THE SNP have launched their European elections campaign with a pledge to "make Scotland's mark" in the EU.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland, as part of the UK, was losing out in Brussels as he appeared alongside candidates at the Moredum Research Institute, an internationally renowned centre for the study of farm animal diseases.

The SNP's campaign, which will be closely linked to the independence referendum, in the run-up to polling day on May 22 claims that Scotland could access more generous farm subsidies and extra funding to tackle youth unemployment if it left the UK.

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An independent Scotland could also secure a better deal for the fishing industry, the campaign will say.

The SNP will also warn that business is at risk from David Cameron's pledge to hold an in/out referendum on EU membership if he wins the next year's General Election.

The Nationalists enjoy a clear lead over Labour in the fight for Euro votes in Scotland according to the most recent polls.

The party is hopeful of increasing its tally of MEPs from two to three.

Mr Salmond said: "We are campaigning to win the elections and obviously the opinion polls are very encouraging. "But we don't take anything for granted, our target is to win the election."

Asked how UKIP, who are neck-and-neck with Labour in the fight for Euro votes across the UK, would fare, he replied: "Less well in Scotland than they will in England."

The SNP won the last Euro election in 2009, winning 29% of the vote compared with second placed Labour's 21%.

l ED Miliband today launches Labour's election campaign for the European and English local elections with a pledge to introduce sweeping reforms to help millions of households in the rented sector combat the cost of living crisis.

He will say: "One of the biggest causes of the cost of living crisis is the price of renting or buying a home. "