McConnell Must Use Euro Presidency To Secure More Than Visitors

01 July 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith today responded to First Minister Jack McConnell's speech at the launch of the UKs Presidency of the European Union.

Commenting from Edinburgh Mr Smith said

"Scotland needs so much more from the EU Presidency than a few extra tourists. I welcome the Presidency events being held in Scotland, but what do they really mean when Scotland will not be independently represented at any of them. Our Ministers might be allowed to attend but as with EU Council meetings I'd be amazed if any of them do anything more than sit quietly in the corner.

"Jack McConnell has a real opportunity here to sort out some of the problems Scotland faces as a result of Westminster's failure to fight our corner in Europe. Scotland is to lose millions of pounds in European Structural Funding if Tony Blair gets the economic reforms he wants, what is the First Minister going to do about that?

"Our shipyards and ferry services face crises because Scotland cannot speak for herself in Europe, but the Scottish Executive seems to have little concept of how Europe works. Sometimes I have to wonder if they actually know where Brussels is.

"So far the First Minister has done nothing in Europe but let Scotland down. Jack McConnell has six months to put forward Scotland's case in Europe. He must use this valuable time to fight not just for our funding or our ferries, but if he really wants Europe to connect with the people he must fight for Scotland's right to be properly represented at every level, instead of excluded by involvement with isolated and unpopular UK policies."