Oil And Gas: EU Safety Package "Not Fit For Purpose"

30 March 2012

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today (Friday) hailed a meeting in Aberdeen as a key milestone in ensuring the proposed EU offshore safety package is opposed in the most effective way possible.

The European Parliament Energy Committee member is now organising a further meeting in Brussels with key EU Commision officials to work on the proposals, highlight Scottish concerns and make sure Scotland's offshore industry is properly protected.  He is also working closely with Norwegian interests to ensure Norway is also represented despite not being in the EU.

Alyn met with key representatives from the offshore unions, industry and others in a meeting organised by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to ensure the campaign on the proposed EU regulation of offshore safety is as focused as possible.

Speaking after the meeting, Alyn said:

"Today's meeting proves that in Scotland we can and do get everyone in the room, and was a very useful discussion on tactics as this goes forward and making sure that our work on this is focused and effective.  The package has attracted virtually unanimous opposition from the Scottish government, unions and industry as unnecessary, and, as presently drafted, not fit for purpose.

"When you're dealing with Brussels you have to get the tone right, and while we have an ongoing situation in the North Sea we must ensure that we're realistic and constructive.  Scotland has hard-won and bitter-learned world leading expertise on offshore safety and a willingness to share that expertise.  We also know that things can always be improved, and I'm pleased that Scotland is engaging on this; some of the protestations we've seen from London politicians have been counterproductive and shrill, and are guaranteed to irritate others and leave us with the worst deal possible.  There are ways to make your point in Europe, and from his track record the Prime Minister is not the man for the job.

"The good news is that nothing is settled yet and done right these proposals are fixable.  They are well intentioned, and any attempt to improve safety and environmental protection should and are being taken seriously.  The Commission officials I have met are keen to receive constructive ideas but the EU Commission has to prove that passing a new package will improve safety.  That case has not been made for our waters, as opposed to other EU member states who are only now starting exploration.

"The package as drafted is simply not fit for purpose.  Passing laws is easy, we do it every other day but making sure that laws are enforced and properly resourced is what actually makes the workers and environment safer.  The practical implications of these proposals don't seem to have been sufficiently worked through.

"The Scottish work on this dossier will be top of my agenda, and the package should be introduced to the Parliament soon and the committee I sit on will be responsible for taking the proposals forward.  I look forward to working with the many committed, experienced and realistic representatives we have in Scotland to get a result."