Scotland’s Place in Europe

On 20 December 2016, the Scottish Government published what is would like to see happen after Brexit in its discussion paper on “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. The paper sets out the importance of continued European Single Market membership for Scotland (if not the entire UK), and says this is also the best outcome for the UK as a whole (alongside Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred option that Scotland become a full EU member as an independent country). It then sets out the Scottish Government’s strategy for ensuring Scotland can remain a member of the European Single Market even if the UK Government chooses a different outcome, before laying out the impact of the EU referendum on the current devolution settlement and the new powers which will come to Scotland. In relation to financial services, the Scottish Government has “little doubt” that financial services providers are particularly vulnerable to Brexit particularly with the loss of passporting rights. The paper describes as the “least worst” option that the UK should remain in the single market by being an EEA member, and also remaining in the customs union, but says this does not appear to be in the UK Government’s intentions. The paper addresses the potential options for Scotland and includes discussion of a devolution of power to include financial services, amongst others, to protect Scotland’s economic, social protection and solidarity interests.