Preparing Scotland for Rejoin

In the first of his monthly blog for European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) members and supporters, our new president, David Martin, lays out how he sees his role and the central issues that need to be addressed to maintain campaigning momentum

Our core tasks are to make sure the Scottish public and the EU itself can be confident Scotland is ready to rejoin the EU.

By David Martin, President, the European Movement in Scotland

I am delighted and honoured to become President of the European Movement in Scotland. I thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue to advocate for Scotland and the UK having the closest possible relationship with Europe and to campaign for our speediest realistic return to European Union membership.

I see my role and the role of EMiS as three interrelated parts.

Firstly, we must not be cowed by those who argue BREXIT is done and dusted and that we are simply re-moaners. They want to induce a collective amnesia on the enormous damage done to our economy, culture, and education because of BREXIT. EMiS members know that students have lost the opportunity to study in the EU, that Universities saw research and other links built up over decades shattered, that farmers saw markets closed off to them, that communities lost out on much needed social and regional funds from the EU and musicians suddenly found it prohibitively expensive to perform in Europe. But of course, the biggest harm was done to our economy. Even those of us who follow the European debate closely were shocked by the figures in a recent report by Cambridge Econometrics which says BREXIT has cost the UK £140b and that the UK could be £311 billion worse off by 2035 due to leaving the EU. The Brexiteers cannot be allowed to get away with trying to wipe from our collective memory the enormous damage they have done to the lives of ordinary people. Health, education, and other services starved of resources because of the false promises made by self-serving individuals.

Improve and deepen

Secondly, we must work to improve and deepen our relationship from outside the EU. The decision to re-join the Horizon research programme is welcome as was the Windsor Agreement tweaking the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to improve the flow of goods and access to medicines. In the short run our priorities must be to get the UK back into the ERASMUS programme and prepare for the 2026 review of the TCA in the hope of further improving our trade and economic relations. We must also fight any attempt to distance us from wider Europe. The Rwanda farrago threatens to put us in conflict with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and sees some argue we should ignore the European Court of Human Rights. Although not part of the EU they are vital European links and an important safeguard for civil liberties beyond our shore. The EMiS must stand up for our full participation and co-operation with the Court and other Council of Europe institutions.

Keeping Brussels aware

Thirdly, our ultimate aim is of course to re-join the EU. I am aware that EMiS members have differing views on how this might be achieved. Whether it be through the UK re-joining or an independent Scotland our job is to make sure we are ready. This means operating at two levels. We must make sure the public are ready for membership by keeping up our information campaigns on the benefits of membership. We must also make sure that Europe is ready for us. This year will see the first European Parliament elections ever when Scotland has not elected individuals to serve in the Parliament. Projections suggest that over half of that Parliament will be new. We need to ensure that MEPs remain aware of our commitment to the EU and become advocates for our readmission. As the personnel in the Commission and elsewhere change we cannot just assume the collective memory of Scotland being taken out of the EU against its wishes will be preserved. That will require an active presence in Brussels.

Our task is challenging but potentially very rewarding.