Tag Archives: european parliament

Opinion: It’s official – Lib Dems are “most successful and influential” in Europe

Europe Day - European Union - Some rights reserved by Niccolò CarantiAhead of the second EU debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage this evening, a timely new report has found that Liberal Democrats are the most influential British party in the European Parliament.

The analysis of MEPs’ voting records from VoteWatch Europe over the past five years by think tank Policy Network, finds that Liberal Democrats are the “most successful coalition partner” in the European Parliament and “have played a central role in policy-making in both Westminster and Brussels.”

As …

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LDVideo: Chris Davies MEP “UKIP are not there when it matters”

Chris Davies has been speaking in the European Parliament about the voting record of his UKIP colleagues and how they just don’t turn up for important votes. He also mentioned how one turned up to a vote on e-cigarettes not long after UKIP received a donation from an e-cigarette manufacturer. That, he said, was the price of a UKIP vote.

He called their voting record dire and said that they were well known for taking their money but did precious little to defend the interests they hold dear.

And he did it all in his own inimitable style.

Enjoy.

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My work placement with Chris Davies MEP

Louise Furness recently spent a week on a work placement with North West MEP Chris Davies. Here she tells us about her insight into life in Brussels.

Monday: Walking into the European Parliament for the first time is quite something. It is an impressive complex and a hive of activity – and this is supposedly a quieter period as fewer proposals are put to Parliament and MEPs spend more time in their constituencies in the run-up to the elections. The week began with a team meeting, during which Chris discussed his diary with Carly and Joana from his office. This

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Rebecca Taylor MEP writes…Can you help me campaign against e-cigs being regulated as medicines?

The EU is currently deciding how best to regulate e-cigarettes. Opinion is divided, with many public health organisations and most national governments – including the UK – pushing for the regulation of e-cigarettes as medicinal products, while consumers, manufacturers, along with some doctors and public health experts asking for a less stringent approach.

The European Parliament also voted against medicines regulation, adopting instead a Liberal amendment drafted by Frédérique Ries, myself and Chris Davies which aims to guarantee essential safeguards without resorting to medicines licensing.

E-cigarettes are a new and increasingly popular product used almost entirely by existing or former smokers (see …

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Lib Dem victory on e-cigs

European Union flagIn the European Parliament earlier today, MEPs backed a Liberal Democrat amendment which will ensure that electronic cigarettes are available for sale on the same basis as tobacco.

The original proposal from the Commission was that e-cigs should be treated as medicines, which would have restricted sales. But the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe  (the Group to which our Liberal Democrat team belongs) argued that they had a major role to play in reducing tobacco-related deaths. The amendment did require e-cigs to meet safety standards and for …

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EU funding helps UK punch above its weight on science

Yesterday, MEPs and national ministers in Brussels agreed on the new EU research and innovation programme “Horizon 2020″.

Horizon 2020 is structured around three ‘pillars’;

  • ‘Excellence in the science base’ – aims to strengthen the EU’s world-class excellence in science, particularly through a significant strengthening of the European Research Council, which mainly focuses on frontier research
  • ‘Creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks’ – aims to support business research and innovation. Actions will cover: increasing investment in enabling industrial technologies and support for innovation in SMEs with high growth potential
  • ‘Tackling societal challenges’ – aims to respond directly to challenges identified in Europe

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Sarah Ludford writes …Creating EU Data Protection rules that safeguard both privacy and jobs

As those who read this LibDem Voice article by Peter Bradwell of Open Rights group will know, I am currently the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group ‘shadow rapporteur’ on the draft EU Data Protection Regulation in the European Parliament.

I was not originally expecting to play a major role on this particular piece of legislation. But when my German FDP colleague Alexander Alvaro unfortunately suffered a serious car accident in February, the ALDE group appointed me as his interim replacement. I unwisely promised a response to Peter’s article ‘soon’! – but the last few months of negotiations have been very demanding. The new Regulation, unlike …

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott – End the European Parliament’s “travelling circus”

EU Parliament Brussels - Some rights reserved by PoetografieEdward McMillan-Scott MEP is the only British Vice-President of the European Parliament and has been leading the campaign for a single seat for the European Parliament. On the British Influence website he writes:

For four days each month, the European Parliament leaves its working base in Brussels, the EU’s political capital, and descends on Strasbourg, its official ‘Seat’ for debates and votes. In addition, half of the Parliament’s staff work in Luxembourg. This arrangement costs €180 million and 19,000 tonnes of C02 every

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This week in Europe: 15-18 April

Europe Day - European Union - Some rights reserved by Niccolò CarantiLib Dem MEP calls on EU Parliament to scrap planned budget hikes

On Tuesday, senior UK Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon called on the European Parliament to scrap planned budget increases ahead of the next series of votes on EU spending.

