First Minister makes Scotland’s voice heard in Brussels visit

The First Minister has visited Brussels for a series of engagements to make Scotland’s voice heard in Europe.

Nicola Sturgeon delivered an address at the European Policy Centre, a leading Brussels-based think tank, where she said that Scotland should return to the European Parliament as an independent country.

She said: “I look forward to the day when Scotland returns where we belong – to EU membership with a place in our own right in the Council and the European Parliament.

“As an independent nation, we will embrace international co-operation.

“And then we can sing of solidarity and friendship – not out of sorrow, but with optimism and hope for the future.”

The visit comes just one week after Former European Council president Donald Tusk said there would be enthusiasm in Brussels and around Europe for an independent Scotland joining the EU.

Asked about Scotland re-joining as an independent member, Tusk told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.”

“If you ask me about our emotions, you will witness I think always empathy.”

The First Minister also met with, Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, with whom she discussed technology and climate change.

Later, the First Minister met with Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, making sure that Scotland’s voice is properly represented during Brexit talks.

Last year, Donald Tusk’s predecessor Herman Van Rompuy confirmed that Brexit has changed the EU’s view of Scotland.

He said: “I think there is a change, yes, because for a lot of people they are looking at what Scottish people are in favour of.

“They want to stay in the European Union and at the same time they are prevented to stay in the European Union.”

One EU official also told BBC Scotland last year that there had been a “paradigm shift” in European attitudes towards Scottish independence.