SNP Press For Scotland's One Billion EU Funding Claim

13 September 2005
"All bets are off on a deal, and Scotland's funding still at risk"

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has continued to argue for Scotland's to receive continued EU funding at a meeting with UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alan Johnson MP in Brussels.

Mr Johnson was giving evidence to the European Parliament's powerful Regional Development Committee on the prospects for an agreement on the contentious EU budget. The UK currently holds the Presidency of the EU, until the end of this year.

Under current UK demands, Scotland would lose out on a billion pounds worth of future EU funding proposed by the European Commission leading to the end of so many good projects across the country. The UK wants to cut the overall EU budget, and is willing to give away Scotland's cash without any promises to make good any losses.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Smith said:

"What remains clear is that the UK remains in a minority, looking to cut the overall EU budget, though in so doing cutting off Scotland's nose to spite Europe's face. In recent months I have spent a lot of time visiting great EU funded projects the length and breadth of Scotland and I want to see these projects continue.

Amongst other things I asked Mr Johnson, perhaps a bit cheekily, if he was a bookie what odds he would give the UK presidency reaching an actual agreement on the future budget. He replied that he is not a betting man. Probably just as well, as his statement that the UK thinks it might reach agreement was met with raised eyebrows throughout the committee chamber.

"The UK position remains the same as it was months back when they collapsed the EU summit. Cut the budget and never mind that Scotland will lose out. It is not good enough, and the good use that Scotland has put this money to has been praised all over Europe.

I know of many countries looking at the Scottish way of doing things as a template for how to set up their own EU funding schemes. It would be too sore an irony if just as we are being lauded across Europe we were losing out because of the policies of the London government. There is nothing in Europe that is against us, all of Scotland's problems are domestic, and it is up to us to solve them and speak for ourselves."