Parliament News

During the debates and legislative processes of the European Parliament and its Committees, in Brussels and Strasbourg meetings, and in representing constituents views and the vital national interests of Scotland, Ian Hudghton MEP is involved in a very wide range of topics. A selection of current and archived news items, highlighting just some of Ian Hudghton's work, since he was first elected in 1998, is available on these pages.

Call for EU 'solidarity' with Scotland

In a European Parliament debate on the future of the EU, dominated by the response to Brexit, SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP called for the democratic will of the people of Scotland to be recognised.

The debate followed a major speech on the 'State of the Union' by EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker who made clear that the UK could not expect 'a la carte' access to the single market.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union at the referendum held in June this year on the UK's membership.

Speaking in the debate, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

"The EU is not perfect, President Juncker accepts that, and I welcome some of the initiatives that he mentioned to tackle challenges such as in the area of job creation and connectivity, and social justice.

"President Juncker also said that the EU should empower citizens and embrace solidarity. Well the people of Scotland voted in June to remain in the European Union, to constructively continue to work on collective challenges.

"Cross-party efforts are being made right now in Scotland to identify all possible means of protecting Scotland's position, particularly within the single market. The Scottish Government is working hard to persuade the UK Government to recognise the democratic will of the people of Scotland in formulating its negotiating position, if it ever gets round to that.

"I hope that the Commission, the Council and this Parliament will be open to imaginatively finding a way to reflect the democratic will of people in Scotland. That would be solidarity."

The European Parliament today convened an emergency session in response to the Brexit vote on Thursday 23rd June 2016.  A debate was held during which MEPs stated their response to the outcome.

Ian Hudghton MEP said,

"The referendum clearly underlined that the UK is made up of different countries. The result in Scotland, with all local authority areas voting to remain, could not have been more of a contrast with England and Wales. We voted to remain, as an outward looking, open and inclusive country, voted to protect our place in the world's largest single market and our freedom to travel, live, work, study and retire in other EU Member States. Yet now we face being taken out of the EU against our will.

"First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shows exemplary leadership, declaring her determination to explore every possible avenue to ensure that Scotland can continue to benefit from the single market, and the many other gains that voters in Scotland want to retain with our EU membership. As the First Minister has pledged, the SNP Government will accelerate talks with the EU Institutions about Scotland's place in the EU.

"The resolution which we will vote upon shortly was drafted in haste, and is unsatisfactory as a result. This parliament ought to consider more carefully our response to the democratic result of the referendum, with particular attention to the remain majority in Scotland. As democrats, we must help find a way to deliver what Scotland's voters want."

Scottish MEP Ian Hudghton, a Forfarian who still lives in the town, has welcomed the announcement of an application to register the traditional local delicacy "Forfar Bridie" as a European Protected Geographical Indication by the Forfar Bridie Producers Organisation. European geographical indication regulations are designed to protect traditionally-produced products from specific regions from being imitated throughout the EU: there are over 1300 registered products listed in Europe, including 13 from Scotland, ranging from Scotch Lamb to Stornoway Black Pudding to Arbroath Smokies. Any producer can take advantage of the label as long as product specifications are adhered to, and that production takes place in a defined locality around Forfar, Glamis and Kinnettles, and that traceability can be proven and inspected by the Forfar Bridie Producers Organisation. Apart from protection from imitation, advantages include increased awareness of the product, the opportunity to take part in EU promotional campaigns and the opportunity for premium pricing.

Bridies have been associated with Forfar for hundreds of years and were reported by the Aberdeen Shaver as far back as 1833. Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie, from Kirriemuir, made reference to Forfar Bridies in his novel Sentimental Tommy in 1896. The application for registration is now subject to a public consultation run by the Scottish Government, to last for three months until the 18th of August.

Commenting, Ian Hudghton said: "I am delighted to support this application for the Forfar Bridie to become an official European-protected quality product, to take its place alongside the likes of world-famous produce such as parma ham and feta cheese, and I have responded supportively to the consultation.

