Nicola Sturgeon to meet with EU leaders

Scottish First Minister to discuss Scotland's 'place in Europe'.

Scottish first Minister Nicola Sturgeon and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are set to discuss Scotland's EU membership options  | Photo credit: European Commission audiovisual

By Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is Managing Editor of The Parliament Magazine

29 Jun 2016

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels today for talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and other EU leaders.

Sturgeon wants to find out what options are available for Scotland to remain part of the EU while continuing as a UK member state, or whether the country would have to seek independence.

Scotland went against the grain in last week's Brexit referendum, voting overwhelmingly in favour of the UK staying in the EU.


Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, where Sturgeon won a mandate to negotiate with the EU over Scotland's membership of the bloc, she said, "Based on the very clear result in Scotland, if we were to be removed from the EU, it would be against the will of our people. That would be democratically unacceptable"

"Scotland spoke clearly for Remain and I am determined that Scotland's voice will be heard"' she added.

Sturgeon will meet with Schulz and other European Parliament political group leaders, including former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of Parliament's ALDE group, who has said, "It's wrong that Scotland might be taken out of EU, when it voted to stay".

Following positive signals from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he had a "very open door" for Sturgeon, the pair will meet later this afternoon.  However, European Council president Donald Tusk has declined to meet the Scottish leader.

Senior EU policymakers normally shy away from any sign of open support for autonomous movements within an EU member state. However, Brussels' growing anger with the UK over the Brexit result saw extraordinary scenes in the European Parliament on Tuesday, with Scots SNP deputy Alyn Smith receiving a standing ovation following his call to fellow deputies to, "not let Scotland down".

“I represent Scotland within this House and where I’m proudly Scottish, I’m also proudly European", said Smith, adding, "“I want my country to be internationalist, cooperative, ecological, fair [and] European".

"The people of Scotland along with the people of Northern Ireland and the people of London and lots and lots of people in Wales and England also voted to remain within our family of nations. I demand that that status and that esprit européen be respected."

"There [are] a lot of things to be negotiated and we will need cool heads and warm hearts. Please remember this.  Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you; do not let Scotland down now."

Smith, along with Scottish Labour MEP colleague David Martin, was yesterday appointed to a newly established 'Standing Council' of experts to advise Sturgeon on protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU.

On the new council, which will be chaired by Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice chancellor, University of Glasgow, Sturgeon said, "We now need to set out and evaluate all the impacts of the referendum result and all of the options open to Scotland to secure our relationship with the EU."

"The Council draws on a breadth and wealth of knowledge and experience, comprising specialists with backgrounds in business, finance, economics, European and diplomatic matters, and it will encompass a range of political and constitutional opinions."

Before heading to Brussels, Sturgeon told colleagues in the Scottish Parliament that, "everything must be on the table to protect our place in Europe, including a second independence referendum."

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