YOUNG Scots for Independence (YSI) has launched a fundraiser asking the public to invest in Scotland’s network with Europe ahead of a major international event to discuss the country’s path to independence and EU membership.

The SNP’s youth wing hopes to raise £4000 to assist in hosting 30 international delegates from several European political parties at the event in Stirling next month.

Delegates are set to come from Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Northern Ireland, Catalonia and Wales to take part in panel discussions, workshops and networking sessions at Hotel Colessio between May 17 and 18.

READ MORE: The YSI conference gives EU neighbours insight into Scottish politics

The event, called "Our European Future", is set to feature speakers such as First Minister Humza Yousaf and the SNP’s Europe and EU Accession spokesperson Alyn Smith.

The National will also be publishing a special-edition supplement to mark the meeting.

To further boost funds, YSI members are currently touring party branches to spread the word about the event and the “importance of international work that SNP must be doing more of,” says the organisation’s international officer Olaf Stando (below).

The National:

“There’s still a huge amount of sympathy for Scotland in Europe - a feeling that Scotland's been screwed over by Brexit and is getting extreme right-wing Tory governments that it doesn’t vote for," he added.

“And while the Scottish Government is doing very valuable work through its international hubs, we feel that the SNP as a party isn’t currently doing enough to exploit that international sympathy and widen our international links.”

READ MORE: Young Scots for Independence: We will continue progressive work of SNP

The YSI hopes to see an international unit, international think tank and international committee created by the SNP in the next few years, to ensure members can fully contribute to international policy and capitalise on the role Scotland plays overseas.

The conference is acting for the youth as a “show, don’t tell” exercise to party leaders of what can be done with little resource to strengthen European links.

Stando said he fears if and when a Labour UK Government interacts with European politicians, Europe will be “more careful” when dealing with the SNP to not upset Westminster.

“Social democrats are in retreat all around Europe - and these European elections are going to be hard because the far-right is going to make big gains," he shared.

“At the moment, I think the SNP should position itself as a progressive bastion against the far-right and like a party that has long endured success. The SNP has a really good story to tell, but it's just not really engaging enough with people that we need to engage with.”

That is where the European International conference comes in.

Being organised in partnership with Europe for Scotland, which is currently running a campaign urging European Parliament election candidates to back Scotland’s democratic rights, the event is to play host to potential future leaders of Europe.

This is who Stando wants to create networking ties with now, while they are in their youth, to ensure and cultivate a strong bond with Scotland and its people.

The National:

“The Danish, German, Polish and Belgian parties that are coming to the international conference – they’re all in government. These are youth leaders who sit on national executives of their parties, and they have influence in the parties of government in these countries.

“They might be members of Parliament in a couple of years’ time. They might be MEPs. So, it's all about starting those relationships early with key allies in key countries. They can be ambassadors for Scotland, and they can advocate on our behalf,” Stando said.

He added: “We are reaching out to them proactively and showing to them, ‘look, we want your all, we want to talk to you, we want to learn from you, and we want to show you Scotland as well that we want to teach you about our success’.”

READ MORE: What are your suggestions for welcoming new independence activists?

A full programme is set to be published for the event in due course with YSI members getting first preference on tickets to ensure high youth engagement. The wider SNP membership will also be able to attend with around 50 seats available for either one or two days.

In a pitch to Scots who support independence to in turn support the event and contribute to the Crowdfunder, Stando termed it as “a down payment on Scotland's future - a European future”.

He said those who donate would be helping to achieve three specific things: an internationalist, positive party; injecting positivity in Europe and in Scotland; and a network of ambassadors for Scotland in Europe.

On the Crowdfunder page, the group breaks down what donations can be used for.

For example:

  • £150 would cover a European delegate’s full conference experience
  • £100 would cover European tailored marketing materials
  • £75 would cover two nights of accommodation for delegates

You can donate here.