Salmond takes Scotland's fight for stronger voice to Brussels – Fishupdate.com

Salmond takes Scotland’s fight for stronger voice to Brussels Published:  23 April, 2008

Alex Salmond

SCOTLAND’S First Minister Alex Salmond will today take Scotland’s battle for a more powerful voice in Europe to Brussels.

Mr Salmond will ask a wide-ranging audience – of policy-makers, politicians, businesses and think-tanks – to consider how Scotland can raise its presence in Europe.

Minister for Environment Michael Russell will join the First Minister in hosting the event in Scotland House.

The First Minister will also use his trip to showcase the high quality of Scottish produce, by visiting Scottish exhibitors at the European Seafood Exposition. The event is Europe’s premium seafood show and brings together seafood buyers and sellers from over 80 different countries. It is an opportunity for Scottish businesses to set out their stall on an international stage, and to develop commercial links.

Mr Salmond will also host an evening reception and ceilidh, in order to showcase high quality Scottish food and drink. Scottish produce will be prepared by top chefs in front of guests including senior representatives of the European Commission, European food and drink companies, MEPs and Britain’s Ambassador to Belgium.

Commenting, the First Minister said: “Scotland has a lot to offer in Europe. We have a quarter of Europe’s marine renewable resource. We are at the cutting edge of life sciences. Our research capability is strong and getting stronger. Our creative industries are growing. We are home to some of the freshest, highest quality foods in the world. We are full of ideas, and expertise and ambition.

“High quality seafood is another example of what Scotland can deliver. The European Seafood Exposition is an opportunity to showcase our world-class produce and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of Europe, and beyond, get a taste.

“We bring to Europe a strong and unique set of advantages. Now it is time to ask ourselves how best to make our contribution, and how best to secure our interests. Over the course of this visit I want to start people thinking about Scotland’s future in a these terms, giving the National Conversation an outward-looking emphasis – a European accent.

“Scotland has interests around the globe, is affected by issues beyond our borders, and has its own agenda. That’s why I believe we need more responsibility – to exercise leadership and diplomacy. I’m going to make Scotland’s case, as only a Scottish Government can.”

In the course of his two-day visit the First Minister will also hold meetings with the EU Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner, Joe Borg, and the Regional Policy Commissioner, Danuta Hubner, as well as the Minister President of Flanders.

*SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP today welcomed the “impressive” Scottish presence at the seafood exhibition.

“The European Seafood Exposition (ESE) is of huge importance to Scotland, as it provides an opportunity for everyone involved in the Scots fishing industry to gain further recognition for their goods across Europe and indeed the world. Scotland is hailed as amongst the world’s finest producers of food from its farms and its fisheries and we must take every opportunity to highlight our prized rural assets.

“With the SNP Government running Scotland so effectively we have seen a boost in confidence amongst Scotland’s farming and fishing communities, and it is vital that we capitalise upon this optimism by increasing our producers’ profile on the world stage.”

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