SNP’s EU Influencers

The European Parliament

Folk determined to undermine the SNP as the main foundation for independence (separate from the SNP’s rancid hierarchy) must hope Nicola Sturgeon is about to do the same as the prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, resign to spend more time with her family. But up pops this rather embarrassing item of news from a friend in Brussels. Our many and varied gathered troops in Brussels are unwanted by a reforming EU Parliament.

The European Friends of Scotland, which is based at the Scottish Government’s Brussels Office in the aptly named Scotland House, is among other informal “friendship groups” similar to the Labour Party’s Friends of Russia. The latter is a group at one time organised by the late John Smith’s wife, now labouring under the decidely unsocialist title of Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill. (How she must be embarrassed nowadays.) Anyhow, the ambassadors of Scotland’s fortunes are probably about to be banned, the move made under new rules of ethics. Ethics are a doctrine junked by the Tories since Boorish Johnson took over the Great Greed franchise.

The Scottish group is caught up in the wake of the recent EU corruption scandal, a backsheesh operation the Tories are exploiting for all its worth as a reason never to go near the EU again, buy a German car, eat a pizza or drink sangria. Westminster is, as we know, a shining light of rectitude. The move follows frantic efforts by the European Parliament to show it is a place of honesty and transparency. (Transparency is a generic term meaning we can see everything done in our name. But in reality it actually means the entity holds no secrets.)

The EU wants to strengthen its whistle-blower protection systems, not quite to the point of being chased by a giant stone ball, Indiana Jones fashion, but more to stop access to third parties open to bribery asked to lobby MEPs. The turn of the screw is in response to the investigation looking into the money that swirled about around the footay World Cup hosted by mega-rich oil billionaires in Qatar. (Scotland should be mega-rich like Qatar but England syphons our oil profits from us. We are treated as Tourag Arabs, not worthy of wealth.)

If all this seems a bit cloudy, it simply means, the Scottish group are probably free from filthy corruption, but the EU Parliament feels such folk are a bit like bringing in a friend of a friend to private parliamentary business when they have no authority to be there, and human nature being what it is, one of them might find a way of making money out of the association.

According to the Scottish Government’s website, the Brussels Office provides a secretariat function to support the running of the group. Hands are raised in protest. Scottish based EU expert Anthony Salamone said: “The banning of the European Friends of Scotland group would cut off an important avenue for the Scottish government to engage with EU decision-makers. This episode demonstrates that Scotland, regardless of its pro-EU sentiment, is subject to the internal politics of the EU – in this case, the European Parliament’s efforts to shore up its own reputation. It is also a reminder that sentiment alone counts for little when it comes to Scotland’s relationships with the EU.” His last sentence is a leaden warning re-entry to the EU might be lined by land and sea mines.

The measures have been set out by Roberta Metsola, president of the parliament, with the reforms due to be brought in this year. Under a package of proposals MEPs’ financial interests will be scrutinised and a new regime to track all meetings with third-country representatives. All these new measures are the outcome of Belgian police who have charged four people, including Greek MEP Eva Kaili, after raids at politicians’ homes uncovered about €1.5mn in cash, allegedly part of a bribery campaign by Doha. 

Ms Metsola, told the EU’s 27 leaders last month that she would overhaul the parliament’s regulations to ensure the chamber was “not for sale to foreign actors that seek to undermine us. This will include the strengthening of the parliament’s whistle-blower protection systems, a ban on all unofficial friendships groups, a review of the policing of our code of conduct rules and a complete and in-depth look of how we interact with third countries.”

Our side, on its website, announced: “The European Friends of Scotland friendship group serves as an informal network of MEPs representing different political groups of the European Parliament with the objective of helping to facilitate dialogue (‘faciliate dialogue’ – how clunky can we get?) on specific areas of mutual interest, and to ensure as close a relationship as possible between Scotland and the EU now that the UK has left the European Union. The UK’s departure from the EU means that Scotland is no longer represented in the European Parliament. Scotland remains committed to maintaining and developing a positive relationship with our European friends and partners. Given the European and global challenges we all face, close links between the European Parliament and Scotland are important as we work together to tackle crises such as the climate emergency. This group is neutral in regard to Scotland’s constitutional status within the UK and the UK’s future relationship with the EU.”

All this storm in an EU teacup had me wonder who are the individials in our group, how many, what do they do in practical terms, what are their achievements so far, individually and collectively, and who gets paid expenses? I could find no track record. I did discover their names, printed below, that’s the easy part. And then I got to wondering why Nicola Sturgeon, eschewer of strategies, had not created a similar august group in Scotland and England for the same role and purpose.

