MEP To Meet With HIE On Euro Cash Clawback

31 January 2007
SNP MEP Alyn Smith will meet with Highlands and Islands Enterprise this week to discuss the £20 million Euro funding audit.

Top of the agenda will be reports that the European Commission is to go ahead with plans to claw back money awarded as part of the 1994-99 programme.

The meeting, arranged before Regional Commissioner Danuta Hubner confirmed the claw back, will take place on Friday 2nd February at HIE HQ in Inverness.

Speaking from Brussels Mr Smith said;

"I am deeply concerned at the comments this week from Commissioner Hubner especially given that HIE are of the opinion that discussions with the Commission are still on going.

"It is vital that everything is done at all levels to ensure that this audit comes to a satisfactory conclusion and that if money is to be claimed back programmes throughout the region do not suffer.

"The mistakes Highlands and Islands programmes are accused of occurred pre-devolution and any costs should be the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry. It is unfortunate the UK government does not see it that way.

"Similarly I have asked for assurances from the Scottish Executive that Highlands and Islands programmes will be protected, but have received none.

"It's time a satisfactory conclusion was reached once and for all and the SNP will continue to play a positive and constructive role in ensuring that is the case."