International network: monitoring and evaluation report 2022-2023

The Scottish Government's international network monitoring and evaluation reports for the financial year from April 2022 to March 2023.

Scotland House Brussels

Context for 2022/23

Scotland House Brussels (SHB) brings together the Scottish Government’s EU Office and Scotland Europa, part of Scottish Enterprise. SHB is an integrated team, providing services which support Scotland’s economic and diplomatic interests in Europe. With Scotland Europa celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and the Scottish Government office in Brussels operating since 1999, 2022/23 saw another successful year for Scotland House in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter.

The SHB team is made up of 29 staff: 2 shared interns, 10 Scotland Europa, 17 Scottish Government (both diplomatic and locally engaged staff). Our office sits opposite the European Commission Berlaymont building and near to a large number of Diplomatic Missions to the EU, regional offices and networks of key interest for Scotland. Its guest office space and event facilities, which generate income to support SHB’s work, provide an ideal base for Scottish public sector organisations and businesses to operate from when visiting Brussels. Scotland House Brussels promotes Scotland as an innovative, outward-looking and progressive nation with much to offer and share. We protect and promote Scotland’s interests and values with the EU and across Europe and enhance Scotland’s international collaboration using our collective networks, insights and expertise. This report describes the work that was jointly carried out by the Scottish Government’s EU Office and Scotland Europa to meet our collective strategic goals for 2022/23. Case studies profile the work of SHB, each corresponding to one of our five strategic priorities for 2022/23.


Despite an extremely challenging year on a number of fronts, 2022-23 has been a successful one for Scotland House Brussels, with the return of our in-person event calendar, the hosting of a number of Ministerial, Scotland Europa member and other civic society visits to Brussels and a remodelling of Scotland Europa’s membership services to adapt to the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19 and a changed engagement landscape.

A challenge at the forefront of our strategy for 2022/23 has been adapting to life as a country outside the EU. For decades, under various political administrations, Scotland House Brussels has provided both a resource for reporting on the work of the EU and a platform for participating in its functions; particularly in policy areas of Scottish strategic interest and expertise, such as energy, agriculture, fishing and research and development. Our focus this year has been an altered but vitally important one, to support decision makers in government, civil society and business with the wholesale strategic and operational changes necessitated by Brexit. The case studies within this report profile a broad range of work that has succeeded in maintaining vital diplomatic, academic, trade, cultural and commercial links with European partners.

Although adapting to life outside the EU was a known and strategic priority at the outset of 2022/23, and the ongoing challenges in EU-UK relations relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol created additional context for us this year. The return of our programme of in-person events, including the St Andrew’s Day/Burns programme of cultural events provided an opportunity to re-invigorate relationships with influential stakeholders in Brussels. Scotland Europa launched a 30th anniversary campaign in May 2022 which used the challenges described above as an opportunity to re-engage with partners, but also to diversify and adapt its output and policy/member-focussed deliverables.


Scotland House Brussels' events are a well-known fixture in Brussels’ cultural calendar. With our cultural activity again attracting senior EU guests such as high profile MEPs and Ambassadors to the EU and NATO this year - as well as high numbers of EU institution staff - these events offer Scottish Ministers, officials and Scotland Europa members the opportunity to make representations to high value stakeholders from Brussels' EU and Diplomatic community. This type of cultural diplomacy was particularly important in 2022/23, helping to maintain Scotland’s connectivity in Brussels.

Scotland Europa celebrated their 30th anniversary with a year-long campaign launched in May 2022. We hosted several online campaigns showcasing the work of our member organisations, as well as attended and hosted events in Brussels, namely our 30th Anniversary Summer Reception in June 2022 and our first in-person Members Meeting in October 2022. These both provided us with the opportunity to reshape our engagement and adapt our services based on the current environment we are navigating and the needs of our member organisations, which has proven to be successful so far via new policy products, branding and tailored expertise

Other cultural events by SHB in 2022-23 included a Spring reception themed around the ‘Year of Stories’, St Andrew's Concert and Lecture events (see Case Study), a Ceilidh hosted in the centre of Brussels' EU district, as well as a Burns Concert and VIP Burns Supper. We were active in showcasing sustainable Scottish goods and key export products at our own events and cultural and trade events in Brussels and across Belgium, through e.g. stands focused on food, drink and Scotland's hydrogen potential at the Schuman Christmas Market, participation in Belgium's annual Offshore Days event and a dedicated exhibition at the Brussels Trade and Innovation Show. We also highlighted the sustainable angle of the food and drink we source via QR codes and visual graphics, both in-person and on social media.

