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Brexit threat to human rights

Published: 29 Aug 2016 17:50
Part of:
International

Standing Council on Europe discusses impact on social protections.

The second meeting of the Standing Council on Europe took place today to discuss options to protect Scotland's interests in the wake of the EU Referendum.

As well as considering how the Scottish Government will seek to influence the UK position ahead of Article 50 being triggered, it looked in detail at human rights and social protections, such as employment law and workers' rights, and the potential threat posed to these rights by Brexit.

Members considered how the UK leaving the EU could threaten such rights and discussed options for protecting and enhancing rights in the future.

Chaired by Professor Anton Muscatelli, the Standing Council on Europe advises the Scottish Government on securing Scotland's relationship and status within the EU.

Today's meeting was attended by the new Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, Michael Russell.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

"The EU guarantees everyone in Scotland rights that we now take for granted - from rights to free speech, religion, and non-discrimination, to social protections such as the right to paid holiday, maternity leave or limits to working hours.

"Legislation in these areas is reserved to Westminster and there are real fears that a UK Government outside the single market will seek a race to the bottom and erode these rights and protections that have been built up over decades.

"The Standing Council today considered these issues and discussed how we can maintain our rights, and potentially enhance protections in the future, while maintaining Scotland's ability to engage and influence the countries around us on these important matters."

Council member Professor Alan Miller, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, said:

"With Brexit, we cannot and must not regress. We need to raise public awareness of the risks of Brexit otherwise we could be on a path to an age where national borders act as a barrier to social progress.

"Any rolling back of our fundamental human rights and freedoms would diminish everyone's quality of life. If EU citizens benefit from advances in economic and social protections in the future, then people in Scotland should be able to enjoy those same rights. And Scotland must be able continue on its own progressive journey and act in solidarity with other countries to tackle common issues."

Notes to editors

The Standing Council on Europe is chaired by Professor Anton Muscatelli and comprises specialists in legal, European, financial, business and diplomatic matters.