Roseanna Cunningham meets research institutes to discuss concerns.
Discussions were held today over the possible consequences of Brexit on the Scottish Government’s main rural, agricultural and environmental research institutes.
Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, met with directors and chairs from Scotland’s Main Research Providers to address how Brexit may impact non-UK EU employees and future access to EU funding.
MRPs support 1790 jobs in Scotland, 15% of which are non-UK EU nationals, and receive up to £6 million of funding each year from the EU.
During the meeting at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Ms Cunningham also met around 40 non-UK national staff members to discuss how Brexit may affect them.
Ms Cunningham said:
“Agricultural and environmental research is a vital strand of Scotland's overall research and development sector and it is vital that we protect the funding and freedom of movement within it.
“Our research institutes are key to enhancing our reputation for research excellence and relevance on rural, agricultural and environmental matters. We want to send a message to all those who either work in this sector or want to in the future that they are welcome here in Scotland.
“We have a long history of conducting world-leading research that has shaped the world we live in, and today we are an outward-looking and inclusive country which has benefited socially, economically and culturally from EU immigration and access to EU funding programmes.
“It is deeply worrying that our international research reputation is being put under threat by being dragged out of the EU, a decision which goes against the clear will of the majority of Scotland’s population.
“We want Scotland’s research to continue to be world-leading and for Scotland to remain an attractive and competitive destination for researchers and research funding. Scottish Ministers will continue to press the UK Government to give an assurance that EU citizens currently living in Scotland will be allowed to remain.”
The Scottish Government currently funds a portfolio of rural affairs, food and environment strategic research and related activities from its Main Research Providers, MRPs (The James Hutton Institute; Moredun Research Institute; Scotland’s Rural College; Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) and Scottish Universities which represents an annual investment in research of c. £48M
MRPs are independent bodies and collectively make a valuable contribution to the scientific research base in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has made clear that the 181,000 non-UK EU nationals who have chosen to make their home here continue to be welcome.
Scottish Ministers will continue to press the UK Government to deliver an immigration system that meets Scotland’s needs, especially in light of the EU Referendum result and the potential impact this will have on free movement.