Alyn At EU Energy Conference

22 June 2011

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today opened and chaired the first session of the prestigious Ocean Energy 2011 Conference in Brussels, bringing together industry, policy makers and experts from all points of the European compass.

The two day conference will showcase developments in the technologies, stock take the growth of the Marine Energy sector worldwide and allow policy makers to hear how best to draw up the policies and structures to support the growth.  A strong Scottish presence was evident from politics and industry, reflecting Scotland's clear commitment to the sector.
 
In his opening remarks Alyn said:
 
"I'm delighted to be given the honour of opening your conference, and it is good to see so many familiar faces here already. Looking at your agenda you have clearly a top notch range of speakers, and have the best and brightest of one of Europe's best and brightest future industries.
 
"Coming from Scotland, energy in all its forms, but Marine especially, is close to our hearts.  Scotland has been blessed with every energy resource imaginable, and the commitment of Scotland's politicians, from the leader of my party the First Minister Alex Salmond downwards, is absolute.  And in the EU, you're not short of support, but what you may be short of is action.
 
"But I'd start, as I often do, with a challenge: what's stopping you?  The question is not actually a flippant one, as an active politician I'm actively seeking your input, your guidance and your expertise.  We have a glittering prize within our reach, an energy revolution putting people in charge of their own energy destiny, a new series of clean industries and massive economic development, as well as the ecological, environmental and climate change objectives which are of course so important.  You look at the population map of Europe and people live where they live largely because that's where energy reserves were in the 18th century as industrialisation took off.  We can turn that map on its head, empowering people and communities.
 
"I was on the Energy Committee in the last mandate, and closely involved in the 20 20 20 package. As I say you're not short of warm words and hot air from Europe's politicians, in fact I often think if you took all the studies, working documents, green papers, road maps, white papers and action plans and all the rest and set fire to them you'd have an almost limitless power source right there!  I'm clear in my objectives, I'm a commercial lawyer to trade, I'm wary of the state picking winners, and I'm certainly wary of the EU deciding what technology is best.  But where we do add value is acting as your advocates, in knocking down barriers for you, and in funding the non-commercial research or infrastructure that the private sector will not, yet, fund.  We're great at setting targets, but you're the people who are going to achieve them.
 
"We have a growing energy need, and limited resources, but infinite potential.  Europe's leaders, and I mean the member states as well as in the EU itself, need to get real about this.  Setting targets is easy, and cheap.  If we do not properly fund such research, such infrastructure and such projects as we need to make them happen it is all just so much puff.
 
"So I look forward to being challenged today, and do as always view this as an exercise in putting a face to the name for you.  If we can be helpful, get in touch.  You have my active, vocal and total support."