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by Liam Kirkaldy
13 October 2014
Foreign role not possible within the UK

Foreign role not possible within the UK

Scotland will not have separate representation within the EU as part of the devolution package delivered by the Smith Commission, according to the Italian Ambassador to the UK, Pasquale Terracciano.

Following the referendum, Alex Salmond outlined three ‘key tests’ for devolution, one of which was “Scotland to have a stronger and clearer voice on the international stage”. But Terracciano said that it would not be possible to have any formal role in Europe as part of devolution.

He said: “No, I don’t think it would be possible. You can have representation within the UK delegation but the regulations are quite clear – it has to be under the UK umbrella, you cannot have a separate delegation as part of a country or a region. For separate representation it is up to the UK to accommodate Scottish ambition because it is within the UK.” 

Speaking to Holyrood ahead of an appearance in front of the European and External Relations Committee, Terracciano also denied that he had been approached by the UK Government to make an intervention against the Yes campaign, following reports earlier this year that the UK’s ‘Devolution Unit’ had been briefing against independence.

With Italy having taken over presidency of the EU council in July, Terracciano said that the rise of euroscepticism demanded a response from politicians in both the UK and Europe. 

“I would say that it is high time that the positive case for Europe was made here in the UK. There should be more focus on growth and job creation. The main issue is getting Europe to do what is important for European citizens. 

“The UK should promote change and reform of Europe. I think the way that [the Conservative pledge for a referendum on EU membership] was put was to create a political point but I think it is very hard to imagine one state getting an agreement – you would need agreement from 27 other countries.”

Appearing in parliament, the ambassador was asked about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – debated last week in Brussels and expected to be finalised by the end of the year – which has led to concerns it would open up UK public services to privatisation.

Alex Rowley, MSP, said: “In Scotland and across the UK there is a concern over what the implications of that agreement would be, particularly on the health service, and there is a strong body of opinion that the National Health Service in Scotland should not be included in the agreement. What is your view on that?”

Terracciano said: “The private sector is covered by the agreement but to the best of my knowledge, here in Scotland, you should be quite safe from that point of view because the private sector here is very, very small. I think that particular concerns can be taken into consideration. We need to take local and national concerns but without the so-called ‘carving out’ of excluding parts from the agreement because this is a way to empty it out.” 

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