Scotland Europa members look to the future
Scotland Europa was very happy to welcome our members and Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations Mike Russell to our annual Members’ Meeting in Edinburgh in September. We were delighted to be hosted by the University of Edinburgh, and hear about how much the University values its work with EU partners and with Scotland Europa.
While concerns about Brexit were high on the agenda, it was great to see continued positivity about the benefits of EU engagement and Scotland Europa support.
Mr Russell delivered the keynote address. He said that the Scottish Government and Scotland Europa members share common aims around maintaining Scotland’s profile and influence in a time of difficulty. Now is the time to intensify links and continue dialogue with EU partners, as relationships will be crucial whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The Continuity Bill declares Scotland’s intention to keep pace with EU developments, and the Scottish Government is clear that it intends to maintain as many links as possible. To support this, it is important for us all to be clear on the facts about what the benefits of EU engagement are. While Mr Russell was negative about the progress of the Brexit negotiations, he said the Scottish Government would work to reduce damage.
The Cabinet Secretary encouraged members to persevere with their EU engagement work, saying that it may be more difficult, but it can still be done with imagination, effort, and continued goodwill.
Members picked up the discussion, sharing examples of learning from Scotland Europa’s Brussels familiarisation programme in June and of current successful EU engagement. These discussions highlighted that many opportunities to collaborate and influence remain open to Scottish partners – and will remain so, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Members echoed the Cabinet Secretary’s comments on the central importance of relationships. Members are continuing to maximise EU opportunities and position themselves for the future. Examples highlighted included SE’s role in the EU funded S34Growth project, the Scottish Financial Enterprise CEO’s visit to Brussels to share Scotland’s approach to developing the FinTech ecosystem with the European Commission, and the Zero Waste Scotland’s CEO’s election as President of the international ACR+ network.
We will be supporting our members to share Scotland’s story on EU engagement and the positive impacts partnerships and relationships deliver for ourselves and our European partners through a second year of Scotland House Discussion Series events. This will kick off on 9 October with a programme of activities to promote Scottish views, ideas and experience in the field of regional development during the European Week of Regions and Cities. Find out more about these events and sign up.