001Scotlands Place in Europe

Angus MacDonald MSP has backed the Scottish Government’s proposals to stop a hard Brexit at the hands of the Tories, and welcomes plans to keep Scotland in the Single Market.

The paper – “Scotland’s Place in Europe” – was published today (Tuesday) and outlined the SNP’s determination for Scotland to remain in the European single market.

The paper also outlined substantial new powers that should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament as a result of Brexit.

Commenting, SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said:

“On the 23rd of June, it was recognised that Scotland’s feeling and passion for the European Union was different to that of other places in the United Kingdom. Falkirk District voted by a clear 14 point margin to remain in the EU, as part of the wider remain vote with all 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland voting to remain part of the EU.

“I am still of the opinion that full membership of the EU is where Scotland should be, however these proposals make it clear that compromise should be found within the UK Government’s negotiation, rather than the apparent one size fits all approach.

“At present, the hard Brexit being put forward by the right wing of the Tory party is putting jobs and investment at serious risk and that is why the Scottish Government has put these important issues at the centre of the proposals. Anything which threatens the future prosperity of Scotland should be met with the serious consideration and priority it deserves.

“I am also glad to see that these proposals include suggestions of how Scotland can stay in the Single Market, if it is decided the UK is to leave. This, in itself, makes no sense, given the benefits of Single Market membership.

“More importantly, these proposals give the Tory Government at Westminster the opportunity to show it is taking Scotland seriously as an equal partner in this Union. It is now incumbent upon them to take these proposals forward and work with Scotland in order to secure the best option out of an increasingly bad situation.”

Scottish Government document, Scotland’s Place in Europe, can be found here:


Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University, Chair of Standing Council on Europe

“Membership of the European Single Market is vital to the economic future of Scotland and the UK. Without it we risk losing billions of pounds each year in GDP growth. Leaving the Single Market will lose jobs, and through lower tax income it will impact negatively on public services. The Scottish Government’s proposals for Scotland’s future in Europe seek to secure our vital trading relationships with both the EU and the UK, avoiding the impact of a hard Brexit.

“The Scottish Government’s proposals for Scotland’s place in Europe emphasise the vital importance of the UK as a whole remaining within the European Single Market. This will be critically important as the UK moves to trigger Article 50 and begins the Brexit process. In addition, whilst recognising the UK’s desire to leave the EU, it proposes a solid legal and economic framework to accommodate Scotland’s desire to maintain membership of the Single Market should the UK choose to leave the European Economic Area in future Brexit negotiations.”


Professor Sir David Edward, Scottish lawyer and academic and former Judge of the Court of Justice of the European Communities

“The Scottish Government’s paper shows how the well-being of the Scottish economy and Scottish society depend on membership of the EU Single Market and other aspects of European co-operation – notably, security and police co-operation through Eurojust, Europol and the European Arrest Warrant, and scientific and academic collaboration through Horizon 2020 and other programmes. 

“The negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have not begun, and the UK Government has said that it will pay close attention to the views of the Scottish Parliament and Government. So the Scottish Government is both entitled, and indeed honour bound, to put its proposals on the table. Their publication gives everyone the opportunity to comment in good time before the UK Government makes up its mind.

“I believe that the Scottish Government is right to urge the UK Government to maintain the UK’s position within the Single Market, the Customs Union and the various forms of security and police co-operation. That is the primary proposal and I believe it merits the widest support across the political spectrum.

“Failing full UK participation in the Single Market and Customs Union, it becomes essential to explore every possible means by which the damage to the Scottish economy and Scottish society can be mitigated. Of course, the EU has many defects and my criticisms are on record. But the Single Market is a concrete practical achievement, from which Scotland has gained enormously. I believe that the Scottish Government’s proposals, which undoubtedly raise a number of political and legal challenges, deserve impartial consideration.

“The Scottish Government’s paper is the first official paper to address the problems of Brexit. The UK Government has produced no plan, no road-map and no explanation of where we stand.

“So I urge everyone who cares for the future of Scotland to read the Scottish Government’s paper with an open mind.” 

