Standing Council on Europe minutes: September 2020

Minutes of the seventeenth meeting of the First Minister’s Standing Council on Europe, which took place on 15 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Members in attendance:

  • Sir Anton Muscatelli
  • Sir David Edward
  • Malcolm Burr
  • Sir John Grant 
  • Prof Alan Miller 
  • Dame Mariot Leslie
  • Professor Andrew Scott
  • Sir George Reid
  • Lord John Kerr
  • Vasco Cal
  • John Kay
  • Charles Grant

Ministers in attendance:

  • First Minister
  • Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations
  • Minister for Europe International Development
  • Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation

Items and actions

Items and actions:

Welcome and introduction 

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

Update from Scottish Government 

The First Minister provided an update on recent developments, noting the publication of the UK Internal Market Bill, and inviting members’ views on the current state of EU-UK negotiations. 

Assessment of the EU-UK negotiations and UK Internal Market

Members reviewed the approach of the UK Government to the negotiations, and assessed the chances of a deal being reached. Members noted that the publication of the UK Internal Market Bill had been badly received in the EU, and had not improved the chances of a deal being reached. Members also discussed the implications of the Bill for the UK’s internal market, and in particular for Scotland.

Forward look at Scotland’s place in a post-Brexit, post-Covid world: update on UK trade negotiations with non-EU countries

Members reviewed information on the UK’s recent trade agreement with Japan. They noted that the outcome of UK trade negotiations with third countries would necessitate a thorough review of supply chains, particularly as a result of changing rules of origin requirements. They also discussed the Scottish Government’s intention to remain as closely aligned as possible to the EU, and to continue to maintain close relations with it. 

Update on Organisational Readiness

Members received an update on Scottish Government plans to ensure arrangements were in place to mitigate risks associated with EU exit, for example to supplies of essential items.

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