Scottish Government events in Brussels: 2018

A record of the events we held at Scotland House in Brussels in 2018.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation visit – 17-18  December

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy visited Brussels to attend the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council at which catch limits for 2019 were agreed. He met the European Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, on the margins of the Council and also co-hosted, along with the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, the annual Fisheries Reception in Scotland House Brussels.

Fisheries Reception – 17 December

To coincide with the conclusion of the first day of the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Scotland House Brussels and the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation invited key stakeholders to the annual Fisheries Reception, hosted by the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP, and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science visit – 10-11 December

Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, led a delegation of leading figures in education, research and science to underline the message to Brussels and the European Commission that Scotland’s universities will remain open and welcoming after Brexit.

The Minister hosted a lunchtime discussion with multiple stakeholders which emphasised strong collaboration with researchers in EU countries and that Scotland will continue to welcome EU citizens to study or work in our universities.

The visit also provided the opportunity to emphasise Scotland’s reputation for research excellence and the future relations between Scotland and the EU regarding EU research and innovation policy and programmes.

Minister for Community Safety visit – 6-7 December

Ash Denham MSP, Minister for Community Safety, visited the Christmas Market on the evening of 6 December, and she also attended the Justice Day of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7 December, using the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders. 

Christmas market – 6 December

Scotland House Brussels joined a number of other country and regional representations including the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels and Wales House to host a Christmas market on the Schuman Roundabout, at the heart of the European Quarter. Guests at the Christmas market were treated to a range of seasonal and local delicacies from across Europe.

Scotland House Discussion Series: Driving Fair Work – 4 December 

The Scotland House Discussion Series continued as Co-Chairs of Scotland’s Fair Work Convention, Professor Patricia Findlay and Grahame Smith, and Linda Murray, Head of Strategy Services for Scottish Enterprise engaged in a debate on the potential of and challenges in developing a fair work agenda for Scotland.

The speakers briefly discussed the purpose of Scotland’s Fair Work Convention and Fair Work Framework, and outlined the efforts to develop a wider movement in support of fair work, and reflect on the potential of – and challenges in delivering – a fair work agenda that generates benefits for workers and citizens, business and employers, and that makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s economic and social well-being.

St. Andrew’s Day Lecture – 3 December 

Scotland House Brussels’ annual St. Andrew’s Day Lecture provided an opportunity for reflection on Scotland’s place in the EU and the world. This year, in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, the lecture was delivered by Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, in collaboration with Ava Frail, a 12-year old Year of Young People Ambassador.

The lecture focused on human rights in Scotland and beyond following the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and almost 30 years since the ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Following the lecture, guests were invited to taste some delicious traditional Scottish food and drink. Participants of Diageo’s Learning for Life programme were also present to provide guests with bespoke whisky cocktails and discussed the tools, training and skills they have received as part of the programme.

St Andrew’s Day Ceilidh – 29 November

Scotland House Brussels in collaboration with the City of Brussels hosted a ceilidh on the Schuman Roundabout. The ceilidh served as the launch event of the Schuman Lights Up Christmas Market. Scottish band ‘Kilda’, organised through Live Music Now Scotland, treated guests to some fantastic traditional music and the roundabout was filled with enthusiastic dancers, including Scots based in Brussels and those from other nationalities who were keen to get involved.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Visit – 28-29 November

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, visited Brussels to host the St Andrew’s Day Concert and Reception in Scotland House Brussels. She also undertook a wider programme of meetings with EU stakeholders.

St. Andrew’s Day Concert – 28 November

Scotland House Brussels once again invited stakeholders its annual St Andrew’s Day Concert which was hosted by Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, to celebrate Scotland’s National Day and kicked off the annual series of winter festival events.

Scottish traditional trio ‘Kilda’, part of Live Music Now Scotland, provided entertainment before guests were treated to a reception featuring the best of Scottish food, drink and hospitality.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Visit – 21-22 November

Ivan McKee MSP, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation visited Brussels in November, embarking on a two-day programme taking in a range of events and meetings aligned to his portfolio. It began with meetings with the European Commission and the Flemish Minister-President, followed by engagement at the Annual Vanguard Political meeting, where the Minister took the opportunity to clarify Scotland’s enduring ambition to maintain and strengthen European innovation-based partnerships and collaborations. 33 regions from across Europe belong to the Vanguard partnership, so there were also opportunities to connect with strategic partners. 

The Minister also delivered the keynote speech at the Digital Innovation Hub event, organised and hosted by Scotland Europa in conjunction with ERRIN (European Regions and Research Innovation Network). He also met with the New Zealand Ambassador to the EU as well as the British Ambassador to Belgium, exploring trade and investment topics. The Minister completed his visit by further discussing trade and investment links with SDI and business stakeholders.

TRIBE Reception – 13 November

Scotland House Brussels were delighted to host a TRIBE reception for trade policy representatives from Member States and from Third Countries. The reception provided a valuable networking opportunity for trade policy representatives based in Brussels and a selection of Scottish beverages and traditional produce was served to guests.

