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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
3 September 2003
SNP Welcomes Euro Vote on Disadvantaged Regions

SNP MEP Ian Hudghton has welcomed European Parliament support for ensuring the continued targeting of structural funds to geographically disadvantaged regions of Europe – including island, remote highland and post-industrial areas of Scotland. While huge cuts to structural funds, post enlargement, are widely anticipated, the vote (on the Mastorakis and Ruiz Reports) could prove very useful in arguing that parts of Scotland be counted as “disadvantaged regions” for the purpose of attracting EU funding. Speaking after the debate, Ian Hudghton said:

”'Region' is a bit of an ambiguous term in Europe. For constitutional purposes, the EU treats the ancient nation of Scotland as though it were a "region" like Yorkshire or Merseyside. But when it comes to apportioning EU structural funds on the basis of “disadvantaged regions”, it would be crazy to define Scotland as one homogenous region. We live in a country with its own regions that are themselves strikingly diverse with their own particular needs.

“The Highlands and Islands contain remote rural and island communities with fragile ferry links prone to extreme weather and tidal conditions. Scotland may be able to boast of its spectacular scenery in the Caithness and Sutherland, but after two centuries of highland clearances they remain remote and sparsely populated wildernesses.

“Our urban areas, including the once great industrial centres of Dundee, Falkirk and so on, display the typical structural problems of post-industrialisation – high unemployment and social exclusion. While the Borders and south-western Scotland suffer from inadequate transport links and depopulation.

”The SNP therefore welcomes and supports Parliament's rejection of calls for wholesale re-nationalisation of structural funds and recognition of the need to offset special and permanent territorial disadvantages such as those found in Scotland. Unfortunately, the UK government has been leading the charge for a radical renationalisation of regional funding. I am delighted that MEPs have flatly rejected Chancellor Gordon Brown’s views on this. Interestingly enough, this result was achieved with the support of UK Labour Members, who seem to take a different view from the London Treasury, and who should now be urging their counterparts in Westminster to force the Government to have a rethink.”


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