Euro News Monthly January 2010

Alyn speaking at the SNP conference

Welcome to my first newsletter of the year. I hope you all had an enjoyable festive period and an equally good Burns Night!

In December, I went to Copenhagen, where I was left very disappointed at the failure of the Copenhagen climate negotiations to reach a binding, ambitious and transparent agreement which matches Scotland's ambition on climate change. After all the sound and fury, there remains, no clear total emissions reduction targets for 2020. No robust inspection regime. No detail as to the source of the financing for developing countries. No detail at all really. And not even a pledge to meet the 2 degree target. This is not good enough. And we in Scotland will not settle for it and it makes it all the more achingly frustrating that Scotland was reduced to a sideshow by the UK government when we could have been front and centre.

2009 closed on a busy note and 2010 has followed suit. I have just returned from a very insightful trip to Gaza, which you can read more about in the main body of the newsletter. I recently met with the new Agriculture Commissioner, Romanian Dacian Ciolos. The Commissioner accepted my invitation to come to Scotland to tour our world class agriculture and see for himself how different Scottish agriculture is from the UK. Similarly, I have also invited the prospective European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, to come to Scotland to see what a glittering contribution Scotland is making and will make to Europe's energy policy.

Yours aye,

Boost for Energy Sector

Smith hailed news that the European Commission has approved a series of renewable energy projects that will receive over GBP 1.5 billion from the EU's economic recovery fund, bringing just over GBP 100 million to Scotland.

Two Scottish projects have won through, the Aberdeen Offshore windfarm and a further project to upgrade the interconnector between Shetland and the mainland, adding in a connection platform to facilitate future development. The projects will receive GBP 36millon and GBP 67million respectively.

Smith said:

"This proves the benefits of real engagement with the EU process. We have long said that Scotland's glittering renewable energy potential is the best in the EU, and these grants will help build infrastructure which will then create a momentum for further development. These grants will create real jobs in the real economy, at a time when the London government's stewardship of the economy has made them all the more important."

Smith Appalled at NATO 'Bible Gun' Blunder

As SNP member of the European Parliament's Arabian Peninsula Delegation, Smith wrote urgently to the UK Secretary of Defence Bob Ainsworth urging him to take firm and clear action over the use by NATO and Afghan troops of US made gunsights inscribed with coded biblical references.

Smith has called for the gunsights to be immediately withdrawn before they become a rallying cry putting our troops in greater danger than they already are.

First Step to Scotland in Europe

Postcard showing various Scottish landmarks
Smith hopes to see some of the above Scottish landmarks join the park

SNP MEP Alyn Smith is granting Scots the opportunity to select their favourite Scottish sites to feature in Mini-Europe; a park in Brussels that displays reproductions of the most attractive monuments in the EU.

Scotland is, at present, sadly missing from the park, but after complaints and gentle persuasion Smith has been granted the privilege by the park's management to hand-pick Scotland's finest landmarks.

Scotland has a wealth of historical and breathtaking sites, so Smith is calling on help from fellow Scots to vote for their top six sites on his website-

Smith will then put the top six forward and Scotland will then be sitting proudly with other European countries.

Smith said:

"This is good craic, and credit to the managers of Mini-Europe for taking on a constructive suggestion! I'm all for Scotland in Europe, so if we can make Scotland in Mini-Europe happen then maybe that's a first step!

"I was trying to choose which of Scotland's landmarks should feature, then could not choose we have so many! Running a competition on my website seemed the fairest way for people to either vote for my suggestions or suggest their own, and the top six will be suggested to Mini-Europe for them to make up as models and install in pride of place."

Smith Pays Gaza a Visit

This month, Smith travelled to the Middle East as part of a delegation organised by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza.

During the course of his three day visit Mr Smith met with politicians and officials of the Arab League and Egyptian government in Cairo, and visited Gaza itself and met with NGOs, civic society, the international community and politicians there.

Mr Smith, who himself grew up in the Middle East has consistently and vocally supported the cause of peace and a two state solution, and is in favour of the suspension of the EU-Israel agreements until the state of Israel implements adequate human rights safeguards.

Smith said:

"Having been brought up in the Middle East, it is an area that is close to my heart, which only makes it all the more painful to see so much pent up hurt and hate on every side of this interminable conflict.

"The SNP carries no torch for any of the numerous sides in the dispute and I viewed this trip as a good opportunity to assess the situation in the region for myself. It staggers me that so few in the world seem to take note of what is going on there, so I hope that my visit raised awareness of the reality of life under occupation."

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