LAST week saw President Ursula von der Leyen give her annual State of the Union address in the European Parliament – and hardly any of the mainstream press here picked it up.

That’s not to say that her words were meaningless. Rather, it is a symptom of how insular the UK has become that while the EU sets out its priorities for the next year, hardly anyone should notice it.

I sat in many state of the unions during my time in Brussels. Even now it is strange to watch it with no Scottish or UK representation. The EU has moved on, and the UK is being left behind.

This was clear from the moment von der Leyen began her address. Addressing the European Parliament, the president of the European Commission made clear the EU’s commitment towards supporting the green transition, tackling inflation as well as expanding and deepening its union.

It included proposals such as a new European Wind Power Package, the launch of an anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles from China, as well as introducing legislation from next month to reduce reporting obligations for businesses at the European level by 25%.

The president reiterated the EU’s intention to lead on developing a global framework on artificial intelligence based on the three pillars of guardrails, governance and guiding innovation.

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Her address also covered the geopolitical challenges facing Europe today and reiterated the EU’s support for Ukraine as well as the need to discuss how the union can adapt to states such as Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans becoming members in the years ahead.

The State of the Union address demonstrated the ambition that Europe has for building a better future for all its citizens. It also exposed the UK’s post-Brexit status as the new “sick man of Europe”.

With Brexit, the UK is now on the outside looking in. At the G20 a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that a new trade corridor was to be created between India and the EU. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor could speed up trade between India and Europe by 40% by linking India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the EU through shipping ports and rail routes. The UK was not even included in this proposal.

The UK’s failure in its most recent offshore wind auction also demonstrated how it is being left behind in the green transition. Meanwhile, the EU’s intention to develop green hydrogen means that Scotland risks being left out of the new energy market because the UK can’t get its priorities straight.

The EU also shows a model of co-operation that Westminster will never accept, so intent is it on centralising power to here-today, gone-tomorrow ministers. The Commission, Council and Parliament might not necessarily always agree but the idea that one could overrule the other without their consent is not possible – unlike with the UK’s Internal Market Act.

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Given the Brexit bourach, it is perhaps unsurprising that Sir Keir Starmer, the knight of the Labour Party, should try to dash in and rescue a good deal for Britain. Yet even as he has gone to Europe and Canada this week, he is finding out first-hand what being out of the EU means.

The reality is out means out. You can’t be out of a club and expect any goodies. Equally, “making Brexit work” is every bit as intellectually dishonest as “Brexit means Brexit” and “oven-ready deal”. When the fine china is cracked you can do a little repair; when it has been smashed to smithereens, it will never be quite as good as what you originally had.

The EU Commission has already said that the review of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will be about housekeeping, not major change. There is zero appetite in Brussels for cherry-picking on any great scale. This is unsurprising, given the bad faith that UK governments took to previous negotiations – if there is to be any trust built, the onus is on the UK Government to rebuild it.

There are things that could be done that would help repair the UK’s relationship with Europe. Opting back into Erasmus student exchanges, visas for touring creatives and a comprehensive phytosanitary deal to ease border checks on agricultural goods would all go a long way and deliver some meaningful benefits.

But unless Labour commit to re-joining the Single Market and Customs Union, then there’s only so much that can be tinkered with. And unless it gets back in, the UK will continue to be cut adrift in the North Atlantic stagnating and thinking about what might have been.

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Starmer’s vision for the UK is uninspiring and impractical. The Tories’ vision is just as impractical and uninspiring. The only difference is that they have been in charge for the past 13 years while Starmer has U-turned so many times he risks going round in circles!

Our vision is clear and simple – independence in Europe. Getting back into the EU means Scotland will have a voice at the table, which it did not have when the UK was a member. Getting back into the EU will tear down the Brexit barriers imposed by a government Scotland did not vote for.

Getting back into the EU will put rocket boosters on the Scottish economy as we become part of the world’s largest single market. And getting back into the EU means that Scotland will be a rule-shaper, not a rule-taker, with representation in the Commission, the Parliament and the Council.

We’ve still got a way to go but that is a future worth campaigning for.