This is an important reminder of the real benefits which EU membership gives us: under EU law registered local delicacies can receive protection from imitation and a boost to their marketing profile. Many Scottish products, such as Arbroath Smokies, Ayrshire Dunlop cheese and Scottish salmon have already taken advantage of this, and I hope Forfar Bridies will do likewise. These economic and cultural opportunities simply would not exist without a common framework for independent countries to come together to find joint solutions to common challenges."

SNP President Ian Hudghton has today welcomed the establishment of a UN Open-ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament, who are convening in Geneva, Switzerland this week. In taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, the Open-ended Working Group is open to all states, and is a unique opportunity for governments to start working on developing the elements for a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

In response, Ian said:

"In light of the recent Iranian P5+1 nuclear agreement, and at a time when we witness nuclear proliferation in North Korea – these positive steps taken by the UN are a good signal to the world that nuclear disarmament is high on the global agenda.

I hope that this signal is also received by the UK Government, who continue to spend £100 million (€127 million) on replacing the UK's nuclear arsenal, Trident, that is unrightfully based in Faslane, Scotland.

Thousands of people opposed to the renewal of Trident are expected to take to the streets of London this weekend, underlining the strong and increasing anti-nuclear sentiment across Scotland and other parts of the UK. A clear majority of Scots are strongly opposed to nuclear weapons and favour nuclear non-proliferation both in Scotland and elsewhere in the world.

Such efforts of people from across Scotland in raising awareness of nuclear non-proliferation were recently highlighted by the nomination of Bill Kidd MSP, co-president of global group Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As stated in the Resolution, the UN stresses 'the importance of inclusiveness, and welcoming the participation of Member States in the efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world'. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is resolutely anti-nuclear and opposed to Trident and we welcome this positive step in UN-led multilateral negotiations. I would therefore call upon the UK Government to participate in the Open-ended Working Group".

 

Further information:

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted on 7 December 2015 resolution A/RES/70/33, whereby it was decided that an Open-ended Working Group is to:

i) Substantively address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that would need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons; and
ii) Also substantively address recommendations on other measures that could contribute to taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, including but not limited to

• Transparency measures related to the risks associated with existing nuclear weapons
• Measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional nuclear weapon detonations; and
• Additional measures to increase awareness and understanding of the complexity of and interrelationship between the wide range of humanitarian consequences that would result from any nuclear detonation

For more information on the UN Working Group: http://www.unog.ch/oewg-ndn

For access to Resolution A/RES/70/33: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/409/95/PDF/N1540995.pdf?OpenElement

Ian Hudghton MEP welcomed comments made by EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, who visited Scotland yesterday to help launch the Scottish Government's 'Circular Economy' Strategy.

Commissioner Vella met with Scottish Government Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP to discuss the Scottish Government targets whilst visiting textiles firm Kalopsia, which is based in Ocean Terminal Edinburgh.

The Scottish Food Waste Reduction Target attempts to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025. A circular economy keeps products in use for as long as possible.

Introducing the initiative Richard Lochhead said,

"Household food waste in Scotland has decreased by an estimated 37,000 tonnes per year – 5.7 per cent overall – since 2009, saving households across the country a staggering £92 million a year. That's a great start but I want to see more done, which is why I have set this target today.

"Scotland is already recognised internationally as a leader in this area and I'm delighted that Commissioner Vella has helped to launch our Circular Economy Strategy: Making Things Last."

Commissioner Vella commented,

"I am delighted to hear about Scotland's ambitious and exciting plans for a more circular economy. The Commission also has ambitious plans for a more circular economy and we are looking forward to working with Scotland to help 'Make Things Last' and turn a circular economy into a reality."

