EU cash secured with Scotland at top table in Europe

Only independence will guarantee farm payments worth about £450 million a year to the Scottish economy, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

The Deputy First Minister has highlighted the risk to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support from the European Union if Scotland remains tied to Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead are taking part in a NFUS debate on independence in Stirling on Monday March 17, 2014. Speaking ahead of the event, Ms Sturgeon said:

“Let me be clear. Only independence will secure the farm funding from the EU that is so important to rural communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

“Europe’s CAP budget – which already includes Scotland’s allocation – is set until 2020. And payments to farmers will be underwritten by a Scottish Treasury, as the UK Treasury does now, guaranteeing that they continue.

“CAP payments, which plough about £450 million into Scotland’s rural economy every year, will only continue if Scotland is independent and we become an equal member state of the EU with a seat at the top table to negotiate in our own interests.

“Independence will lift Scotland off the bottom of Europe’s funding table to a seat at the top table. It will enable us to get the best possible deal for Scottish farming and Scotland’s rural communities rather than having to rely on others to negotiate on our behalf.

“If we had been independent during the last negotiations, we would have qualified for an additional €1 billion in direct farm payments to 2020, and been able to argue for hundreds of millions of euros more in rural development funding.

“However, there is a very real threat to Scotland’s farm payments and it comes from Westminster’s planned in-out referendum on EU membership which could see Scotland taken out of Europe, and the CAP, completely.

“The UK Government has already condemned Scotland to the lowest CAP budgets in Europe and wants to phase out farm payments altogether. In contrast, the Scottish Government has a track record of standing up for Scotland’s farmers. We will ensure farmers and crofters continue to receive CAP payments in an independent Scotland and negotiate a better deal – a fair deal – in the next CAP round.

“With just over six months to go to the referendum the choice, and the opportunity of independence, is clear.”

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