Sebastian Remoy, Independent expert on EEA/EFTA issues

“Given the result in Scotland of the referendum on leaving the EU, it is logical that the Scottish Government would make the case for their nation to have as close an integration with the Single Market as possible.

“Ideally this would be sought together with the rest of the United Kingdom. But should the UK Government opt for a hard Brexit, then it is understandable that Scotland would seek a differentiated solution for as long as it remained in the United Kingdom. There are certain structures already in existence that might indicate ways for this to happen, and it would be odd in this regard for Scottish Government not to have studied very closely the European Economic Area . 

“With a willing attitude on the part of all parties concerned, and a lot of hard work to find creative and workable solutions to tackle some significant practical challenges, there should be ways to enable Scotland to remain economically, socially and politically integrated with the rest of the United Kingdom, whilst at the same time enjoying a high degree of integration in the Single Market.

“To a significant degree this will be a matter of whether the political will exists to bring this about, within the EU and its Member States, in the EFTA States, and most notably, within the UK Government. The paper put forward by the Scottish Government presents a number of interesting and workable ideas and hopefully will be considered very carefully.”

Professor Alan Miller, Special Envoy, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions

“As a member of the Standing Council on Europe I welcome, as part of the Scottish Government's approach to the Brexit negotiations, the inclusion of safeguarding and enhancing human rights and social protections for everyone in Scotland.

“This has been Scotland's journey and should continue to be so.

“I also agree with the case for the transfer of relevant powers to the Scottish Parliament so as to help ensure that this happens.

“In all of the circumstances, not least the expressed wish of the majority of people of Scotland to remain in the EU, it would be both reasonable and sensible for the UK Government to agree with this approach of the Scottish Government.

“Indeed it is to be hoped that the UK Government also commits to extending this approach of safeguarding and enhancing human rights and social protections so that nobody anywhere in the UK is left behind. This is a lesson for us all from the Brexit referendum.”

Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre, Member of the Standing Council

“The potential economic and political harm to Scotland and, indeed, the UK as a whole is caused by the UK Government if there continues to be an ideology-driven pursuit of a ‘hard’ Brexit despite the availability of alternative options.

“Within this context, the Scottish Government is obliged to explore all possible options that can reduce the negative impact on Scotland’s citizens, who voted decisively to remain in the EU. This includes the possibility of Scotland having a different relationship with the EU post Brexit than the rest of the UK.

“The likelihood of any differentiated path for Scotland depends crucially on the UK Government’s willingness to consider the whole range of options within the development of the UK’s negotiating position.”  

Sir Harry Burns, Former Chief Medical Officer, Member of Council of Economic advisers

“I strongly support these proposals aimed at keeping Scotland in the single market,  able to benefit from the four freedoms. These proposals will allow us to maintain the flow of talented clinical and research staff into and from Scotland, and also – critically – to continue to participate in Horizon 2020 as an associated country on equal terms with other EU Member States. Free exchange of clinical staff across Europe is of real importance. It benefits the NHS to have access to a wider range of professionals and it also benefits patients to have free access to care while visiting EU countries

“The European Union has been critical to the development of strong, successful and collaborative research and innovation within Scotland. In the current programme, the latest figures indicate that Scottish organisations have secured almost €296 million, which represents 11.2% of the total funding awarded to UK organisations. Maintaining access to, not just these funds, but to the talented staff and students that enable international collaboration to flourish in Scotland is essential for research and innovation.”

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Robert Gordon University

“In its proposals in 'Scotland's Place in Europe', the Scottish Government has set out some measured and reasonable proposals to protect Scotland's economic and social interests.

“I am particularly pleased that the Government is seeking to ensure that Scotland's universities can continue to benefit from European funds and programmes, and that they can remain part of a European exchange of people and ideas that is so vital for an informed and successful society.”

Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

“As Principal of an outward looking, internationally focused university, I welcome any approach designed to facilitate freedom of movement of people, continued access to European research projects and funding,  and  academic exchanges within Europe. 

“It heartens me that the Scottish Government are making proposals to address such issues. For all universities, including Queen Margaret, the ability to attract European students and staff, and to participate in European-wide research projects, is essential to maximise our ability to contribute to Scotland’s economic development, and to address the challenges facing society.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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