  • @ScotGovBrussels: 4,157 Twitter followers in total as at 31 March 2023; 415 new Twitter followers; 1,768,700 impressions; 2.9% Twitter engagement rate.
  • @ScotlandEuropa: 183 new followers, 219,800 impressions
  • Scotland Europa LinkedIn: 2,524 page views, 558 new followers
  • Scotland Europa website (Launched Oct 2023): 4.7k user visits

Case study: Minister and University of Glasgow St Andrew’s Visit

The reputational, diplomatic and trade opportunities presented by our cultural events make them an ideal basis for visits by senior stakeholders.

In November 2022, we welcomed Neil Gray, the then Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development and Uzma Khan, Vice-President of Economic Development and Innovation at the University of Glasgow (Scotland Europa member), to lead our St Andrew’s events.

The joint visit was coordinated by an integrated SG/Europa events team and SHB Policy leads, who coordinated a programme of strategically themed meetings. The visit was also supported by officials from the Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy team in Edinburgh who arranged for and supported Mr Gray’s participation in the European Arctic Futures Symposium.

This visit taking place around St Andrew’s Day allowed for both guests to host one of our cultural event in Brussels. Minister Gray hosted a St Andrew’s Concert and Reception event as part of a three day programme of engagements. Scotland Europa’s annual St Andrew’s Lecture focused on delivering a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland. Scotland Europa’s visit programme facilitated engagement between the University of Glasgow and Scotland House Brussels with economists in the European Commission, as well as with networks such as EUROCITIES, EuroHealthNet and the European Policy Centre.

Our receptions attracted more than 100 invited guests from Brussels EU/diplomatic community, including MEPs, Ambassadors and EU institution officials. Guests heard an address from Mr Gray on the Scottish Government's Culture and International Development ambitions and music from talented young artists, who joined us in partnership with the arts charity Live Music Now.During the visit, Mr Gray met with Ukraine's Ambassador to the EU, the EU's Special Arctic Envoy, senior MEPs, the Minister President of Flanders and more. Mr Gray also met the President of the European Committee of the Regions, where he agreed Scotland's participation in the European Alliance for the Reconstruction of Ukraine.

International Trade

This past year, we have been able to recommence our in-person strategy to promote and enhance Scotland’s image as a valuable place to trade and invest. This has been implemented across various policy and sectoral areas, for example:

  • We have strengthened our work on promoting Scotland’s Wellbeing Economy commitments. Scotland Europa invited Uzma Khan, Vice-Principal for Economic Development and Innovation at the University of Glasgow, to deliver the annual St Andrew’s Lecture. We have also jointly built relations with Brussels-based partners, such as the European Policy Centre, to further promote Scotland’s work in this area.
  • With Scotland’s vast potential in the field of renewables, we have continued to build upon our work via proactive engagement of Scotland’s policies and programmes with key networks and contacts in Brussels, namely ERRIN, EURADA and the Vanguard Initiative, as well as by attending and hosting in-person events. This has been a great opportunity for us to highlight Scotland as a key partner with aligned values and interests with that of our European and international colleagues.
  • We have worked in tandem to revise our products, strategies and campaigns with our respective audiences to create new and strengthen existing ties which showcase Scotland’s priorities and develop economic opportunities – from tech and innovation in tourism, to developments in the hydrogen and circular economy. With Scotland’s changed position in the EU an ongoing challenge, reformulating our approach has been crucial for continued engagement in key areas.

Please note that the SDI office in Paris also represents Scottish trade interests in the Benelux nations. Some Belgium-specific figures have been provided by SDI below:

  • 14 companies supported
  • £3,200,000 forecast international sales as a result of SDI support

Case study: Showcasing Scotland’s hydrogen potential

We have continued to showcase Scotland’s vast potential in the field of renewables. In particular, we have developing a cross-team effort on demonstrating Scotland’s hydrogen potential via participating in/hosting various events and policy sessions.

