Scottish Borders Council has agreed to help develop a strategy aimed at securing special status for the region after the UK pulls out of the European Union.
That move comes after members of the authority’s executive committee considered a report outlining the implications for the region of the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU).
Members agreed to give their backing to the South of Scotland Alliance in developing an advocacy strategy after discussing the main issues in terms of funding support, loss of access to the single European market and uncertainty of the long-term status of EU nationals living in the region.
Leaderdale and Melrose councillor David Parker, leader of the council, said: “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 Scottish Borders, including the funding support available.”
Calling for a “co-ordinated, ongoing approach”, Mr Parker told the meeting: “In addition to working with the South of Scotland Alliance, it is important that the council also engages with key local organisations, such as the chamber of commerce and National Farmers’ Union to also put the strongest possible case together to lobby the UK Government on the needs of our area.
“I think there is still an opportunity to shape the future, and we need to think about how we set ourselves up as a council to help shape how things are done moving forward.”
The authority’s executive member for economic development, Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, added: “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 for support with programmes to assist local people and businesses across the region.”