We’re working to help EU citizens stay in Scotland despite Brexit

Europe Day commemorates collaboration, shared economic prosperity and peace.

It marks 73 years since the Schuman Declaration, which began the European cooperation which went on to become the European Union.

Polls show that, while support for the EU was already high in Scotland – 62 per cent voter to remain in the EU, while almost three-quarters did here in Scotland’s capital – the feeling of European identity in Scotland grows ever stronger.

More and more people regret Brexit and would prefer EU membership. We are, and always have been, a European nation with strong, long-standing ties with Europe.

Citizens from across Europe contribute immensely to our communities, cities, regions and the country as a whole. Underpinning this is a commitment to common values.

Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are also Scotland’s values, and it remains central to the maintenance of peaceful relations and co-existence on this continent, especially in the face of Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.

In Scotland, the impact of Brexit continues to be felt, with the economic harm and efforts of the UK Government to undermine Scotland’s international partnerships, of which central importance is placed on our EU friends.

Unjustly, European citizens who have become new Scots have been forced to apply for the right to stay in their Scottish homes.

More than 325,000 EU citizens have had to apply for settled status (EUSS) in Scotland, of which more than 74,000 live in Edinburgh.

Our message to them remains as it always was. You are welcome here, we want you to stay, this is your home.

The Scottish Government continues to support EU citizens through our Stay in Scotland campaign. Since 2019, we have provided more than £2 million to community organisations to help EU citizens to apply to the EUSS. We will continue this funding until at least March 2024.

This funding includes an immigration caseworker at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to support vulnerable EU citizens to make late EUSS applications.

We also continue to fund the Citizens’ Rights Project to provide advice and support to EU citizens across Scotland. We now also fund the independent charity Settled to provide higher-level immigration advice.

Make no mistake, however, the Scottish Government has not only the right, but also the duty, to develop and articulate views on EU matters.

We will stand by our fellow Scots who have moved here from Europe, and I give a Europe Day pledge that no stone will be left unturned to restore our rightful place in the European Union.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, the day dedicated to peace and European solidarity carries with it particular poignance and importance.

So long as war rages on the European continent, it is a reminder that our efforts to pursue peace with our nearest neighbours are never over.

As we have for over a year, Scotland will continue to support refugees from Ukraine, with the provision of a home for as long as they need it.

On this day, we extend a hand of friendship to all who have come here from the continent, whether by choice or by necessity. You are – and will remain – our fellow European citizens, and our fellow Scots.