Following the overwhelming vote in the Scottish Parliament to back a “remain” vote in the EU referendum, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has set out the benefits of EU membership for rural Scotland.
He urged people in the Islands to vote for Scotland to stay in the EU on June 23rd.
The Scottish Parliament voted by 106 votes to 8 for a motion backing “Scotland and the rest of the UK remaining part of the EU”.
Alasdair Allan argued that EU membership brings real benefits to rural Scotland:
Over 300,000 Scottish jobs were estimated to be directly and indirectly associated with exports to the EU in 2011.
The EU received 42% of Scotland’s International exports in 2014, worth more than £11 billion.
Tourists from other EU countries spent around £800 million in Scotland or about 40 per cent of total international visitor spend.
Scotland will receive £3.5 billion to implement the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Scotland until 2020 – with £2.8 billion going direct to crofters and farmers.
Scottish Seafood and Marine sectors will receive £81 million in direct assistance through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund between 2014 and 2020.
Mr Allan commented: “With less than a month until the polls open for the EU referendum, I believe it is important to be clear about the many ways in which the EU benefits Scotland’s island communities.
“Island crofters and farmers receive millions of pounds of funding from Europe, with access to a single market of 500 million people creating huge trading opportunities for island food and drink producers. It is far from clear how this would be replicated if we were not in the EU.
“Tourism plays a vital role in the islands’ economy. Free movement makes it easier for tourists from the rest of the EU to visit Scotland with around 17,000 a year choosing to visit the Isles, spending millions of pounds while here. It also provides the opportunity for people with much needed skills to come and contribute to our communities and economy.
“There are many things that are wrong with the EU – such as the way that the Common Fisheries Policy has been implemented – and I won’t for a moment pretend the EU is a perfect institution. But I take the view that the only way to change Europe is to take an active and positive role in Europe. That is why I will be voting on 23 June to ensure that Scotland and the UK remain part of the European Union.”