Independence could bring “considerable” economic and business benefits to Scotland as the country would “for the first time” be at the European Union’s top table, Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has said.
Scotland as part of the UK left the European Union after Brexit, despite the majority of people north of the border voting to remain in the bloc in the referendum.
Mr Robertson argued independence could mean Scotland would “not just be regaining what we lost through Brexit”, but also “for the very first time we would have direct representation in our own right at the top table of European decision-making”.
This would mean Scotland could seek to influence EU regulations and standards “in ways that reflect the interests of Scottish businesses”, he added.
Mr Robertson made the claim in an article for The Scotsman newspaper in which he sought to highlight the “economic and business benefits” of being part of the EU rather than the UK.
His comments come ahead of Friday’s launch of a new paper from the Scottish Government seeking to make the case for independence, with the latest document in the Building a New Scotland series focused on EU membership.
Arguing the “benefits are considerable”, Mr Robertson said leaving the UK and joining the EU would give businesses in Scotland “open access to the world’s largest single market, which now accounts for almost 450 million consumers and 16.2% of global trade”.
He said: “The EU single market is seven times the size of the UK, so EU membership would mean companies here could trade freely with more businesses and sell to more customers.”
Being part of the EU would also provide “more and better opportunities for training and employment for people in Scotland”, he claimed, saying it would be easier “to attract and retain people from across the EU to sustain our businesses, world-leading universities and public services”.
Mr Robertson said: “Put simply, rejoining the EU would provide opportunities for our economy to grow.
“It would mean quicker and cheaper trading, with no tariffs or duties for goods, and significantly lower levels of non-tariff barriers in comparison to the current EU trade deal negotiated by the UK Government.
“The Scottish Government’s view is that the damage of Brexit to our economy is not as good as it gets for our businesses.
“The fact remains that the only way to meaningfully reverse this damage and restore the benefits we previously enjoyed is for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU, giving Scottish businesses a level playing field.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them, like growing our economy, halving inflation and improving public services.
“We want to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges because that is what families and businesses in Scotland expect.
“This is not the time to be talking about distracting constitutional change.”
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