The Scottish Advisory Forum on Europe (SAFE) will promote the priorities of Scottish civil society.
Civil society leaders from across Scotland met in Edinburgh this month to create a new group, the Scottish Advisory Forum on Europe (SAFE), which will seek to identify and advocate for the priorities of Scotland’s civil society organisations and the communities they represent.
Together, the group will focus on how the implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is affecting organisations and the people they represent, and work with Scottish Ministers to identify solutions for the issues facing Scottish communities, as well find new areas for improved alignment with the EU.
With representative organisations across business; the third sector; human rights and law; and Scotland’s key export industries; this cross-sectoral group discussed key areas where Brexit has impacted Scotland’s trade, environment, and the rights of individuals and communities.
Organisations shared the key issues they are facing, including diminished opportunities for young people; difficulties around mobility, labour market and regulatory burdens; the loss of the Horizon programme and access to European research funding; and much more.
Irene Oldfather, director at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland was nominated by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) to take up their place on the UK Domestic Advisory Group (DAG). As Vice Chair of the DAG, she has been leading on this work
She said: “Following Brexit, it’s clear that new relationships, collaborations and networks must be established to ensure that citizens, businesses, social enterprises and academics can continue to connect to and engage with Europe. For if the pandemic showed anything, it is that borders and boundaries are less important than global connections.
“With the TCA due for general review in 2025, this group will be vital in ensuring that the voices of Scottish civil society are included, heard, and understood in what comes next.”
Europe Minister Christina McKelvie MSP added: “People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and the costs of Brexit are sadly all too clear.
“We are working hard to mitigate those costs as far as possible while the current arrangements are in place. Scotland faces many shared challenges and opportunities with our fellow Europeans and the Scottish Government will always be a voice for enhanced co-operation based on our common values.
“So I welcome the establishment of SAFE – the range of organisations represented is a clear indicator of the commitment across Scottish society to ongoing, effective collaboration with our European partners, and I look forward to working together to promote Scotland’s interests and make improvements wherever we can for our businesses, universities, communities, and people right across the country.”