"EU Opportunities To Be Seized, UK Priorities Must Be Resisted"

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has today stated that the European Commission's decision to make water policy a key priority in the coming year offers a resource rich country such as Scotland important opportunities for the future.

The Commission's 2012 Work Programme for European Renewal highlights the growing pressure on water resources in parts of Europe, and the EU is expected to adopt a blueprint to safeguard supplies later in the year.

Mr Hudghton however warned of dangers emerging from some European governments pursuing privatisation agendas within the public sector. The Scottish government is committed to keeping Scottish Water in public hands. Mr Hudghton commented:

"In recent years there have been energy scares in Europe and food security is an issue rising on the global political agenda. In Scotland perhaps it's too easy to forget that water security too is of increasing importance.

"Scotland has no lack of water – and that in turn gives us an advantage as resources become scarcer elsewhere. The EU's decision to prioritise water policy in 2012 offers us an opportunity to play a central role in setting the agenda.

"We must however be cautious and not allow the EU water debate to be controlled by those who seek to privatise public resources. We currently have a Tory-led government in London who are opposed to public ownership on ideological grounds.

"The people of Scotland in contrast are supportive of public water and the Scottish government is committed to keeping these resources in public hands.

"We must ensure that the Scottish agenda gets a fair hearing in Europe and that people whose priorities lie in privatisation are resisted.
"The water debate allows us to turn Scotland's sometimes dreich weather to our complete advantage. The coming year offers us opportunities to be seized – but may throw up hostile political agendas which must be resisted."

Notes:

The European Commission 2012 Work Programme states: "An important example of pursuing resource efficiency in sectoral policy areas will be the 2012 proposals on securing access to clean and sufficient water: the Commission will adopt a blueprint to safeguard water resources to focus public policy on tackling the pressures on water today."

Further details are available at http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/programmes/index_en.htm

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