MEP Apologises For Tavish Scott Outburst

13 February 2007
"Scotland needs a mature relationship with Europe"

SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP is to write to EU Transport Chief Jacques Barrot to apologise for comments made by Scotland's current Transport Minister Tavish Scott.

Mr Smith has reiterated his invitation to Mr Barrot to come to Scotland to deal with mature politicians anxious to find a workable solution to the problems Scotland's ferry system has faced under the failed administration Labour and the Lib Dems.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Mr Smith said:

"Mr Scott protests too much. Scotland's transport problems are emphatically not European in origin, but home grown.

"Calling EU policy a "basket case" is not going to help Mr Scott find any answers to the problems he has got himself into when it comes to ferries.

"Other EU countries and transport systems like the Paris Metro are not in the mess Scotland is because rather than throw insults at the Commission their Ministers work and negotiate to protect their national interests.

"I have already asked for a meeting with the Commissioner to discuss Scotland's ferries and invited him to visit Scotland for to see them for himself. If Mr Scott can behave himself he is more than welcome to attend.

"EU transport rules are common to an area from Stornoway to Cyprus, the Algarve to the Arctic Circle. They have to be broad and they have to be capable of interpretation.

"The Greeks, Spanish, Danes, Estonians and all the rest seem to manage,yet Mr Scott's hands have been tied by his own lack of powers under the Scotland Act and by Scotland's second class status.

"Mr Scott has evidently given up trying and is resorting to name calling instead.

"It is just not good enough, and I want to stress to Mr Barrot that there are some of us more interested in finding a solution to this.

"An SNP government at Holyrood will talk directly to the EU to achieve a robust and viable ferry service for Scotland's coastal and island communities to rely on."