Standing Council on Europe minutes: March 2019

Minutes of the thirteenth meeting of the Standing Council on Europe, held on 18 March 2019.

Attendees and apologies

Members in attendance:

  • Sir Anton Muscatelli
  • Malcolm Burr
  • Vasco Cal
  • Charles Grant
  • Lord John Kerr
  • Prof Alan Miller
  • Dame Mariot Leslie
  • Prof Andrew Scott
  • Alyn Smith MEP
  • Grahame Smith
  • Sir George Reid
  • Fabian Zuleeg
  • Sir Martin Donnelly (guest) 

Ministers in attendance:

  • First Minister of Scotland
  • Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs 
  • Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Introduction 

The meeting opened with a welcome and brief introduction from the Chair. 

2. Update from First Minister 

The First Minister provided an update on recent developments noting that situation remained highly uncertain and it was unlikely the Prime Minister’s deal would be accepted by the UK Parliament. 

3. Discussion of current state of negotiations and advice on Scottish Government priorities/ next steps 

Members were asked to consider potential Brexit scenarios, key developments, and main priorities for the Scottish Government over the next few months. The discussion focused on future Brexit events and scenarios including the Prime Minister’s current deal, a possible extension of Article 50, a UK general election, a no-deal outcome and another EU Referendum. Members agreed that there was still a high degree of uncertainty and all outcomes remained possible.   

The discussion that followed focused on how Scotland should present its policy options for the medium-term. Members agreed that Scotland should continue to present itself as a positive and dynamic European nation, with a proportionate and evidenced response to Brexit.    

4. Update on SG no deal preparation 

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs provided an update to members on the Scottish Government’s no deal preparations noting that it was increasing its preparations. The Cabinet Secretary noted that the Scottish Government was prioritising activity in areas that would be heavily impacted by Brexit such as  the economy, transport, food and drink, medicines, agriculture and the coastal and rural economy. 

The discussion that followed focused on the challenges of the no deal preparations and the long-term impact of a no deal outcome. Members also considered public messaging in the event of a no deal outcome noting that it was crucial to ensure that EU citizens felt welcome in Scotland under all scenarios. There was a further discussion about engagement with wider civic society.  


Email: Monika Baczyk-Olszewska,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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