  • ERRIN Network – Scotland Europa remains a co-leader of the Energy and Climate Change working group in ERRIN, and hosted a working group meeting on Hydrogen Valleys in Scotland House Brussels with high-level stakeholders from other EU regions, economic develop agencies and the European Commission.
  • EU Hydrogen Week 24-28 October 2022 – Scotland House Brussels welcomed Mr. Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport for a Ministerial roundtable. We also welcomed Scottish Enterprise hydrogen expert, Irina Bonavino – programme delivered to showcase Scottish Enterprise’s Hydrogen National Programme.
  • We hosted a hydrogen stand during the Schuman Lights Up festival in December 2022, showcasing Scotland’s potential with material provided by SDI alongside other regional and EU representatives.
  • Ongoing work in the Vanguard Initiative on the Hydrogen Pilot.
  • Joint social media campaign ran between SG and Scotland Europa throughout thematic EU weeks showcasing our potential in renewables to a wider, EU audience. We experience some challenges around the fact the Scotland Europa website was under construction, with our new website facing a delay of several months and not launching until Oct. 2022.

Our cross-team effort has resulted in a series of successful and varied events reaching a broad EU audience, representing an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Scotland’s value as a partner. With our networks and via the public-facing Schuman Lights Up stand, we were able to engage directly with representatives from the EU Institutions and Member States. For example, stemming from our activity and engagement in ERRIN, regional organisations and EU institutions have commented on the quality of our content and expertise, and as a direct result of the meeting we hosted in Scotland House, follow up work has begun between regional and institutional representatives.

The team also ensured Scotland will be participating in EU Sustainable Energy Week 2023, as part of a partnership for an event focusing on offshore wind development. This is an example of our ongoing showcasing of Scotland’s hydrogen and wider renewable potential.

We have utilised the new Scotland Europa website to its full potential in a short time frame (despite some initial challenges around launching the website) for example, publishing several blog posts to further showcase our work around hydrogen. Firstly, a blog post on the value of bringing Scottish Enterprise colleague, Irina Bonavino, to Brussels, a second from Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive, Adrian Gillespie and a third blog showcasing the work of the University of St Andrews.

Research and Innovation

Despite uncertainties around the EU-UK relationship and implications on the R&I landscape, the Scotland House Brussels team has continued to showcase Scotland as a nation of innovation excellence. We have worked hard to identify synergies in Scotland and EU developments, exploit our policy and funding knowledge, and maximise continued opportunities and to support Scotland Europa members with ongoing applications to Horizon Europe under the UK Government Treasury Guarantee. This has involved:

  • Continued cross-team collaboration between Scotland Europa and the Scottish Government, working closely with the Horizon Europe Regional Contact Point and the wider Scottish Enterprise Horizon Ecosystem, to identify opportunities for collaboration.
  • Maximising opportunities with our existing networks and partnerships, such as ERRIN, EURADA and the Vanguard Initiative, to continue to influence EU-level innovation developments.
  • Scotland Europa drafted a collective membership response to the European Commission’s call for evidence in preparation for the EU Innovation Agenda. We also contributed to the European Commission’s public consultation on the past, present, and future of the European Research & Innovation Framework Programmes 2014-2027, working with ERRIN to draft a collective response.
  • Scotland Europa worked with our membership to draft a collective response to the Scottish Government’s upcoming Innovation Strategy, underlining the importance of continued European and international collaboration in the field. We worked with Scottish Enterprise to input into ongoing responses as the new Strategy continues to develop.
  • Work began with Research and Innovation intense members of Scotland Europa to create a working group aimed at facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration opportunities, constituting part of our wider reshaped engagement approach.
  • We have delivered several online information sessions, as well as hybrid capacity-building sessions, aimed at supporting Scottish organisations with their ongoing applications to Horizon Europe.
  • Collaborative Horizon Europe Guarantee Grants – 125 successful applications, amounting to £54.6m
  • European Research Council Guarantee Grants – 28 successful applications, amounting to £34.2m
  • Marie Slodowska-Curie Actions Guarantee grants – 50 successful applications, £11.1m

Funding figures obtained from Scottish Enterprise

Visits to SHB

  • 8 groups from Scotland Europa University Members (staff and students) visiting Scotland House Brussels

Case study: UK Innovation and Tech Show – 15 March 2023

Both Scotland Europa and Scottish Government team input brought together Scotland Europa members, businesses and organisations (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, TouchLab, FreeFlow Technologies, Creative Informatics) for an exhibit and panel event showcasing Scottish expertise in innovation. This was followed by an evening reception at British Ambassador’s Residence

The event itself was not in our original delivery plan for the business year. Therefore, the late confirmation of our participation in this event proved to be a logistical challenge we had to navigate as a team to ensure adequate resources were allocated. This required a lot of cross-team coordination and maximising upon our existing joint reputation and relationships in this field.

