Independent Scotland 'would see EU funds boost'
- Published on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 14:18
- Written by Govtoday staff
In a major speech tonight, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon will highlight the benefits that would accrue to Scotland as an independent member of the European Union.
Speaking at the David Hume Institute, Sturgeon will focus on an independent Scotland's membership of the EU and set out the choice for Scotland between representing ourselves in Europe and continuing to be represented by a Westminster government that does not put Scotland first.
To illustrate the benefits of being independent in the EU, Sturgeon highlights figures today – showing that as an independent member state, Scotland would have benefited from an extra £850m in Common Agricultural Policy funding, which is estimated to support an additional 2,500 jobs and increase economic output by £1bn accumulated over the period 2014 to 2020.
In contrast because of the decisions taken by the Westminster government, Scotland will be left with the lowest farm payments in the EU.
Sturgeon said: "The people of Scotland face a decision about the kind of Scotland they want to live in – one in which we take responsibility and decide our own future, or one in which we wait for things to happen to us.
"Should we continue to have the status of a region, lobbying Westminster in the hope that the UK government will protect our interests and promote our values?
"Or should we have the powers and status of an independent country, able to engage directly with the international community.
"In Scotland's Future, we set out a route through which Scotland would negotiate its continued membership of the EU – in a timescale described by the UK government's own adviser as 'realistic'. Following independence, we will have the powers and status of an independent country and the ability to engage directly with the international community.
"As an independent country we would have benefited from an additional £850m in farm payments from Europe, estimated to support an additional 2,500 jobs in our local communities over the period 2014 to 2020. This funding would assist rural communities and businesses here in Scotland."
Commenting on Scotland's membership of the European Union and the two futures open to voters in the referendum Sturgeon challenged the UK government and the opposition to accept the common sense of the Scottish government's position.
"My argument for Scotland's continued membership of the EU rests principally on common-sense and on the very purpose of the European Union.
"It is time to get real in this debate. To stop pretending the European Union is something it isn't. The EU is not in the business of throwing out its citizens. Of ignoring democratic processes. Of reducing co-operation and cutting the size of the EU. It is engaged in a process of enlargement, not contraction. It is founded on the principles of democracy and mutual co-operation among countries and citizens who share its objectives.
"The only risk to Scotland's continuing membership of the EU is the in/out referendum that the prime minister has pledged to hold by 2017.
"Before that we know he wants to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the European Union. But we don't know precisely what he wants to renegotiate. We don't know if he will recommend withdrawal if those renegotiation talks fail. And we obviously don't know what the result of any referendum on Europe might be.
"It is perfectly possible that a majority of people in Scotland would vote to stay in the EU but that a majority elsewhere in the UK would vote to come out.
"What we do know is that when Westminster is deciding UK European policy Scotland's interests are bottom of the list of considerations.
"That's the reality of keeping power at Westminster.
"In an independent Scotland the government, of whatever colour, will always put the interests of Scotland first."
Source: Scottish government