Tory MEP Admits Smaller EU States "Most Influential"

15 June 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today both hailed and applauded a statement from Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson admitting that smaller states are the "most influential" in the European Union, and urged his Tory colleague to declare himself for the benefits of independent EU membership for Scotland.
Mr Stevenson has proposed a new allocation mechanism for determining how many MEPs each member state gets, but ignored the fact that the current rules would give Scotland, as an independent state, more than double the MEPs we presently have, taking us from 6 to 13, the same as Denmark.

Smith said:

"This is a remarkable statement from Struan, though I like his thinking.  He is quite right that the current system gives greater weight to smaller countries, and it does so quite deliberately.  This is a system we can take advantage of by changing our current second class EU membership for the first class carriage along with the other full member states.

"Where I would take some issue with Struan is that he seems to think MEP numbers are the biggest indicator of influence.  We are useful on occasions to be sure, but there is simply no substitute for full membership of the Council of Ministers as an independent state, and even under his ideas Scotland would still be stuck with UK representation.

"This matters, because even today we have seen how the UK position on agriculture reform is so totally at odds with the position of the Scottish government and Scottish farming communities, yet the UK Minister speaks for us.  Likewise, in upcoming talks on climate change, energy policy and fisheries reform we will be represented by Ministers who were not elected by us and do not speak for us.  In the absence of real government support, MEPs can only chip away at the edges, not promote (or indeed block) real change.

"Besides, the EU does not work on size alone: ask the Irish.  Your success in influencing the debate depends upon picking your issues and engaging with the right people and the right approach.  Too often the UK gets it wrong and everyone in these islands misses out.  Scotland will fit right into a Northern Arc from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and in time Iceland and Norway too - we'll have no shortage of friends only too keen to co-operate with us.

"So Struan's contribution is welcome, but instead of inventing wacky new formulae, the most elegant way to improve Scotland's position in the EU is for us to vote for independence in Europe."

Mr Stevenson has highlighted "research" which indicates the basis on which MEP numbers for each Member State are allocated.  The arithmetic formula is known as 'degressive proportionality' whereby smaller states have proportionately more MEPs relative to their population.  This means that Luxembourg has 6 MEPs, where on a population basis they would have barely a leg representing them.  By Mr Stevenson's own admission:

"Relative to their size, Europe's most influential countries are Malta (83,267 people per seat), Luxembourg (83,701 people per seat) and Cyprus (133,642 people per seat), as their number of seats is high relative to their populations."

The Press Release can be found at:

http://www.struanstevenson.com/media/news-release/euro_parliament_democratic_deficit_needs_reform/