Despite the challenges faced in delivering the event at short notice, our cross-team effort successfully delivered upon our overarching objective in our business plan. The resulting event was a prime opportunity to showcase Scotland as a world-leading hub of innovation, across industry, academia and companies.

We have positioned Scotland a reliable and knowledgeable research partner to our European colleagues. This event was a great opportunity to advance this, building new contacts and research leads established via networking opportunities that will be followed up on.

This has already had demonstrable outcomes too. In showcasing the work of Edinburgh Napier’s new Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, our upcoming summer reception will once again showcase their work and will also bring in colleagues from VisitScotland and the UCI World Cycling Championships. Across both Twitter accounts, we issued 8 tweets in total before/during the event. These gathered a total of 11,074 impressions, 57 retweets and 87 likes, as well as gaining new followers, raising awareness of our work both domestically and in an EU context.


In a post-Brexit setting, we have taken steps to adapt our own work across the team. As has been detailed throughout this report, this has come in the form of more detailed briefings, analysis and insights outlining what it means to be part of a third country engaging with the EU. In doing so, we have sought to empower colleagues, partners, and stakeholders in Scotland with the necessary information needed to continue to showcase Scotland as a place to trade, invest and do business with.

  • Supporting Ministerial and Scotland Europa Member visits to build key programmes, both for learning opportunities and build relations
  • In-person Scotland Europa members meetings, capacity building sessions and new information products
  • Ongoing work with Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Europa to broaden scope of informed policy work
  • Empowering Scottish businesses, organisations, and partners (via briefings, information products, analysis and continued support from the team) with the necessary knowledge to better understand the current investment landscape and incorporate this into their own practices
  • Promoting engagement in Horizon Europe innovation funding programme and wider international partnership and collaboration opportunities

Case study: Scottish Council for Development and Industry Delegation to Brussels (March 2023)

From 29-31 March 2023, we welcomed a delegation of 19 representatives from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. Delegates represented a range of different sectors in Scotland, such as academia, private sector and food and drink, and participated in a diverse programme aimed at empowering SCDI members with the necessary knowledge and skills in their EU engagement.

The development of this programme was a cross-team effort, drawing upon the expertise and experience of both Scotland Europa and Scottish Government colleagues. This resulted in sessions delivered by partners in the EU institutions, other third countries and enterprise agencies who engage with the EU, thinktanks and our own team, providing delegates with the opportunity to learn, engage with and exchange knowledge that will inform their own European engagement practices going forward.

This comprehensive programme was followed by a networking reception, titled “Making Scotland the Home of Purposeful Business”, where delegates from SCDI, alongside the Scotland House Brussels team, were able to engage directly with European partners and showcase Scotland as a reliable partner for investment.

We received very positive feedback from the delegation, underlining that the programme has inspired them to continue their engagement in Europe, and left feeling motivated to work harder to showcase Scotland as a place to invest across their respective sectors. One key example is the blog produced by Sara Thiam, Chief Executive of SCDI, citing how the visit highlighted Scotland’s international expertise and need to continue to build important relationships. Further feedback can be found on social media (1, 2, 3), alongside increased engagement with our organic content on LinkedIn.

On another level, this visit raised awareness of Scotland House Brussels and the work we do. The visit represented the biggest delegation visit to Scotland House Brussels since 2019, and highlighted our role as a hub that can support Scottish businesses and organisations in their European engagement. The diversity of the visit facilitated cross-sectoral exchange horizontally between delegates, allowing for them to build networks that will strengthen our external ‘Team Scotland’ voice.

Overall, the success of this visit both equipped Scottish organisations at home with a better understanding of how to promote Scotland as a key investment partner, as well as raised awareness of our work in Scotland House Brussels. It also enabled us to build on newer partnerships with other third country representatives.

Scotland’s Interests

The EU is the world’s biggest single market containing 440 million consumers. Beyond even its own territory, the EU’s regulations are often seen as a benchmark for global standards and replicated within trade agreements internationally. It is therefore vitally important that Scottish decision makers and trade organisations are able to both follow developments and make representations to the institutions and sectoral bodies in Brussels.

