SCOTLAND is an important part of Europe and its people should be allowed to stay as European citizens.

That was the view expressed exclusively to The National yesterday by Terry Reintke, the German MEP who was visiting Scotland to meet with fellow Green politicians, like Alison Johnstone, Ross Greer and Andy Wightman, and revisit a country she grew to love during her time as a student at Edinburgh University.

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Reintke studied politics at Edinburgh University in 2011 on the European Union-led Erasmus programme and is adamant that it changed her life and pushed her in the direction of a successful career in politics – she was elected to the European Parliament in 2014, she is recognised as a rising star in the European Green movement and was showered with praise for speaking out about sexual harassment of women.

She said: “When Article 50 was triggered, me and 50 parliamentarians from all different levels and all member states of the European Union signed a letter to the members of the Scottish Parliament saying that if Scotland decided to become independent, and that is for the people of Scotland to decide, we would leave our door open and be very open to having Scotland either stay in the EU if it happened before Brexit, or to rejoin the EU, because we think Scotland is a very important part of Europe.

“That’s why there should also be the possibility for the Scottish people to stay being EU citizens.”

Nor does Reintke believe that Scotland would have to immediately adopt the euro if it became independent and rejoined the EU. She follows Scottish and British politics closely and find the euro pound issue baffling.

She said: “It is very interesting that this is such an obsession in the UK. The UK has been given an opt out of the euro. This has been so heavily debated here whereas in the rest of European Union, everybody thought ‘okay the people of the UK are going to keep the pound and this is how it is going to be.’ So I cannot understand how this debate is constantly being repeated in the UK itself. I would assume it would be many years before Scotland met the criteria for joining the euro.”

With disarming frankness for a politician, Reintke admits that Brexit has affected her personally: “With my background having studied in Edinburgh, and having so many personal ties to Scotland and the UK as a whole, it makes me very sad.

“From what we have seen over the past months during the negotiations, and especially what we have been seeing in the British Parliament in the last few weeks, I believe Brexit is wrong, especially in times when we are facing challenges globally that we can only tackle together, such as climate change and social inequalities.

“Working together is of great importance and while I see that there needs to be reform in the European Union, I also think that the European Union is still the best prospect that we have to make these things happen.”