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AGREEMENT BETWEEN SCOTLAND AND CATALONIA

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The Scottish executive and the government of Catalonia have signed a Protocol of Co-operation to strengthen relatio...
The Scottish executive and the government of Catalonia have signed a Protocol of Co-operation to strengthen relations between two historic European nations.

First minister Jack McConnell stood alongside Senor Artur Mas, prime minister of Catalonia, as he said the agreement - the first between Scotland's devolved government and a European administration - promises to deliver tangible benefits for both participants.

Mr McConnell said:

'Today's agreement with one of Europe's most dynamic regions marks a significant step for Scotland. It demonstrates the clear benefits of the constitutional settlement which allows Scotland to operate within the significant international influence of the United Kingdom yet at the same time participate in co-operation with European partners where that falls within our own powers.

'The Protocol that we are signing today focuses on those issues where co-operation can bring real benefit. We will share experiences and co-operate in projects on:

* agriculture and rural affairs

* architecture

* education

* research to support innovation

* social policy - including health, housing and urban regeneration

* transport

'This is a clear signal of the confident outward looking country that Scotland is becoming withdevolution. The development of the new enlarged Europe gives us the opportunity to raise our partnership working to a new level using the expertise we have gained to forge partnerships that will assist us and other regions facing similar challenges.

'We already have close working links with countries and regions including Flanders, North Rhine Westphalia, the Nordic countries and the Czech Republic and this agreement will reinforce our links with one of the most dynamic regions in Southern Europe. It is by working together that we can all grow stronger and learn from each other's successes and failures.'

'The links that we have forged today - with a region of similar size to Scotland and with many similar industries - will allow us to exchange ideas and best practice to achieve better policy development and better services for both Scotland and Catalonia.'

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