Scotland House Discussion Series: Biodiversity Beyond 2020 – Scotland’s Contribution – 6 November 

For the second instalment of the Scotland House Discussion Series, Scotland House Brussels invited key stakeholders to hear Francesca Osowska, the CEO of Scottish National Heritage, present the ways in which Scotland is leading the way on reporting on all 20 of the International Biodiversity (Aichi) targets. She also discussed the challenges for biodiversity and ecosystems and how Scotland is looking beyond 2020 to identify what more is required to protect and enhance biodiversity for the benefit of all. The presentation was followed by an interactive Q&A session and a networking breakfast.

Young Futures event – 15 October

In celebration of 2018’s Year of Young People, Scotland House Brussels hosted a roundtable event in collaboration with Young Scot. The event saw a delegation of Year of Young People ambassadors come over from Scotland to discuss how their participation has led to successful political engagement. It also provided an opportunity for them to present their thoughts on important issues such as enterprise, climate and diversity and engage with influential policy makers.

Following the event, the ambassadors were able to visit the European Parliament for a tour and met with Alyn Smyth MEP to discuss their participation in the Year of Young People and their concerns surrounding their future and Brexit.

Scottish Writers Series: Poetry Edition – 11-12 October

Scotland House Brussels continued its Scottish Writers Series events with a special poetry edition on 12 October 2018. Edinburgh-based poet, Catherine Wilson, came to Brussels to perform her poetry and speak to the audience about her poem Scotland the More which was written as an ode to the country that encouraged her to become a writer. 

The poem was also featured as part of the Transpoesie poetry festival in Brussels which brings together poetry from across Europe to celebrate diversity and linguistic heritage.

European Week of Regions and Cities – 9-11 October

To celebrate the 16th annual European Week of Regions and Cities, a series of workshops took place in Scotland House Brussels, hosted by or in collaboration with fourteen Scotland Europa members. The events allowed for regional, rural and urban practitioners to come to Brussels to exchange good practice in areas such as economic development and social inclusion, cross-border cooperation, public-private partnerships, regional innovation and community-led local development.

Zero Waste Scotland were present to deliver an interactive workshop on delivering the circular economy of regions and cities. Scottish National Heritage also hosted a workshop on their Green Infrastructure Fund to improve green infrastructure in towns and cities on a far bigger scale than previously in Scotland, using funding from the European Regional Development Fund. The European Policy Centre in partnership with the University of Strathclyde also presented a workshop in Scotland House as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities which focused on the implementation of financial instruments under Cohesion policy. The largest event saw the Regional Partnership of the Northern European Arctic host a workshop of the Arctic region to the benefit of all of Europe. Participants in the workshop were told of the key role that the European Arctic plays in the continued revival of the global peripheries and the EU’s efforts to engage in the sustainable development of the Arctic.

Breakfast with Scottish culture sector stakeholders – 26 September

Scotland House Brussels welcomed 30 Scottish creative, cultural and screen professionals in a delegation organised by the European Commission in Scotland.

Delegates ranged from sectors including dance, documentary film, festivals, cultural heritage, classical music, music industry, publishing, theatre, visual art and youth arts. The organisations represented included national companies, the arts council, professional networks and development bodies, art residency centres, international art festivals, artist-lead studios and performing ensembles. Representatives from the Scottish Government, British Council Scotland, Creative Europe Desk UK-Scotland and Creative Scotland were also present. 

As part of the visit, Scotland House Brussels hosted a networking breakfast to celebrate current Scottish creative and cultural links with other European partners, and to enable Brussels and Belgian based organisations to connect with Scottish delegates whilst in Brussels.

Enhancing Innovation in Rural Areas: The Experience from Scotland - 7 June

The Scottish Government held a workshop in Scotland House to bring together policy makers with those involved in practical implementation of rural innovation projects. Speakers included research institutes, project participants and innovators from rural areas. The focus of the discussion was on examining the Scottish perspective on Rural Innovation developed over many years, and looking forward with the recent launch of the Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) – a Scottish Rural Development Programme initiative.

Scotland and Europe working together for a sustainable energy transition – 4 June

As part of EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels, Scotland House played host to a series of round-tables hosted by Paul Wheelhouse MSP – the Scottish Government's Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy – discussing best practice and how Scotland can work together with European partners to ensure a timely and effective transition towards more sustainable forms of energy, helping to tackle climate change. The day was split into three round-tables: in the morning, discussion focused on decarbonising heating as well as moving to Greener Energy efficient buildings. The afternoon saw two round-tables – the first on developing Scotland's approach to local energy systems and the second considering Scotland's subsea and marine renewable energy offering. This was followed by a networking reception hosted by Mr Wheelhouse in the refurbished Scotland House.

Scotland House Brussels: looking to the future – 28 May

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hosted a lunchtime reception to mark the official opening of the refurbished Scotland House Brussels. Scotland has had a long-established presence in Brussels, including Scotland House at the Rond-Point Schuman which opened in 1999. In line with the Scottish Government’s newly established network across the EU in London, Dublin, Berlin and, shortly, Paris, Scotland House Brussels was renewed to provide an even more effective platform to support Scotland’s collaborative approach to working with Scottish, EU and International stakeholders. 

