SCOTLAND was big news across Europe. Major media outlets from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and other EU countries headlined with comments by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the latest opinion poll which confirmed growing majority support for Scottish independence.

In Germany, the biggest and most respected titles in the country were running the story, from Der Spiegel to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Welt.

German national radio broadcaster Deutschland Funk and television news channel NTV also covered the First Minister’s comments, with headlines such as “The Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to lead her country back into the EU. According to the latest polls, more than half of the Scots want independence from Great Britain” and “Scotland’s head of government is sticking to EU membership. A No-Deal Brexit is still looming at the end of the year. Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold another independence referendum – and thus lead Scotland back into the EU”

In France, the daily newspaper Libération ran an interview with the First Minister headlined “For Nicola Sturgeon, Brexit re-inforces her country’s desire for independence. Brexiteers have been ignorant from start to finish.”

In Italy, La Repubblica went with “Scotland, Prime Minister Sturgeon: We will have independence. And the EU will welcome us”, while in the Netherlands the NRC Handelsblad headlined with “If Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected in May, she wants a new referendum on Scottish independence”, while the 7.8 million online followers of El Pais in Madrid learnt about plans for a new Scottish independence referendum.

While Europe was paying attention to Scotland, in Scotland we were focused on people who have come to live here from elsewhere in Europe and around the world. Migration Day was marked with an inclusive message to everyone who has made Scotland their home, especially EU citizens who have to apply to retain residency rights because of Brexit.

A special message was recorded by First Minister who stressed her wish for everyone to stay in Scotland. She said: “The last few months have been tougher than any of us could ever have imagined. During that time you have played an essential part in Scotland’s efforts to tackle Covid and I want to thank each and every one of you for that.”

Nicola Sturgeon went on to say that “We’ve all been reminded this year, perhaps more than ever, just how big a contribution you make to Scotland. Together, we are Scotland, and I and many others are so proud and so grateful that you have done us the honour of making your home here.”

Most of Scotland’s 234,000 resident EU citizens have already applied for settled status under new UK immigration rules, but at least 20,000 have not. In her online message, and in an open letter in Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian Italian, German, French and Spanish, the First Minister said: “Many of you have already secured your status in this way. But if you haven’t yet and that’s the main reason for my message to you.

“The Scottish Government wants you to apply. Fundamentally my message is a simple one: please apply because Scotland is a better place with you living here. Scotland is your home. You are welcome here and we really, really want you to stay”.

EU citizens and those from EFTA nations Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have until June 30, 2021, to apply to the EU settlement scheme. Applications can be made using any device, such as a laptop, Android device or iPhone. Helpful advice for EU citizens living in Scotland after Brexit is available at here while applications to remain can be made at here.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon marks Migrants Day with a message to EU citizens in Scotland

In addition to rights of residence for EU citizens, there is also the welcome enfranchisement of international residents which comes into force in time for the Scottish Parliament election. Regardless of how any European, Commonwealth or international resident might vote, it is hugely symbolic that Scotland has sought to ensure the widest enfranchisement.

It is a statement of inclusion to the many thousands of people who have made Scotland their home. Their contribution, views and priorities matters to us all as neighbours, colleagues and friends.

Not all international residents have yet registered to vote but it is very easy to do so at online at

As we get closer and closer to the end of the Brexit transition period, it is becoming more and more obvious how bad Brexit actually is. No wonder levels of support for Scottish independence are reaching historic highs and polls show an overwhelming desire for Scotland to be an independent EU member state.

It is also noticeable how friends across Europe will welcome Scotland when that day comes. It can’t come soon enough.