Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs
Scotland has long been a committed and engaged part of the European Union. For more than 40 years, individuals, businesses and communities across Scotland have experienced the social, economic and cultural benefits of EU membership.
Born out of the needs of European countries to prioritise cooperation over conflict to ensure peace, the enduring relationships of respect and cooperation have driven developments for mutual interest to help Europe lead and shape a better world.
It is easy to take for granted the fundamental benefits the EU brings us. For example, the right to work and study across the continent has created opportunities for an estimated 2 million UK citizens who have chosen to live, work and study in other EU countries. Scotland in turn benefits from the 173,000 EU nationals living here, enriching our culture, strengthening our society and boosting our economy.
The EU supports the ambitions of people to improve their lives; of businesses to grow; and of governments to achieve economic prosperity. It gives us valuable and hard‑fought‑for social protections like employment rights, maternity and paternity leave and the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of age, gender or race. And it gives us the opportunity to work in solidarity with others across the continent to tackle pressing global challenges, such as the movement of refugees and migrants, energy security and climate change.
The Scottish Government believes that EU membership is in the best interests of Scotland. If we are to influence positive change in Europe for ourselves and others, we must retain that membership. Only by doing so can we preserve our role in the decision-making processes that affect our daily lives.
As we approach the in/out referendum on 23 June 2016, it is now more important than ever that those who support EU membership continue to make a positive, constructive case for it. The Scottish Government will remain at the forefront of making that positive case.