efa meps march 2018.jpg
As I write, the tinsel is up in the shop windows of Brussels and the fairy lights are flashing. Yes, it's that time of year again: the annual CFP circus is coming to town, featuring fisheries ministers from around the EU setting fishing opportunities for 2012.
The term "fisheries ministers" is of course used in its broadest possible sense - countries like Austria, Slovakia and Luxembourg don't have any coastlines and so have minimal fishing interests. But their ministers were in attendance, horse-trading the night away and winning concessions for their countries in other policy areas, such as agriculture.
Unlike in a real circus however, this clowning around isn't remotely funny. The decisions taken each year have a direct impact on the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers around Europe - and all too often for Scotland that impact is wholly negative.
Scotland accounts for three-quarters of the UK's fish landings - and fisheries is therefore quite simply a low priority for the junior agriculture minister from England who leads for the UK at the talks. When the UK was negotiating entry to the Common Market 40 years ago Ted Heath's government famously stated that the fishing industry was "expendable" - and nothing has happened since to suggest that that attitude has changed.
This year however a whole new and sinister element was thrown into the equation. The UK government's general low prioritisation of fisheries is now compounded by their new ultra-low standing within the EU. Scotland's fishermen have suffered under the CFP for some decades now; it is their further great misfortune that fishing was the subject of the first major negotiations after Cameron's non-veto.
Alex Salmond wrote to the Prime Minister, asking what risk assessment he had made ahead of exercising the 'veto' and why he had not consulted the devolved administrations. I suspect the answer is fairly self-evident and no risk assessment was made - no regard was had for Scotland's coastal communities.
David Cameron did not veto the content of any new Treaty. There were no detailed legislative proposals on the table. He refused to enter into any discussion about any changes to existing EU Treaties. To decline to take part in discussion is totally counter-productive. Surely it would be far better to be in the room, speaking up for key national interests and building alliances in favour of sensible and acceptable measures to aid economic recovery across the EU.
Ted Heath said that fishing was expendable; David Cameron seems to regard our whole relationship with our European neighbours as similarly expendable.
It's time Scotland got off this sinking British ship - and joined the flotilla in the European mainstream. A year end Ipsos-Mori poll indicated support for Independence at an all-time-high, showing that our people are becoming increasingly tired of Westminster misrepresentation of Scotland's interests.
We end a very successful 2011 on a high, with our SNP government championing Scottish interests at home and abroad. A stark contrast to Westminster. Scotland would be served much better as an independent nation, with an all-important seat at the top table of Europe.