Euro News Monthly March 2010

Smith flies the flag for Scotland in Mini-Europe, Brussels

This week I met with the Managing Director of Mini-Europe, Thierry Meuss (pictured) to put into forward motion plans for popular Scottish monuments, as voted by Scots, to be showcased in the popular theme park in Brussels. Since December, I have ran a poll asking Scots what their favourite Scottish landmarks are. Edinburgh Castle, Forth Rail Bridge and Wallace Monument topped the poll and were suggested to Mr Meuss on Tuesday. Watch this space!

In other news, we have finally put the nonsensical wonky fruit ban to bed. This issue should never have come back to life after the Commission removed the restrictions last year and I sincerely hope we won't see another resurrection any time soon. I was also delighted that the European Parliament endorsed the findings and recommendations of the Goldstone Report into human rights violations committed by Israeli forces during Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip last year. The Parliament voted to approve the motion and rejected an alternative resolution put forward by the pro-Israeli lobby.

The next few months I am going to be busy hitting the campaign trail hard. Hopefully see some of you along the way!

The Greens - European Free Alliance logo

SPL Stars Team up with Smith to Give Tobacco the Boot

Smith has signed up the skippers from Rangers, Hearts and Aberdeen in a battle against the £260 million public money supporting tobacco farmers.

David Weir, Michael Stewart and Mark Kerr have all joined the SNP MEP's campaign.

Around one third of the population of Europe smokes, and the habit is estimated to be behind one million fatalities.

Smith said: "Quite simply, subsidising the growing of tobacco equates to subsidising the cause of cancer."It's great that these Scottish sporting heroes have come on board."

Smith's campaign calls for a reform of rules currently handing cash to tobacco growers which allows them to drive down the price of the crop. He claims that without subsidies, cigarette production would not be financially feasible.

Rangers captain David Weir said:

"Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health and we need to do everything we can to discourage young people from starting." Hearts of Midlothian skipper Michael Stewart added:

"It's about time we showed the red card to the massive cash giveaway to the tobacco trade."

London Rule Puts Scotland on Slow Train to Europe

This month Smith wrote to UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis calling on him to reverse his decision to leave Scotland off the proposed High Speed Rail map, and pledged his support in identifying EU funding to build high speed links to Scotland as part of the Trans European Networks.

The MEP was responding to the decision published today to extend the proposed high speed line from the Channel Tunnel, but only as far as Birmingham with everything thereafter a mere "aspiration". Smith has backed calls from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to revisit the decision given the estimated 7 billion economic development the line could bring to Scotland.

Smith said:

"This decision is just wrong headed. If one is serious about cutting carbon emissions then you extend the line to where people actually fly from at present. Who flies from Birmingham to London? The line should clearly go to Scotland and play a real part not just in interconnecting the EU, but cutting the need for air travel. I already travel by train in preference to flying if I am heading to London, but UK trains are more like cattle trucks compared to continental trains precisely because of this lack of investment and leadership.

I am more than happy to work with the UK authorities to identify and bid for support, and if the UK authorities will commit to working with the Scottish government in joining us to the European mainstream then I'll work with them 100%."

EU Parliament approves Robin Hood Tax Study

The Robin Hood tax logoSmith hailed a vote in Strasbourg this month demanding that the European Commission conduct an assessment of the feasibility and impact of introducing a financial transaction tax at EU level.

The move follows pressure from various campaign groups, including the "Robin Hood tax" group to implement a charge on financial transactions, also known as a "Tobin tax". The Parliament voted by 536 votes to 80 against to approve the resolution. The SNP has a long standing policy in support of the Tobin tax in principle, subject to a workable model being produced. The Parliament's Resolution takes the production of that model a step closer.

Smith said:"It should be stressed that this vote does not mean that the Parliament has approved the tax, it means that we have obliged our civil servants and experts in the Commission to come up with a working model and an economic impact assessment of what it would do and how it would work in practice. Never has a legislature taken such a step, and this work will bring the Tobin Tax closer to being implemented than ever before."

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