Nicola Sturgeon reveals talks with next president of the European Union council

Sturgeon spoke with prime minister of Malta as part of continent-wide engagement drive

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has discussed keeping the country in the European Union with the prime minister of Malta, the next leader to hold the presidency of the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed the talks during an update to the Scottish Parliament on the range of communication efforts taken by the government to pursue Scotland’s place within the world’s largest trading and political bloc.

Sturgeon spoke with Joseph Muscat, prime minister and leader of Malta’s Labour Party, over the summer. Muscat will lead his nation’s presidency of the European Union council from January - meaning Malta will set the agenda for the council of ministers (the 28 EU states) in Brussels. 

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told CommonSpace: “Malta will assume the presidency of the Council of the EU in January 2017. The first minister spoke to the prime minister of Malta by phone on July 6 to outline our position to pursue all possible options to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe.”

In parliament Sturgeon listed the call as part of her “direct discussions” in the lead up to the expected triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, that the UK is expected to activate to begin a potential two year process of leaving the EU. 

However, the Scottish Government has a mandate from the electorate in Scotland and from the Scottish Parliament to pursue independent negotiations with EU institutions and European member states. 

Scotland United: Parliament backs negotiations to keep Scotland in the EU 

Muscat is the latest high profile contact to discuss Scotland’s future with Sturgeon.

Previously she travelled to Brussels and met with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and EU Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt.

Talks also took place with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who intervened on Scotland’s behalf at the post-Brexit leaders meeting.

Sturgeon also met with German Europe minister Michael Roth in Berlin this August, with the German Foreign Ministry noting Scotland’s vote to remain within the EU.

Dozens of lower level meetings with ambassadors and EU politicians have also taken place through minister Fiona Hyslop and MEP Alyn Smith.

Picture courtesy of European Council

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