NICOLA Sturgeon has made a plea to the EU for support for independence in a German newspaper, saying Scotland needs "an alternative way forward".

Writing in daily publication Die Welt, the First Minister said the UK Government is "turning its back on cooperation, consensus and solidarity" by pushing ahead with Brexit.

Sturgeon's comments come as EU leaders gather in Brussels today and tomorrow for the European Council summit.

She said Scotland will not be directly represented at the meeting but that "Scotland's interests will be very much at stake" as Boris Johnson's Government tries to secure an agreement with the EU before December 31.

The FM wrote: "In the early days of the coronavirus criris, Chancellor [Angela] Merkel observed that there had been "no greater challenge posed to Germany since 1945, adding that much now depended on 'acting together in solidarity'.

"While she was speaking for her own country, in truth her words applied equally to the rest of Europe and to the world as a whole. Solidarity remains essential as we collectively try and fight back against the pandemic, protecting lives while at the same time attempting to safeguard jobs and the economy.

She went on: "The same spirit will also be vital as European leaders gather in Brussells this week ... At the end of this year, as the post-Brexit transition period comes to an end, Scotland and the rest of the UK face the prospect of leaving the EU's single market, either with no trade deal in place or with what could only be a very poor deal compared to the single market membership we are leaving."

The First Minister said this threatens Scotland's food and drink industry by "potentially placing tariffs and other barriers in the way of access they currently have to European markets".

She said in 2004 the EU admitted 10 new states, seven of which were smaller than Scotland.

"It is clear that globalisation has gone hand in hand with a growing desire for nations to to take responsibility for their own affairs and make a full contribution as members of the global family of nations."

The FM referenced the fact that 62% of Scots voted to stay in the EU in 2016, saying pushing ahead with Brexit in a pandemic is "utterly reckless".

"The fact that the UK Government seems determined to push ahead with exiting the transition period with no deal in place would be a foolish move in normal times," Sturgeon added. "In the middle of a global pandemic it is utterly reckless."

She hit out at the Internal Market Bill which was passed by MPs last month, despite warnings that the “law-breaking” bill threatens the Union and the UK’s global reputation.

The bill contains powers which would enable the UK Government to breach international law by overriding the Withdrawal Agreement brokered with Brussels last year.

All Holyrood parties besides the Tories voted to reject the legislation – with the SNP branding it an attack on devolution. If passed the UK Government would be able to stray into matters which are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: Tory minister concedes Internal Market Bill IS power grab on Scotland

Sturgeon said the bill "would break international law and would renege on the Brexit treaty which Boris Johnson's Government agreed only last year. The bill also seeks to take away powers from the Scottish Parliament, and the legislatures in Northern Ireland and Wales."

The FM said Scotland embraces European values and that we have "benefitted enormously from the Single Market's 'four freedoms' including freedom of movement, as people from across Europe have made Scotland their home".

"The Scottish Government believes that the best future for our country is an independent nation within the EU," she added. "it is precisely because we have a UK Government that is determined to turn its back on cooperation, consensus and solidarity that Scotland needs an alternative way forward.

"Unlike the EU, which is a partnership of equals where decisions require consent and often unanimity from members, the UK does not work like that and the wishes of Scotland can be ignored and overruled by Westminster."

She concluded: "In our interconnected world today it has never been more important to uphold both our internationalist values and the principles and operation of international law. Scotland will always champion those values and principles."

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said the European Union would decide in the coming days, based on the UK’s next proposals, whether it should continue with trade talks.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, he said: “It is important to take into consideration all our conclusions and I think the message we send, it is a very clear one – we are determined to negotiate, we are determined to reach an agreement, but we know that there are some difficult topics.

“It is the case for fisheries, certainly, and also for level playing field and also governance.

“We intend to continue the negotiations on the basis of the mandate we have agreed and we repeat that we trust (EU chief negotiator) Michel Barnier, trust his way of working and the transparency between us.

“We are united and we will make an assessment in the next days, we will see if it is possible to complete a negotiation, what will be the country’s (the UK’s) proposal and based on that we will make an assessment.”