citizens which is taking place.

This is very good from Gaby Hinsliff on the intra-Tory machinations.

Ian Blackford, SNP leader in Westminster has written to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to support the SNP to keep Scotland in the Single Market.

Steve Bullock, who was a negotiator for the UK in the EU from 2010-2014, shares his thoughts on Brexit in a podcast for the UK in a Changing Europe.

Katy Hayward and Paul McGrade has written about what it will take to make regulatory alignment between the UK and EU work

Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre on European Relations wrote in the Herald: “the outlook is, rather, for tough talks on a free trade deal that will, if it happens, be enormously damaging to UK trade. And these talks will find it immensely difficult to square the circle on keeping Northern Ireland’s borders, both with Ireland and with the rest of the UK, open and frictionless, as the deal promises.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Convey has said that the UK’s withdrawal from EU could take five years.

Open Europe put together this good overview of the European press response to last week’s deal between the UK and the Commission.

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on Brexit and the UK border.

Mike Russell has confirmed that all devolved powers must remain with Holyrood after Brexit.

“Almost 18 months after the referendum, the Brits have done what every reality-based observer knew they would have to do eventually: they have buckled” concludes Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk.

UKIP's David Coburn clearly shouts "Good, Excellent!" that Dundee can't bid for the massive boost of being EU City of Culture. What an asset for Scotland.

Finally, ilini – a company who teach French – have offered to help the British negotiators learn the language including some handy phrases:

“On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre”: you can’t have your cake and eat it

“Vous pouvez toujours courir”: you can go whistle