Scotland in Europe Update 19th January 2018

“The European ideal has always been inspired by a spirit of optimism and a belief in a better future. While that ideal has been tested, it has not been broken. And based on the achievements of the past, we have a renewed appetite to face the challenges of the future.”

These are the words with which the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, began his speech on the future of the EU in the European Parliament this week.

In an impressive speech he laid out his vision for the future, urging us all to “put fire back in the engine of our Social Europe”. I just wish that an independent Scotland was there alongside Ireland at the heart of the EU, and could play a part in that conversation, rather than being dragged to the door by the UK Government.

Instead, in the absence of any serious work from the UK Government, the Scottish Government has published its own assessment on what impact leaving the EU will have on Scotland:

This lays out, in detail, the challenges we face. We’re looking at a £12.7 billion per year cost to Scotland, thanks to reduced economic output. This is going to have a huge impact on individuals and companies across the country. It shows that not only are migrants a benefit to our country culturally but also economically. On average, each additional EU citizen working in Scotland contributes a further £34,400 in GDP. That includes £10,400 paid in taxes per additional EU citizen, funds going towards our NHS and public services.

Our European friends, family and neighbours are a boon, not a burden. We should be grateful that they’ve come here and are part of our communities.

The UK has announced that it would like to remain a part of the EU’s trade deals during the transition period but it is not yet clear how this can be done.

Donald Tusk has again emphasised that the UK could change its mind and stay in the EU.

Leo Varadkar has warned that a Hard Brexit will be ‘catastrophic’ for Ireland.

Thirty cross-party MEPs, including me, have written to David Davis urging him to keep the charter of fundamental rights as a part of UK law.

The Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee has been told that leaving Erasmus+ would be a “major disaster” for schools and colleges in Scotland.

The fall of Carillon has been the focus of the news this week and it is worth remembering the role that Brexit has played in its downfall.

The Tory MPs with seats in Scotland chose the UK government's interests over their constituencies: voting down amendments to the great repeal bill that could have prevented a Westminster power grab.

The SCVO have launched a website with the aim of helping third sector employers and employees understand Brexit, the changes affecting EU citizens, and how we can support them to continue to feel welcome and valued in Scotland.

A new ferry link between Ireland and Spain has been created to enable firms to bypass the UK after Brexit.

Andrew Duff of the European Policy Centre has undertaken a detailed analysis of what could happen if Britain changed its mind about Brexit.

“The British government has made a series of very welcome and important commitments. But of course, giving effect to those commitments will be extremely challenging,” warned Rory Montgomery, Second Secretary General at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland (one of Ireland’s leading Brexit negotiators).

Danuta Hübner MEP - chair of the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee which is overseeing the Brexit process - has written her thoughts about how Brexit is progressing.

The ‘wreckage’ left behind by US President Trump will be easier to repair than Brexit, according the Chief Executive Officer of Airbus.

The Chair of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment subcommittee has written to the Undersecretary of State for the Environment, outlining a series of concerns regarding the importing and exporting of waste post-Brexit.

A number of UK nationals living in the Netherlands are going to court to challenge whether or not they can legally lose their rights as a result of Brexit.

Lloyd’s of London is on track to start work in Brussels next January.

Citigroup will also have its new European hub in Frankfurt operational this year.

Dr Lisa Mckenzie, a lecturer in Sociological Practice at Middlesex University, has published some interesting research on why working-class people voted for Brexit.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, has warned that only staying in the single market will guarantees workers’ rights.

Following the launch of Scotland’s Place in Europe, Anton Muscatelli, Chair of the Scottish Government’s Standing Council on Europe, has warned of the dangers of leaving the Single Market.

Spain was picked as the future home of an EU data centre hosting information gathered by the EU’s satellite program which is leaving the UK after Brexit.

Facebook has launched a new investigation into Russian meddling in the EU Referendum.

And finally, the European Court of Human Rights (part of the Council of Europe, not the EU) has published these handy fact sheets explaining the various rights we enjoy because we are signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights.