MEP offers EU insight to Highlands Industry

09 June 2006
Scottish National Party MEP and European Spokesman Alyn Smith is in Inverness today (Friday) to face figures from Highland Industry at an SCDI "meet the MEP event".

Mr Smith will also join Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson for a series of meetings with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to discuss promoting Highland food and culture.

Mr Smith and Mr Gibson are calling for Highland food and drink manufacturers to consider protecting their produce by registering it with the EU under the Designation of Origin Scheme which mean produce specific to the Highlands and Islands could only be produced locally.

Speaking before the SCDI event and the meetings with HIE Mr Smith said

"I'm looking forward to my day in Inverness and to the grilling I'll be facing from a tough business audience. Business and Industry in the Highlands and Islands has been very engaged with the EU particularly on funding and infrastructure issues.

"The next few years will bring big changes in EU funding for this area so it's important that contacts with Europe are strong. As an MEP I can offer local organisations and businesses a route in to the EU that often isn't available elsewhere.

"I also relish the opportunity to discuss the work MEPs do with people who may not be that familiar with what we get up to every day and how we can be of assistance to them.

"The Highlands and Islands been very good at using what the EU has to offer, that's one of the reasons why Rob Gibson and I want to see more of our small local food producers considering protection under EU schemes.

"There are already a few Scottish products protected by these schemes, Scotch Beef of Lamb and Arbroath Smokies spring to mind, but we have so many more unique food and drink products that I would encourage producers to look into what the EU can offer them.

"Produce protected in this way is often seen as a delicacy and sells all over the world. It can be a real boost to many producers, I'd urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible to give it serious consideration."