Michael Rus­sell, MSP, SNP (top)

The Oban Times - - News -

WITH only one week to go un­til the polls open for the EU ref­er­en­dum, it is vi­tal that we speak up and speak out about the many ways in which the EU ben­e­fits ru­ral Scot­land.

I was de­lighted to do so last week in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and to make a strong, pos­i­tive case for re­main­ing a mem­ber – a case based on the dif­fer­ence of the cur­rent in­cor­po­rat­ing union in which we live and the con­fed­eral one which al­lows small coun­tries to pool their sovereignty in the EU for the ben­e­fit of their ci­ti­zens.

Europe is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to our ru­ral sec­tor, which is sup­ported with € 4.6 bil­lion of fund­ing through the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy, with € 3.7 bil­lion worth of pay- ments go­ing to farm­ers – and, with ac­cess to a sin­gle mar­ket of 500 mil­lion, our food and drink sec­tor has in­com­pa­ra­ble trad­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Free move­ment also makes it eas­ier for tourists from the rest of the EU to visit Scot­land with to­tal vis­i­tor spend from the rest of the EU to­talling £ 800 mil­lion an­nu­ally. In ad­di­tion, mem­ber­ship al­lows peo­ple with much-needed skills to come and con­trib­ute to our com­mu­ni­ties and econ­omy.

Given the clear ben­e­fits of EU mem­ber­ship for ru­ral Scot­land, I would urge peo­ple in Ar­gyll and Bute to join the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment in vot­ing to en­sure that Scot­land and the UK re­mains part of the Euro­pean Union.

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