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The SNP has condemned a leading Scottish Tory who is calling for the Common Fisheries Policy to be enshrined within the proposed European Constitution.
SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton MEP reacted with disbelief after the call was made by Struan Stevenson MEP, president of the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee. Mr Stevenson's stance appears to be at odds with official Tory party policy. Mr Hudghton commented:
"Struan Stevenson's call for the failed CFP to be incorporated into the proposed European Constitution beggars belief. The EU has utterly failed Europe's fishermen. Management of fisheries should be returned to the nations - not kept in Brussels.
"The SNP has been campaigning against fisheries being included as an exclusive EU competence in the new Constitution. We had been hoping for the backing of all of Scotland's politicians. Instead the Tories have decided to knife our fishing communities in the back, one last time.
"When Mr Stevenson was appointed president of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee he claimed it was 'good news for Scotland' and compared his position to that of a government minister. Mr Stevenson's stance does not offer our fishermen good news. Any Scottish fisheries minister who agreed to sign fisheries over to Europe in perpetuity would have to resign. Accordingly, Struan Stevenson should resign."
Struan Stevenson's call for the CFP to be enshrined in the proposed EU Constitution is made in a report to the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee. The report, to be voted upon on Monday 8th September, states that "the major common fisheries policy objectives must be incorporated into the text of the future Constitution".
The Tories stood in this year's election pledging to withdraw from the CFP. In a Scottish Parliament debate of 12th June 2003, Tory MSP Ted Brocklebank stated that "the CFP is a pernicious, unfair and hugely dangerous threat to the richest fishing grounds in Europe."
In a press release of 16th January 2002, Struan Stevenson stated that his presidency of the EP Fisheries Committee was "the European Parliament's equivalent of a ministerial position."