Just before leaving Strasbourg, to head for the SNP Conference in Aviemore, I was the only Scottish MEP to speak in a debate on the new EU Treaty, which had just been agreed at the Lisbon Summit.
With Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in attendance, I acknowledged the need to reform the way the EU works but condemned the UK Government for selling out on Scottish interests by handing over more control of fisheries policy to Brussels.

The new Treaty is due to be signed at a special ceremony in Lisbon in December; Portugal currently holds the EU's six month rotating Presidency. The version of the Treaty agreed by EU governments includes fisheries management as an 'exclusive competence' of the EU. This severely undermines the influence of individual governments in future decisions on fisheries policy.

I emphasised that our new SNP Government will be more constructive towards participation in a growing European Union than UK Governments have been, but the rich diversity of interest among nations will always mean that national interests will be promoted. We should not lose touch with local communities by trampling over their interests, or appearing so to do.

For Scotland there is a real fear that the entrenchment of the Common Fisheries Policy as an "exclusive competence" within the Treaties can only obstruct the absolute root and branch reform of fisheries management which is necessary.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the UK Government failed to raise this issue at the summit. Yet again, Scotland's key interests have been ignored by a UK Government.

I welcome the subsequent decision taken at the Aviemore Conference, when delegates unanimously agreed to support a referendum on the Reform treaty. Linda Fabiani MSP, our Europe, External Affairs and Culture Minister, who supported the resolution, commented:
"In the absence of any movement from the UK Government concerning the entrenching of "Exclusive Competence" under the Common Fisheries Policy, Conference has passed a resolution supporting an amendment to give the people their say.

"The SNP, like the Labour Party, have previously supported a referendum on Europe. The SNP have proved their trust in the people of this country. We will stand by our commitments.

"While Gordon Brown continues to show his distrust of the voting public, we will support a referendum. We are honour bound."

The conference resolution notes that the substance of this Treaty is effectively the same as the "Constitution Treaty" of 2004, and recalls that the Scottish National Party (like the Labour Party) promised to support a referendum on the Constitution, and therefore resolves to adhere to SNP commitments in this respect.
In the absence of provision for a referendum in the UK ratification bill for the EU Reform Treaty Westminster SNP MP's will support an amendment to give the people their say.

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