Tag Archives: eu

Two Liberal Democrats win European awards

Its awards season at the moment and last week the focus shifted to Europe where the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe held its annual LeaDeR (Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians) Awards. Two British Liberal Democrats were successful.

David TuttThe first was Cllr David Tutt, Lib Dem group leader of East Sussex County Council and leader of Eastbourne Borough Council who had been nominated for the Achievements in Government prize by MEP Catherine Bearder. He won for:

…his visible leadership in having put core liberal values of innovation, forward-thinking and opportunity into action in transforming what was officially the worst Council in the south-east of England into one widely recognised as among the very best in the country.

Catherine explained why she nominated David:

David has worked tirelessly in Eastbourne to ensure the town continues to go from strength to strength and when I heard about the awards I was delighted to put David’s name forward as I know the huge impact his work is having on the Eastbourne community.

 David is now a winner, just as he’s made Eastbourne a winner.

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Poll: Young people appear more tolerant, open and happy with modern Britain

A recent survey by YouGov, for Business for New Europe, indicates that teenagers have markedly more positive views towards Europe and the free movement of labour than adults. This should encourage those who appreciate the economic advantages of an outward-facing UK. It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.

The poll, based on the views of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old, showed:

  • If there was a referendum, approximately twice as many of those aged 14 to 17 would vote to stay in the EU (45%) as leave (23%).
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Lib Dems Telegraph splash: EU bashing “weak, opportunistic and fundamentally un-British” say Ashdown, Ludford, Brinton, Farron and 90 Lib Dems

Even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the isolationist path that David Cameron’s Conservative party is romping its way down, according to 90 Liberal Democrats in a letter to the Telegraph today. The letter states:

David Cameron’s recent speech on European immigration is the latest in a series of desperate moves from a Conservative Party in full-scale panic.

We’ve had: “Go home or face arrest” vans. We’ve had: if you are from the EU and want to move to Britain, go and register at a police station. We’ve had: if you’re out of work, even for a few months, go back to where you came from.

In her Bruges speech in 1988, Margaret Thatcher said: “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

What happened to that Conservative destiny? The dual menace of the Tory headbangers and the rise of Ukip.

There is nothing patriotic about bashing immigration from Europe. It is opportunistic, weak and fundamentally un-British. Migrants from the EU claim less in benefits than people born in this country. They are a massive net positive to the British economy. The Tories are scared to admit this. They have lost all sense of political courage – and that is why people have lost confidence in them.

We, the undersigned Liberal Democrats, konw that the real patriotic case is for Britain to remain in Europe; our jobs and our economic future depend on it.

photo by: rockcohen
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Opinion: Towards an ethical trade policy

As a Liberal Democrat for almost all of my adult life, I am often  bemused that other citizens are yet to share my enthusiasm for our long held belief in a dynamic European Union.

The prevailing phenomena of Euroscepticism is not purely a UK problem. We only have to look at France and to a lesser extent Germany to see similar. Why?

In my view the failure is in not articulating the needs of and connecting with European citizens. People have felt marginalised by the closure of traditional industries and a sense of lack of power to change or alter what is happening to them in this brave new world. Far Right Parties have been quick to make the most of this.

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Clegg and Wallace highlight need for Lib Dem approach to foreign policy and criticise Conservative coalition partners

There’s a fair bit of “differentiation” in the air at the moment. Last week we had Norman Baker’s resignation over difference in Home Office policy. Yesterday both Nick Clegg and Foreign Office Minister Lord William Wallace took time to highlight the fundamental differences in approach between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to international affairs.

First, more casually, on his Call Clegg phone-in, Nick had a good go at the Tories on international development after Philip Hammond’s comments in opposition to Michael Moore’s Private Member’s Bill which aims to enshrine the 0.7% aid target in law:

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Opinion: EU court gives lie to Cameron’s free movement scaremongering

It’s probably fair to say that the European Court of Justice is unused to tabloid adulation. But this week’s ruling in Luxembourg on the case of a jobless Romanian woman in Germany led even the arch-anti-EU Daily Express to hail ‘a rare outbreak of common sense’.

The judgement by the EU’s highest court that the right to free movement does not equate to a right to free access to benefits was warmly welcomed all round, including in Germany – which has higher rates of migration than the UK. Even David Cameron called it ‘good news’.

