Majority of SCDI members in favour of the UK remaining inside the EU
The Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) has announced that, following a consultation of members, it will support the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
SCDI is Scotland’s leading independent economic development network, with membership ranging across the private, public and social economy sectors including a wide variety of businesses, professional associations and trade unions, the public sector, faith groups and charitable organisations. A survey of members highlighted clear support for the UK remaining inside the EU, but a small number of members did not hold that view.
Ross Martin, chief executive of SCDI, said: “Having listened carefully to the views of our members, we believe that Scotland’s economy is best served by the UK’s continued membership of the EU.
“Today, some 45% of Scotland’s exports and 336,000 jobs depend on trade with EU countries and many of Scotland’s cities and regions, and businesses and educational institutions have deep links with counterparts across the EU.
“SCDI has identified a number of important challenges for the economy, namely Productivity, Innovation and Internationalisation, underpinned by Infrastructure. To address these challenges effectively and to grow Scotland’s competitiveness, we should remain in the EU and engage energetically with its institutions.
“While the EU obviously needs to reform and focus on key priorities, as the global economy becomes more competitive and connectivity improves, SCDI believes that influence in, and from within, the EU offers stronger prospects for Scotland to be successful. We look forward to making that case, but also to providing a platform for the issues to be discussed from both perspectives.”
SCDI’s membership spans every sector and geography of Scotland’s economy and the organisation engaged members in extensive discussions, including a full membership survey, in preparing a policy Blueprint, entitled ‘From Fragile to Agile’, published at the end of last year.
The survey involved specific discussion of the impact of European Union membership on them and whether the UK should remain in, or leave. This discussion found clear support from those members which responded to remain in the EU.
Following the announcement of the proposed new settlement for the UK within the EU and the referendum, SCDI undertook a survey open to its full membership, on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU.
SCDI says this, again, demonstrated that, while there are views to the contrary, there is continued support from members which stated a position for the UK to remain in the EU.
While there is clear support from SCDI members for continued UK membership of the EU, SCDI says it recognises this will be a decision for individuals across the country to reach. Many of SCDI’s members have raised the need for non-partisan evidence on the potential impact of a decision either way in order to help people reach informed decisions. SCDI is planning to facilitate those considerations.
In SCDI’s view, the EU is an essential foundation for Scotland’s international trade and investment. It aims to enable the free movement of goods, capital, services and people, reducing regulatory barriers and developing common standards. People from the EU supply key skills in the Scottish economy and a significant and growing population at our world-class educational institutions. The EU is now the main proponent of trade agreements and a successful defender of trade interests at the World Trade Organisation.
Concerns raised by SCDI members about leaving the EU included reduced influence over key policies, such as pan-European energy networks; reduced funding, for example for research and development or regional and social development; and reduced knowledge exchange in business and education.
Discussions with members found areas where there is support for reform. Some identified a deepening of the single market and action to address national regulatory barriers to trade, while others are concerned that there is some legislative and regulatory over-reach by the EU. Both issues would benefit from EU institutions being more visible, responsive and flexible to business needs.