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Nominee For EU Commission President Fails To Please
Euro-MPs from the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru remain unconvinced that EU Commission President Designate José Manuel Barroso is the right person for the job.
Mr Barroso put the case for his candidacy to MEPs from the SNP and Plaid Cymru's parliamentary group (Greens/EFA). José Manuel Barroso, who has indicated that he will stand down as Prime Minister of Portugal to take the EU's top job, is spending much of this week trying to win the support of MEPs ahead of a key confirmation vote next week.
Barroso faced questions from SNP Euro-MPs Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith and from Plaid Cymru Deputy Leader Jill Evans. Speaking after the hearing in Brussels, the SNP/Plaid MEPs said that whilst Mr Barroso had shown some degree of understanding the problems that face Scotland and Wales, he failed to give the necessary commitments to win their backing - particularly on the rights of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly at the EU level and reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Ian Hudghton MEP said:
"In response to a direct question from me, Mr Barroso at least acknowledged the need to understand the very real detrimental effect of EU fishing policies on the everyday lives of fishing communities like those in Scotland.
"However, his basic position was to defend recent reform of the CFP without acknowledging the disastrous provisions that remain. He will need to go much further in terms of reforming or ultimately scrapping this failed policy before we can even consider supporting his candidacy."
Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru) pressed Barroso on the need for improved representation of regional and national parliaments and assemblies such as those of Wales and Scotland at the European level.
Jill Evans MEP commented:
"Mr Barroso claimed credit for supporting greater devolution for overseas Portuguese territories such as the Azores and Madeira. Whilst this is all very well, he failed to give any assurance or commitment that would challenge the role of member state governments at the European level.
"I find this extremely disappointing given the growth of devolution and national identity across Europe, and particularly in Wales and Scotland. As distinct national entities with our own particular problems and issues we need specific rights of representation at the EU level. It is astonishing that Barroso thinks this can be delivered adequately by the UK government which has consistently proved itself unable to do so."
Alyn Smith, newly elected SNP Euro-MP added:
"Mr Barroso seems perfectly competent, though he fudged my question on increasing the rights of the Scottish Parliament, and paid lip service to the principle of subsidiarity and making decisions that affect peoples lives at the most local level appropriate.
"This is just not good enough for Scotland. With two thirds of Scots wanting more power for the Scottish Parliament, it is clear that the most relevant institution for Europe to interact with is Holyrood, and he failed to give any assurance that he had any enthusiasm for bringing Holyrood into the EU's decision making. So I'm afraid Mr Barroso, "nul points" from the Scottish judges."