Around three of four meetings of the European Friends of Scotland group are held annually. Their agenda can be anything they wish, any topic related to Scotland and Europe based on suggestions from members or with the consent of members. “An important role of the group will be to facilitate contacts with MSPs from all political parties after the UK has left the EU. The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament will be the primary contact for MEPs wishing to reach out to MSPs if they are to visit the Scottish Parliament. The group will also help where possible when MSPs visit the European Parliament.” And where are the Minutes of the meetings? The decisions? I am not of a mind Minutes should be kept, not if discussing revolution.

That all sounds terribly important, or if things European bore, unimportant. My point is, there’s no mention of what moved independence a step closer. Creating and looking after supportive friends is a great idea. This is what I thought was happening when after 2014’s letting slip our liberty the SNP announced over 100,000 folk had joined the party … and even after friendly warnings – found nothing for them to do, the party becoming obsessive chasing trivialities and tiny minority group interests. The swell of membership drifted away, like a QVC live auction where the goods are returned just as fast as the sales folk sell them.

So, I am no wiser than when I first had a look at the stramash and flicked a few pages of information. What I think is happening is what we have seen with our own parties in the past, bans on special groups within parties. You adhere to the party line or you get booted out, as happened to Alex Salmond when an SNP member. Neverthless, admitting defeat, here are the influencial, the wise, and the unknown, committed to help Scotland re-emerge a nation again. One hopes if disbanded they will regroup under a different banner to discuss which brand of malt whisky is best, should we send more expats to Spain, and should we send violent men to European prisons who pretend to be women, so’s not to embarrass Oor Nicola?

The Scottish Government lists the following MEPs as members of European Friends of Scotland:

Andris Ameriks, Latvia; Rasmus Andresen, Germany; Erik Bergkvist, Sweden; Vlad-Marius Botoş, Romania; Udo Bullmann, Germany; Asger Christensen, Denmark; Toni Comín, Spain; Corina Cretu, Romania; Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, France; Pascal Durand, France; Cyrus Engerer, Malta;Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland; Gianna Gancia, Italy; Christophe Grudler, France; Hannes Heide, Austria; Eero Heinaluoma, Finland; Danuta Hübner, Poland;Sophia In’ t Veld, Netherlands; Marina Kaljurand, Estonia
Pierre Karleskind, France; Manolis Kefalogiannis, Greece; Łukasz Kohut, Poland;Petros Kokkalis, Greece; Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Finland; Nathalie Loiseau, France; David McAllister, Germany; Tilly Metz, Luxembourg; Niklas Nienass, Germany; Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Germany; Urmas Paet, Estonia; Clara Ponsati, Spain; Carles Puigdemont, Spain; Terry  Reintke, Germany; Diana Riba i Giner, Spain; Manuela Ripa, Germany; Nacho Sánchez Amor, Spain; Michaela Šojdrová, Czechia; Jordi  Solé, Spain; Nils Torvalds, Finland; István Ujhelyi, Hungary; Kathleen Van Brempt, Belgium; Loránt Vincze, Romania; Sarah Wiener, Austria; Željana Zovko, Croatia.

Outlining the new ethics proposals Ms Metsola said what was needed is “a new mandatory transparency register of all meetings with any third country actor”. So there you have it; not only is Scotland a third world country while attached to a phony English Union, but anybody in support of our cause is automatically a third country actor. Maybe that makes then fourth.


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6 Responses to SNP’s EU Influencers

  1. Gordon Hastie says:

    It’s apparently a given that if/when Scotland regains her independence we’ll rejoin the EU, subject to what the EU thinks about it, but not whether the Scottish people want it. If/when Scotland is independent we should have a proper look at the EU, warts and all, and what arrangements other than full membership would be feasible, then have a referendum.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Scotland enjoys over 1,000 years of rich association with our European neighbours,, a lot of that time England at war with one European nation or another. This is the main reason England has gone out of its way to cut the ties, isolate us, and then claim they our our chief trading partner – meaning, ha, ha, they are our only one.

  3. benmadigan says:

    just took the first name on the list, out of curiosity- Andris Ameriks, Latvia

    “Last June, a Latvian socialist MEP (our Scottish friend Ameriks) went to Azerbaijan and sang its praises — but the EU Parliament committee he claimed to represent had no idea he was there”.

    He’s Head of the TRAN committee – Transport and Tourism

    “Senior EU diplomats don’t go there for fear of giving the impression that Europe is taking sides in an ugly ethnic conflict, which saw Azerbaijan reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia in 2020”.

    Ameriks resigned as vice-mayor of Riga (Latvia) in December 2018 due to his involvement in a corruption scandal

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    I had in mind but forgot to write, that I have no idea if the list is up-to-date; you’ve confirmed it is not.

  5. alfbaird says:

    If only Flynn and his daeless national party buddies enjoying the metropolitan high life were to undertake what Frantz Fanon termed “a reasoned study of colonial society”, they might discover that they are surrounded and outnumbered in Westminster not by ‘colleagues’ but by what is known as ‘the colonizer’. Only then might they finally realise that self-determination independence, as the UN maintains, is ‘decolonisation’.

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