EU countries ‘want closer engagement with Scotland’.
More than 200 engagements between Scottish Government ministers and European governments, institutions and organisations have taken place since the start of 2017.
The ‘strong desire’ to connect with Scotland and listen to our views signals that the EU continues to see Scotland as an important partner – according to External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop.
In just 16 months, Scottish Government ministers have initiated or accepted more than 200 meetings and visits with European partners, which on average means a European engagement has taken place at least three times per week.
As she marked Europe Day 2017 – a day to celebrate the shared history and culture of EU members – Ms Hyslop said the Scottish Government would be stepping up its engagement with EU countries still further, and that it was more important than ever for Scotland’s voice to be heard.
Ms Hyslop said:
“The strong desire by our European partners to engage has never been greater.
People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and there were majorities for remain in every local authority area. We are determined to make Scotland’s voice heard as we enter a crucial stage in the Brexit negotiations and will be stepping up our engagement plans.
“Whatever the outcome, it is essential that we continue our collaboration, friendship and partnership with EU nations.
“Our knowledge, expertise and leadership in many areas of shared interest – such as rural economic development, climate change, innovation and culture – mean the soft power influence we exert is significant.
“Leaving the EU is against the democratic will of the people of Scotland, but we also firmly believe it is the wrong course for the UK as a whole. The continued membership of the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone, and customs union is essential for our economy, society and people.
“Yet what is also clear is that, despite the threat of Brexit, Scotland’s interconnections with EU countries can and must remain strong. Through all avenues, channels and networks available, we are taking steps to safeguard these critical relationships.”
Scottish Government EU engagements since the start of 2017 have included:
- The opening of Scottish Government Hubs in Berlin and Dublin
- First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s visits to Dublin, Bonn and Utrecht
- Engagements by the First Minister and Michael Russell in Brussels
- High level meetings by Fiona Hyslop in Paris, The Hague and Berlin
- Engagements by Europe Minister Alasdair Allan in Oslo, Riga and Bratislava
- Hosting an Arctic Circle gathering in Edinburgh
- Hosting visits by delegations from EU member states and institutions to Scotland
- Co-hosting in Edinburgh the OECD Rural Development Conference
- Briefing sessions with the Scotland-based Consular Corps
- Meetings between Scottish Ministers and EU Ambassadors
In addition to these ministerial contacts, there are numerous day to day, official-to-official contacts on a diverse range of policy areas.
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