Interviews with Euro candidates: Ian Hudghton, SNP

We put the same 6 questions to a number of prospective MEPs ahead of this Thursdays elections, on austerity, the far right, European integration, the CAP and more. Here are Ian Hudghton's answers.

ourKingdom editors
21 May 2014

Where do you stand on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?

The SNP recognises the importance of the EU’s role in negotiating international trade agreements.  Whilst the Westminster parties seem intent on moving the UK to an increasingly isolationist position, we consider that negotiating as part of the world’s largest single market results in advantageous deals which individual states would struggle to achieve. 

Nevertheless, the TTIP as it currently stands gives cause for concern.  International agreements should not be used as a means to circumvent or subvert existing national or EU laws.  It is imperative that EU standards on environmental protection, workers rights and public services are retained.

The European Parliament has no direct role in international negotiations – but it must ultimately give its consent to any deal.  The Parliament withheld its consent in the Anti-counterfeiting  Trade Agreement – and should be prepared to do so again if necessary.  In the meantime, SNP MEPs will lobby the Commission to uphold EU standards in the negotiations.

Does the Eurozone require fiscal integration if it is going to survive?

The SNP is not proposing Scottish entry to the Eurozone; following a Yes vote in September we envisage Scotland retaining use of Sterling.

We believe that a successful monetary union requires a framework which provides both financial stability and fiscal sustainability.  This will require a fiscal sustainability agreement between Scotland and the rest of the UK: given the importance of trade between the two areas, it will be in both countries’ interests to reach a common position on this.  Nevertheless, examples from elsewhere in the world teach us that, within the context of monetary unions, countries can successfully embark upon significantly different fiscal and economic policies.

The SNP considers that tax and welfare systems are inherently interlinked – and we believe they should be used to tackle inequalities.

What will you do about the expected rise of the far right in Europe?

The rise of the far right is indeed concerning and, if opinion polls from across Europe are accurate, the new European Parliament will see a considerable increase in their numbers.

In the immediate term, it is incumbent upon all MEPs from mainstream parties to ensure that extremists are prevented from having an impact on EU policy.  Whilst the number of far right politicians may rise, they represent a small part of the European electorate and should not be given undue prominence.

Equally importantly, politicians should stand up for their beliefs and should not pander to right wing views.  The SNP stands for an independent Scotland playing a full role in the EU; we will not modify that position to placate reactionary Eurosceptic voices.

What will you do about migrants drowning in attempts to reach Europe?

The tragedy of migrants drowning trying to reach Europe will not be resolved by the actions of individual Member States: it requires EU-wide cooperation.  Whilst aspects of immigration policy remain the competence of individual Member States, joint action between Member States  is necessary.  The EU is based upon the recognition of fundamental rights and, with ongoing conflict in Syria and elsewhere, Europe must address the issue as a priority.  This precludes pandering to the Eurosceptic right.

The SNP advocates an independent Scotland with a humane asylum process.  We will close the Dungavel detention centre and end the UK practice of dawn raids.  A progressive, independent Scotland can be a driving force in a more progressive Europe.


Does the Common Agriculture Policy need to be reformed? If so, how?

Important work was done in the last parliament to reform the CAP – but work still needs to be done and SNP MEPs will push for a quick “health check” to fix any problems with the reformed policy.

We believe that disparities in payments between Member States should be addressed as there is no objective reason why hectares in some countries are subsidised at higher rates than others.  Sectors such as Scotland’s upland beef and sheep producers need more support – and we will work for more targeting of support in these areas.

The CAP must become more environmentally friendly, and more can be done to fight climate change through promotion of renewables, biodiversity and waste and nutrient management.

Austerity across Europe has had some very mixed results. Is fiscal tightening and balancing budgets still the best way forward or is it time for a new approach?

The austerity agenda across Europe has impacted directly on citizens.  In resource-rich Scotland we now have record numbers of people using food banks as a direct result of welfare measures taken by a government we did not vote for.  The Scottish government has taken measures to mitigate the worst effects – but lacks the full economic levers to reverse Tory-led initiatives.

The SNP believes that job creation, capital investment and improved access to finance are fundamental requirements to boosting the economy.  SNP MEPs will be committed to working with progressive voices from across Europe to move away from austerity and towards sustained and sustainable economic recovery.

Taking the EU as a whole, do you support the continued policy of "ever closer union" or do you favour moving back towards more national autonomy?

The SNP is committed to an independent Scotland remaining firmly within the European Union.  We believe that the EU brings countless economic, social and environmental benefits to all its 500 million citizens.  We are deeply concerned with the current direction of the UK, where all the Westminster parties are dancing increasingly to a Eurosceptic tune.

We recognise that there is a growing sense of distance between the EU institutions and the citizens.  We are committed to an independent Scottish government playing a full and constructive role in addressing these issues.  And we remain committed to the principle of subsidiarity.

Nevertheless, we are committed to Scotland remaining within the European mainstream and will stand up for Scotland’s interests - as part of the EU.

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