Scotland's first Brussels office was set up under the Tories. Now they seem intent on undermining its work – Angus Robertson MSP

Scotland has been making the most of its direct international connections for decades.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 4:45 pm
European Union leaders attend an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels last week (Picture: Olivier Matthys/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Even before devolution in 1999, Scotland had a Brussels office, which was established under the Tories. This presence was developed under Labour and the Liberal Democrats and has been continued since 2007 by the SNP.

Now there is a network of offices around the world that promotes Scotland, its economy and tourism.

Scotland House in Brussels is the eyes and ears of the Scottish Government, Scotland Europa, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

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It is an effective platform to manage diplomatic engagement, economic engagement and cultural promotion. Scotland is one of more than 300 sub-state authorities, including 28 from Germany, 21 from Italy and 18 from Poland. And non-EU states like Norway are also represented by six regional offices.

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While everyone else is doing there best to promote themselves, the Tories are trying to undermine Scotland’s ability to do so.

One of their new MSPs has written to the UK Foreign Office questioning Scotland’s international presence while one of his unelected ministerial colleagues at Westminster has suggested that Scotland should inform the UK Government about all contact it has with the European Union.

After decades of positive cross-party experience in promoting Scotland internationally, it is disappointing that the Tories are now breaking that consensus.

Of course, as the losers in the recent Scottish elections, they are not in a position to dictate to the rest of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government – thank goodness for that.

Angus Robertson is SNP MP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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