EU negotiations

We are working to ensure that Scotland's voice is heard within the negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union (EU), and to ensure our interests in Europe are understood and protected.

Our priorities

We continue to believe that Scotland's interests are best served by EU membership. While we remain clear that we wish Brexit was not happening and that the UK as a whole was not leaving the EU, our key priorities during the Brexit negotiations are:

  • advocating that the UK remain within the European Single Market and Customs Union, which supports 80,000 jobs in Scotland and many more throughout the UK

  • pursuing a differentiated solution that will enable Scotland to remain within the single market if the rest of the UK leaves

  • ensuring that powers 'repatriated' from Brussels are returned to Scotland, in line with the current devolution settlement, to safeguard Scotland's interests within the UK

In addition to economic issues, EU membership enables member states to act collectively to address major challenges affecting the continent: for example, tacking youth unemployment and dealing with the impacts of climate change. We are continuing to make the case that the broader benefits of EU membership to Scottish society must be maintained.

We seek to protect the rights of non-UK EU citizens in Scotland and of Scots living elsewhere in the EU. We want Scotland to remain a welcoming and outward-looking country, and recognise that EU citizens play a vital role in supporting our economy and growing our population.

The white paper Scotland's Place in Europe outlines our priorities in full.

Scotland's place in Europe: people, jobs and investment presents our latest analysis of implications for Scotland's economy if the UK exits the EU. The publication costs were £10,579.11 (ex. VAT) for the main document and £3,543.44 (ex. VAT) for the summary document.

Scotland's Place in Europe: Security, Judicial Co-operation and Law Enforcement sets out our position about the importance of maintaining a close relationship with the EU in relation to security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation.

Our most recent publication Scotland’s place in Europe: our way forward reaffirms our position and sets out the only credible plan to move forward in the negotiations through the UK’s long-term membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU

The first formal round of Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU took place in Brussels on 19 June 2017. They concerned the Withdrawal Agreement, including citizens' rights, the financial bill and the Irish border.

On 19 March 2018, agreement was reached by the EU and UK negotiators on some aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, notably covering citizens' rights and the financial settlement. There was also an agreement in principle on a transition period. We wrote to the conveners of all of the Scottish Parliament's committees following this agreement. Read the letter: EU withdrawal agreement: letter from Michael Russell to conveners

At the March European Council from 22 to 23 March 2018, the leaders of the other 27 EU member states published guidelines for the future relationship. This gave Michel Barnier a mandate to begin discussions with the UK on the future relationship.

On 12 July 2018, the UK Government published a White Paper setting out proposals for the future relationship between the UK and EU. Discussions on the future relationship, on the basis of the White Paper, and negotiations on the outstanding issues of the withdrawal agreement, are continuing.

On 5 July, the we published our contribution to the UK Government's White Paper on the future relationship with the European Union.

Negotiations between UK administrations

The Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations (JMC(EN)), initially chaired by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, and chaired now by David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was established to provide a means for devolved administrations to be fully engaged in determining the UK's approach to Brexit.

We have been frustrated that the discussions in the JMC(EN) have fallen short of the original aim of the committee and of the Prime Minister's own commitment to 'full involvement' of the devolved administrations. However, we continue to engage in this forum and remain committed to improving dialogue between the administrations.

The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister in February 2018 to appeal for more engagement on Brexit.

Following our repeated calls for broader and deeper engagement, the creation of the Ministerial Forum (EU Negotiations) was established based on proposals from the UK Government. This Forum will sit beneath and complement engagement at the JMC(EN).

To date there have been six meetings of the Ministerial Forum, with the latest meeting taking place in London on 3 December 2018. See the Ministerial Forum (EU Negotiations) Communique for more information. The JMC(EN) last met on the 19 November 2018. See the Joint Ministerial Committee Communique for more information.