THE European Free Alliance has had elected members in the European Parliament since its creation in 1979.

Flemish, Catalan, Basque, Corsican, Sardinian, Welsh and Scottish, they have, mandate after mandate, carried the voice of stateless peoples and defended their right to be recognised by the institutions of the European Union, and their right to decide their future.

The SNP’s European elected representatives joined the ranks of the EFA, and contributed by their involvement to its recognition as the “party of self-determination” within the European Parliament.

With Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith, and more recently with Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod, we have worked together in the European Parliament to advance our ideas and values within the European institutions while informing members of other nationalities of the realities of our peoples and our territories.

READ MORE: Nine dramatic graphs reveal Brexit's negative impacts on Scotland

By showing a united front between all our countries, we have shown strength and we have made the European texts move towards more consideration of our values and our realities.

When I was in Scotland, I could appreciate the strength and the determination of this people to acquire its independence and to trace its way towards a future which is its own. I was also able to appreciate the strong attachment of the Scots to Europe and to democracy.

Brexit interrupted the participation of Scottish MEPs in our group, but we remain very united on common goals: recognition of the right to self-determination of the Scottish people and the return of an independent Scotland to Europe.

The process undertaken by Scottish institutions to achieve independence is long and difficult. But the will of the Scottish people is unshakeable and we will stand by them in this eminently democratic process.

READ MORE: What EU leaders and residents told me about Scotland's future

Since January 1, 2020, Brexit has come into effect. It applies to Scotland because of its membership of the UK, and this strongly argues for the Scottish people to free themselves from this dependence which deprives them of control over their own future. Scottish independence is the only way to achieve this in a guaranteed way.

Since Brexit, relations between Europe and the UK have become more structured. The European Parliament and the British Parliament in its two chambers, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, have formed the “UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly’’ which brings together European and British parliamentarians in equal numbers.

As a member of the European delegation, I lobbied for representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish authorities to be associated with the meetings of this EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. We were heard and they were present in Westminster for the last meeting of this Assembly last November.

This will allow the contribution of these territories to the definition of future co-operation policies in the long term, and they will not be left out of the discussions that the definition of new EU-UK relations will require.

On the other hand, the Scottish Parliament, where the Scottish National Party has a large majority, will thus be able to officially make known to the European institutions its project of self-determination, and the EFA will show its support at every opportunity.

The return of an independent Scotland to the European Union is in the interests of all, Scots and Europeans alike. The Scots will benefit from a more favourable social context in Europe than in the UK, and their access to the Single Market will give them greater opportunities for economic development.

In return, Scotland will provide the European Union with new opportunities, such as contributing to the development of Europe’s largest renewable energy source, onshore and offshore wind and ocean energy.

This return could also facilitate exchanges for students (Erasmus+ programme), tourism and all forms of economic and cultural co-operation, with the possibility of joining the Schengen area.

The return of Scotland to the European Union will also be a great opportunity to meet again and work together on our vision of the future of Europe, the future of all peoples.

Brexit was a fundamental mistake and Scotland was dragged into it against its will. The pride of the British state is blinding its leaders, who will stubbornly rule out any possibility of challenging it for a very long time. Only independence will allow the Scottish people to act according to the will they expressed in June 2016 by voting 62% against Brexit.

EFA members will act on their side to facilitate and shorten all the procedures that should preside over the return of Scotland to the EU.