An SNP victory on May 3 will bring about a much needed increase Scotlandʼs profile worldwide, and, even more importantly, will be a step towards increasing our political influence too. As First Minister, Alex Salmond will appoint a deputy minister with responsibility for Europe and External Relations. In the context of devolved government, our manifesto commits the SNP to press for Scotland to take the lead in EU negotiations on fisheries, and to work with the UK government to increase and enhance Scotlandʼs role across the full range of policy areas for which the Scottish Parliament currently has responsibility.

The SNP wants a stronger voice for Scotland in the EU and will seek to improve direct contacts with the Commission, reform Scottish Parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislative proposals and seek closer relations with other parliaments.

An SNP Government would seek to strengthen the concordats between the Scottish Executive and Whitehall departments to maximise the role and influence of the Scottish government across the full range of reserved and devolved policy areas, engaging positively and constructively with the UK government in order to secure the best deal for Scotland.

Alex Salmond will oversee efforts across Scotlandʼs departments and agencies, to maximise Scotlandʼs international profile, focussing on presenting Scotland as the ideal location for investment and tourism, supporting Scottish business initiatives overseas, and working with the Scottish diaspora to make the most of Scotlandʼs reputation worldwide.

Our positive programme for government contrasts starkly with the Lab/Lib Executiveʼs record. They have been content to sit back and allow Westminster to dictate the terms of crucial EU agreements, continuing their standard practice of selling out Scotlandʼs fishing interests at Council meetings. The myth that Scotland is better represented in the EU, as part of the big and strong UK, was well and truly exposed in the recent report drafted by the Scottish Executive's own top civil servant in Brussels, Michael Aron.

We have a tremendous opportunity, with an SNP victory on May 3, to start the process of restoring real political influence to Scotland. The SNP manifesto sets out what can be achieved using the existing devolved powers, including a fresh approach to our participation in the EU. Ultimately though, it is only by achieving real independence that Scotland can have the guarantee of full participation and voting rights at the all-important Council of Ministers.

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