We should have the con­fi­dence to be lead­ing, not leav­ing, the EU

The Herald - - OPINION -

THERE is more than a hint of irony that as Scot­land, along with the United King­dom, pre­pares to leave the Euro­pean Union, the is­land of Malta, with a pop­u­la­tion less than that of Ed­in­burgh, has just taken over the pres­i­dency of the EU.

The pres­i­dency is re­spon­si­ble for driv­ing for­ward the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters’ work on EU leg­is­la­tion, en­sur­ing the con­ti­nu­ity of the EU agenda, or­derly leg­isla­tive pro­cesses and co-op­er­a­tion among mem­ber states.

This is the first time the is­land will hold the pres­i­dency and dur­ing the next six months will fo­cus on six key ar­eas: mi­gra­tion, sin­gle mar­ket, se­cu­rity, so­cial in­clu­sion, Europe’s neigh­bour­hood and mar­itime sec­tor. Lead­ing the EU. In­ter­est­ingly Es­to­nia, with a pop­u­la­tion of less than 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple, around one-quar­ter that of Scot­land, will take over the EU pres­i­dency in July.

Dur­ing the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, the Bet­ter To­gether camp claimed that the only way to guar­an­tee Scot­land’s place in the EU was to vote to re­main in the UK. In­deed, Scot­land was to “lead the UK” not “leave the UK”.

Times have in­deed changed since Septem­ber 2014 and we are, de­spite these as­sur­ances, head­ing for the EU ex­its.

Of course, we could have the best of both worlds, part of a sin­gle mar­ket with the rest of the UK – as promised to North­ern Ire­land in its re­la­tions with the Repub­lic of Ire­land – and still mem­bers of the EU.

For that to hap­pen of course re­quires the con­fi­dence, as Malta and Es­to­nia have demon­strated, to take full con­trol of our own af­fairs and be the mas­ters of our own des­tiny, lead­ing not leav­ing the EU. Alex Orr, Flat 2, 77 Leam­ing­ton Ter­race, Ed­in­burgh.

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