SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has used a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to tell EU leaders that Scotland is ready to play a greater role in the European Union. MEPs meeting in Strasbourg were debating the future development of the European Union with Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt. Mr Hudghton was the only Scots MEP to speak in the debate. Sweden will hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2009 and has highlighted energy policy and combating climate change as top priorities for action. Mr Hudghton argued that Scotland is a pro-European country with an important contribution to make at EU level on energy and environmental policy, amongst others. He also highlighted the positive role an independent Scotland would play in the European Union.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Hudghton said:

"For more than nine years I have had the privilege of representing Scotland in this Parliament, during which time we have had many debates on the future shape of the EU, and have welcomed 12 new Member States to the top table.

"This massive expansion of the internal market and other areas of co-operation are good for Scotland, and good for Europe as a whole.

"But also, in the past nine years, we have had to agonise over so-called crises, such as the resignation of the Santer Commission, and the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty. It is a great pity that the many positives which EU membership entails, have been tempered by such self-inflicted negatives.

"In Scotland, we have moved forward too. We have a new government, an SNP Government, which is pro- European, and which has a vision for a new future for Scotland in Europe. I want to see Scottish Ministers sitting alongside your Ministers in the Council, not in the second row or outside the room.

"Scotland has much to contribute to the development of Europe - a constructive attitude, and a wealth of energy resources, to name but two.

"I look forward to Scotland being welcomed as an independent Member State of the EU. Such a change in status would not just be good for Scotland, but good for the Future of Europe too."

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