A prospective SNP MEP has claimed that next year’s EU elections can be a “launchpad” for the independence referendum which will be held later that year.
Toni Giugliano, an Italian national who is standing for the SNP in the 2014 European elections said that next year’s Euros will be the most crucial in Scotland’s history, taking place just a few months before the referendum.
Giugliano, who spent the past 12 years campaigning for European reform in both Brussels and Scotland said independence would allow Scotland to distance itself from Westminster’s European isolationist agenda and develop its own dynamic on European engagement.
The Scots-Italian has published a programme of political priorities which includes relaxing EU procurement laws, campaigning for a financial transactions tax, promoting foreign language programmes, simplifying EU funding applications for charities and defending the EU’s social chapter.
Speaking to Newsnet Scotland Mr Giugliano laid out his own vision of an independent Scotland playing an active role in key areas within the EU.
“Next year’s European elections will be a launchpad for success in the referendum. We need to win the Euros and increase the size of our group in Brussels to keep the momentum firmly on our side.
“I want to see Scotland lead in the same way that Ireland led a successful EU presidency over the past six months – a nation smaller than Scotland but with more MEPs, its own Commissioner and its own seat at the top tables of Europe leading a continent of 500 million Europeans. A country that secured the reform of the Common Fisheries and Agricultural Policies and a historic trade deal with the United States. I aspire to a Scotland that can do the same.
“Westminster is failing to protect our distinct national interest. Whether it’s the farming budget, employment legislation or on the European Arrest Warrant – Scotland’s European priorities are being ignored.
“For the past 40 years the UK has been sitting on the outskirts, never shaping European policy but simply reacting to it. With independence we’ll work constructively with our neighbours and lead in fields where we have expertise such as energy, renewable technology, climate change, world leading research and fisheries.”
Mr Giugliano, whose EU candidacy has received the backing of several senior SNP figures including Kenny MacAskill and Linda Fabiani, added:
“Scotland has the opportunity to take a new direction. I’ll work to encourage Scots to explore the full advantages of European citizenship – whether it’s entrepreneurs seeking to expand across the single market or encouraging young people to learn languages and study abroad.
“I look forward to campaigning in every corner of the country over the year ahead.”