After a long and sometimes tough negotiation we have secured a fantastic deal with the EU. This is great news for Scottish businesses and families.
Having delivered a deal for the whole of the UK in record time, there are now huge opportunities ahead of us. It is the first time the EU has ever agreed a zero tariffs, zero quota deal, meaning that Scotland’s businesses will have exceptional access to the EU market.
Our agreement on fisheries will ensure that our fishermen, and our coastal communities, will thrive outside of the EU’s unfair Common Fisheries Policy. It recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters and gives us increased quotas in the next few years. We will invest in our fishing communities and restore the fishing fleet so our fishermen can catch more fish. And the Scottish fish processing sector will benefit from tariff free access to EU markets.
World-renowned Scottish products such as Scotch whisky, Arbroath Smokies and Orkney cheddar will remain protected in the EU. And importantly, the agreement meets the UK Government’s commitment to maintaining high standards, reflecting the importance that we place on remaining a world leader in food and environmental quality and standards.
The deal also includes provisions on financial services, which are so important to Scotland’s economy, and something many said was impossible.
People in Scotland will continue to benefit from a wide range of social security and healthcare rights when travelling, working and living in the EU.
We recognise how important educational opportunities are for Scottish young people, which is why we are working hard to set up a bespoke, UK-wide replacement for Erasmus+. It will be global in outlook, yet focused on our priorities such as supporting social mobility.
We will also continue to participate in Horizon and other space programmes – furthering our commitment to making the UK a science and research superpower.
The United Kingdom will always be a welcoming, outward-facing nation. Next year will be the beginning of a new chapter in the UK’s history. We will take our place in the world as a liberal, trading nation, acting as a global force for good. Our European neighbours are our friends, and that will not change. They are also our closest market, and having agreed this deal we will continue to trade with the EU on excellent terms. We will continue to work constructively with the EU on many issues. And EU citizens, who are such an important part of many of Scotland’s communities, will continue to enjoy their existing rights under the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.
It’s now vital that Scottish businesses make their final preparations as we come to the end of the transition period. We stand ready to support them as we get ready for our new start on 1 January. Having provided the Scottish Government with nearly £200 million to make preparations, we’ll continue to work closely with them to make sure Scotland is ready.
This is a historic moment for Scotland and all of the UK. We’ve delivered a deal that benefits the entire country while protecting the integrity of the vital UK internal market.
It’s now time for us to come together and make the very most of the many new opportunities now available.
Printed in The Times on 26 December 2020 - online article available by clicking here.