The Highlands & Islands European Partnership (HIEP) has launched a position paper on Regional Policy.
After exiting the EU, UK regions will no longer be able to access EU structural funds. A new Regional Policy is therefore required for the UK as a replacement and to help maximise the economic potential of our regions. For the Western Isles, the main priorities continue to be:
- infrastructural and digital connectivity;
- investment in sustainable growth sectors such as renewables;
- investment in new technologies;
- retention of our working age populations;
- relocation to the Western Isles of pre and post Brexit jobs;
- rural resettlement programmes;
- commitment to our traditional industries;
- control over our natural assets;
- investment in our private sector through an incentivising apprenticeship programme;
- investment in our education and skills;
- expansion of local UHI provision;
- support for aviation and ferries transportation; and
- an overall reduction in the cost of living and an improvement in the mobility of labour.
The Regional Policy Position Paper (790.8kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) recognises that the European Union’s Regional Policy had been a significant driver in transforming the economic and social wellbeing of the Highlands & Islands.
Vice-Chair of HIEP, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Councillor, Alasdair Macleod, said: “The Highlands and Islands of Scotland is a special corner of the country, with an abundance of natural resources, a diverse business base, world renowned environment and vibrant, confident communities. An effective regional policy will enable us to make a full contribution post Brexit towards economic and social growth. That’s good for the Highlands and Islands. It’s also good for Scotland and the UK.
“Despite the fragile nature of our islands’ economies, the challenges of population retention and growth, and other financial and resource issues, through the historic Islands (Scotland) Bill, we have been given the opportunity to embed the principle that “one size does not fit all”. We hope to continue working closely with both Scottish and UK Governments to ensure not only a sustainable future for our areas but to see them flourish.”