Mr Lyon, a vice chair of the EU Budget Committee, has tabled amendments that, if implemented, would see the one off costs of funding the European election absorbed within a real-terms budget freeze.

Commenting, he said:

At a time when

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Sharon Bowles MEP writes: New EU rules make a more secure, sustainable and transparent banking system

Yesterday the European Parliament passed a historic package of financial legislation following almost two years of negotiations. The most widely publicised aspect of these new rules is the cap on bankers’ bonuses, introduced in an amendment by the European Parliament and supported by Lib Dem MEPs. As well as the moral justifications, there are many good rational reasons for the cap. Significantly, it will realign the bonus to salary ratio to more reasonable proportions, thus reducing the kinds of excessively risky behaviour which contributed towards the financial crisis. It is important for banks to show restraint and take a more …

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Chris Davies MEP writes…Britain betrayed

European Union flagIt’s good to know who your friends are, and when it comes to combating climate change they don’t include Britain’s Conservative MEPs and their UKIP collaborators.  In a European Parliament vote yesterday they tipped the balance, securing the deferral and probable abandonment of attempts to ensure that the carbon market continues to function, and sending out a signal that the EU is no longer interested in promoting low carbon investments.

Europe’s emissions trading system is the largest in the world and is driving down CO2 emissions from power stations by …

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Rebecca Taylor MEP writes…Electronic Cigarettes: No smoke, but lots of fiery debate

You may have heard rumblings that “the EU wants to ban electronic cigarettes”. This is not entirely true; the new EU tobacco directive proposes regulating electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) under medicines legislation and there is fiery debate as to whether this is appropriate.
During the last few years e-cigarettes, devices resembling a cigarette or a pen/torch which enable the inhalation of nicotine containing vapour, have sprung up across Europe including in the UK.
Many e-cigarette users call their habit “vaping” and some prefer to call their devices “personal vaporisers” or PVs. E-cigarettes use a liquid containing nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco, but …

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Chris Davies MEP reveals how Strasbourg isn’t always good for your health

chris daviesChris Davies reveals one of the unexpected problems of the European Parliament shuttling between Brussels and Strasbourg at great expense: bed bugs. Here’s an excerpt from his latest notes:

I went to the medical centre in the European Parliament in Brussels. “I’ve had these itchy spots on my arms and legs for 6 weeks or so,” I told the doctor. “They started off like insect bites but they won’t go away.” She looked at them and asked if any new spots had appeared since the Parliament was

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George Lyon MEP writes: Lib Dem MEPs will resist secret EU vote

Last week the European Council agreed a new European budget that will, for the first time, see a cut in the amount of money that the EU spends.

Liberal Democrats at Westminster and in the European Parliament have made clear that the EU needs to live within its means. We are in favour of a sensible and realistic deal that reflects the tough economic times that ordinary people are facing. Some MEPs see things differently and oppose the idea of a degree of fiscal restraint in Europe.

People who oppose the cuts in the EU budget that have been put forward are …

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Opinion: Liberal Reform urge MEPs to oppose a secret vote on the EU Budget

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgIt probably came as a  surprise to most Lib Dems to hear  that it is possible to have a secret vote in the European Parliament at all, let alone when as few as 20% of MEPs call for one. Press reports that some members want a secret vote so they can safely vote against the EU Budget are shocking, because knowing how elected representatives vote is surely the most basic piece of information required to hold them accountable.

If the EU Budget is rejected, after a secret vote, there is not the slightest doubt that it will be seized upon by those in the UK who want us to leave to leave the EU.  Not only should our own MEPs, but also ALDE as a whole, should be opposed to a secret vote in this case, and they should act to change the Parliament’s rules to make secret votes impossible.

