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SCOTLAND PLAYING LEAD ROLE IN FUTURE OF EUROPE - DEWAR

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Scottish ministers are playing a leading role in UK negotiations for a ...
Scottish ministers are playing a leading role in UK negotiations for a

fair and equitable future for Scotland in Europe, Scottish secretary

Donald Dewar has said.

Speaking to European ministers at the Glasgow Informal Meeting on

Regional Policy last night, Mr Dewar highlighted the strong Scottish presence in policy discussions on the major reform of European Structural Funds reform.

He outlined the lead UK role taken by Scottish local government minister Calum MacDonald in recent discussions on Spatial Planning - a

Europe-wide monitoring strategy for sustainable and balanced

development planning.

Mr Dewar said:

'This is a significant week for Europe. We are today hoping to secure

substantial progress on consolidating the European Spatial

Development Perspective and embarking on the Urban Exchange

Initiative. Tomorrow we will be looking in detail at the Agenda 2000

proposals particularly as they affect the future of Structural and

Cohesion Funds.

'Scotland is playing a key role in these discussions, and the presence

of this major European meeting in Glasgow is indicative of our status.

We are working hard with our partners to make progress on aspects of

considerable importance to Scotland, the UK as a whole and the

European Union generally.

'The operation of the Structural Funds is of great importance to

Scotland because of the considerable benefit derived from them by

many projects and initiatives. Our partners in Structural Funds

Programmes have been extremely active in delivering effective

projects and contributing to the successful implementation of

programmes over recent years.

'With our very positive track record in economic development and the

effective management and use of Structural Funds we can make a

particularly helpful contribution to the overall reform process. We

have done well this far, but we need to consolidate if we are to secure enduring benefits from the funds. We must make sure that reform is affordable, fair and simple, and sufficiently flexible to accommodate the existing 15 member states and new members.

'There is a growing recognition that our destiny is increasingly linked to that of Europe as a whole, which is why the Spatial Planning

development is so welcome. There are already practical examples of

initiatives to encourage better links and to enhance spatial planning in that context. Economic and natural phenomena are not great respecters of boundaries and if we can co-operate to ensure more sustainable development then we should.

'Scotland has had a significant involvement in Spatial Planning

discussions, with Calum MacDonald taking the UK lead role in a series

of bilateral meetings with EU Ministers. It is exceptional for a Scottish Office minister to play such a role and demonstrates our commitment to European involvement as we approach the Scottish parliament.'

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