Scotland in Europe update 24th February

The EU has begun to get down to the nitty gritty details and has confirmed that they see the UK paying about €60 billion before leaving. It is not a simple process (the explanation from Politico that I have included covers it well) but remember this is just the first step. Nothing else can be discussed until this is agreed to by the UK. That means that for now all talk of trade deals, discussion over cross border healthcare, farming, environmental regulation, workers’ rights or consumer rights are just pipe dreams.

There is still a long way to go. 

I’ve spent this week travelling around Scotland, meeting with various constituents and organisations. A highpoint was Wednesday, when I spoke at the SCVO’s ‘The Gathering’ event urging charities to be vocal in the upcoming months. It was inspiring to meet so many from the charity sector working hard to improve the lives of people in their communities. Brexit is not only going to cause as yet unknown economic damage which will make their work even more difficult but will also completely re-write their funding regulations. Remember, if you’re quiet, decisions will be made on your behalf, so I need you to tell me what your priorities are, especially those in the Third Sector. We need to all work together to ensure that the most vulnerable are not hit the hardest.

As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more at



It will take longer than two years to negotiate Brexit, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

He also confirmed that the UK would have to pay a “hefty” bill.

Which Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern then stated would be around €60bn.

Politico provided a very useful explanation: 

“In short, the EU is not asking the U.K. to pay “for its exit” but simply to pay for commitments that have already been signed. That’s because the fiendishly complex EU budget process requires member countries to make payments both for expenditure due in a particular year and much (higher) contributions for expenses falling due in later years.

“So, to be clear, the EU doesn’t want Britain to contribute to the EU budget after the exit date but to honour what’s already been agreed.”

France, Germany, Italy and Spain are going to hold a mini-summit to discuss how they see the future of the EU.

It is time for the third sector “to stand up” and get involved in the Brexit debate, according to Professor Alan Miller, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission. I couldn’t agree more.

Theresa May’s Brexit plan is “not just hard, but also difficult” according to Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform.

Underneath the headline figures signs of the damage Brexit will cause are beginning to appear.

This is supported by the experience of “over a third of UK SMEs [that] have been negatively impacted by Brexit”, according to World First’s Global Trade Barometer.

You can read the thoughts of Joan McAlpine MSP and I here:

“The first priority must be ensuring the exit process is a smooth as possible,” says Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors.

Four in ten doctors from the rest of the EU are considering leaving the UK in the aftermath of the referendum.

600,000 patients could miss out on potentially life-saving clinical trials, according to the Wellcome Trust.

The Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre produced a briefing discussing Scottish Agriculture and Brexit.

David Mundell attempted to defend the UK Government’s Brexit plan before the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

Concerns over the negative impact of a hard Brexit are growing in Ireland.

The EU has attempted to reassure concerns in Ireland by emphasising that they do “not want to have a hard border”.

One possible solution is to have a ‘virtual’ border to manage customs arrangements.

Bruegel has produced an assessment of the consequences of the UK’s proposal to leave Euratom. To be clear, there is no mandate for this!

Sir Ivan Rogers, the former UK ambassador to the EU, patiently explained to Eurosceptic MPs how the EU works.

Dr Kirsty Hughes and Dr Tobias Lock have co-authored a paper entitled “An Independent Scotland and the EU: What Route to Membership?”

The EU expects the negotiations for the UK’s departure to be undertaken in Brussels.

Finally, the Institute of International & European Affairs has published this handy Brexit timeline.