EU membership 'vital for jobs'
Membership of the EU i s vital to Scottish jobs and economy, Nicola Sturgeon will tell an audience in Brussels this week.
The First Minister will state the Scottish Government's commitment to Europe and reiterate her call for a 'double lock' on membership to prevent Scotland being forced out of the EU against its will in the referendum.
Ms Sturgeon will also highlight the Scottish jobs linked to EU trade and the economic and cultural contributions made in Scotland by people born elsewhere in the EU.
The speech in the European Policy Centre to an audience of policy makers and institution representatives will be her first in the EU capital.
The First Minister is expected to say: "I firmly believe that membership of Europe is in Scotland's best interests - and have done for all of my adult life.
"We value Scotland's place in Europe, and the benefits it brings in terms of jobs and investment - with more than 300,000 Scottish jobs estimated to be associated with our exports to the European Union.
"Perhaps most fundamentally of all, the freedom to travel, study and work across Europe has brought major benefits to Scotland. At present there are 171,000 people from elsewhere in the European Union who live and work in Scotland.
"They contribute hugely to the diversity of our culture, the prosperity of our economy, and the strength of our society.
"Polls in Scotland consistently show strong support for EU membership. That is why we will propose a 'double lock', meaning that exit from the European Union would only be possible if all UK nations agreed. That way Scotland couldn't be forced out of the European Union against our will."
Speaking to business leaders in Edinburgh last week, Ms Sturgeon reiterated her opposition to the Tories' in-out referendum on UK membership of the EU, and said her Government would ''work to protect Scotland's interests''.