The Holyrood committee investigating the implications for Scotland of leaving the EU has published an initial report today, with access to the single market emerging as a key priority area for businesses and industry in Scotland.
Today’s report comes as MSPs on the Committee prepare to question the First Minister at a special evidence session next Wednesday (14 September).
The report highlights deep concern about the potential loss of access to the single market, and considers whether alternatives to EU membership, such as membership of the European Free Trade Association or the European Economic Area can offer a lifeline to continued membership of the single market.
Since the referendum on 23 June, the Committee has heard evidence from a range of experts in constitutional law and EU policy, as well as economic commentators, business groups, fisheries and farming interest groups, and the trades unions. Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP has also appeared before the Committee.
Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener of the European and External Relations Committee, said:
"This report is the first chapter in our Committee's rolling scrutiny of the Brexit process in the Scottish context. It is clear from the initial evidence that access to the single market is the preference of most organisations we spoke to - meaning free movement of goods, services, people and capital.
"The Prime Minister has said ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but exactly what that will look like remains a mystery. Our committee will continue to explore in detail how access to the single market can be maintained for Scotland, scrutinise the alternatives and listen to voices from across Scottish society. Most immediately we will examine to what extent Scotland will be able to influence negotiations."
Lewis Macdonald MSP, Deputy Convener of the European and External Relations Committee, said:
“The Scottish Parliament has been united in affirming to citizens of EU countries already living here that they remain welcome and valued members of our communities. Our Committee expects Scottish Ministers to prioritise the interests of EU citizens who make such a valuable contribution to our public and private sectors and those attending our Higher and Further Education institutions in their discussions with their UK counterparts.”
The report also makes clear that the Committee will retain a focus on fully funded replacements for a number of programmes that currently receive EU funding. The UK Government recently announced short-term financial support in a number of areas and the report makes clear that the Committee will continue to monitor this.
The European and External Relations Committee launched its inquiry in the immediate aftermath of June’s referendum and held evidence sessions and fact-finding visits over the summer. The Committee will continue to take evidence over the coming months.
The First Minister, Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, will appear before the Committee at 12:30pm on Wednesday 14 September.