SNP Meet Basque Government

04 September 2006
Scottish National Party Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP will next week meet with a series of Ministers from the Basque Government to discuss their experiences of devolution and fiscal autonomy and to push progress in the Basque Peace Process before attending the "Peripheral and Maritime regions Energy from the Periphery" Conference in Pamplona.

Mr Smith will meet the Basque Ministers for Justice, Employment and Social Security, as well as the Minister for Education, Universities and Research and the Minister for Environment and Planning. Mr Smith is a founder member of the 'international Parliamentarian friendship group' monitoring the Basque peace process and will meet the President of the SNP's sister party Eusko Alkartasuna to discuss the process and what steps the SNP can take to further assist.

Speaking ahead of the visit Mr Smith said

"The SNP is hungry for power in 2007, because without it we cannot change Scotland. As we prepare for government we are actively taking the best ideas from around Europe and translating their experience for Scotland. The Basque government has far more powers than the Scottish Executive and I want to see how they use them.

"The Basque country is a powerhouse of the Spanish economy. It is a key contributor to Spain's economic growth and generates the most revenue of any Spanish nation or region per head. The Basque government has powers over its fiscal position and is able to vary corporation tax to promote economic growth. Scotland can and must learn from the Basque experience.

"I also want to see how the Basque government runs its Social security system and how they promote research and development through universities as well as managing EU environmental rules and adjusting to the need for a sustainable energy future.

"The Basque Country has had its troubles with terrorism in the past but as a member of the Basque Friendship Group I, on behalf of the SNP, wish to support the Basque people in moving towards a peaceful resolution of their position and an end to terrorism in the region.

"An SNP government will seek to build on these friendships across Europe and around the world to share our experiences, to learn lessons for Scotland and to work together towards our common ends. Scotland has many friends across the EU, who offer many benefits to Scotland, under the SNP those friendships will flourish."