The Scotland House team and facilities provide an ideally placed resource for the Scottish Government and Europa’s members to gather intelligence from; and a base from which to do business.

SHB as a base for events/networking: Scotland House routinely hosts delegations from private and public sector organisations, visiting Brussels to gather intelligence or do business. In 2022/23, our conference centre hosted 123 events, including an event on Ukraine led by the Scottish Council on Global Affairs, various visits from Scotland Europa member organisations, as well as by Universities Scotland, Police Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council and others. Our guests have the opportunities to use our networking space, with support provided by the SHB team in the form of policy briefings and signposting to relevant contacts in Brussels. We also provide Communications support, with our integrated Communications team supporting guests to profile Scotland’s knowledge and expertise in key areas of interest.

Information gathering: The Scotland House Brussels team provide a regular suite of policy reporting to Ministers, SG policy teams implementing Scotland’s EU Alignment agenda and Scotland Europa Europa’s membership. This includes daily Europa policy bulletins, a Scottish Government Weekly note and in-depth reporting on events such as European Councils and the European Commission State of the Union.

  • 5 Ministerial Visits to Scotland House Brussels
  • 5 Global Scots in total
  • Scotland Europa’s website has produced various blogs and case studies on the work of our Scotland House Brussels and our members, promoting them to EU audiences and raising awareness of Scotland’s excellence in key areas such as hydrogen, net zero, innovation, and higher education.

Case study: Lord Advocate and Crown Agent visits

Justice and Home Affairs is a key area requiring continued cooperation with European partners. This internationalised approach is reflected by the Scottish Government's International Justice Cooperation Unit being partly based in Scotland House Brussels.

The team’s policy knowledge and Scotland House’s nearby proximity to European Justice Agencies make it well placed to support visits from justice-focused stakeholders. This opportunity was maximised in November 2022, with the Lord Advocate, Crown Agent and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's (COPFS) Head of International Cooperation Unit visiting Brussels and The Hague.

The visit was coordinated by the SHB-based Justice and Home Affairs team and COPFS officials, with support from Scotland Europa's facilities and events team allowing for high value meetings to be held in Scotland House Brussels.

As part of this visit the delegation met with key operational stakeholders, including Europol, Eurojust, Belgian national judicial cooperation authorities and Scottish and UK colleagues based abroad. The Lord Advocate and Crown Agent also spoke at an event hosted by the Northern Ireland Office in Brussels, which showcased work in Scotland on the social aspects of justice and problem-solving initiatives.

The visit was followed by a joint Crown Agent/Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales visit in January 2023, also to Brussels and The Hague. Scotland House Brussels also supported this visit, working closely with the UK Liaison Prosecutor to Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Lord Advocate and Crown Agent’s visits helped strengthen Scottish operational links to the continent in the new post-Brexit environment, with several return visits by EU stakeholders now already having taken place, or planned to take place in the near future.

Medium to long-term impact

2022/23 was a year of adaptation, with new dynamics to deal with as a country outside the UK. Reflecting on the last year has highlighted the value of the networks and bilateral relationships that we have developed throughout the life of Scotland House Brussels. The basis of the non-EU institutional structures that we continue to take a leading role have been based on Scotland's long-term strategic interests and the contributions we have, and will continue, to make to efforts of European cooperations based on our areas of strength.

To contextualise this, as a team in Scotland House Brussels, we have been particularly focussed on navigating the uncertainties and obstacles in the research and innovation field and have worked jointly as a team to play to our existing strengths and continue to navigate and identify avenues of continued operation.

As a first port of call, our team have been able to continue our programme of engagement via our existing networks in Brussels. For example, we continue to be a board Member of the Vanguard Initiative – an alliance that gathers 38 of the most advanced industrial regions in Europe, focused on stimulating industrial innovation and building European value-chains based on complementarities in regional smart specialisation strategies. In this format, the Scottish Government engages in both High-Level Directors Meetings (June) and Annual Political Meetings (December), as well as collaboration from our SG and Europa team with other regions in the development of pilot projects. Similarly, Scotland Europa remains a prominent member of the ERRIN network – a well-known Brussels-based platform that gathers around 120 subnational organisations from more than 20 European countries (both EU and non-EU). In the ERRIN network, Scotland Europa has sat on the Board for 7 years now, with our Head of Office, Sarah English, serving as Chair for the 2020-22 period, and Vice-Chair and Treasurer for the 2022-24 period. This sort of engagement has delivered successful results:

