If the EU is so great, why is this MEP so reluctant to speak out about it?

Alyn Smith, SNP MEP does your correspondents no favours when he claims that "discussion of the EU cannot start but then be hijacked by extremists" (Platform, 19 January).

With depressing regularity, he tells us, he has to stop himself wading into your letters page. As an MEP, Mr Smith is in a position to present the facts; why does he have to hold his hand?

And if, as he claims, Scots agree EU membership is best for Scotland, why is the turnout for European Parliament elections so low throughout the EU that a new form of governance was initiated seven years ago, which introduced participation in lawmaking by stakeholders who had already played their part in democratic government through individual decisions at the ballot-box?

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But even these stakeholders, it appears, are so indifferent to European legislation that Mr Smith needs to "go stotting around Scotland" to alert business, NGOs and others to their interests. He could save time and shoe-leather by resorting more frequently to your letters columns – starting with an explanation of why his party has suddenly grown silent on its demand for a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty.

(MRS) MARY ROLLS, Westerkirk, Langholm, Dumfriesshire

I am not sure where Malcolm Parkin (Letters, 17 January) has gained his impression of Scottish MEP lifestyles. Perhaps, by "opaque international lifestyle ... few of us could even imagine", he means a heavy schedule, between three locations, of detailed committee work and political group meetings, plenary debates and parliamentary delegations.

Far from being "completely divorced from Scotland", each MEP represents and lives in one of Europe's largest and most diverse constituencies – Scotland. Indeed, as I write, they are annulling that "divorce" and returning to Scotland from Strasbourg, where they have been voting this week on such diverse and important issues as access to consumer credit across Europe, the rights of the child and binding targets in the car industry.

In the current term of the parliament, Scotland's seven MEPs have raised 667 questions on matters of concern to Scotland. They have intervened in 980 debates and written or given opinions on 32 separate parliamentary reports. And they are paid the same as Westminster MPs. So the regulation in Scotland that "comes from Brussels" does indeed see the "democratic light of day" – before it even reaches the national scrutiny of Holyrood and Westminster.

That this work remains opaque raises serious questions – not least for Scotland's media. But lack of awareness on one correspondent's behalf should not be construed as a lack of activity by others.

JOHN EDWARD, Head of office, European Parliament Office in Scotland, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh

On 15 January, the Commons approved the handing back of 1 billion to the EU. This reduces our total rebate to 3.5 billion a year.

The EU will return 582 per citizen to us, while France will receive 1,118 per head and Ireland 2,336 per head.

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Tony Blair agreed to cut our rebate by about 1 billion a year until 2013 in return for a wholesale review of EU spending – especially over the Common Agricultural Policy.

However, no review will take place and the CAP continues as usual. So, once again, we have given way in return for nothing.

Norway, Greenland and Switzerland have trade relationships with the EU and seem to prosper.

That should be the basis of our relationship.

SIR IAN CAMPBELL, Boswall Road, Edinburgh

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