Proposals have been put forward by Holyrood concerning Scotland’s position in relation to the European Union (EU) following Britain’s referendum vote to leave the EU in 2016.
These proposals have been compiled into a report titled ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’. The paper, launched on December 20, reiterates the Scottish government’s position that leaving the EU will be harmful to Scotland. It contains strategies to keep Scotland from leaving the European Single Market and to retain the freedom of movement.
The document also provides arguments as to why certain responsibilities governed by EU law should be devolved to Scotland, including those currently within the Scottish Parliament’s competence and power over matters such as immigration and employment law.
The report has been labelled a ‘significant compromise’ by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has also stated that she is not ruling out a second independence vote.
In the press conference accompanying the publishing of the document, Holyrood asked for the same “flexibility” to be shown by the British government in their consideration of the report in forging the plan for Britain’s extraction from the EU.
Sturgeon also stated in the press conference on December 20 that: “The Prime Minister pledged to consider the proposals we brought forward when she came to Scotland in July. I hope she honours that commitment in full. The UK Government response to these proposals will tell us all we need to know about whether we are, in reality, a partnership of equals.”
The feasibility of the proposals outlined in the report has been questioned, however Sturgeon pointed out that the Scottish Government has had prior discussions with single member states of the EU and the European Free Trade Association, and that there is an awareness “that Scotland as a country wants to continue to play a part in the European family of nations.”
In the foreword of the ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ report, Nicola Sturgeon writes that “the Scottish people did not vote for Brexit, and a ‘hard Brexit’ would severely damage Scotland’s economic, social and cultural interests. It will hit jobs and living standards – deeply and permanently. That is why we are so determined to avoid it.”
Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, told The Guardian: “The Prime Minister should know that the SNP and the Scottish Government are not bluffing; we are deadly serious about protecting Scotland’s place in Europe.”
Writing to The Student, the University of Edinburgh has also offered a statement regarding the new proposals in the report. A spokesperson said earlier this week that: “The University of Edinburgh welcomes the very clear recognition of the essential need for freedom of movement of our staff and students which is outlined in the Scottish Government’s publication ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’.
“Our University wishes to maintain our highly productive research links both with institutions in continental Europe and with our very valuable partners across the whole of the UK,” they concluded.
Image: Bryan Jones