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UKIP MEP calls equal marriage supporters “equality Nazis” and defends UKIP’s collaboration with party whose leader praised Hitler

Six months ago, Scotland had an actual farmer as an MEP. George Lyon’s knowledge of farming and rural issues was a massive asset to Scotland’s representation in Europe.

Not that I’m bitter, well, maybe a bit, but his replacement, UKIP’s David Coburn, who lives in London, has been telling the Huffington Post hat equal marriage supporters are ‘Equality Nazis”:

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Stephen Lloyd MP writes…Ed’s climate change deal shows how UK can reform EU


Yesterday the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament reminded us thatthere are two EU stories around at the moment. Sadly one is getting far more attention than the other! One is about the Prime Minister “standing up to Europe” and refusing to pay a £1.7bn demand. The other which is ultimately of much greater significance, concerns the EU agreeing an ambitious climate change deal, under British leadership, as described by Catherine Bearder and Ed Davey recently on LDV.

Liberal Democrats can rightly be proud that as the greenest of the main British political parties and as “the party of in” we have shown …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Signed, sealed and delivered, an ambitious climate change deal for Europe

Wind turbine - Some rights reserved by thomas vlWe’ve done it!  For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far.  While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.

What have we achieved?  An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030.  Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.

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Edward McMillan-Scott writes…Postscript: The Tory Conference – more Euro-sceptic than ever

Edward McMillan ScottIt was a poignant watching the Tory Conference at Birmingham’s ICC on TV. After all, it was there at our Spring Conference in March 2010 that I became a Liberal Democrat, only to find my new party in coalition with the Tories two months later!

I described that as the happiest day in my political life: ‘the Lib Dems have tamed the Tory extremists’ I wrote as the Coalition Agreement was published, especially on the EU and human rights.

My impression is that the Conservative Party has made absolutely no progress …

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Danny Alexander says EU membership would not be possible with Salmond’s “bonkers” sterlingisation plan

I wrote last night that Alex Salmond’s plan to use the pound come what amy after independence would  lead to higher personal credit costs as well as higher national debt costs. According to Danny Alexander it might also compromise Scotland’s EU membership.  He has a letter from the former EU Commissioner Oli Rehn who told him that it would “not be possible” for Scotland to join the EU while using someone else’s currency.

Rehn said in a letter sent to Danny today:

As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own and thus no necessary instruments of the EMU.

This certainly puts more doubt as if there wasn’t enough already on the Yes Campaign’s  currency plans. No doubt they will have  whole load eminent people lined up in the morning to tell us that it’s all going to be fine and we shouldn’t worry about it, but people aren’t daft. In fact, they will probably say that it strengthens their case for a currency union and surely the nasty UK wouldn’t deny them that, especially when they would have a mandate for it from the referendum. Except that the mandate wouldn’t apply to the rest of the UK.

Danny announced this a little while ago in a speech at Chatham House. He probably showed a little too much glee to be honest. A more thoughtful “look, we did try to investigate to see if it would be possible but regrettably it isn’t” tone  might be a little more appropriate. We don’t really need more aggression and dissonance in all of this. People are turning off. The most common reaction of my Facebook friends to last week’s ill-tempered debate between Darling and Salmond was to switch of. A “more in sorrow than anger” approach might keep them listening.

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Liberal Democrat scientists tell Juncker to keep Scientific Adviser amid pressure from environmental groups to drop the post

New EI Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has had lots of conflicting advice about what to do about the post of the Commission’s Chief Scientific Officer. Environmental NGO’s seem to want to get rid of the post while research organisations want to keep it. The Guardian reports:

The NGOs called the role, which was introduced in 2012 by current EC president José Manuel Barroso and has been occupied since then by a biologist at the University of Aberdeen, Prof Anne Glover, “fundamentally problematic”. Their letter argued that the non-elected role concentrated too much influence in one person, undermining research by the

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Working with the new European Commission

Charlemagne is back in EuropeWhile the UK media has been focusing on Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle and what it means for the Tories’ 2015 election strategy, an even bigger shake-up has been taking place in the running of the European Union. A bit like during the Lib Dem European election campaign, the most frequently heard words this week in Brussels and Strasbourg have been “jobs, jobs, jobs”, and this time it is all about our own.

