SNP MEP and candidate in May’s European election, Alyn Smith was the first candidate to sign the Islands Champion Pledge today [Friday] in Tobermory harbor. The pledge – which will be issued to all MEP candidates in countries with islands – is to show his support for greater representation and power for Europe's islands.
The Islands Champion Pledge [attached] was produced by the Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) and European Small Islands Network (ESIN).
“Scottish Islands are of great importance to our economy and contribute substantially with agriculture, fishing, tourism, energy resources and of course, unrivalled expertise. However, island communities also face a number of challenges and their geography means that often a different approach is needed.
“The EU already offers support to islands via various projects and exchanges and we’re here today in Tobermory today to pledge to fight for more! I hope my fellow Euro candidates will follow the suit and recognise diverse needs of communities across Scotland; this way we can ensure fair and adequate representation for the Scottish Islands in Europe.
“The Scottish Islands Federations should also be congratulated on this initative. They’re work – along with their partners across the EU – all adds into the ‘Team Scotland’ approach to ensuring we win the best deal for our Island communities.”
Smith committed to the pledge in presence of Director of Scottish Islands Federation, Sandy Brunton and Highlands and Islands MSP Mike MacKenzie.
Sandy Brunton said:
“We have worked on this pledge with our colleagues from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Aaland and France. If MEPs in all these countries sign this pledge, this will go a long way towards ensuring the formation of a strong island lobbying group in the EU parliament and a better understanding of how legislation must take the islands situation into consideration. We are delighted that Alyn Smith MEP is the first candidate to sign our document!"
The pledge will now be sent to all European election candidates across the European Union in those member states with islands in advance of the European elections in May.
Mike Russell MSP said:
“The European election in May is often overlooked but it’s of huge importance, especially to our rural and island communities. The SNP is the first to sign this pledge and that is because we understand the opportunities available through proper investment in these areas.
“Our rural and island communities – which are the lifeblood of our tourism sector and foods sectors – often do have different needs and as a result, different approaches are needed. That is why an independent Scotland will ensure a greater degree of power for our Islands.”
Mike MacKenzie MSP said:
“It is fantastic that, out of the whole of Europe, the launch of this Island pledge is taking place here in Scotland. Our Islands are of huge economic benefit to the whole of Scotland.
“At a time when the UK government is sleepwalking Scotland towards the EU exit, we must send a clear message that we don’t support the Tory isolationist agenda. Alyn and the SNP already have a strong record of delivering for our Island communities and by voting SNP in May’s European election, we can ensure an even stronger team is there to stand up for our Island communities.