“Scotland Loves Europe” illumination has not been reported to police, European Commission clarifies

The European Commission has distanced itself from an illumination paid for by the SNP which saw a pro-EU message projected onto its headquarters in Brussels.

The stunt, which saw the words Scotland and Europe linked by a love heart projected onto the Berlaymont office complex in the heart of the Belgian capital, was not sanctioned by local authorities.

At a weekly media briefing on Monday, a European Commission spokeswoman initially said the unauthorised light projection had been referred to police.

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But in a statement issued later in the day, the Commission stated it would take “no further action” as the incident had been “short-lived”.

The message was projected onto the European Commission building on Brexit DayThe message was projected onto the European Commission building on Brexit Day
The message was projected onto the European Commission building on Brexit Day

The Scottish Conservatives branded the projection "virtual graffiti".

The lightshow was praised by Nicola Sturgeon, who took to Twitter shortly before the 11pm Brexit deadline on January 31 when the UK's departure from the European Union was finally enacted.

The First Minister's tweet showed a photograph of the European Commission building in the Belgian capital's Rue de la Loi and a message projected on to its frontage.

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In the tweet, which has now been liked and shared tens of thousands of times, Ms Sturgeon remarked that it appeared that the EU had "left a light on" for Scotland, referencing a single office light being kept on in the otherwise dark and empty building.

An EU Commission spokeswoman said today: "In relation to the message projected on the Berlaymont on the 31st of January I can confirm it seems that this had nothing to do with the Commission, we were not in the knowledge of that.

"This is something that is between those stakeholders, those third parties and the Belgian police so we had nothing to do with that action or with the message that was projected.

"We have just one interlocutor in relation to the future partnership with the UK and that is of course London.

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"This was part of our ongoing discussions with the Belgian police which is in charge of many aspects linked to the Berlaymont, and I know that it was taken up with them as we checked, actually, about the incidents."

But a later EC statement clarified no action would be taken.

It said: “According to our information, the illumination was performed from a point outside of the building’s immediate security perimeter.

“In such cases, the security staff have to seek assistance from the Belgian authorities, because they cannot intervene in the Belgian public domain.

“Whenever such projections are planned, prior authorisation from the Commission is necessary. In the case at hand, no prior authorisation was requested.

“The Commission has and will continue to contact authorities in the event of unauthorised projections to have them stopped. This particular incident was short-lived, so no actions were taken.”

The announcement was made on the same day the SNP leader visited Brussels to speak at the European Policy Centre on Scotland's future relationship with the EU.

Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “It’s no surprise Nicola Sturgeon’s pointless stunt has ended up on the desk of Belgian police.

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“Quite why the SNP thought it would get away with this virtual graffiti is a mystery. Yet again, the nationalists are causing Scotland significant embarrassment at home and abroad.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Instead of incurring the wrath of the European Commission and the local police, the First Minister should be focusing on getting the basics right back home.

“That means reversing the decline of Scottish education, cutting waiting times in the NHS and investing in the police service."

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