The last time we were in Strasbourg two weeks ago the Parliament sorted out who got what …

photo by: e³°°°
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Departing female EU commissioners lobby for more women in new Commission

Neelie Kroes 10 or MoreThe current 8 female EU commissioners have written to new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to support his call for member states to appoint more women. The commissioners stated that they wanted to see at least 10 women appointed. The picture shows Dutch liberal commissioner Neelie Kroes holding up her hands to show symbolise support for the Ten or More campaign.

Their letter said:

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Nick Clegg wins out on EU referendum – but what will the party think?

EU Flag at the European Parliament at Strasbourg. Photo credit: Some rights reserved by European ParliamentToday’s Guardian reports that Nick Clegg has won the backing of MPs over whether to support a change in the party’s policy on an EU referendum:

The deputy prime minister, who has faced direct calls from ministers for a change of stance on the EU, won the agreement of the Lib Dem parliamentary party to stand by the current policy. This is to hold a referendum only if UK sovereignty is passed to the EU. The Tories

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Opinion: How about a cross-party declaration on an EU renegotiation and referendum?

referendum2One way or another, there’s going to be an EU referendum, and we must not just let it happen.

Pressure is mounting on David Cameron to move before 2017 and on Ed Miliband to shift from a perfectly clear position to one which is more “acceptable” to the sceptical groundswell. I’ve seen Tim Montgomerie suggesting that the spitzenkandidat system is a transfer of power to Brussels and might therefore trigger the referendum lock. Unfortunately for him, the legally enshrined vote is an in/in decision, and there’s no formal move – treaty …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Opinion: What do we get from the EU for £33 million a day?

eu_flagUKIP claim that we pay £55 million per day to be a member of the EU. My UKIP neighbours ask what we get back for that money. What should I tell them?

First off, it seems we get about £22 million a day back in cash, in the form of grants and subsidies. But even UKIP neighbours can do simple arithmetic. That leaves a net cost of about £33 million per day, or about 50p per day on average for every man, woman, and child in the UK. What do …

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Proud to have served our region in Europe

Yorkshire RoseIn a valedictory article for the Yorkshire Post, outgoing Liberal Democrat MEP talked about his time in the Parliament, reviewed the election results and looked forward to the challenges this Parliament will face. Although people across Europe might have thought they had a free hit in the elections to punish their governments, their choices could affect their daily lives.

He started by looking back at his 30 years of service:

It has been a great privilege to serve this region for 30 years, to have played a role in encouraging

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Opinion: In and Better

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 08.06.37 IN Europe EU European UnionWell, that was grim. The results for the Liberal Democrats from the European Elections were awful and there’s no varnishing over it. For sure there will be a review of the European aspect of the campaign as well as for the locals.

Despite what the results show, as a party we were right to make the positive case for being IN. Who else was going to do it? We are a liberal and internationalist party and we showed we had the stomach to …

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Not everything you read on the internet about UKIP and Nigel Farage is true

nigel farageThis morning, Facebook timelines were bombarded with an image of Nigel Farage next to a quote in which he is supposed to have said that UKIP wanted to ban beards of more than 2 inches. “The beard goes or you go” he is supposed to have said on Anglia Radio on Saturday. After a quick (and horrible) mental image of Prime Minister Farage banning Z Z Top from entering the country, I quickly realised that it didn’t sound right. And if it had been true, such a juicy quote as …

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LibLink: Stephen Tall: Why my heart won’t be too heavy this week when I vote Conservative (in a manner of speaking)

Conservative Party logoThere was much spluttering at LDV Towers this morning when we saw THAT headline. There was Earl Grey everywhere. Eventually, though, we managed to calm down and keep reading. In fact, our Stephen was messing with the heads of the readers of Conservative Home, as he does every few weeks or so.

In fact, his own vote for the fabulous Liberal Democrat team in the South East is secure. He is talking, though, about how he’s casting a proxy vote for a friend of his who has decided to vote …

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New Liberal Democrat campaign video: Powerful stuff, but we need Part 2 – why you should vote Liberal Democrat

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LibLink: Edward Macmillan-Scott on ‘The European Parliament, Human Rights champion’

edward mcmillan-scottEdward McMillan-Scott is the Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber , but also the European Parliament’s Vice President for Human Rights. He has written an article for the latest edition of  the European Parliament’s monthly magazine, EP Today, to mark Europe Day. He writes:

Despite the profound changes the world has undergone since the fall of the Berlin wall, torture, unlawful imprisonment and genocide still haunt us.

