Keeping Scotland in single market will be ‘challenging’

David Barnes said it was 'clear that more powers will need to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament'. Picture: Neil Hanna
David Barnes said it was 'clear that more powers will need to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament'. Picture: Neil Hanna
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If Scotland manages to negotiate a differential deal which sees it remain part of the UK while being a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), an additional settlement will be required to extend full access to the single market for agriculture and fisheries products.

Speaking yesterday, one of the top civil servants involved in the Scottish Government’s EU hub, David Barnes, explained to an audience of farmers and industry specialists that the these areas were not covered by standard EEA terms. However, he said this had been known for some time and stated that it was not necessarily an insurmountable problem.

More powers will need to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament

David Barnes

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Speaking in his new role as a deputy director of the division evaluating Scotland’s possible Brexit options, Barnes was outlining some of the highly technical aspects of the Scottish Government’s proposals for retaining access to the single market at the Farming Scotland conference in Carnoustie.

He said that while the Scottish Government’s first two favoured outcomes in the Brexit saga – remaining within the EU followed by the whole of the UK remaining within the single market – had now effectively been ruled out, an agreement which allowed differential market access to the EU for a Scotland which was still part of the UK was being sought as the third option.

Admitting that the mechanics of such a deal would be “challenging”, he said that the Scottish Government’s paper on the issue released in December had made it plain that this approach was far from its first choice.

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Barnes said that while “the ball was currently in the UK government’s court” over this differential approach, if it was to be followed it was crucial that there was close co-operation to ensure such an approach worked, saying: “It is clear that more powers will need to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and adequate funding must be made available.”

• Also speaking at the ­conference, the AHDB’s potato sector strategy director, Rob Clayton, said growers could be making another £700 per hectare by adopting the latest technical and scientific advances, according to the results of a series of trials run over seven years.

He added: “With the average producer growing 50 hectares, adopting these could make a difference of £35,000 to their business – and this is why it is so important for producers to keep abreast of these advances at events like the AHDB’s Strategic Potato farm events.”

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