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This week in Europe: 4-7 February

MEPs vote against discards and for sustainable fisheries across Europe

On Wednesday, MEPs voted for an ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 502 to 137 votes.

Chris Davies, who founded the cross-party MEP campaign group Fish For the Future, commented after the historic vote:

Today’s overwhelming support for EU fisheries reform from MEPs across all parties and nationalities puts us in a very strong negotiation position with Member States in the Council of Ministers. The Irish Presidency has made clear it wants to complete the reform by June.

People across Europe have said that we must

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MEPs call for review of funding for European far-right

Last year, for the first time, the far-right Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) organised itself into a pan-European bloc, and has therefore recently been allocated almost £400,000 in public funding from the European Parliament. This group includes the BNP, the Front National in France and Jobbik, a far-right political party in Hungary renowned for its racist and anti-semitic views. Of particular concern is the possibility that public money could now end up being used to incite racial hatred.

Under EU regulations, parties must observe fundamental principles such as liberty, democracy and respect for human rights in order to …

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Chris Davies wades into Ukip foster care row. Why?

chris daviesA couple of months ago you may recall a big row when it was alleged three eastern European children were removed from their foster parents by Rotherham council because the couple were members of Ukip.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies certainly recalls it. And on Monday he made a one-minute speech in the European Parliament about it:

Chris Davies (ALDE ). – Mr President, before Christmas there was, rightly, a furore when social workers in Rotherham took away children from foster parents because they belonged to UKIP,

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This week in Europe: 7-10 January

Report on proposed banking reforms is published

The Economic and Monetary Committee has published a report “Banking Union and a Single Banking Supervisory Mechanism“, with some expert opinions from European economists on the European Commission proposals to create a single supervisor for European banks. For those interested in the proposals, their viability and some of the arguments for gradations of supervisions – the 200 largest banks in the Eurozone have approximately 90% of the market in that area – the five opinions will provide a lucid, and brief summary of the key issues, the context in which decisions are being …

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2012 in the European Parliament – the video

Well, given that you (and I) paid for this, it only seems fair that it gets a wider audience. It is in French, but with English subtitles, even where the person on screen is speaking English. Go figure…

Posted in Europe / International and News | 1 Comment

Opinion: My taxpayer funded Euro jaunt was well worth it

I seldom hear much enthusiasm about European politics. It seems particularly difficult to get people excited about the EU and during the Euro list selection campaign, I found that even politically active people were largely uninterested in European issues. It is hardly surprising, then, that the UK turnout in 2009 was less than 35%.

One attempt to tackle this problem comes from the EU in the form of subsidies offered to MEPs who bring visitors from their constituencies to see the European Parliament. I was lucky enough

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Timetable for selecting Euro candidates (England)

European Parliament building

17 September
Deadline for shortlists to be notified to applicants and to the Senior Returning Officer.

17 September – 3 October
Period to resolve any appeals.
Candidates shortlisted in more than two Regions to choose two.

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This week in Europe… 11-14 September

Of course, it’s not just the Commons that is back this week, as the European Parliament has returned from its summer break. And, thanks to the ever helpful Angelika Schneider in the ALDE office, Liberal Democrat Voice is able to keep up to date with the efforts of Liberal Democrat MEPs.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted the first European-wide law on the protection of crime victims, to improve support for them. The new EU law sets minimum standards for all 27 countries, such as free access to medical and specialist …

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Opinion: After the reshuffle: how can we still claim internationalism?

The reshuffle: the talking point of the last few days. I’m sure we all feel a bit angry and flustered after the Tory side was announced – Hunt at health, Miller as equalities. It really could not have been much less liberal. Our side, though, may at first appear entirely less interesting, and far more acceptable. There were some great moves in the reshuffle, sure. Jo Swinson as an Undersecretary of State. David Laws is back. This reshuffle, though, has cut out something essential to the Liberal Democrats: our internationalism. Lib Dems gone from FCO. No Lib Dems in the MOD. One minister, Lynne Featherstone, in DFID. And Lynne’s briefing (at the time of writing) has still not been an announced. This reshuffle represents an almost complete retreat from international affairs.