That is why the end of the European Parliament’s mandate is an opportunity to review the vital work done by the EU ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy worldwide.

He then lists many projects and initiatives by the EU in the field of human rights and concludes:

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Opinion: Hamas and the collapse of Palestine/Israel Peace Negotiations

Palestine_Jerusalem_Geopoint_Right_of_Return_NK24131Two weeks ago the Israeli Cabinet declared that the peace negotiations over Palestine were halted in view of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The fact that the Cabinet Meeting took six hours perhaps suggests that this was not a unanimous decision. Was it a reasonable decision?

Background on Hamas can be found here. The essentials are that it was founded with the aim of liberating Palestine from Israel and had an armed wing that has indulged in terrorism.  (Sound like Sinn Fein and the IRA?) Nonetheless it won Parliamentary elections …

photo by: gnuckx
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Opinion: All Europe liked Conchita: what Eurovision tells us

Conchita Wurst, Copenhagen May 2014 Eurovision winner, Photo: Albin Olsson License: CC-BY-SA-3.0Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst’s smiling face beamed out from my TV late on Saturday, and like so many people I thought her victory was great. As Lib Dem Voice’s own Caron Lindsay put it shortly after the show had ended, the Austrian’s song

might not have been the best on offer tonight, but her personality, her embodiment of liberalism and authenticity, combined with a pan-European desire to stick two fingers up to the illiberal east triumphed in Copenhagen…

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Opinion: A European manifesto of hope

Antony Hook in SE regionFor me and many other people, being a Liberal is about politics based on hope.

One of my favourite definition of hope is that it stands for “Helping Other People Evolve”.

Helping, not forcing.

Evolving, because almost everyone can see some scope for change for the better in their life.

We are not talking about forcing people to change their lives against their will.

Nor do we say, “each to their own, I’ll sort out my life and if you have no chance of a better future that is not my problem.”

Liberal leadership, based on hope, is about giving people a chance to fulfil their potential.

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Opinion: Liberalism and tolerance win the Eurovision Song Contest

Conchita Wurst, Mario Soldo-2208There’ll no doubt be a lot of the usual ‘why do they hate us’ headlines in the UK following our disappointing showing in last night’s Eurovision Song Contest. 17th place was indeed below par for one our strongest songs in years and a polished performance on the night by 27-year old Mollie Smitten-Downes.

But such introspection – rather typically for Britain on matters European – misses the bigger point. Far more interesting was the winner: a gay, bearded transvestite from Austria called Conchita

photo by: VIPevent
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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Britain must remain at the core of the European Project

Charles KennedyIn an article for the Euro Blog marking Europe Day yesterday, Charles Kennedy wrote of the need for Britain to stay at the heart of Europe.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the jobs and the trade and the money, but Charles starts with the principles of peace and the common good:

9 May marks the beginning of a process of cooperation, which intended to make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. We call it Europe Day The process that was set in motion that day was based on principles like democracy, open markets,

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: EU values are in stark contrast to Putin’s

European FlagLiberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMilan-Scott, who is also the European Parliament’s Vice President for Human Rights, has been writing in the Yorkshire Post about the contest between the values of the EU and those of Vladimir Putin. The EU is built on democracy and liberal values while Putin seeks to build a Eurasian alliance built on homophobia and nationalism.

To understand what is happening in the Ukraine, we have to know something of President Putin’s Eurasian dream that is steering events. This involves the

photo by: rockcohen
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Phil Bennion MEP wins Clean Air award

Phil Bennion MEP at the European Parliament

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion has won an award for his work in improving air quality in cities across the UK, after a successful campaign to cut deadly pollution including from diesel-powered vehicles.

Phil  was given the “Clean Air in Cities Award” by campaigning group Clean Air in London after he successfully campaigned to ensure tailpipe exhaust checks are included in MOT tests under EU law. This will help detect harmful emissions and ensure that newer diesel-powered vehicles remain fitted with exhaust filters that prevent deadly particulate pollution being released into the air.

Around a quarter of pollution in the atmosphere in the UK comes from diesel engines, contributing to an estimated 7,000 of the 29,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year.

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