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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
28 May
Hudghton publishes Election Economy Manifesto


"SMALL NATIONS POWERING AHEAD IN EUROPE"

The Scottish National Party's first-placed list candidate in the European Parliament election Mr Ian Hudghton MEP today [Friday] published an "Economy Manifesto", at a breakfast hustings meeting in Edinburgh organised by the Scottish Council Development & Industry.

Mr Hudghton said that the small European nations were the most economically successful - and argued that Scotland needs the full powers of Independence in order to emulate their success.  Mr Hudghton said:

"In both political and economic terms, the small nations are leading the European Union at the present time.

"As Scotland looks on from the sidelines and languishes economically as part of the UK, countries the same size or smaller than Scotland are powering ahead.

"In terms of wealth per head, eight of the top 10 richest nations in the European Union are small.  Ireland, for example, is now the second most prosperous EU country - and currently holds the European Presidency.

"There is a direct connection between the clout in Europe that statehood gives Ireland, and that country's phenomenal economic success.

"Ireland's status as an independent member state of the EU has transformed and enriched the country - and the 10 enlargement nations know that only Independence in Europe will serve their interests too.

"Ireland has caught up and overtaken Scotland.  Eight of the ten new EU nations have higher economic growth rates than Scotland - how long before they overtake us as well?

"Without the powers to compete on an equal basis, Scotland risks being left behind.  We too must have the powers we need to compete in this new, ultra-competitive market.  Powers to deliver lower business tax, to offer research incentives, and to market our country abroad are vital.

"Over the last 25 years, the small nations of Europe have outstripped Scotland in terms of economic growth.  The SNP want to give Scotland the competitive edge we need to succeed, so that we can grow our economy and rise to the challenges of the new Europe."

Contact: Kevin Pringle, tel: 07770 828231 (m)

The SNP's "Economy Manifesto" follows /

STANDING UP FOR SCOTLAND'S ECONOMY

The EU has been good for small independent European nations, guaranteeing them access to a wider marketplace. Countries like Finland, Austria and Ireland have embraced the economic opportunities offered to them with relish.  On all key economic indicators, small EU countries such as these outperform the larger member states.

Finland, for example, with the same population as Scotland, has transformed its economy over the past few decades and now ranks as one of the most successful and competitive countries in the world.

And 30 years ago, Ireland's national income was just two-thirds of the EU average. Today Ireland is one of the wealthiest nations, not just in Europe but also in the world.

Scotland has the potential to be the most successful of all. We have a superb location, abundant natural resources, a magnificent environment, talented people, a belief in the value of education and an international reputation for integrity and reliability. Scotland even has an added bonus - oil.

But, unlike the small independent nations of Europe, weak political institutions hamper Scotland; unlike other EU nations, Scotland has no control over economic policy and no direct voice in Europe.

That's why we have been unable to capitalise fully on the economic opportunities Europe offers us.  Because, far from thriving in the EU marketplace like the other small nations of Europe, Scotland has experienced 30 years of low economic growth.

This is not a side issue - low growth equals low living standards. Our citizens are amongst the poorest and unhealthiest in Europe. Our dreadful record of investment in health has earned Scotland the reputation of the 'sick man of Europe'. One in three children in Scotland grow up in poverty, whereas small EU countries like Denmark and Finland have all but eradicated child poverty.

None of this is inevitable. We could and should do better.

However if we are to succeed in raising our economic performance, and the living standards of the Scottish people, we must have the financial powers that our competitors take for granted. Only with these powers will we be able to create the right conditions for Scotland to succeed in the European and global marketplace.

As long as we allow our economic policy to be decided by London we will never release our full economic potential.

Instead, we will be tied to a policy designed for conditions in the overheated south east of England.  The result is Scottish exports are priced out of the market.  We are overpriced as a tourist location.  Our transport links are poor and we pay the highest fuel prices in Europe. Little wonder then that Scotland has such a low business survival rate. The current political framework is a recipe for economic failure.

And now with European enlargement, Scotland is facing the greatest economic challenge in our modern history. Ten new countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004, creating a market of 450 million people.

The EU is the biggest single market in the developed world. It is an intensely competitive place to do business.

The new EU nations are desperate to catch-up with the economies of the established member states. Seven of the ten new EU nations have populations smaller than or similar to Scotland. These small nations, along with every other member state, will be fighting hard, using all the normal economic powers available to independent countries to improve their living standards and maximise their competitive position.

We know it can be done because Ireland did it.  Ireland has caught up and overtaken Scotland. Eight of the ten new EU nations have higher economic growth rates than Scotland - how long before they overtake us as well?

Without the powers to compete on an equal basis, Scotland risks being left behind. We too must have the powers we need to compete in this new, ultra-competitive market. Powers to vary personal and business tax, to offer research incentives, and to market our country abroad are vital.

Over the last 25 years the small nations of Europe have outstripped Scotland in terms of economic growth. The SNP wants to give Scotland the competitive edge we need to succeed, so we can grow our economy and rise to the challenge of the new Europe.

With EU enlargement it has never been more urgent for Scotland to have the powers of Independence to compete and prosper.


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