Sturgeon to press for greater autonomy on EU regulations

Nicola Sturgeon will today urge Europe to give Scotland greater discretion in implementing regulations like the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The first minister is due to give a keynote speech in Brussels in which she will set out proposals to reform the EU.

She will issue a direct challenge to David Cameron to “give people something to vote for” by promoting a vision for change ahead of the promised referendum on EU membership.

In her first address as first minister, Ms Sturgeon will stress that continuing membership of the EU is essential to the Scottish economy and that positive change can be made from within without treaty changes.

Key priorities will include more local decision making on health and social policies to allow countries to tackle local priorities and greater focus on areas such as developing the single market across the EU in energy.

Ms Sturgeon’s call for greater discretion in implementing regulation will form a key part of her demands.

“Scotland has contributed to the reforms which were agreed last year to the Common Fisheries Policy,” she will say.

“They involve changes to allow more decisions to be made at a regional sea basin level rather than an EU level – something which will make regulations more proportionate, and less burdensome for the industry.

“Regulations should be based on the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity.”

Ms Sturgeon will also take a swipe at the legal challenge against the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol in the European Court of Justice with a plea for more autonomy to tackle local problems such as public health.

According to Ms Sturgeon some UK Government rhetoric creates the impression that EU membership is not beneficial creating a danger that future debate will centre on the size of potential reforms rather than the bigger picture of Europe’s importance.

“If the UK Government wants us to remain in the EU, it should give people something to vote for. Instead of just arguing against the risks of change, it should promote the EU’s achievements,” she will say.

Scottish Tory constitution spokeswoman Annabel Goldie said Ms Sturgeon’s speech highlighted the contradictions in EU policy by wanting to end the union with the UK “whatever the cost” but wanting to maintain the union with Europe