Scottish Government tells EU citizens “you are welcome here" following warning on immigration restrictions

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 15 April 2019 in News

With up to 10,000 EU citizens employed in food and drink sector, the Scottish Government has launched support services to help EU citizens remain in Scotland after Brexit

Fruit picking - image credit: PA

Any post-Brexit restriction on immigration from the EU “would have a significant detrimental impact on rural and coastal Scotland”, Fergus Ewing has warned.

With up to 10,000 EU citizens employed in food and drink sector, the Scottish Government has launched support services to help EU citizens remain in Scotland after Brexit.

Speaking to foreign workers based in Scotland, the Rural Economy Secretary said: “you are welcome here, you contribute to this country’s diversity and prosperity, and we will do everything we can to help you stay in Scotland”.

At present around 5.2 per cent of Scotland’s total workforce is made up of EU migrants, with the rural economy particularly reliant on people from the EU.

Europeans make up 95 per cent of vets working in meat hygiene and public health in Scotland, while an estimated 21,000 EU citizens were employed in the tourism industry, accounting for 11.6 per cent of total employment in the sector.

Meanwhile the soft fruit and vegetable sector relies on up to 10,000 non-UK seasonal migrant workers, while around 4,500 EU citizens work in the fishing industry.

Ewing said: “This government values the contribution EU citizens make to our economy and society, and we want people who are here already to know they will be supported to stay in Scotland.  It is also important for people thinking of coming to Scotland to work, even for a season, that we are open for business and that you will be welcomed warmly.

“With EU citizens already making up 5.2 per cent of our workforce – many of whom have chosen to make their lives here – it is clear that any restrictions on movement and access to EU workers would have a significant detrimental impact on rural and coastal Scotland. This could potentially lead to labour and skills shortages and a possible reduction in domestic produce in favour of imports. For example, 58 per cent of our fish processing labour workforce comes from the EU, without which there is a real risk to the future success and sustainability of the rural and coastal economy and communities.

“Our message to people is therefore clear: you are welcome here, you contribute to this country’s diversity and prosperity, and we will do everything we can to help you stay in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government’s information service for EU migrants is available here.

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