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European Commission clears up misunderstanding over Scotland illumination

A spokesman has clarified that Belgian police were not contacted about the stunt in Brussels because it was so short-lived.


The illumination was displayed on the Berlaymont in Brussels on January 31 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The illumination was displayed on the Berlaymont in Brussels on January 31 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The illumination was displayed on the Berlaymont in Brussels on January 31 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A “Scotland Loves Europe” illumination projected on to a building in Brussels has not been reported to Belgian police, the European Commission (EC) has clarified.

Comments made by EC spokeswoman Dana Spinant on Monday during an official briefing for reporters in the Belgian capital suggested the light show had been reported to Belgian police.

But a spokesman for the bloc later clarified Ms Spinant’s account.

The commission said it would usually request police shut down an unauthorised projection – which the January 31 incident was deemed to be – but it was up for such a short time there was no need for officers to take action.

We did not contact the police on this occasionEuropean Commission spokesman

The spokesman said: “We did not contact the police on this occasion.

“It is usually our normal protocol to do so but on this occasion it was so short-lived.”

When asked about the earlier comments from Ms Spinant, the spokesman said there had been a “misunderstanding” and no discussions had been had with the police.

He added: “The truth is there was no report.”

Reports have claimed the SNP was responsible for the January 31 light show at the Berlaymont – the main office building of the European Commission (EC), which said it was not aware of the projection.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was in Brussels on Monday to speak at the European Policy Centre, where she also met the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The illumination, which showed the words “Scotland” and “Europe” cross each other, with a love heart in the middle, was shared on social media by senior SNP politicians including the First Minister.

An EC source told the PA news agency the illumination was not seen as a “security threat” but it was not authorised with the commission before it took place.

Opponents alleged SNP members were trying to make it look as though the European Commission had projected the message.

Ms Spinant told the briefing of journalists on Monday that other “third parties” had also projected messages on to the building and had been reported to the police.

She said: “In relation to the message projected on to the Berlaymont on January 31 I can confirm, as you already know, it seems this has nothing to do with the commission – we were not in the knowledge of that.

“It’s not the first time where third parties, of all kinds, projected illumination messages on to the Berlaymont – this is something between those third parties and the Belgian police.

“We have nothing to do with that action or with the message that was projected.”

Asked to clarify if a member of the building’s security team had reported the incident to police, Ms Spinant said it was part of “an ongoing discussion with the Belgian police”.

She added: “I know that it was taken up with them … I can again confirm it had nothing to do with us and was a matter for the Belgian police.”