Euro News Monthly February 2010

Alyn and East Renfrewshire candidate (far right) meet constituents

Hasn't this month just flown by? This month I have been busy hitting the campaign trail. Last week I took to the streets with East Renfrewshire Westminster candidate Gordon Archer (see above). I really enjoyed listening to local concerns and showing my support for our candidate. I also spent the day campaigning with SNP Westminster candidate for Ochil & South Perthshire, Annabelle Ewing. Whilst campaigning, we also took the chance to visit local farms to talk about farming issues and find out how the industry is faring. I always take every chance I can to see how things are working in practice, and it was useful for me to hear firsthand what problems our Scottish farmers are dealing with.

In other news this month, I have been encouraging schools in Scotland to participate in an EU competition on counterfeiting and piracy. The 'REAL fake' competition aims to raise awareness of piracy among young people, aged between 10 and 15 years. Pupils can design a logo or a stamp for the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy or produce short stories, games and films, or any other items about the problem of counterfeiting and piracy. So, if you have any arty children or grandchildren then encourage them to showcase their creative talents. More information can be found on my website

MP and MEP Team up to Stub out EU Tobacco Subsidy

John Mason, SNP MP for Glasgow East and SNP MEP Alyn Smith have today tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on the EU to stub out tobacco subsidy. A Holyrood motion has also been lodged.

The continuing subsidy by the European Union of tobacco cultivation is costing taxpayers ÂŁ260 million a year. Consequentially, Alyn Smith has written to the EU Commissioner-Designate for Health, John Dalli, and EU Commissioner-Designate for Budget and Financial Programming, Janusz Lewandowski, calling for their support to end the payments, and has also launched a petition on his website ( which calls for an end to the subsidy.

Smith said:

"Subsidising tobacco equates to subsiding the cause of cancer it's as straightforward as that and it has to stop

"Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the European Union accounting for over half a million deaths each year and over a million deaths in Europe as a whole. In light of these harrowing figures, the EU is pouring money into improving health but at the same time it is throwing 260m Euro into one of the biggest culprits of health deficiency. This seems a huge contradiction to me and that is why I have launched the petition on my website."

Mason said:

"Spending over a quarter of a billion pounds on subsidising tobacco production would be hard to justify at the best of times, but in the midst of a recession it is utter madness. There are 1001 better ways in which these massive sums could be spent. In fact, diverting even a small proportion of the overall subsidy to economic developments projects in the East End would make all the difference to communities in my constituency."

Smith doing his bit for the environment and recycling his batteries

SNP MEP, Alyn Smith is encouraging Scots to recycle their batteries following a new Directive which came into force this month. From 1 February 2010, retailers who supply 32kg or more a year of portable batteries in store (e.g. supermarket, newsagent, hardware store), over the internet, via mail-order or directly to businesses, will need to take back used batteries from the public free of charge.

Battery company, Varta have reported that the average UK household contains approximately 21 batteries; which if disposed of in general waste bins, end up in landfill, where they can leak harmful chemicals into the soil. However, under the new Directive you will now be able to recycle batteries anywhere you see the Be Positive sign.

Smith said:

"Under the Directive, the UK has new responsibilities on how batteries are recovered, treated and recycled and the Directive also requires that 25 per cent of waste batteries in the UK are recycled by 2012. The onus is not just on retailers, everyone has to consciously do their bit.

"If batteries are thrown into your rubbish bin, they are likely to end up in landfill. Once buried, the batteries start to break down, and can leak some of these chemicals into the ground. This can cause soil and water pollution, which may be a health risk for humans.

"Recycling avoids this and can also help recover some of the raw materials used for making batteries and can save some of the planet's resources, by reducing the need to mine new materials. I urge all Scots to look for the positive sign in their local supermarket and beat the negative environmental effects of batteries."

Smith Hits Out at Bid to Outlaw Wonky Fruit and Veg

Smith, full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, expressed his disappointment this week at the committee's vote on a quality policy report. The report calls for the reintroduction of marketing rules in the fruit and vegetables sector which provide for "uniform standardisation parameters" i.e. the banning of odd-shaped fruits and vegetables. These controversial and unpopular rules were only dismantled by the Commission last year.

Smith said:

"It is just plain odd that the 'wonky fruit' issue simply refuses to go away. It was a great triumph for commonsense when the commission swept away these unnecessary rules last year, so for the agriculture committee unilaterally to raise the subject again is worrying. I will certainly do all I can to fight any proposal that comes forward for the reintroduction of these marketing standards."

Smith also said the vote on labelling was a missed opportunity to force compulsory disclosure on the origin of all fruit and veg. He branded the voluntary initiative that was agreed the "lowest common denominator formula", saying it was deeply unsatisfying as it would fail to inform consumers.

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