The reception also launched the latest photography exhibition in the Scotland House Brussels conference centre. The exhibition called Future Proof was provided by Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow. It features graduating talent from eight of Scotland’s art schools and universities, celebrating Scotland’s 2018 Year of Young People. Anne Mie Bak Andersen, a Danish student studying at the Glasgow School of Art, was there to present the exhibition and her photographs which focused on sustainability and the effects of hyper-consumerism on the environment.

A Sporting Legacy – contributing to Europe's competitiveness in a global marketplace – 22 May

Scotland House and the Berlin Liaison Office to the EU jointly held a policy seminar on the legacy of sporting and cultural events in Europe, their economic and social benefits and the importance of boosting their competitiveness in the global marketplace. The event was hosted by Minister Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and Aleksander Dzembritzki, State Secretary for Sport, Senate Department for the Interior Sport Berlin.

Speakers included representatives from the Scottish Government, the Senate Department for the Interior and Sport Berlin, the European Championships Management, Glasgow Life, the European University Sports Association, the organising Committee of the 10th World Games in Wrocław 2017, the European Broadcasting Union and the European Commission.

The policy seminar was followed by a concert highlighting the cultural programmes accompanying the games – the Glasgow European Championships Festival 2018 and the European Mile in Berlin, featuring talented students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Berlin's Universität der Künste.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Visit – 24-26 April

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing was in Brussels for a successful visit to the 2018 Seafood Expo on Tuesday 24 April meeting international buyers, aquaculture companies with Scottish operations and hosting a reception on the Scotland Pavilion to celebrate the best of Scottish food and drink. He was supported by a combined team from SDI, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Government. In total some 50 Scottish seafood companies attended the Global Seafood Show. In his speech the Cabinet Secretary encouraged companies to continue exporting and be proud of their products. Promising contacts were made with European companies but also companies from Asia and America.

Scotland's Collaborative Place in Europe – 26 March

On 26 March, Scotland House held an event on Scotland's collaborative place in Europe. The event was hosted by Scottish Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville. The event welcomed around 60 guests in the field of research and innovation from the EU-Institutions, country and regional representations and wider R&I stakeholders.

To showcase Scotland's contribution to European Science and Innovation, presentations were delivered on two Europe-wide research programmes, which include Scottish expertise; Gravitational Waves and the European prevention of Alzheimer's Consortium. The presentations were delivered by; Professor Sheila Rowan, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal, University of Glasgow, Professor Michele Punturo,Senior Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal, University of Edinburgh, Professor Craig Ritchie, Director, Centre for Dementia Prevention, University Edinburgh and Dr. Serge Van der Geyten, Director, Neuroscience External Affairs at Janssen Research and Development.

Following this, there was a panel discussion on the impact of EU R&I collaborations in Scotland and how this has contributed to the Scottish Research and Innovation landscape. The panel discussion included; the Principals of the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General, DG RTD, Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General, The Guild of Research Intense Universities and Jan Reid, Specialist Energy and Clean Tech, Scottish Enterprise.

Scotland House Writers Series – 20 February

On 20 February, Scotland House welcomed Booker Prize shortlisted author Graeme Macrae Burnet for the latest instalment of the Scottish Writers Series. During the event which was moderated by Lynsey Rogers from The Scottish Book Trust, Graeme spoke to a busy lunchtime audience about his writing methods and the extensive archive-based research involved in writing his novels, particularly His Bloody Project, as well as his experience collaborating with translators when his books are published in different languages. The audience also enjoyed a question and answer session in which Graeme addressed questions on writing style, historical accuracy and the importance of literary prizes. The event was followed by a book signing session.

Scotland House Burns Concert – 23 January

Scotland House hosted its annual Burns Concert. The event was hosted by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, and welcomed around 150 guests from the EU Institutions, country and regional representations and wider Brussels stakeholders. To celebrate Scotland's 2018 Year of Young People, the event invited talented young students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who gave an excellent concert and entertained the audience with performances of Burns' works as well as a reading from 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane' in Scots.

The event also served as the official launch of the latest Scotland House exhibition provided by Historic Environment Scotland, with Alex Paterson, CEO of Historic Environment Scotland, there to speak about the exhibition and its link with the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. Following the speeches and performances, guests were invited to a reception dishing up traditional food and drink specialties.

Burns Supper – 22 January

The Scottish Government EU Office held its 11th annual Burns Supper at the Residence of the UK Permanent Representative to the EU. The supper was hosted by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, and provided an opportunity to welcome the new Presidencies of the Council of the EU - Bulgaria and Austria. The supper was attended by the Bulgarian PSC Ambassador and senior officials from the Bulgarian and Austrian Permanent Representations, as well as other high-level Brussels contacts.

Students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland entertained the guests with music and performances of some of Burns' best-loved works. In addition to this, the Bulgarian PSC Ambassador introduced guests to some of Bulgaria's literature with a reading of 'My Prayer' by Hristo Botev.

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