Ian Hudghton MEP responded to Commissioner Vella's comments saying,

"The Scottish Government initiative is the first of its kind in Europe. Not for the first time, the SNP Government is leading by example when it comes to environmental ambition. Scotland led the way with its world leading climate change targets, and now in Europe the food waste strategy is gaining recognition for its ambition.

"Such progressive and ambitious thinking is testament to the success of this SNP Government. It is further evidence that Scotland's future would be best served by giving both votes to the SNP on May 7th to enable another ambitious and successful SNP Scottish Government."

Ian Hudghton MEP has today continued his campaign against illegal bird hunting in Malta.

The European Birds Directive (2009) was established to protect all of the 500 wild bird species naturally occurring in the European Union, and which regulates the hunting of birds across the EU. Malta is the only EU country that allows recreational spring hunting. Malta has 2 derogations in place from the directive, which allows the Maltese to hunt Turtle Doves and Quails in the spring.

Furthermore, Malta also allows an autumn hunting season where Golden Plovers, Finches and Song Thrushes are trapped in Malta. These birds are not native to Malta, but in autumn they pass through to reside in other EU countries, including Scotland, which is trying to protect them.

Mr Hudghton has expressed his concerns to the European Commission during the past 2 legislatures regarding the Maltese bird seasons, and yesterday sent another letter to European Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, prior to the start of the spring hunting season in 2016.

Mr Hudghton said,

"For several years I have been campaigning against the issue of illegal bird hunting in Malta. There is a Scottish interest with the bird hunting practices occurring in Malta as many of the birds that are targeted during the season are known to be on their way to Scotland.

"It is disappointing that this practice appears set to go ahead again in 2016. I have written a letter to the Commission to make them aware of my concerns, and also those of a large number of constituents that have contacted me on this matter in recent years."

Ian Hudghton MEP has supported calls made by Scottish Government Minister Keith Brown to the UK Government, to access the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to aid clean-up efforts following recent flooding episodes across Scotland.

The function of the fund is to provide assistance in the event of a major natural disaster with serious repercussions for living conditions, the natural environment or the economy, and since the establishment of EUSF in 2002, 24 different European countries have been supported for an amount of over €3.7 billion.

An application for funding will only be considered when presented by an EU Member State government, and therefore the Scottish Government is ineligible to apply. In 2007, the UK Government made an application that was approved by the European Commission and it received £118 million.

Scottish Government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said:

"We have already activated the Bellwin Scheme, and on Saturday the First Minister announced £12 million in additional support for areas affected by the severe weather.

"Alongside the £4 million announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney in his budget statement, this takes the total package of support currently available to £16 million.

"But the recent weather events have been unprecedented - and so I have reminded the UK Government that we are part of a European community which can come to the aid of the clean-up operation."

Scots Euro MP Ian Hudghton commented,

"As Keith Brown rightly says the recent weather events have been 'unprecedented' and have affected the North East, Angus, Perthshire, Dumfriesshire and the Borders.

"The Scottish Government has made great efforts to assist communities affected by flooding in Scotland, and it is disappointing that the UK Government has failed to make an application similar to its successful bid in 2007.

"At a time when the UK Government is upsetting Governments across the EU, it is a shame that the UK Government will not apply to the EU for help."

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has today (Wednesday) welcomed the outcome of the annual EU fish quota negotiations in Brussels. The negotiations in the European Council have seen an increase in quotas for a number of stocks important to the Scottish fleet.

Mr Hudghton commented:

"The annual quota negotiations can be an anxious time for the fishing industry with key decisions being taken behind closed doors in Brussels. Fortunately this year's outcome has been largely positive for the Scottish fleet, with a number of increases in key quotas.

"As always there will be challenges in the year ahead and adjusting to the phasing in of the discard ban will need careful management. The Scottish industry however has an impressive record of innovating in the face of a challenge and the quota increases can be seen as a just reward for past efforts and sacrifices.

"Scotland's politicians must continue to work in partnership with our industry to adapt to the new management regime - and to ensure a healthy future for our coastal and island communities."

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