Protecting EU citizen’s rights
Protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Scotland is an issue that is very close to my heart, and at the top of the Scottish Government’s agenda as the UK’s Brexit negotiations progress. This is why tonight I will be in Dundee for the second of a series of public meetings with EU citizens living in Scotland. The meeting, a live Q&A co-hosted with Dundee City Council, will be an opportunity for me to hear first-hand about the impact Brexit has had – and will continue to have – on the lives of the EU citizens in and around the Dundee area. On this occasion, I will also try to address some of their concerns around Brexit.
In total, there are now around 219,000 non-UK EU residents in Scotland, each of whom contributes to our economy with an average of £10,400 in government revenue. Their support to both our urban and rural communities is invaluable: they fill important jobs in our public services, care for people daily in our NHS and teach in our schools and universities. But it’s not just about the economy: talented people from every European nation coming to Scotland to live, work and study are bringing cultural richness and diversity to our country.
Since the EU referendum, I have met many EU citizens who have made their lives here in Scotland and are now understandably concerned about their future. The Scottish Government has repeatedly urged Westminster to provide assurances that EU citizens will have their rights protected in the place that they choose to call home. While the agreement reached between the UK Government and the EU27 on citizens’ rights in December is a welcome step forward in the negotiations, it still leaves many questions unanswered and continues to cast uncertainty onto the future of both EU nationals in Britain and UK citizens in Europe.
Scotland has always been a diverse and inclusive nation, and we have a long history of welcoming people from other parts of Europe and the world, to contribute to our communities and our wider economy.
As we continue to urge the UK Government to provide further clarity on the issue of EU citizens’ rights, I hope that tonight’s meeting will be an opportunity to provide reassurance and address some of the concerns that EU citizens in Scotland might have.
As the First Minister said following the referendum,
“Scotland is your home, and you are welcome here”, now and in the future.