Scotland bids for EU action

Donald Dewar, Secretary of State for Scotland, last night promised to fight for the country to get its "share of the action" during next year's British presidency of the European Union.

Welcoming a government announcement that Edinburgh will host a meeting of EU foreign ministers during the United Kingdom's six months in the chair, Mr Dewar said he hoped other political gatherings among dozens being staged in Britain would take place in Scotland.

On a two-day visit to Brussels, Mr Dewar opened a new Brussels office which will lobby the European Commission and European Parliament on behalf of the Highlands and Islands. But he emphasised that even after devolution, Britain's voice in the EU would remain that of the central government: "The British effort is a team effort and we in Scotland are part of that team. The United Kingdom is a partnership and Scotland will remain very much part of that partnership."

Scottish Office ministers would be fielded at EU meetings of particular interest as they were now, he said. "Where there is a strong Scottish interest, Scottish ministers are involved in the relevant meetings."

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