SNP MEP Wins Backing For Strong EU Research Funding

25 January 2006

SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith has this week received almost unanimous support for his call for a greater focus in EU funding tobe given to research and development given the major impact this will have on the Scottish and EU economy.

The European Parliament's Regional Development Committee has been considering how best to spend EU research funding in the future. Alyn as the Committee's 'Rapporteur' on the matter - was tasked with getting an agreement amongst MEPs . The 'Opinion' tabled by Mr Smith won broad cross party support at yesterday's meeting in Brussels.

EU Research funding is worth some 37.2 million pounds to the Scottisheconomy annually and remains very much under threat following the EU budget deal recently struck in December. The European Parliament lastweek rejected the budget package as insufficient, and Mr Smith hopes to increase the allocation to research.The Parliament's influential Regional Development Committee passed Mr Smith's opinion with 48 votes in favour and one against. The Opinion now goes to the Industry Research and Energy Committee, which is charged with making the final recommendations to the Parliament.

Speaking after the successful vote, Mr Smith said:

"I'd thank all colleagues who so strongly supported my call for moreactive EU funding of research, I look forward to going to theIndustry, Research and Energy Committee with this strong Opinion asleverage.

"Scotland has a great story to tell on research, and much to teachthe research community across the EU as a whole. With Scottish Universities having some of the best commercialisation ratios across Europe we have a great deal to gain from an increased EU focus onresearch.

"At a time when Scotland stands to lose over half our EU funding for regional development because the UK government did not fight for it, it is vital that we be as creative as we can in engaging with other EU funding streams."