ALYN Smith has been elected president of a key group in the European Parliament, giving the SNP unprecedented influence over the shape of the EU.

The MEP has been chosen as president of the European Free Alliance (EFA) Group, succeeding Catalan MEP Josep-Maria Terricabras who stood down.

Smith’s decision to stand for the post was exclusively revealed by The National last week.

The Greens/EFA group is estimated to have 75 MEPs in the new parliament, making it the fourth largest group.

As well as his role as president of the EFA, Smith will be first vice-president of the Greens/EFA Group, which holds the balance of power in the parliament after a 40-year-old alliance between the centre-right European People’s Party and Socialists and Democrats lost its majority in the elections.

Smith paid tribute to his predecessor, saying: “I’m honoured to have this vote of confidence from my colleagues, particularly during such an interesting political time. The Greens/EFA group has been a consistent voice for good in the European Parliament, and we’ve got an exciting future ahead of us.

“By electing a Scot from an unashamedly pro-Remain party as EFA president, I hope this shows that Scotland not only wants to play our part in contributing to this family of nations, but is also valued by the EU27.”