ON Thursday we will go to the polls for the European elections.

Millions will vote right across Europe, people coming out to have their say on some of the most important issues facing us today.

We are a nation that has always looked outwards not inwards.

A nation that has helped shape the world, not shied away from it. As we write the next chapter of Scotland's story, we do so not considering borders and identity, but values and ideas.

As we look to the exciting and complex challenges of the 21st century, now is not the time for Scotland to retreat into itself.

We should continue breaking down the barriers rather than attempting to erect artificial ones.

And as the global financial crisis and climate change have shown, the real challenges we face and the change that is needed to meet them will come from Scotland playing its full part in the world.

This is why we need a strong Scotland, with a strong voice in the United Kingdom, a strong Scotland with a full role in the European Union; a strong Scotland at the world's top table.

Three of our top four export markets are in Europe: Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Working with our partners in Europe, we have campaigned for a cap on bankers' bonuses to be enforced properly, for blacklisting at work to be criminalised and eradicated, and tough new measures to end the tax avoidance that sees one trillion euros a year lost to the common good across the European Community.

That is why we must see strong Labour voices in the European Parliament, a strong voice for Scotland at the top table with the clout to deliver on jobs, the cost living and work-place rights.

As part of the UK we also benefit from the European rebate, worth £135 per year to every Scottish household.

And Scotland also benefits from the support its farmers and fishing industry receives from the European Union.

We must resist calls from the isolationists who would have us turn our backs and close the door on cooperation across our two most important unions - the UK and EU.

We know that our place at the top table is at risk and the benefits of EU membership are in doubt with the SNP's plans.

We were told there was legal advice about our membership of the EU, we now know the truth of that baseless assertion, thanks to the hard work of our Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler.

The message is simple - you can't trust the SNP on the EU.

We know that we must work together, not compete, with our neighbours. Why turn a partner into a rival?

And as part of the UK we know that the pound in our pocket is safe, as is our place in the EU.

As EU President Manuel Barroso has said, Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership.

Why put the gains made we have made as part of the EU and UK at risk?