SCOTLANDS's businesses value our connections with Europe.
That was one of the clear messages from a recent survey of Scottish Chambers of Commerce members on the issues surrounding the independence referendum. With the political parties in full campaigning mode for next week's European Parliament elections, it is a lesson that they would all do well to remember.
Let's look at the facts: 70 percent of our survey respondents believe that an independent Scotland leaving the European Union would impact negatively on their business and 61percent believe that Scotland leaving the EU as part of the UK would be damaging. Very few businesses - less than 15 percent - foresee negative impacts from Scotland remaining within the EU.
Interestingly though, this rises to 41 percent if the remainder of the UK was to leave the EU and an independent Scotland remain a member.
So what do these results tell us? The clear implication is that if the UK or, any part of it, was to leave the EU then there could be negative impacts for Scottish businesses, irrespective of the outcome of September's referendum on independence.
The EU matters to Scottish firms for many reasons: each year, we export just under £12 billion of goods and services to the EU, which is around 45 percent of our total international trade; the pan-European labour market allows businesses to access a wide pool of skills among over half a billion people across 28 member states; and our contribution to the EU allows Scotland to access strategic funding opportunities across economic development, connectivity and academic research.
The bottom line is that this all helps to support jobs and investment.
Business values Europe and the opportunities that it provides but it must work for business and respond to our needs, not the other way round.
The Scottish Government will shortly be consulting on new European directives governing public procurement.
Business needs these rules to be implemented consistently and fairly in Scotland and across Europe and the result must be a system which enables and encourages small and medium sized businesses to access more public contracts and to benefit directly from public sector investment.
Elections to the European Parliament matter and the EU is worth billions to Scottish businesses.
When Scotland elects its six representatives on May 22, Scottish Chambers of Commerce's message to them will be clear: 'What will you do to help Scotland's businesses to grow over the next five years?'. In 2019, we will hold them to account on their performance.
Liz Cameron is chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce