The European Commission’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, will meet the Scottish Parliament’s European Committee next Monday (11 September 2017). The Committee will hear first-hand about the progress of the negotiations and the respective positions of the EU and the UK from the European Commission’s perspective.
This meeting comes at a critical juncture in the negotiations. Following the last round of talks between the UK and the EU, Mr Barnier said that there had been a lack of decisive progress on the main areas of the negotiations.
This visit will follow an evidence session on Thursday 7 September where the Committee will hear from Michael Russell, Minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe regarding Article 50 Withdrawal Negotiations.
Committee Convener, Joan McAlpine MSP, welcomed the opportunity to meet Mr Barnier. She said:
“Over the course of the last year, the Committee has carried out an in-depth inquiry into the implications of EU Withdrawal for Scotland. We are delighted that Mr Barnier has agreed to meet the Committee. This gives us a chance to hear first-hand about the progress of the negotiations and the respective positions of the EU and the UK. This meeting is a testament to the openness and transparency with which the European Commission is approaching the withdrawal negotiations.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the points that have been made to us in the evidence we have taken so far and to raise our concerns about the impact of Brexit in Scotland. We will also highlight the consequences for Scotland if an orderly withdrawal and transition cannot be agreed between the UK and the EU.
“As there have been no formal intergovernmental discussions within the UK on the withdrawal process since February this year, speaking to Mr Barnier will allow us to gain a greater understanding of the direction of the talks and the consequences of the negotiations for Scotland.”
Committee Deputy Convener, Lewis Macdonald MSP, also expressed his appreciation of the commitment made by Mr Barnier to meet with Committee. He said—
"These are historic negotiations that will have a profound impact on Scotland and Mr Barnier’s willingness to engage with the Committee is extremely welcome.
“The talks do not appear to be making as much progress as had been expected by this point of time. I am particularly concerned about whether any transitional arrangements can be agreed that allow us to maintain access to the single market in the short-term, and give us time to resolve difficult issues for the long term. I will be seeking to establish whether there is scope for continuing membership of the customs union and the single market in a transitional period."
The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee’s role is to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s policies in relation to European Union issues. As such, it has the lead role in considering the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and its implications for Scotland
The Committee’s Report on Determining Scotland's future relationship with the European Union was published in March 2017, just before the UK Prime Minister formally notified the EU of the triggering of Article 50 to begin the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Building on this report, and ongoing inquiries into the Article 50 negotiations and other related subjects, the Committee has been keen to engage with decision-makers across Scotland, the UK and the EU.
The meeting on Monday with Mr Barnier is part of a wider programme of meetings with a range of organisations in Brussels. These meetings present an opportunity for the Committee to hear first-hand about the latest developments in the negotiations between the UK and the EU, and to hear from representatives of other nation states (Switzerland) on the nature of their relations with the EU and how they view Brexit. These meetings will give the Committee an opportunity to present the views from across Scotland that have been provided to us through our cross-party inquiries.
The following members of the Committee will be taking part in the visit—
- Joan McAlpine, Convener (Scottish National Party)
- Lewis Macdonald, Deputy Convener, (Scottish Labour Party)
- Ross Greer (Scottish Green Party )
- Stuart McMillian (Scottish National Party)
- Mairi Gougeon (Scottish National Party)
- Jackson Carlaw (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
- Rachael Hamilton (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
- Tavish Scott (Scottish Liberal Democrats)