Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr Barroso stated the Commission's intention to stimulate greater economic growth and cohesion throughout the EU. The strategic statement coincides with the publication of latest Eurostat wealth figures which highlight the poor performance of Scotland compared with other similarly sized European nations. The GDP per capita figures show Scotland trailing behind other small countries such as Ireland, Denmark and Finland.

These new EU figures are just the latest to show that the Scottish economy is seriously under-performing. Small countries such as Ireland, Denmark and Finland yet again overtake Scotland in terms of wealth. The figures are particularly damning for the government in relation to the north. After EU enlargement, the Highlands and Islands are poorer even that parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Eastern Europe is now competing directly with Scotland for jobs and wealth. Scotland ought not to be so poor. The Irish don't have oil. The Finns don't have a world-class whisky industry. What they do have is the power to take charge of their own wealth. The key element lacking in the Scottish economy is the power to make real decisions – independence is the missing ingredient.

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