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Tackling major global challenges

Published: 20 Oct 2015 10:00
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Scotland must remain in EU to play a meaningful role tackling common issues.

Scotland must remain in the EU so it can play a meaningful role in collective action to tackle the major challenges of our time, Scotland's External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said today.

Speaking from Paris, where she will meet the French Europe Minister, Harlem Desir, Ms Hyslop said EU membership and solidarity are central to the continent's efforts to tackle the major issues it is facing.

Ms Hyslop said:

"Europe must contend with the substantive challenges – from tackling the legacies of the recession which have resulted in persistent unemployment in some economies, to dealing with the serious impacts of climate change, and contending with global crises like the one we face today as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee persecution and violence and make their way to the EU.

"Scotland wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners in France and across the continent in a shared determination to address these challenges head-on. Scotland's continued EU membership not only underpins all our efforts, but it represents our recognition that through solidarity, support, and collaboration we can achieve far more than individual states acting alone ever could.

"The Scottish Government is firmly committed to tackling the legacies of the recession and strengthening our economy in an inclusive and sustainable way. We recognise that the two key challenges – of increasing competitiveness and addressing inequalities – are profoundly connected and both are strongly anchored within our approach to Scotland's Economic Strategy. Our emphasis on tackling inequalities is in line with the approach recommended by the OECD, the IMF and the European Commission.

"Scotland is also playing a full role in supporting EU and United Nations efforts to secure an ambitious global climate treaty at talks in Paris in December.

"Our Environment Minister will be in Paris in December to represent Scotland's interests as part of the UK delegation in those crucial talks. An ambitious, legally binding international agreement in Paris is vital if we are to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius and strengthen the EU's low carbon economy.

"On the ongoing refugee crisis, the Scottish Government has repeatedly urged the UK to opt into the EU-wide scheme to relocate 120,000 refugees who have already arrived in the EU. We believe the UK has a moral obligation to play its part in this scheme and we will continue to push for the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision. In turn, we stand ready to welcome our fair share of refugees to Scotland.

She added:

"The Scottish Government firmly believes in the European Union and what it stands for. We have made clear we want the UK to remain a strong member of that important union, so that Scotland can continue, as part of the EU, to play a meaningful role in addressing the major challenges of our time."

Notes to editors

Culture, Europe and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will be in Paris and Brussels from 20-22 October.

On Tuesday she will meet the French Minister of State for European Affairs, Harlem Desir, and speak at an event hosted by Scottish Development International to celebrate strong trade and investment links between France and Scotland.

On Wednesday Ms Hyslop will visit a school where musicians from the LiveMusicNow project will perform for pupils; and receive an exclusive preview of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry exhibition to open officially later that day at the Auguste Dobel Cultural Centre.

Ms Hyslop will travel from Paris to Brussels to take part in a State of Europe high-level roundtable event on Thursday with EU Commissioners, MEPs, national government ministers, opinion formers, representatives of civil society and business leaders from across the EU and beyond.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was also in Brussels on 21 September and delivered a speech on reducing inequality and boosting growth to the influential think tank Bruegel. The speech is available here: