In a speech to the Scottish Parliament , Highlands and Islands Regional MSP, David Stewart, highlighted the importance of EU funding to the economic and cultural development of the Highlands and Islands.
“European funding is not a paternalistic sop from Eurocrats:, said Mr Stewart, “but a crucial economic tool. Between 2000 and 2006, EU funding created or retained 17,000 jobs, assisted more than 9,000 businesses and supported 11,000 trainees.
“As we approach a new funding programme,” continued Mr Stewart,” the Highlands and Islands again, rightly, qualifies for funding as a transition region. That is likely to amount to some €172 million (£142 million). This is vital funding to help overcome the unique challenges facing the Highlands & Islands”
Mr Stewart then invited members of the European and External Affairs Committee to visit some of the projects that have benefitted from EU funding, including the Kessock Bridge, the road to Mallaig and the Bernera and Eriskay causeway.
After the debate Mr Stewart, “The next round of EU funding runs till 2020. It is vital that we continue to have access to these structural funds. Any uncertainty about Scotland’s position in the EU or any decision that creates a break in membership could have catastrophic effects for the Highlands and Islands.”