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Pushing For A Stronger Voice In Europe

SCOTLAND, UK - Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead will meet with the new Defra Ministerial team today. For the first time the Cabinet Secretary will meet with all Defra Ministers responsible for farming and fisheries in unprecedented talks.

Around the table will be Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, Jim Paice, Minister for Agriculture and Food, and Richard Benyon, Minister for Fisheries, who will discuss how the UK and Scottish Governments can work together on rural, agricultural and fisheries issues.

Talks will focus on a number of issues including the recent agreement that Scottish Ministers and those from other devolved administrations will have a stronger role during European Council meetings to better reflect the interests of our farming and fishery industries.

Richard Lochhead said: "This is an important first meeting with the UK Defra team, covering crucial areas of Scottish interest and establishing the ground rules for the respect agenda with the UK Government.

"The Scottish Government welcome the progress that has been made in giving Scotland and the other devolved administrations a greater role at European Councils. This is a welcome development that reflects the importance of the European decision making process to Scottish communities.

"We have real expertise and valuable contributions to make to the European decision making process not least in the field of rural and maritime policy. That is why it is important for the Scottish Government to contribute to the development of policy in the lead up to council as well as at council itself.

"European Councils make important decisions on issues such as fishing farming and food production, issues that represent a greater share of the Scottish economy than they do in other parts of the UK. Today's discussions with Defra Ministers and with the Secretary of State for Scotland will consider how this will work in practice in a way that further strengthens the voice of Rural Scotland in Europe."

the Fish Site Editor

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