Scotland’s Place in Europe
The Constitutional Law Committee has responded to two separate inquiries issued by the UK government’s European and External Relations Committee and the Scottish Affairs Committee into the implications for Scotland’s relationship with the European Union following the referendum result.
At the moment it is difficult to be certain as to how the referendum result will affect Scotland’s relationship with Europe. Much depends on the terms of the withdrawal agreement which follows under the Article 50 procedure and the terms of any future relationship between the UK and the EU. We have analysed what we perceive to be the most significant public interest issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EU and also the most significant issues confronting Scotland’s solicitors.
The options for a future relationship between Scotland and the EU include: remaining within the UK and participating in a World Trade Organization (WTO) membership relationship; remaining within the UK which joins the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA) agreements; remaining within the UK and participating in a Free Trade Agreement or an Association Agreement with the EU; remaining within the UK and participating in a bespoke relationship with the EU, and seeking to be admitted as a member state of the EU following an independence referendum. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages as well as political and legal ramifications.
The legal impact of the UK’s exit from the EU will affect the primacy of EU law which will in turn affect the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government. There are also aspects of EU law which will have a particular impact on clients, the general public and the legal profession as a whole. Solicitors routinely advise their clients, whether they are individuals or businesses, on the impact of EU law and policies and we believe that arrangements must be made to preserve legal professional privilege for the clients of Scottish Lawyers acting in EU law matters in the EU on their behalf.
You can read our responses to both inquiries here.