Scotland in Europe Update: 28th June 2019

This week is a turning point for us here in Brussels. After 21 years of service, Ian Hudghton has left the building. He has put in a brilliant shift for Scotland and we know that we will see him in Brussels and out on the campaign trail in Scotland soon.

Ian Hudghton MEP and Christian Allard MEP

Meanwhile, the three of us were back to work (

Next week, for the first time, an SNP European Group of three MEPs will travel to Strasbourg, and we will be taking part in the opening session of the new parliament. Christian and Aileen will formally become MEPs and the real work begins.

While Brexit takes up all the political bandwidth in the UK, the conversations in Brussels have been focussed on who will be next Presidents of the European Parliament, Council and Commission. These decisions must be made before the legislative process can get up and running and the EU can start to get on with enacting the wishes of the people of Europe.

The big question, the one making crowds whisper in corridors and the political journalists call in all their contacts, is who will be put in charge of the Commission (the EU Civil service), and who will be the Commissioners heading up each department. Right now there is a crowded field and a long way to go before we get answers, but rest assured we will push for an outcome that benefits Scotland. If you want to read more about the process Alyn has written about it here:

So onwards. Next week, our first European Group bulletin from Strasbourg!



If you read one column this week, make it this one from Fintan O'Toole. There is a lot to think about within it:

“For an outsider like me, this is what is actually most interesting about the possibility of Scottish independence. It is not that Scotland might become a new state, but that it might become a new kind of state. For independence to be meaningful, Scotland would have to start with an acknowledgement that many of the things to which it appeals – the power of government, the legitimacy of democratic institutions, the equality of citizens – are in crisis. They cannot be assumed, they have to be radically reinvented.”

The European Commission released its technical assessment of the state of the border in Ireland. The list of co-operative bodies and the descriptions of how EU law underpin the operation of the border are fascinating, if slightly terrifying in the context of Tory politicians asserting blithely that technology will fix it all.

Boris Johnson’s trade plans are so far removed from reality that even Liam Fox is correcting him!

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also confirmed that there is no hope of avoiding tariffs in a 'no deal' scenario.

And Guy Verhofstadt wrote: “reality does not square with Johnson’s ensorceling combination of false promises, pseudo-patriotism, and foreigner bashing. He and his fellow Brexiteers speak of a “Global Britain” that will trade freely with the rest of the world, even as they drag their country down a path strewn with uprooted trade ties and substantial new barriers to commerce.”

If you have the heart, you can read about Johnson’s Brexit plans here, in one of the few interviews he’s granted...

Meanwhile his rival Jeremy Hunt has defended comparing the EU to the Soviet Union

As the Brexiters retreat into their own world, the EU is busy agreeing trade deals, this time with Vietnam.

The Scottish Government have announced the launch of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland. Citizens’ assemblies are becoming an established way for mature democracies to engage with complex and contested issues on an inclusive, informed and respectful basis. That is what we want for Scotland.

Congratulations to Edinburgh University for their inclusion in the first network of European Universities announced this week by the EU Commission. This is an initiative that seeks to redesign the European education sector and has secured €5 million of funding.

The Finnish Presidency of the European Union is about to start, and will focus on producing a sustainable Europe.

Ahead of the final British Irish Council before a new Prime Minister takes office, the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers released a statement that: “the new Prime Minister must change course and rule out ‘no deal’ under any circumstances.”

But Johnson has said that he would only appoint Cabinet Ministers willing to commit to a no-deal exit.

The European Parliament have released a handy explainer of what the President of the Parliament does and how they are elected.

Erika Szyszczak, Research Professor in Law at the UK Trade Policy Observatory, has written a very useful piece on dispute resolution in EU trade agreements.

“Talk of ‘seizing the opportunities’ of Brexit is cheap: there are fewer of them around than there used to be.” John Springford, Sam Lowe are correct, Brexit may be a bad thing done badly, but it is also being tried at the worst possible time.

Almost two thirds of union members back another referendum.

Andrew Tickell wrote a powerful column arguing that “the gulf separating how politics is transacted in London and Edinburgh grows wider and wider.”

The House of Commons Library have released a handy reading list of post-EU Referendum publications by Parliament and the Devolved Assemblies.

The House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee took evidence on the impact of a no deal on the service sector.