Vanguard Initiative

  • Ministerial and Director-level engagement within the format of the High-Level Director Meetings and Annual Political Meetings in the Vanguard Initiative
  • Engagement in project developments, such as the Vanguard Initiatives ADMA and Hydrogen Pilots, which provide Scotland an opportunity to showcase its expertise and excellence in renewables


  • Secured co-lead positions in three of ERRIN’s working groups, i) Policy, ii) Climate and Energy, iii) Cultural Heritage and Tourism, as well as building new presence across other working groups, such as Science and Education for Society
  • Ability to showcase work of Scottish organisations, build partnerships and contacts vis-à-vis partnerships and consortia building
  • Provided speaking opportunities for several Scottish organisations/stakeholders to showcase their ongoing research within the scope working group meetings and thematic EU-level campaigns such as EU Green Week (e.g., The James Hutton Institute were able to present their research to a working group on soil health).

In addition to continual engagement, as a team we have focused on ensuring Scottish businesses, organisations and wider government stakeholders are routinely informed of key developments in the research and innovation space at EU-level. We regularly provide support, capacity-building sessions, online webinars, and have diversified our briefings and other policy-related deliverables to ensure colleagues in the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Europa’s wider membership are equipped with the relevant information needed to continue to engage in these research and innovation eco-systems and showcase Scottish innovation excellence. By building upon our existing strengths, but also adapting our engagement and deliverables to our current context, this has enabled us to remain a partner of choice for our European colleagues in the research and innovation field.

More broadly, we have extended these key learnings into our engagement with the EU institutions. For example, on relations with our European neighbours, the value of the Friends of Scotland friendship group in the European Parliament has become clear since Brexit. With our institutions no longer represented in the European Parliament, we deeply value having a large cohort of MEPs who are active in attending our events and facilitating continued engagement with the European Parliament and other EU institutions. The group includes senior MEPs from Parliamentary Committees and the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. Their generous support for Scotland allows for our Ministers and Scotland Europa's members to make representations to influential parliamentarians, on matters of strategic importance.

Based on the fact that Scotland Europa celebrated their 30th anniversary year in 2022, and Scotland House Brussels recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, we have been able to build upon our existing reputation and relations to maintain a gradual programme of engagement with colleagues from the EU institutions, regional offices and key networks and organisations to ensure Scotland continues to build positive relations with our EU counterparts. From this, we have been able to set up meetings between colleagues from the University of Glasgow, VisitScotland, James Hutton Institute, as well as Scottish Government colleagues, with EU officials despite ongoing uncertainties in the wider EU-UK relationship.

The group includes senior MEPs from Parliamentary Committees and the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. Their generous support for Scotland allows for our Ministers and Scotland Europa's members to make representations to influential parliamentarians, on matters of strategic importance. The objectives outlined above continue to structure our work around the promotion of key policy matters and commercial interests for Scotland; many of which reflect long term ambitions that SHB have successfully represented for many years, and form a key part of our future business plan.

Lessons learned for FY2023/24

2022/23 has been a successful but challenging year for Scotland House Brussels. The experience of overcoming a broad range of issues such as returning to more conventional working arrangements following Covid-19, Brexit and the cost crisis (both in the UK and Europe) has offered lessons for new and ever-adapting ways of doing business. An example of the consequences of these cross-cutting challenges has been staffing gaps within the SHB team. This has been an unavoidable result of the financial constraints being felt across the public sector, and new logistical difficulties with hiring staff post-Brexit. The team has managed to continue with business as normal due to staff’s adaptability. This will not always be an option without increased resilience in the team and there is recognition that learning and development must be a focus in 2023/24. There is also agreement across the team that Scottish Government and Scotland Europa staff members will need to streamline work planning in order to maximise efficiencies across the team. A joint-forward look planning system is already being implemented.

In the last year we have witnessed the value of sport diplomacy, particularly as guests of diplomatic missions during the FIFA Men’s World Cup. There are significant opportunities for engagement around Scotland’s hosting of the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland. Particularly with host country Belgium, (number one ranked nation in cycling). Our next Summer Reception event will be focused on promoting the UCI World Championships, presenting excellent diplomatic and bilateral relationship building opportunities.



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