Internationalism is one of the things the Lib Dems pride ourselves on: our attitude to the European Union is really quite distinctive amongst mainstream politics, we work closely with our sister parties, and our opposition to the Iraq war was certainly amongst the most vocal. Foreign Affairs is not a fairly ‘non-partisan’ area, as I had it put to me. There are huge divergences in Liberal Democrat and Conservative policy here, and now we have absolutely no one fighting our corner, it seems. Even Lynne in DFID isn’t really going to have much of a say: when behind-closed-door discussion takes place on the European Union, the Eurozone crisis, our involvement in NATO, renewal of Trident, and our relationship with the US, particularly with the upcoming Presidential elections, and other big issues at the moment, DFID are hardly the most involved.

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European Parliament selections: time is running out to get your application in

The Senior Returning Officer, Jonathan Davies, has asked us here at Liberal Democrat Voice Towers to pass on a message on behalf of Chairs of Shortlisting Committees in Scotland and the English Regions.

And I paraphrase just a bit…

If you want to be a contender, don’t forget that the deadline for applications is 6 p.m. on Friday 27 July

So don’t…

* Mark Valladares is Chair of the Shortlisting Committee for the East of England, and can assure you that he and his colleagues are gentle people who really like applicants, really we do…

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Opinion: How my life changed forever – 100 days in!

At the start of this year I was a Lib Dem from Yorkshire working and studying in London who according to some journalists was an “unknown” – although I was quite well known in certain Lib Dem circles, especially for my quiches! The resignation of Diana Wallis, as Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber changed all that.

In 2009 I was third on the Lib Dem list for Yorkshire and the Humber. When you are third on a regional list and the …

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European Parliament overwhelmingly rejects ACTA

The culmination of weeks of campaigning and lobbying against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) came this morning, as the European Parliament voted 478 to 39 to reject it, despite the fact that twenty-two member states, including the United Kingdom, had already signed it. As a result, the Agreement is now likely to become irrelevant without the support of European Union nations.

The Agreement had already been rejected by five Committees of the European Parliament, and despite attempts by Conservative MEPs to defer the vote, as urged by UNI MEI, a “global union for the Media, Entertainment and Art Industries”, …

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Do you want to be a candidate in the UK’s next national elections?

The selection process for our candidates for the 2014 European Parliamentary elections is now starting. The formal advert will be published next month, and the closing date for applications is likely to be 20 July.

All applicants must be approved European candidates by the date of the close of applications.

Anyone interested in being a candidate should apply for approval as soon as possible – you can get the necessary application pack from the Candidates’ Office at Party HQ: email [email protected] Candidates who have been approved for Westminster elections but not for European elections need to undertake a brief Euro assessment/conversion …

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This week in Europe: 21-24 May

Yes, we’re back in Strasbourg, apparently, for another week of drama and excitement. Alright, perhaps I exaggerate a bit… and apologise for being a little behind.

Yesterday saw the first debate on the new EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which will include a provision for visa-free travel to Canada for all EU citizens, something the Americans could perhaps learn from, as well as a series of short debates on, amongst other things, the EU’s internal security strategy and strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… Lib Dem MEPs kill ACTA

After careful consideration, Lib Dem MEPs have decided to reject the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in the European Parliament. There is now a majority in the Parliament that will reject the ratification of this plurilateral treaty originally designed to establish international standards for intellectual property rights.

So why do we reject ACTA?

In principle, Lib Dems support the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and the fight against counterfeiting – in particular when it comes to dangerous counterfeit medicines, electronics and toys. But we are also champions of fundamental rights and freedoms and we must weigh up carefully between the need to …

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    For people who think nuclear is a cheap or green way to generate electricity ask yourself why since 26th April 1986 the UK Government has...
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    "There are more jobs in sectors, like science and research that are funded by the EU (€80bn of EU funds will go into science in...
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    Backing British manufacturing makes sense. Restoring a manufacturing based economy rather than placing reliance on the financial services “industry” is likely to be more sensible...
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    @ John Dunn, What I fail to understand is, if you are not MEPs to participate in the EU or fix it, how can you...
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    All very well green but green tooooooo expensive and wont solve our energy needs and as for environment negligible UK wise and minuscule world wise
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    @RC No I do not think a survey sample of 1% of the working age population is an efficient way to measure employment. So you...