By Bob Duncan
The determined isolationism and hostility towards the EU by Westminster is now becoming the biggest threat that Scotland faces to securing further investment, as EU officials move to draw up a future budget without the UK.
The damaging revelation that plans are being made for the rest of the EU to bypass the UK because of its hostile stance towards the EU comes on the same day that the First Minister was in Paris to announce that French firm Areva is set to bring 750 renewables manufacturing jobs to Scotland.
Areva, one of Europe’s largest offshore wind energy players, confirmed yesterday that it will locate its UK turbine manufacturing site in Scotland. Luc Oursel, CEO of Areva, said:
“Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.”
Echoing these remarks, Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson said:
“This announcement further demonstrates Scotland’s position as a leading contributor to the low carbon agenda and ambition to deliver safe and sustainable energy through advanced technology.
“Offshore wind is a key driver of the economic benefit of renewables and we will continue to work closely with Areva to support its development plans in Scotland and create ongoing opportunities for wider industry growth.”
Embarrassingly, the CBI publicly warned of the danger that Westminster’s stance towards Europe was posing to businesses at their annual conference in London shortly before David Cameron spoke at the same event.
In his speech to the CBI Annual Conference today, the CBI President, Sir Roger Carr said:
“Europe is the bedrock of our international trade. It should be viewed as the launch-pad from which our global trade can expand – not the landmass from which we retreat.
“And if we are to avoid an exit vote in any referendum – it is essential that the voice of British business is loud and clear – in extolling the virtues of future engagement – not as a reluctant participant – but as the lynchpin of our wider global trade ambitions.
“Whatever the popular appeal may be of withdrawal, businessmen and politicians must keep a bridge firmly in place. As countries of Europe bind together in pursuit of salvation, we in the UK must work harder to avoid the risks of isolation.”
As the Prime Minister prepares to attend crunch talks on the EU budget this week, it was reported that EU officials are trying to strike a deal without Britain which could see the Brussels budget rise.
‘People are looking, both in national capitals and in Brussels, for a solution at 26,’ an official told the Financial Times. ‘It is being looked at from a financial and legal point of view.’
However, Mr Cameron has said he is willing to veto any budget deal which he thinks is not in Britain’s interest.
Meanwhile, Ken Clarke, the Europhile minister without portfolio, warned the stance would mean the EU ignored the UK entirely.
Commenting, SNP MSP Clare Adamson who sits on the Europe and External Relations Committee said:
“Today’s events show the stark contrast between Westminster and the Scottish Government. While Westminster is putting up barriers to the rest of Europe and is becoming increasingly ignored, the Scottish Government is working with our neighbours to bring jobs and investment to Scotland.”
“Moves by the rest of the EU to draw up a budget that excludes the UK are deeply embarrassing to the Westminster government.
“It is no wonder that David Cameron has today been sharply warned by the CBI over the threat that Westminster isolationism is posing to UK business.
“Every day that Westminster cuts us further adrift from our neighbours puts Scotland’s prospects of securing further investment in danger.
“As the threat to jobs posed by Westminster becomes an ever greater danger, it is clearer than ever that we need the power to speak with our own voice in Europe.
“Only a Yes vote in 2014 will give us that opportunity – and ensure that Scotland is not cast adrift by Westminster’s navel-gazing isolationism.”