Following a referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union (EU), more than 30 million people turned out to vote, with a majority of 51.9% choosing to leave (a.k.a ‘Brexit’). Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017, beginning the two year process of leaving the EU:

Why this is important to the third sector in Scotland

SCVO and its members believe that the EU has broadly been good for Scotland and Scotland’s third sector. We support measures to ensure that the many protections we currently enjoy are not jeopardised – read our full briefing on what Brexit is likely to mean for the third sector or take a look at our key messages.

SCVO has a long and active history with the European Union and European civil society, working with out partners and networks across Europe on areas of mutual interest. These include shaping and influencing policy, providing information and representing the interests of the sector in European Funding, encouraging and promoting participative democracy, sharing best practice from across Europe, collaborating on joint projects and providing up to date information and advice to our members and partners.

A delegation of representatives from Scottish third sector organisations visited Brussels in May 2017 to engage with the institutions of the EU, to make the sector’s voice heard, let hosts know that Scotland’s third sector is overwhelmingly pro-European and making clear the frustration at the lack of space for civil society in the ongoing debate.

What our colleagues are saying

Europe and the third sector blogs

Mhairi Snowden

It’s a fact – collective noise is more likely to be heard

Speak to anyone who has been to a child’s birthday party, to a pipe band competition or a demonstration, and they’ll tell you that more ‘voices’ make you sit up and take notice. This is something that the Scottish voluntary sector knows well.  Collective campaigning is our norm, and whilst not without its challenges, the […]

5th Dec, 2017

Craig Wilson

Brexit – The Withdrawal Effects

With Big Ben currently out of action, the assembled masses of the House of Commons are set to put on a ding-dong of their own. Later today, we will see the beginning of the committee stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. And it looks like it might be a show worth watching. Let me […]

14th Nov, 2017

John Downie

The third sector must keep fighting for the rights of EU citizens

When a cross-party group of MEPs warned Home Secretary Amber Rudd that the UK Government’s plans to force EU nationals to add their names to a register in the transition period immediately after Brexit would be illegal, you do continue to wonder at the UK Government’s appalling attitude and approach to our fellow citizens. Press […]

24th Oct, 2017

John Downie

Charity Sector Set to Adopt Brexit Positions

With Brexit negotiations between the UK Government and Europe leaders now underway, Scotland’s charities and voluntary organisations now face the daunting task of ensuring Brexit has the least negative impact possible on Scotland’s communities. Our sector has expressed grave concerns about the outcome of the decision to leave the European Union, taken in June last year, and […]

28th Aug, 2017

Craig Wilson

Brexit: The end of the beginning

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill After 14 months of wearying speculation and intrigue, Brexit is about to get very real. Soon, the phony war will end and we will begin to see a new […]

15th Aug, 2017

John Downie

If you think the forecast is bleak now, just wait until Autumn

Last week many of our political leaders made the most of recess and set off on their Summer holidays after an apparently gruelling political session so far…you can almost feel the sympathy up and down the country. With the sure footed Theresa May hillwalking in the Alps, Chancellor Philip Hammond seemed to think he was […]

1st Aug, 2017

John Downie

By the time Brexit’s finished UK negotiators will have to eat more than chlorinated chicken

As you may have noticed, Liam Fox – the UK Secretary of State for International Trade – is in Washington DC.  Poor Liam, you have to feel for him. Despite his best efforts to focus our attention on a “new and exciting chapter” in UK-US trade relations, the start of his visit has been overshadowed by […]

25th Jul, 2017

John Downie

Third sector must voice concerns on EU (Withdrawal) Bill

With UK Government or Tory party policy – take your pick, depending on your perspective – disarray on Brexit negotiations on display once again last week, it’s almost easy to look upon it as a great political spectator sport. If it only wasn’t so serious. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, has again insisted that […]

24th Jul, 2017

James Cant

Brexit is a big deal for medical research

Brexit is a big deal for all of us. Right from the start it’s been a hugely complex issue – and that was before the General Election.  Whether we look at it as private citizens or through the prisms of our professional interests there is no doubt that it will be one of the biggest […]

19th Jun, 2017

Marion Macleod

Brexit – what it might mean for Scotland’s children

Children’s organisations in Scotland, and across the UK, are seriously concerned that Brexit may adversely affect the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. Child protection has been strengthened by binding European legislation, including laws against trafficking of children, child abduction, forced migration, sexual exploitation and the capacity to pursue criminal proceedings against those […]

5th Jun, 2017

Heather Noller

Links with Europe vital for carer campaigning

Like many working in public affairs, I’m guilty of trotting out lots of statistics to support my organisation’s policy objectives and calls to action. There are 759,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, and on top of that there are the hidden carers that we can’t measure through the Census. I appreciate the number more than the […]

30th May, 2017

Jackie Brock

Rights and protections must remain following Brexit

On the radio last week a group of ‘Remainers’ were asked if they would vote in the General Election for parties promising a second EU referendum. It was interesting. Most said “no” – their line being: the vote has been decided, we need to proceed and exit. This must give those who are dismayed by […]

24th May, 2017

Iain Gordon

It’s all about relationships!

The UK is leaving the EU. UK citizens and organisations risk losing access to all of the progressive policy initiatives and social advances that have been hard-won over decades of EU membership. What can we do mitigate the risk? That was the question at the forefront of our minds when, as a group of Scottish […]

23rd May, 2017

Craig Wilson

SCVO: Le voyage à Bruxelles

Having learned most of my French from ‘Allo ‘Allo, I’m afraid the title above will be the beginning and the end of the use of the language in this blog piece – which details a recent third sector delegation to Brussels. Led by SCVO, a diverse delegation of Scottish third sector organisations (comprising those with […]

22nd May, 2017

John Downie

Brexit and the Third Sector – will we have a place in Europe?

As the unedifying spectacle that is UK general election continues to depress us with its stage managed press conferences and lack of genuine debate, you have to question the state of our democracy. It’s even more depressing if you start thinking of it in the context of Brexit. Ahead of a Scottish third sector visit […]

10th May, 2017

Ruth Boyle

There’s more to Brexit than business, just ask the third sector

Until charities have a strong voice in Brexit discussions, the vulnerable will remain voiceless

20th Oct, 2016

Alison Cairns

UK & EU’s date with destiny is set

Alison on why you might have missed Cameron's EU deal

22nd Feb, 2016



Here at SCVO, we love charities. The people behind them, the work they do and the disadvantaged who benefit as a result – it’s why we do what we do. As such, we believe every person who works to make a difference to Scottish communities should be valued, and that includes our colleagues who have come from other EU countries to live and work here. Scotland’s third sector is strengthened thanks to their contribution. Find out more about our #EUareValued campaign here.


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If you have contact with European networks and institutions, or collaborate with them on any issues, please help us build a more accurate picture of the networks and projects the Scottish third sector is involved in by completing our European Connections mapping survey. 


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