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20/12/16 12:00

Scotland’s Place in Europe

Paper published on options to keep Scotland in Single Market.

Proposals to keep Scotland in the European Single Market, retain freedom of movement, and to equip the Scottish Parliament with the powers it needs to serve Scotland's interests post-Brexit have been published by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Scotland’s Place in Europe is the first detailed plan dealing with the implications of Brexit published by any government to mitigate the economic, social, democratic and cultural risk since the referendum in June.

The First Minister said the paper represents a ‘significant compromise’ on the part of the Scottish Government which believes full membership of the EU is the best option for Scotland and the UK. Scotland’s Place in Europe aims to build as much consensus within Scotland as possible and to unify the country around a clear plan to protect our interests.

Scotland’s Place in Europe sets out:

  • The Scottish Government’s position that the whole of the UK should remain in the Single Market.
  • How Scotland could stay in the Single Market even if the rest of the UK chooses to leave. The paper addresses challenges and solutions: how continued membership of the Single Market could be achieved with Scotland still being part of the UK, the legislative and regulatory requirements and financial contributions.
  • How free movement of goods, services and people would continue across the UK, even if Scotland is in the single market, and the rest of the UK is not. There are already a range of differential arrangements in operation within the EU and in relation to the Single Market and the European Customs Union. There is no reason 'flexible Brexit' – implied by the UK Government in relation to different sectors of the economy, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar –  cannot be applied to Scotland.
  • Why the Scottish Parliament needs additional powers to protect the rights that will no longer be underpinned by EU law.  Areas of EU competence that are currently within the Scottish Parliament’s responsibility (such as fishing and agriculture) must remain so.  Additional devolution should be considered of repatriated powers that are not currently devolved but which would enable the Scottish parliament to protect key rights (such as employment law), and of a broader range of powers to protect Scotland's interests and support a differentiated solution (such as power over immigration).

The First Minister said:

“The result of the EU referendum means that Scotland is faced with the biggest threat in modern times to our long-term economic well-being.

“A hard Brexit, taking us out of the EU and the Single Market, could have a devastating effect on jobs, investment and standards of living, with research suggesting up to 80,000 jobs lost in Scotland and earnings per head £2,000 lower after a decade.

“Today’s paper from the Scottish Government is aimed at avoiding that outcome. Scotland’s Place in Europe is a set of proposals that are detailed and serious, but given the Scottish Government’s belief that independence within the EU is the best option for Scotland, they are also a significant compromise on our part.

“A material constitutional change has occurred since 2014, and that is why the option of independence must remain on the table – without that option, Scotland would simply have to accept the inevitability of whatever decisions the UK Government makes, no matter how damaging they are to Scotland's interests. However, independence is not the focus of the paper I am publishing today.

“The proposals are designed to respect Scotland's voice and protect our national interests, and I expect when the UK Government considers these proposals – as the Prime Minister has committed to do – it demonstrates the same flexibility and willingness to compromise.

“It is important to note the proposals we set out today do not prioritise membership of the EU Single Market over continued free trade across the UK.

“We want the UK Government to make clear when it triggers Article 50 that it intends to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. If it will not do so, we want the UK Government to seek, as part of its negotiation, a differentiated solution for Scotland as set out here.

“Everything about Brexit will be difficult and unprecedented. The negotiations ahead will be characterised by a need to find practical solutions to a range of complex issues. It is in that spirit that we seek to find solutions that will respect the voice and protect the interests of Scotland.

“The Prime Minister pledged to consider the proposals we brought forward when she came to Scotland in July. She repeated that commitment when I spoke to her on the phone yesterday. I hope she honours that commitment in full. The UK Government response to these proposals will tell us all we need to know about whether we are, in reality, a partnership of equals.”

To read Scotland’s Place in Europe, visit: gov.scot/ScotlandinEurope