MEP Calls For Level Playing Field For Scots Islands

15 March 2007
In the latest plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasburg, SNP MEP Alyn Smith has urged the European Commission to back a report that looks at the natural and economic constraints faced by Scottish islands.

The report, by the EP's regional development committee, sets out measures that would make it easier for islands like Shetland to interact in Europe.

Speaking after the debate Mr Smith said:

"This report offers some solid solutions to the problems faced by islands across Scotland and indeed Europe but as I said in my speech to MEPs it's vital we also celebrate the positive contribution Islands make in Europe.

"I've urged the commission to make sure action is taken to implement many of the recommendations in this report.

"The points made on transport and the environment are of particular interest to Scottish islands.

"Although the squandering of millions of pounds of public money on a flawed tender for ferry services is the result of domestic mistakes complicated EU rules haven't helped and we must take another look at them.

"In Scotland with Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and Argyll and Bute we have the best wind, wave and tidal resources in the EU and a vast potential contribution to make to the EU's energy and climate change objectives, but we are not developing these resources because we have seen insufficient investment in the grid.

"If the EU is serious about meeting the climate change challenges, then it must invest in interconnectors to the Scottish islands and the Scottish islands will make a vast contribution to our objectives.

"Scotland's islands have a distinctive culture, a distinctive identity and a distinctive geography, which is something to celebrate, not pity. If the playing field is level, there is nothing wrong with Europe's islands that will not be put right by what is right with Europe's islands in their dynamism, their innovation and their potential contribution to the EU's objectives."