Scotland in Europe Update: 8th November 2019

As the UK heads into another election the EU and the Scottish Government are continuing to get on with the day job. The contrast is stark but underneath the tag line there is also a serious point. The UK apparatus has proven itself to be totally unfit for the purpose of governing since 2016. The House of Commons has spent its time arguing about brexit, the government tasking civil servants to prepare for the nightmare of no deal. None of this is useful, nor is it what people in Scotland – or the rest of the UK, for that matter – asked for or want.

As the campaign for Westminster gets under way, what has the Scottish Government been doing? Well, helping end our throwaway culture. Businesses, industry and individuals are being encouraged to seize on the nation’s talent for innovation by re-thinking how we use and reuse materials through a newly proposed legislation on the circular economy. As well as introducing new measures to cut litter and waste, this legislation is part of wider plans to ensure we make better, more environmentally sound use of materials and develop Scotland’s circular economy.

In Brussels the Commission had some big news for Scottish whisky and salmon producers. The EU and China concluded negotiations on a bilateral agreement to protect 100 European Geographical Indications (GI) in China and 100 Chinese GI in the EU against imitations and usurpation. Crucially it includes whisky and salmon. More work needs to be done (we want to see protection of Scotch beef and lamb) but this is a great start and an illustration of the kind of deal only the EU can secure. The UK outside the EU simply does not have this kind of clout on the world stage. Pretending otherwise is simply kidding ourselves.

P.S. If you haven’t already registered to vote, it’s absolutely vital that you do so. Even if you have, make sure you’re still on the register.



You can read all the details of the EU’s deal on GIs here.

And all about the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill here.

Meanwhile the Conservatives have promised not to extend transition beyond the end of next year. If we take this at face value it makes a no deal outcome incredibly likely. There is obviously no way a full trade deal (something far more complicated than the withdrawal agreement) can be negotiated in one year, when a withdrawal agreement hasn't been possible to successfully negotiate in three.

David Allen Green has also written a blog post delving into some of the legal issues surrounding this announcement.

Fabian Zuleeg wrote a thought-provoking piece in the Berlin Policy Journal covering the next stage of the brexit negotiations (assuming they happen) which is well worth a read.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research have also published a solid paper assessing the real trade choices that the UK will face if we don’t stop brexit.

Professor Nicola McEwen asks whether in the UK devolved institutions really have ‘no role’? The short answer is yes: the UK Government can simply ignore the Parliament of Scotland whenever it feels fit.

The current Prime Minister refused to publish a report into Russian political interference.

Politico have published a good piece explaining the context of this, and how the UK has failed to rise to the challenges that we all face.

This excellent brief from the Parliamentary Research service explains exactly what your European Parliament does.

The Parliamentary Research service have also produced a handy guide to patents and brexit.

The Scottish and Irish Governments jointly launched a bilateral review into how Scotland and Ireland can work together over the next five years. The review, announced by Tánaiste Simon Coveney and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, is the first such exercise undertaken by the two countries. It will cover collaboration in key policy areas including trade, research and culture, as well as joint initiatives such as the Irish-Scottish Health Forum.

And finally, the EU confirmed what we all know. Boris Johnson’s deal is a small tweak to Theresa May’s deal.