SNP MEP Calls On Scotland's Towns To "Twin Up" For EU Cash

10 October 2007
SNP MEP Mr Alyn Smith has announced plans to assist Scottish towns and villages to access EU cash available for town twinning initiatives and invited interested organisations to get in touch with him.

EU funding was recently created by the European Parliament and Commission to encourage town twinning, yet in 2007 just five grants have been awarded to Scots organisations despite all the exchanges that go on to and from Scotland.

Many current exchange programmes qualify for EU cash but have not applied for it because people in Scotland do not know the budgets exist.

Mr Smith will in the next two weeks publish an instruction booklet which he will make available free of charge to any organisation that gets in touch with him. The booklet will detail the budgets, eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Mr Smith has met with officials of the EU commission who stressed the benefits of the town twinning programmes and the fact that EU cash is already available to apply for.

Liam O'Keefe, an intern on the Allan Macartney Internship Programme in Mr Smith's office, will lead on the project under Mr Smith's supervision.

Mr Smith said:

"Everyone knows we Scots are well liked and well thought of in the rest of Europe. It saddens me that we have so few town twinning exchanges, but even of these only five have accessed the EU cash available. This is an untapped resource which Scottish towns should be all over. There is inspiring work going on up and down Scotland to reach out to our neighbours, but we can do more, and I am committing myself to make that process easier and more financially attractive.

"I want to see my constituents from all over Scotland plunder the European Commission's budgets, that's what they are there for! Having met the Commission officials I'm sure they are happy enough we are encouraging people to get in touch.

"I'm particularly pleased that we have been able to secure Liam O'Keefefrom the Allan Macartney internship programme to head up the project. It is a great opportunity for him to see just how the EU actually works, and make a real contribution to Scotland in Europe.

"I want to make every councillor, council, church, organisation and twinning association in Scotland aware of this largely untapped fund and I hope the booklet will open doors for people.

"Any Scots organisation that wants a copy just needs to get in touchwith me on and we will send a copy out."