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MEPs again trekked to Strasbourg for the September plenary session at which there was considerable debate and controversy over the proposal, by the 27 member states, to reappoint Jose Manuel Barroso to a second term as President of the European Commission.
Many of us took exception to the appointment being endorsed in advance of the result of the second referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon. If the Lisbon Treaty is eventually ratified by all member states, the rules for nominating and confirming members of the European Commission will change. That reason alone seemed a logical one for postponing Commission appointments until mid October at the earliest.
Eventually a majority of MEPs did vote in favour of Mr. Barroso, although progress towards the appointment process for other Commissioners will not begin in earnest until the fate of the Lisbon Treaty becomes clear.
Meanwhile I have welcomed the interim report of the Inquiry into Future Fisheries Management (IFFM) which says that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) suffers from "systemic failures" for Scotland and results in fishermen experiencing "the worst aspects of the current regime".
The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, vindicates the SNPʼs long term position on how the CFP has failed Scotlandʼs fishermen. The UK has the largest share of EU waters and Scotland is responsible for around 70% of key UK fishing quotas. This is a very welcome report from a body of opinion that knows how the CFP has affected Scotland. In the early 1970s the SNP warned about the damage the CFP could do to Scotlandʼs fishing industry when the then Tory government took us in. That warning was starkly laid bare when 30 year papers revealed that our fishing industry was viewed as "expendable".
This interim report from a Scottish perspective complements the ongoing CFP review in the European Parliament which is of immense importance to the Scottish fishing industry and Scotland's coastal communities. After over three decades of failure, it's time for the EU to give up control and return powers over fisheries to Europe's maritime nations.
The European Parliament's plans to engage with those areas with fishing interests are most welcome and will allow parliamentarians from Europe's fishing communities to get their full say. In this regard, it is vital that Scotlandʼs voice is heard, not just Westminsterʼs. Throughout the decades of failure of the CFP, Scotland's needs have been badly served by successive London governments and this report lays out the Scottish experience of the CFP.
One of my most enjoyable duties as MEP is taking my mobile office around on an annual series of surgery and information tours, during which I recently had the pleasure of revisiting one of Scotlandʼs national treasures. The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses is based around the tower at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh, the first lighthouse ever built on mainland Scotland. Now a purpose-built museum, its galleries contain an internationally recognised collection of glass lenses, lighting technology and social history artefacts covering the lives of the keepers and families who guarded Scotlandʼs coastline for over two hundred years.
The museum provides a wide range of resources for schools and colleges, covering the technology, science and engineering skills developed by Scotlandʼs pioneers of lighthouse design, and is well worth a visit.