EU Funding Boost For West Of Scotland International Links

07 November 2007
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has today welcomed the European Commission's approval of a new cross-border cooperation programme between Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland for 2007-2013.

Scotland will for the first time be included in the programme, which builds upon the previous cross-border programmes between Ireland and Northern Ireland under the INTERREG Community Initiative. With a total budget of some 200 million pounds (256 million euro), the programme will encourage co-operation in research and development and promoting tourism to encourage a more sustainable "cross-border region" across the Republic, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.

Such cross-border cooperation had previously been called for by the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee which in 2006, a call which was echoed by Mr Smith, then a member of the European Parliament's powerful Regional Development Committee.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Smith said:

"The SNP in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Brussels wants to see Scotland build upon our links internationally, and here is some EU cash to help us do just that! This is good news for Scotland, but especially the West. This new programme should enable more effective and closer cooperation with our Celtic neighbours in a wide range of areas where we share common interests. For example, whether it be in tourism, economic development, transport, education, energy, or culture.

"There are already strong historical links existing between Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Such cooperation can only but strengthen and develop these links and at the same time bring real economic, social and cultural benefits for the people of West Central Scotland.

"I want to see as many organisations and local authorities in the West of Scotland as possible take full advantage of the opportunities for joint working, sharing of best practice and experiences as will no doubt come through participating in such a programme".