Earlier today (Monday), in Brussels, COSLA’s President and Vice-President met with the EU Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The meeting discussed the potential impacts on public services, local economic sectors, citizen’s rights and community cohesion in Scotland of the UK withdrawal from the EU. 
COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, commented, “I am delighted that Monsieur Barnier was able to meet COSLA and listen to the positive ideas that we will be promoting over the coming months to make the best of Brexit, albeit COSLA took the position that the UK remain in the EU."
Cllr Evison continued:
“Unfortunately though, there is currently a huge degree of uncertainty over what Brexit might mean for Scotland. I believe that it will significantly impact on Scotland’s local communities and businesses  – and COSLA is therefore determined that the Scottish local dimension is understood during the Brexit process. I want to ensure that COSLA does what we can to minimise any detriment and maintain good EU-UK relationships into the future. I have urged Mr Barnier to help us continue to participate in a range of EU cooperation programmes, as our non-EU colleagues from Norway and Iceland do.”
COSLA Vice President Councillor Graham Houston indicated:
“Like Mr Barnier, I want to see citizens’ rights maintained. COSLA Leaders have been clear this must be a priority. Scots are welcoming people and would want to be welcomed in the remaining EU."  
Cllr Houston continued:
"Surveys by us, the Federation of Small Business and the Chambers of Commerce show considerable impacts already, particularly for the tourism, and food and drink sectors. As local authorities we are also concerned about recruitment and retention issues in areas like social care, community support, teaching and the effect removing EU citizens from the workforce might have.”
COSLA President Alison Evison concluded:
“I urged the Commission to build on our current strong and positive links across European Local Government and seek to maintain political cooperation. Europe-wide we all recognise the challenges we face in providing local services and empowering our communities. The possible economic, citizenship and cultural impacts of Brexit will make this more difficult for Scottish councils.  COSLA wants to find ways to continue the cooperation we have in sharing good practice.
“I believe that we had a constructive and positive exchange of views and I agreed to share further ideas and information with him and his team over the coming months."

Article published: 
Mon, 23/10/2017 - 13:00