Scotland in Europe Update: 15th November 2019

Last night at 5pm the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the UK, following its failure to name a candidate for EU Commissioner. The UK authorities have until Friday 22 November to respond.

In many ways this case epitomises the UK Government’s approach to Brexit. The UK could have appointed somebody, been a good European ally to our friends and neighbours and carried on with the business of a general election. Excuses have been offered that the appointment couldn’t be made during purdah when political activity is restricted, but the reality is we have known about this for a long time. In fact, we recall discussing it shortly after Aileen and Christian first arrived in Brussels as MEPs, which feels like a long time ago!


The European Commission has also seen this coming and included this in the agreement to extend article 50. Remember, this is an agreement that both the EU council and UK Government signed up to:

 “This further extension cannot be allowed to undermine the regular functioning of the Union and its institutions. Furthermore, it will have the consequence that the United Kingdom will remain a Member State until the new withdrawal date, with full rights and obligations in accordance with Article 50 TEU, including the obligation to suggest a candidate for appointment as a member of the Commission.”

You can read more on the case from the European Commission here:

Since the UK agreed there can be no excuse. This latest petulant strop from the UK Government is a waste of time and money, and is a direct example of  the UK Government refusing to behave responsibly. As we said, their approach to Brexit summed up in one short case!



Though it has been slightly overtaken by events, the Institute for Government’s explanation of the issues surrounding the appointment of a Commissioner is worth a read.

Fifteen trading partners are seeking compensation from the UK and EU because of the Brexit uncertainty that has disrupted pre-Christmas trade. These countries, including the US, India, Australia and New Zealand raised their concerns at today’s meeting of the World Trade Organization’s goods council. The Australian representative emphasised that many Australian businesses had simply stopped exports of valuable beef and sheep meat ahead of Christmas because of uncertainty.

Vote Leave also lost a judicial review against the Electoral Commission this week. We think the Commission themselves said it best so here is their full statement:

“The Court of Appeal has today (12 November 2019) found against Vote Leave and confirmed that we have the power to publish our investigation findings. Specifically the court agreed that we could publish details of our investigation into electoral law offences committed by Vote Leave during the 2016 EU referendum. Our ability to investigate, impose sanctions and publicise our investigations incentivises parties and campaigners to comply with electoral law. Such transparency and clarity is also in the public interest and underpins confidence in the democratic process.”

The NFU have published their General Election manifesto. Broadly speaking it is welcome and we support their call to uphold our current European standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety.

The UK Government acted “beyond the conventions of its authority” by demanding specific names be removed from a report into Russian influence on UK politics by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, according to sources close to the Committee.

The Labour Party suffered a major cyber-attack this week.

The European Parliament Brexit Steering Group met this week to confirm what issues the European Parliament still had with the Withdrawal Agreement. Key issues include: the independence of the Independent Monitoring Authority; possible consequences for EU citizens who fail to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the application deadline; and absence of a physical document. There is more work to be done and your SNP MEPs will continue to stand up for the rights of all EU citizens.

Tesla has opened a factory in Berlin rather than the UK because of Brexit.

The UK job market has continued to weaken.

Donald Tusk has called on Remainers in the UK not to give up on stopping Brexit.

The Commission have put together a short guide to how the EU negotiates and concludes trade agreements. Since we are coming up to decision around the deal that has been negotiated with Vietnam (and potential negotiations between the UK and EU) it is well worth a read.

Open Europe have put together a good summary of issues the UK will face after the General Election is over.