Over the next few weeks, the EU referendum bill will be debated at Holyrood and Westminster after the Conservatives won a majority in the General Election and announced their plans for an in/out referendum on EU membership in the Queens speech.
This week, I made calls for there to be a strong campaign in the North East to ensure that the UK remains a member of the European Union. In my view, EU membership is vital for the region on issues such as employment law, the local economy and support for key industries here in the North East. I also believe that as a member of the EU, the region has benefitted from a number of significant funding streams which have provided local investment.
It has been said that there are problems with the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU however the best solution to that is surely to work from within the EU to address these concerns rather than walk out and risk the benefits we experience as members.
European Union membership is important here in the North East of Scotland and it would be a disaster for our local economy if the UK decided to exit.
For example, significant advances have been made in health and safety as a member of the EU strengthening protection for workers, and that is vital in industries such as oil and gas. We also know that the EU is a key market for many local companies and membership is vital to that trading.
The EU has also been an important contributor to the North East through funding for a number of projects. Aberdeen has received significant funding towards they hydrogen bus scheme to the tune of £8.3 million and Aberdeenshire benefitted from over £23 million of project funding between 2007-12 alone.
With these benefits at stake, I do think it is in the North East and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom’s best interest to remain a member of the EU and that is why we need a strong campaign to keep the UK in membership, promoting in particular its many benefits for the North East.