Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon calls for 'direct input' in EU negotiations

Saltire and EU flags Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People in Scotland, along with the rest of Britain, will be voting in the referendum on EU membership

Scotland's voice must be heard during the UK government's current negotiations with the European Union, according to Nicola Sturgeon.

The first minister wants the Scottish government, along with the UK's other devolved administrations, to have a "direct input" in the process.

She will make that point at the British-Irish summit in Dublin later.

Downing Street said it will "work with and listen to" the devolved administrations on a range of issues.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to negotiate a "better deal" for the UK in Europe in advance of a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU which is due to be held by the end of 2017.

The SNP had demanded a so-called "quadruple lock" to make sure Britain's exit from the EU was dependant on all four nations voting for it in the referendum.

'Reserved box'

The 24th British-Irish Summit is being held in Dublin and features leading figures from the UK Government and administrations from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the UK islands.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms Sturgeon said: "This issue of European membership can't simply be put into a reserved box because the decisions the European Union takes, the terms of the UK's membership, impacts on our economy, impacts on jobs, impacts on industries like fishing and farming and issues like climate change.

"These are all responsibilities of the Scottish government. So you can't simply put it in a box and say it's got nothing to do with the Scottish government. These things matter a lot to people right across this country."

Scotland's first minister said the devolved administrations "cannot be kept in the dark" over EU negotiations which she said could jeopardise the UK's place in Europe.

'Reformed basis'

She added: "It is absolutely essential that Scotland's voice, and those of the other devolved administrations, is heard to ensure our interests are acknowledged.

"That is why I am today calling for a forum to be identified which gives the devolved governments a direct input to the negotiations to ensure that our priorities are listened to and our vital interests are protected."

"The Scottish Government unequivocally supports our membership of the EU.

"At the same time, as I made clear when I visited Brussels recently, I don't believe the EU is perfect and it can be reformed to work better for its citizens."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The government's objective is to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU and to address people's concerns, and then make the case for the UK stay in the EU on a reformed basis.

"Of course we will continue to work with and listen to the devolved administrations on a whole range of issues."

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