Michael Russell, MSP, SNP (top)
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.