Copenhagen Office (Opening)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the opening of its new Nordic office in Copenhagen. (S6O-01336)

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Scottish National Party

The First Minister visited Copenhagen on 26 August to officially open the new Nordic office. The office has been operating since May, in line with our programme for government commitment. Productive meetings with the Danish Government and with the private and public sectors were held, and we look forward to following up with opportunities for trade, investment and cultural exchange.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

I acknowledge that the First Minister visited Denmark to launch the new Nordic office recently, and I acknowledge that there are opportunities for trade co-operation to be advanced. However, we already enjoy substantial economic links with the country. Given the current cost of living crisis, is that the best use of taxpayers’ money at this time?

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Scottish National Party

Yes, it is. The Scottish Government has had overseas offices since the Scottish Parliament reconvened in 1999.

Those offices continue to generate significant economic and reputational benefits to Scotland at a time of increasing global uncertainty, and we need our friends and allies more, not less.

We are pleased to see the enthusiasm for, and consensus on, the excellent job that Scotland’s international offices do from day to day in the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee’s recent report on the Scottish Government’s international work. I invite Alexander Stewart to read the British Council’s 2019 report on Scotland and soft power, which suggests that we should expand the network as we are now doing.

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I associate Conservative members and the Scottish Conservative Party with the comments of the Presiding Officer and the cabinet secretary in relation to the health of Her Majesty the Queen. Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty and her wider family at this time.

How is the Scottish Government’s new office in Copenhagen working with the United Kingdom embassy to pursue common aims of the UK Government and the Scottish Government?

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Scottish National Party

I thank my colleague for his introductory comments on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

I confirm to Donald Cameron—I think that he is aware of this—that the Scottish Government team is based in the British embassy, as is the case for most Scottish Government offices around the world, and there is very strong and collegial co-operation between the Scottish Government officials and the rest of the UK embassy.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

The new Copenhagen office will, of course, offer a new way for the Scottish Government to realise its ambitions on Nordic co-operation. Will the cabinet secretary detail how the new office’s mission will enhance the aims of the existing Nordic Baltic policy statement?

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Scottish National Party

There is nothing better than having people in place in a region to understand the opportunities that exist in that particular region. For us, our northern European neighbourhood—whether we are talking about Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the three Baltic states or, indeed, Iceland or the Faroes—is our immediate neighbourhood. There is much that we share in respect of needs, interests, concerns and expectations, and across policy issues, including energy, economic growth and sustainability and cultural exchange issues—and much besides. There is much that we could and should be doing. Having a dedicated team that is focused on delivering what the Scottish Government wishes to pursue in Scotland but also working as a conduit to colleagues in our Nordic neighbourhood is the ideal way in which we wish to pursue the collegial relationship that we want to have with our nearest overseas northern European neighbours.