Holyrood committee to hear EU vote evidence

MSPs are to hear expert evidence on the implications for Scotland of the proposed in/out referendum on European Union (EU) membership.

Holyroods European and External Relations Committee will hear evidence regarding the in/out EU referendum. Picture: Sean Bell

Holyrood’s European and External Relations Committee will question a panel of academics and business leaders on the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking reforms, including tougher rules to prevent migrants claiming benefits, ahead of a promised referendum by the end of 2017.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a “double lock” to ensure that no exit from the EU can take place without a majority in all four nations of the UK agreeing to it.

In a written submission to the committee, Dr Eve Hepburn, from the University of Edinburgh, said any successful renegotiation to restrict migrant access to benefits might not apply in Scotland.

She said Prime Minister David Cameron’s demands for reform could be “incompatible” with devolution as the Scottish Parliament exercises more powers over welfare.

MSPs will today hear from Michael Keating, politics professor at the University of Aberdeen and director of the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change, and Dr Daniel Kenealy, lecturer at the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Government.

Also giving evidence will be former diplomat David Frost, now chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.

Committee convener Christina McKelvie MSP said: “The question of the UK’s relationship with Europe and the likelihood of a referendum on EU membership being held by 2017 pose key questions for Scotland’s future interaction with the EU.

“It is important that the interests of the Scottish Parliament and the other devolved institutions are recognised in the renegotiation process.

“It is also crucial that we develop an early understanding of how any changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU will impact on Scotland.”