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Protecting Scotland's EU interests

Published: 29 Jun 2016 18:12

FM praises the “open doors” of leaders across Europe.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has held a series of positive meetings with senior figures in Brussels today.

During a full day of engagements, she met the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the leaders of a number of the political groups in the European Parliament.

The First Minister set out Scotland's position following the result of the referendum last week and discussed the need to ensure Scotland's voice is heard in the process going forward.

She stressed that Scotland chose to remain part of the European Union, and her determination to ensure all options are considered to enable Scotland to remain in the EU.

The First Minister said her hosts had been welcoming and were sympathetic to the situation that Scotland finds itself in.

Speaking during a press conference of international journalists earlier, the First Minister said:

"Last Thursday, Scotland spoke clearly and positively for the European Union.

"I have found huge interest here in the referendum result, and a sympathetic response to the position Scotland finds itself in - a position not of our making, and not one we wanted.

"I'm not here to reach conclusions or press for decisions or commitments. I'm here to ensure that Scotland's voice is being heard – and that Scotland's position is being understood. It is.‎

"I have found open doors.

"I met President Schulz this morning and then met the leaders of several of the groups in the European Parliament, before meeting with President Juncker, where I received a very sympathetic response.

"In my discussions during the day, I've heard, as you would expect, deep concern about the impact of the referendum not just on the Scotland, the UK and the European institutions, but on people in all our countries and on the EU itself.

"For my part, I've emphasised that Scotland voted to remain part of EU.

"If there is a way for Scotland to stay, I am determined to find it‎.

"We are in uncharted territory, and none of this is easy. My task is to bring principles, purpose and clarity to the situation, and to speak for all of Scotland.

"We are early in this process. The referendum is not yet a week behind us - a long week for all of us.

"My concern at this stage is to ensure that once the UK negotiation with the EU starts, all the options are on the table‎. I don't underestimate the challenges but I am heartened by the discussions. Here, I've found a willingness to listen: open doors, open ears and open minds."