This week I have been back in Strasbourg for a plenary session and got a lot of good work done. It was great to be back at the centre of Europe, working with MEPs from across the continent to deliver on the big challenges we all face.
The European Parliament’s resolution on EU-Iran relations was passed which marks a significant step forward in our approach to the middle east. You’ll be able to read more of my thoughts in my National column next Tuesday.
The day after I was delighted that the Parliament supported a resolution calling for the Commission to establish an EU wide legal limit on industrial trans fats or trans fatty acids (TFAs). I have been campaigning on this issue for almost a decade. Although we have seen from the experience of Denmark that this policy can work at a member state level modern supply chains mean that it can only be truly effective if restrictions are applied across the Single Market. www.alynsmith.eu/european_parliament_action_on_trans_fats_welcomed_by_snp
Both of these are of overshadowed as Brexit rumbles on.
There are so many issues that we can, and indeed must, work together with our European partners to tackle yet instead we face the realities of Brexit Britain. Scotland voted to remain and so I shall continue to be Scotland’s voice in the EU and indeed, fight to ensure that Scotland’s voice continues to be heard despite the efforts of the UK government.
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her view that a ‘flexible’ Brexit could allow us to protect Scotland’s interests. “The situation we now find ourselves in demands cool heads and clear thinking… I have made clear that Scotland must be able to consider independence if it becomes clear that it is the best or the only way of protecting our interests. The draft referendum bill published for consultation last week is designed to allow that choice to be made, if necessary, before the UK leaves the EU.”
In response to the falling Pound, Microsoft has raised its prices for companies by between 13% and 22%.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has emphasised: “There’s more to Brexit than business, just ask the third sector”. I couldn’t agree more and intend to work closely with the third sector to protect their interests as best as I can. I have already spoken to events hosted by STRiVE and the SCVO but I am keen to hear more. If you know anyone working in the sector who has worries about specific areas then please encourage them to get in touch. The more we all know, the more we can work together to protect Scotland’s interests.
Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Russell met with Theresa May in Downing Street.
After the meeting there was coverage across Europe of the First Minister's remarks:
Handelsblat went as far as to say “Scotland’s prime minister and her pragmatic approach are the last, greatest hopes for a continued, united Europe.”
Ireland has been staking out its claim to the EU agencies currently based in the UK. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan offered Ireland as the possible future location of the European Banking Authority.
Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond argued that Ireland should become home to the European Medical Agency (EMA).
Applications from EU students are down by 9% after Brexit vote, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement.
Full Fact concluded that the UK government’s claim that five out of six EU immigrants could stay in the UK was “not fully substantiated by the evidence.” This shouldn’t surprise anyone since the UKIP agenda that is now Tory policy wasn't exactly grounded in fact. The UK government should be providing reassurance to EU citizens, but through concrete promises, not dubious statistics.