Euro News Monthly September 2010

Alyn with Stirling High School Modern Studies Students

This month has flown by. We had a busy Strasbourg plenary session with some encouraging votes and then I embarked on a tour de Scotland! I am currently in the process of making up a DVD outlining what MEPs do and how they can influence policy that impacts on different sectors of society. To give you a wee sneak preview we filmed some footage at: Queen Margaret University, Stirling High School, Aquamarine, a chicken farm in Dundee, both the European Parliament and Scottish Parliament with Linda Fabiani, Seniors Together meeting in Hamilton and Blackhall Primary School. It was great fun, but a lot of miles!

In other news, sheep EID is still on the radar in Brussels. I again met with European Commission officials to raise concerns on the implementation of the EID legislation and potential, though as yet only potential, impacts on cross compliance. I was assured that the approach, from the Commission's side, remains that the penalties and enforcement of EID should be proportionate, and takes due recognition of the new technology and the need for training and best practice to emerge. However, the Commission officials also warned that the legislation is a legal obligation and must be implemented. This month, I also lent my support to international calls for a UN resolution to increase transparency on the use of depleted uranium weapons and to ensure their eventual banning.

The Greens - European Free Alliance logo

MEPs Back Tougher, Financial Market Rules

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has hailed the approval by MEPs of a number of financial measures designed to better co-ordinate and better regulate financial markets across the EU.

The Parliament voted on a number of reports which will create new EU financial supervisory authorities (for Banking, Insurance, Pensions, Securities and Markets) and a European Systemic Risk Board to monitor ongoing risks and act as a counterweight to the commercial ratings agencies, who were so instrumental in the financial crisis.

Smith said:

"The financial crisis showed up a number of flaws in how the EU financial markets do business, and we need to learn the lessons. The Single European Market is the EU's biggest achievement. It has created much prosperity across our 27 states and it is imperative that we regulate that market properly. We needed to update the supervisory architecture and this package takes us a good few steps forward.

"It is also only right that the new watchdogs have teeth, and I was pleased to see that the Parliament was so instrumental in strengthening the new rules and making sanctions real and, if need be, immediate.

"Of course, there remain a number of areas still to be worked out, especially the vexed question of cross border derivatives trading. However, the vote puts us on a better footing than we were and I welcome it."

Passport to Europe Launched at QMU

Principal Petra Wend and Alyn reading 'Your Passport to Europe'

Smith, an alternate member of the Parliament's Culture and Education Committee, launched his informative brochure 'Your Passport to Europe' at Queen Margaret University. ' Your Passport to Europe', aims to equip Scots with all the necessary information in order to encourage more people to get started with travelling, living and working in the EU and ensures they are fully informed on what their rights and entitlements are under EU law.

Smith said: "Queen Margaret University is a great university for the 'Passport to Europe' brochure to get its first stamp of approval, because it has active student exchange and study abroad programmes that include agreements with many European universities in Spain, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Czech Republic, France and Germany.

"As citizens of the EU, all Scots have the right to live, work, study, travel, shop and retire anywhere in the EU. However, not everyone is fully aware of their rights under EU law, the opportunities that are available to them as EU citizens or how to take advantage of them. I'm sure this brochure will be a useful guide for Scottish students and hopefully encourage them to grab every opportunity that is available."

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said:

"As someone who has lived and studied in Germany and Italy, I am delighted to support the launch of this brochure and to encourage QMU students to become more aware of the travel, study and career opportunities which exist throughout Europe. It's also an excellent way of encouraging cultural exchange."

Smith Backs UHI

Smith, an alternate member of the European Parliament's Education Committee has backed the UHI bid to become the University of the Highlands and Islands. The SNP Member has submitted a response to the ongoing Scottish Government consultation on the future status of the institution. The higher education institution is the only one in the Highlands and Islands providing university-level education through a unique partnership of colleges, research and learning centres, with Smith praising in particular the pioneering use of IT in teaching delivery as a model for other institutions across the EU.

Smith said; "It is astonishing that a region as big and unique as the Highlands and Islands does not have its own university. The UHI Millenium Institute has proved to be an incredibly successful higher education institution and gaining the title of 'University' will aid its progression immensely. Scotland has world class education institutions, and with UHI already leading the field in the use of modern techniques to deliver teaching I have no doubt the University of the Highlands and Islands will be a leading player in European circles too."

A formal government consultation exercise - inviting opinion on the need for and benefits of a university in the region - is currently underway, with a deadline set for 22 November.

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