Euro News Monthly August 2010

portrait of Alyn Smith

Now recess is over things are very much back to business in the corridors of the European Parliament and I am looking forward to getting stuck into some interesting projects!

As some of you may be aware, I put myself forward for the East Lothian Constituency for the forthcoming Westminster elections. By 71 votes to 68, the members voted to select Dave Berry. I said at the outset that my motivation for putting myself forward was to be where I could be most useful to the Party; I do after all already have a job I love. I sought to play a front line role and get my hands dirty in what will be a tough election for the Party.

I am delighted that Scottish universities are breaking new ground and opening campuses in the Middle and Far East. Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh recently opened a campus in Dubai and Napier University has recently opened a biofuel research centre in Hong Kong and an office in India last year. Glasgow Caledonian University's new London campus makes it the first Scottish university to offer an English base. Full marks go to these Scottish Universities for taking innovative steps to outshine their rivals and boost their funds by attracting new overseas students. I invested in a 5 star production called "Putting it Together" which was one of 2453 shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I really enjoyed the Festival this year and I hope some of you did too. Edinburgh really has earned its reputation as the world's leading festival destination.

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Smith Visits Prestonpans

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith and Councillor Paul McLennan visited Prestonpans Tapestry in East Lothian to discuss possible EU funding avenues.

Prestonpans recently unveiled one of the world's longest tapestries, in East Lothian. The work charts Bonnie Prince Charlie's journey from South Uist to the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745. The tapestry was commissioned by the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust. It is hoped the immense creation will form the centrepiece of a history centre that trustees are campaigning to create near the battle site. Smith recently wrote to Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy asking for his assistance and support in locating EU funds to support the trustees' project to find this tapestry a permanent home in the area.

Smith said:

"I have visited Prestonpans before and was struck by the quality, the commitment and the comprehensiveness of the venture. They have created something which richly deserves to enter Scotland's hall of treasures.

"I believe that it is vital that such a work of clear European cultural and historical import is afforded support, preferably from the EU level. Many of the heritage sites in East Lothian are in increasingly desperate need of renovation and the area, which has, until relatively recently, been highly reliant on heavy industry, is gradually undergoing substantial urban regeneration. A new or renovated visitor centre dedicated to the iconic battle and which could house the tapestry could be the focal point of an urban regeneration flagship project."

Smith Calls for Calm on Cloning Row

Smith on work experience with an Artificial Insemination technician

SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith called for calm in the wake of reports that two bulls born in Scotland of embryos harvested from a cloned American cow did enter the human food chain.

While sharing concerns over the ethics of cloning, Smith stressed that there is no evidence of any possible risk to humans and that the planned EU ban on such "novel foods" is precautionary, and in response to ethical concerns and worries over the potential practical impact on the animal gene pool, not any risk to human health.

Smith has, however, called for a full stock take of the genetics of agriculture, and written to Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Maureen Watt, suggesting that the Holyrood Committee conduct a full inquiry into the issue in Scotland.

Smith said:

"There is a lot more science in farming than people appreciate, and so we must always be rational in our approach to it in agriculture. My suggestion is that a cross party inquiry be held in Scotland into the issues, to ventilate the existing science, and to scout out the likely effects of future developments. I would hope that such an inquiry would be able to bring Scotland as a whole into the discussion so that we can weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of this new technology on a rational basis, not as a knee jerk reaction to a dubious importation."

Smith Hails Euro Aid Boost for Pakistan

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith welcomed news that the European Union will spend an extra 30m Euros to fund emergency aid for victims of devastating floods in Pakistan.

The announcement brings the total promised by the EU to 70m Euros and does not include money donated by individual EU member states. The funds will be used to boost the emergency assistance carried out by the Commission's humanitarian aid partners. EU relief experts are also on the ground to ensure funds are used correctly.

Smith said:

"10 million people have been affected by the floods that hit large parts of Pakistan and new flood warnings have been issued in some areas of the country.

"Sadly, international response to the devastating floods has been inadequate. There are growing health concerns for those surviving without proper shelter, food or clean drinking water, three weeks after the country's worst natural disaster began. This latest aid donation will provide a small boost but it is vital that we step up humanitarian aid and prepare a long-term reconstruction assistance plan."

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