Publication - Corporate report

Brexit: protecting what matters - what's at stake for individuals in the Brexit talks

Published: 29 Mar 2018
External Affairs Directorate
Part of:
Brexit, Economy, International

This report looks at the key issues for individuals as a result of the UK decision to leave the EU.

32 page PDF

6.2 MB

32 page PDF

6.2 MB

Brexit: protecting what matters - what's at stake for individuals in the Brexit talks
My Quality Of Life

32 page PDF

6.2 MB

My Quality Of Life

Being able to enjoy a high quality of life where our rights are protected

Much of what constitutes our quality of life is linked to our membership of the EU. In many areas we have taken this for granted for years.

Right now many aspects of our daily lives are shaped by the EU. At home we enjoy affordable food and drink which combines some of the world's best ingredients with the highest safety and consumer protection standards, we go and see world class performers from the EU whether on stage or in sport; and our lives are enriched by rubbing shoulders with neighbours from elsewhere in the EU. Abroad, it is as common for many people to plan a break in Brittany, a meeting in Munich, or retirement in the south of Spain, as it is when they get there to enjoy affordable phone-calls and the peace of mind of reciprocal health care.

EU rules help protect many aspects of our everyday lives. The list is very long. We can buy products online from any other EU country and be confident that our consumer rights are protected. What we buy within the EU has to meet the EU's very high safety and quality standards. Everything we buy online or over the phone must include the option for us to change our mind.

EU free movement of people has brought crucial staff to our hospitals and care homes. If we do travel abroad, EU competition and aviation agreements have led to an increase in low cost airlines offering many more flights at much cheaper prices. If our flight is delayed or cancelled we are entitled to compensation. The abolition of data roaming charges means that we can use our mobile phones in the EU at the same prices as at home. We have free access to emergency medical care if we need it while traveling or working in other EU countries.

Brexit May Mean:

  • Losing certain rights and protections for example, as consumers of goods and services, or as workers;
  • Reduced food quality and product safety standards, driven in part by trade deals with third countries, or a drive to reduce perceived burdens on UK businesses;
  • Reduced access to or higher prices for European products, e.g. food and drink;
  • Paying more and taking longer to travel abroad;
  • Losing easy access to medical care while traveling in the EU; and
  • Reduced availability of goods and services which are reliant on EU workers.

Protecting What Matters

No solution short of continuing as EU members could resolve all of these issues, including protecting the full range of our rights as EU citizens. Anything else will be second best.

Staying in the single market would however make a very big difference. It would allow us to retain our rights as consumers, preserve inexpensive travel, ensure continued availability of a wide range of goods, at affordable prices and, crucially, allow for the movement of people which makes such a positive difference to many aspects of our lives. It would also guarantee high levels as now of food standards, product safety and environmental protection.

In addition, the Scottish Government will argue that whatever form Brexit takes, the UK should continue to cooperate closely with the EU on issues that will affect people's prosperity, well-being and quality of life. For example we want to ensure that Scots travelling to EU countries continue to have access to reciprocal healthcare and that there are no delays to people receiving vital drug treatments which have been licensed by the European regulatory system.

We shall continue to insist that the Scottish Parliament retains its current powers over issues such as food safety, composition and labelling and the environment. And we will also work to prevent unfettered deregulation of businesses within the UK which results in poorer levels of public protection and prevents intervention in the market when it is needed to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

Scotland's health workforce benefits enormously from the contribution made by staff from across the EU. That's why the Scottish Government has committed to looking to pay a 'settled status' fee for any EU citizen working in the devolved public services in Scotland.

Nurse and midwifery numbers in Scotland are up 3.8%, and NHS Scotland staffing as a whole has increased by over 10% under this administration: a record high. We will do everything we can to ensure Scotland can continue to attract NHS staff from the EU. Nurses in Scotland are currently better paid than their counterparts in England, and our commitments on NHS pay will continue to ensure no detriment.

We are also making the case for more flexibility in the UK migration system, to allow Scotland to recruit and retain EU staff in our hospitals and community services post-Brexit.

What People Say

The examples below capture what individuals are saying to us in their own words about what's at stake for their quality of life:

Graham, 40, Financial Services, Edinburgh. 'I've lived in a number of EU countries in the past and regularly fly to different cities for work and weekend breaks. I'm getting married later this year and my fiancé and I are looking to book a honeymoon in Europe for summer 2019. I couldn't care less what colour my passport is – what I want to know is whether I'll be able to book this trip of a lifetime.'

Mags, 40, Child care, Edinburgh. Mags and her family are worried about the implications for Rocky the family spaniel who holds an EU pet passport. 'We regularly take Rocky back to see my family in Ireland. Although we have been assured that there will be a solution to the border issue I'm also worried we won't be able to take him to France for our next camping holiday.'

Eva, 38, Engineering, Edinburgh. 'I'm especially concerned about the living cost increase and extra bureaucracy affecting my living standards. At the moment we import food products such as fruits, vegetables and oil through the European Single Market at zero cost. However, if there' are tariffs on trade being imposed on UK companies, then, I can expect prices going up. I also have a particular concern on the introduction of GM crops in the UK.'

Case Study

Yvonne, 61, Crofter, Highland And Islands

Yvonne, 61, Crofter, Highland And Islands

Yvonne and her husband have a croft and are active members of the local crofting township. They breed Cheviot sheep, pedigree Highland cattle, and have a share in the local sheep stock club. Yvonne is also chair of the local Common Grazings Committee.

She has concerns regarding her consumer rights especially in relation to food and the environment:

'I think our rights – consumer, environmental, human and workers' – will be exploited at all levels. I'm concerned by the possibility of lower levels of food quality due to a decrease in food standards that might come from, for instance, a US trade deal. You hear about issues like chlorinated chicken, I don't want food full of chemicals. I fear that environmental rights may also be reduced. I think our rights; consumer, environmental, human, and workers', will be exploited at all levels.'

She has concerns about the future of trading livestock with the EU, which has implications for her business:

'A large percentage of lambs go to EU markets. The EU regulates the laws on standards, like tagging livestock and import/export rules. We would need to adhere to the same rules to be able to export to the EU. However, there could be tariffs imposed making the existing livestock export trade commercially unviable. The existing UK rules are already in alignment with the EU. There are farmers in the EU who are very interested in pedigree Highland cattle. If you are exporting pedigree stock and sheep to the EU there is a process that is well established. If that link is broken and the UK decides that they don't need such stringent standards then the alignment will be broken and the market probably lost.'

She fears that the worst case scenario is the loss of sheep and cattle markets in the EU:

'I think the EU, through subsidies and support, gave Scotland and crofting a place. Crofting is carried out in marginal rural areas. Reduced population especially of young people would negatively impact the culture of crofting and families in the Highlands & Islands, and if families leave how are we going to keep the local amenities such as shops and schools open?'