MSPs to raise major fears in Brussels talks with Michel Barnier
Frenchman Michel Barnier, who has clashed with opposite number David Davis over the UK’s approach to talks, will hold a meeting with members of Holyrood’s European committee in Brussels.
It is expected that the MSPs will probe whether there is scope for continuing membership of the customs union and the single market in a transitional period after the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019.
The SNP also points to the absence of any formal intergovernmental discussions within the UK on the withdrawal process since February and says today’s meeting with Mr Barnier will provide a greater understanding of the direction of the talks and the consequences of the negotiations for Scotland.
Nationalist MSP Mairi Gougeon, who sits on the Europe committee, said: “We welcome the opportunity to discuss some of the major concerns about Brexit with Michel Barnier – one of the figures at the very heart of these critical negotiations. However, it’s staggering that we’re yet to have that opportunity to speak with any UK Brexit ministers.
“For all the talk, for all the warm words, for all the bluster that they want to get a deal that works for Scotland, the UK government is treating our parliament with disdain and taking the public for fools.”
She also called on Mr Davis to give evidence before the committee on the talks after “ducking” an appearance at the start of the year.
“The door is still open,” Ms Gougeon added.
“We’d welcome the opportunity to question the Secretary of State on how he intends to protect Scotland’s interests in the negotiations and beyond.
“Important questions such as how will he protect Scottish jobs, investment and living standards? How can we protect Scotland’s access to the world’s largest economic market? And can he guarantee that when powers return from Brussels that they come to Holyrood and won’t be seized by the Tories in a naked power grab? A visit by David Davis to the Scottish Parliament is long overdue.”
Following the last round of talks between the UK and the EU, Mr Barnier said that there had been a lack of decisive progress on the main areas of the negotiations.
The talks with Mr Barnier will form part of a wider programme of meetings that the Europe committee will hold with a number of organisations in Brussels.
The committee is also to meet with representatives of other nation states, including (Switzerland, to examine the nature of their relations with the EU and how they view Brexit.