€4.6 billion support under threat by a ‘hard Brexit’.
Rural Scotland stands to benefit from over £640 million funding in 2017-18 through the Scottish budget Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing has confirmed.
At the same time, he warned that a ‘hard Brexit’ would wipe out that funding, potentially devastating Scotland’s farming and food sectors. Scottish agriculture is more heavily reliant than the rest of the UK on EU funding. Between 2014-20, Scotland expects to receive €4.6 billion from the EU – some £500 million per annum.
Scottish Ministers have sought reassurance that this funding will continue beyond Brexit, yet no guarantees have been given. This could mean Scotland’s rural and coastal communities facing the loss of subsidies, including CAP direct payments, market measures, the rural development programme, and participation in new research proposals, as well as the loss of markets and workers if locked out of the EU single market.
Mr Ewing said:
“Agreement on the Scottish budget means I can confirm that rural Scotland will receive over £640m of support in the coming year. Much of that goes directly to farm businesses and crofters, but significant sums will also continue to be invested in grants for environmental measures, tree planting, food processing and maritime development. It helps to support jobs, businesses, infrastructure and livelihoods.
“Brexit puts this all at risk. While the UK Government has offered some assurances on funding over the short-term, which we have committed to pass on in full, there are still more questions than answers in the longer-term. For example, there are still no guarantees for the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme from 2019.
“The continued uncertainty could have a devastating impact on our farming and food sectors. Any moves to ‘Barnetise’ CAP payments could see Scotland lose up to half of the current CAP allocation, which has been tailored to meet our specific needs.
“Agriculture is fully devolved and the Scottish Government must retain powers to manage rural policy and determine funding levels. I am very clear that there may be issues where it will make sense to have a UK-wide framework. However, any such framework, must be on the basis that the powers sit with the devolved administrations and any such frameworks must be entered into willingly and not imposed by the UK Government.”