Scottish Greens have voted to launch a campaign to argue for the UK to stay in the European Union when the date for the planned membership referendum is set.

The decision was taken as Party members passed a motion supporting a positive, pro-EU campaign at the Scottish Green Conference at the SECC in Glasgow this weekend. The motion mandates the Party to set up its own, autonomous campaign in the case of a referendum on EU membership.

The Greens will argue that being part of the EU provides an opportunity to sustain strong international protections for environmental standards and workers' rights, as well as economic, cultural and social opportunities.

The campaign will be separate to any official campaign for EU membership, but the Scottish Greens will seek to collaborate with progressive allies from across parties and groups.

Ross Greer, Scottish Green spokesperson on Europe and candidate for West of Scotland for Holyrood 2016, said:

"Today's decision sends a strong message that the Scottish Greens believe in a progressive European Union that will drive social justice and environmental protection, and that we are ready to do everything we can to stay in. The union is in need of reform, but the cowardly anti-EU arguments made by the likes of Nigel Farage have nothing to do with creating a better society and tackling injustice. The EU will not be changed by running away, but by working with civil society and parties across member states, not by running away.

"While the EU hasn't yet gone far enough, it is still unique in its ability to spread environmental standards and workers' rights, and it has the potential to be transformed into a social union of nations that will be a force for social justice within its borders and beyond. With a growing movement of pro-EU, progressive voices, I am confident we can achieve this and move the EU away from its current austerity driven politics and give its citizens more say in how the union is run.

"There is strong appetite in Scotland to remain in the EU, and many in England, Wales and Northern Ireland share our aspirations. Our campaign will work with these partners to make a strong, positive argument for our future in the European Union."