SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) highlighted the top roles smaller EU states have landed in the new European Commission, while predicting a rough ride for the uninspiring, unelected UK nominee.
Scotland has no nominee; only the UK as member state has a nomination. The UK nominee is Lord Hill, a lobbyist until 2010 when he was made a Tory Lord. He has been allocated the Financial Services portfolio, a role secondary to the Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Commissioner which has been given to France.
Ireland has landed the important Agriculture portfolio; Finland has Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness; Sweden, Trade; Malta has Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; and Cyprus has Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
"The Commissioner nomination process is far from perfect, but it exists, and Scotland could do well out of it. Seeing other similar-sized countries landing key roles shows just how much better we could be doing.
"With independence, Scotland will have a Commissioner in our own right. Of course, what his or her portfolio would be is a matter of conjecture but we can see, right now, how the status quo isn't working for us.
"The UK priorities are clear to anyone who cares to look. "Our" member state nominee is an unelected Lord, who was a banking lobbyist until 2010. His role, while important, is very much secondary within the Commission to the Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner, allocated to France. While I have never met Lord Hill so he may well be charming, for the UK to nominate a former financial lobbyist for this role underlines what the priorities really are - keep the City safe.
"The nominees now come before MEPs for hearings, and I fancy our own UK nominee will discover his ermine is no shield to proper scrutiny. Sadly, MEPs can either support the College of Commissioners as a bloc or reject it as a bloc, but I've been through this process twice now and we can certainly pick off weaker candidates."