Euro News Monthly July 2010

Smith chaired Kenny MacAskill's endorsement meeting

Earlier this month, I chaired Kenny MacAskill's endorsement meeting (pictured). A packed endorsement meeting took no time in giving total backing to Scotland's Justice Secretary as constituency candidate, and went on to discuss plans to re-elect him for the new Edinburgh Eastern constituency.

In other news this month, I wrote to the EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, asking for a meeting with him and representatives of the Oil and Gas sector in Scotland to discuss comments from the Commissioner calling for a total ban on new North Sea drilling. Nobody would argue that safety should not come first, but in the North Sea and Scottish industry it already does, and talk of a ban on new developments is wholly disproportionate and unhelpful. For the latest see below.

I was delighted to hear that the EU has decided to scrap tobacco subsidies from its budget. This is great news for Scotland and the EU as a whole. As you may recall, I've strongly campaigned on this issue for some time and launched a petition on my site that attracted a great deal of support. I am delighted that the reform process is being carried through where a lot of us expected more foot dragging because of vested interests.

The Greens - European Free Alliance logo

Smith Hails Kosovo Precedent

SNP Member of the European Parliament and alternate member of the Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee Alyn Smith hailed the ruling of the International Court of Justice that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Kosovan Parliament in 2008 was in-keeping with norms of international law.

Smith was in Prishtina shortly before the 2008 Declaration, and was not surprised by the ruling, given that precedent already clearly defined the various criteria for independence under international law. The ruling is, however, useful in that it is the most recent consideration of the legal issues around independence by the ICJ. While the ruling is not formally binding, the Court is, in practice, the world's highest authority on international law.

Smith said:

"While this decision alone is not determinative of the actual independence of Kosovo, it is of crucial importance in bringing to an end the belligerence and unrest that plagues the area.

"Unfortunately, both the Kosovan and Serbian governments have defiantly refused to alter their position on Kosovan secession, regardless of today's outcome, therefore this decision may not be of quite the same significance as a domestic political instrument, as it is as an international precedent.

"However, we should be hopeful that this will encourage greater engagement of all concerned with the peace process."

European Commission Remains Firm on Oil Drill Ban

Smith expressed his disappointment that EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has remained steadfast in his commitment to a total ban on new oil exploration in the EU. This month, the Commissioner met with representatives of the oil and gas sector but only reiterated his conviction that there should be a freeze on new permits for drilling.

Commenting after the meeting, Smith said:

"This is disappointing news from the Commissioner. The Gulf of Mexico incident is a reminder to all that there is no room for complacency and safety must come first. However, for him to compare lax US standards with the tightly regulated industry in North Sea is simply missing the point.

"There is as much oil still under the North Sea and, crucially, under the North Atlantic, as has already been taken out, and the oil and gas sector will remain a vital part of Scotland and Europe's energy mix for years to come, even as we develop our glittering renewables potential.

"For the Commissioner to talk of a ban at a point when the energy sector remains fragile, albeit recovering, is distinctly unhelpful, particularly when the case for one has simply not been made.

"This is a naked power grab on the part of European Commission and must be rebuffed on all fronts."

Smith Hails 'Speactaculor' Animal Feed Cartel Fine

SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has hailed a massive 175 million euro fine on an animal feed phosphates price fixing cartel which increased costs for European farmers for three decades.

The cartel saw real price and market fixing across much of the EU, thought took a considerable time to investigate. Smith has reiterated his call for a similar investigation of the EU market in fertiliser over concerns that the market is not operating as freely as it could be.

Smith said:

"This proves that while the wheels of Brussels sometimes grind slowly, they do get to the right result. The scale and scope of this cartel is breathtaking when you stack it all up, as demonstrated by the scale of the fine imposed.

"Competition law is crucial to the operation of the level playing field across the EU, and the Commission is quite right to have imposed this fine. I remain concerned that the operation of the EU market for fertilisers remains not quite as smooth as it could be, and while I'm not necessarily alleging unfair practice, I would like to see similar investigation of how the fertiliser pricing market actually works."

Download Newsletter
(Word doc 288KB)