Following David Cameron’s speech signalling the United Kingdom Government’s intention to hold an “in or out” referendum on European Union membership, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to EU Foreign Ministers to set out the position of the Scottish Government on the European Union and Scotland’s place in it, including the approach to Scotland’s continued membership following a Yes vote in 2014.
The full text of the Deputy First Minister’s letter is below:
Following Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday I would like to make the position of the Scottish Government clear as regards the European Union and Scotland’s place in it.
As you know, a referendum will be held in Scotland in the latter part of 2014 on the question of independence for Scotland. The Edinburgh Agreement signed by the First Minister and the Prime Minister on 15 October last year sets out an agreed path towards that referendum which will be adhered to by both the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments. That agreement is important in the European context as it provides reassurance to Member States that the outcome of the referendum will be respected by both sides and that in the event of a vote in favour of independence the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments will work together constructively to implement the democratic will of the Scottish people.
Like all other nations in the EU, Scotland benefits greatly from the peace and security provided by membership. Our citizens enjoy freedom of movement and the right to work and study in other Member States. The ability to trade within a single market of 500 million citizens is a central aspect of our strategy to stimulate growth by increasing international trade. The European Union continues to be Scotland’s top overseas export destination, our exports to the EU are up by around 15 per cent to over £11 billion according to figures released this week.
The single market is a vital and valuable aspect of membership of the European Union, but the Scottish Government recognises that a successful Europe also needs to work together on wider social and environmental issues so that we can deliver a high standard and quality of life to the citizens of the EU and contribute to tackling wider global challenges. We understand that these benefits of membership come from working in partnership to ensure the EU is built on a community of interest.
I therefore want to assure all Member States that following a positive result in the referendum we would work with the United Kingdom and the rest of the EU in partnership to ensure we continued to play an active part in that community of interest.
The Scottish Government does consider there to be a case for reform of certain aspects of the EU. Scotland is currently playing a significant role in the process of reforming the Common Fisheries Policy. We would also like to see more ambitious EU targets on carbon emissions and more generally we are supportive of the on-going process of institutional reform aimed at streamlining decision making and increasing transparency.
However we understand that those reform ambitions can only be achieved through dialogue with Member States from within the EU. That is why we do not support the holding of an in/out referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership. We have no intention of leaving the European Union. On the contrary we will seek to be a constructive member of the Union working with other Member States to maximise the benefits we have enjoyed as members for over 40 years.
I sincerely hope that if the Prime Minister comes to hold an in/out referendum, by that time Scotland will be an independent Member State and will be playing its part as a valued and active partner within European Union.