Region needs united front to deal with Brexit

editorial image

Special status for the south of Scotland is what Scottish Borders Council is looking for after the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The South of Scotland Alliance, of which the council is a member, is developing its case as part of the Brexit discussions, and its focus on securing special status within future policy is supported by council members.

Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, the authority’s executive member for economic development, said: “The Scottish Borders faces some unique economic challenges, which is why we fought so hard for a southern Scotland statistical area (NUTS2), which could be used in relation to European regional policy development and funding allocations.

“While Brexit will mean that funding will no longer come from the European Union, the campaign for a new NUTS2 region will stand us in good stead in arguing our case with the Scottish and UK governments.”

The main implications of Brexit on the Scottish Borders are financial issues for the agricultural sector, lack of access to major funding for economic development, export-orientated businesses needing continued access to the single European market, the need to secure trade agreements with countries outside the EU to make up for any loss of access to markets within the EU and the uncertainty of the long-term status of the 3,500 EU nationals living in the Borders.

Leaderdale and Melrose councillor David Parker, leader of the council, added: “While assurances have been provided by the UK Government regarding some funding streams post-Brexit, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about how leaving the EU will affect the Borders.

“It is important that the council also engages with key local organisations, such as the chamber of commerce, to put the strongest possible case together to lobby the UK Government on the needs of our area.”