Tag Archives: european parliament

Liblink: Catherine Bearder MEP on UKIP’s collapse in the European Parliament

As we reported yesterday, the loss of a Latvian MEP, Iveta Grigule from UKIP’s “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy” group mean that is no longer eligible for group status, losing substantial budgets and (unwanted, unused) influence.

Catherine Bearder writes in the New Statesman

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A setback for UKIP in the European Parliament, courtesy of one Latvian MEP…

After the European Parliament elections in May, there was a scramble amongst the political groupings in Brussels to gather enough MEPs (twenty-five) from enough countries (seven) to achieve recognition as a political group, with two groups in particular, the European Conservatives and Reformist Group – ECR (which includes the Conservative Party) and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group – EFDD (which includes UKIP) competing to attract individual MEPS to reach the required number of countries. At one point, it looked as though the EFDD would fall just short, but the recruitment of the Latvian Farmers Union MEP, Iveta Grigule, was enough to satisfy the eligibility clause.

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Opinion: UKIP are a blessing in disguise for pro-Europeans

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder works harder than nine UKIP MEPs put together. She speaks more sense than their entire delegation, of course, but in terms of turning up to vote, it’s official: the number of European Parliament divisions she’s taken part in since the election is more than the combined total of nine of their lot.

Since the new Parliament started at the beginning of July, MEPs have faced 39 roll-call votes in the plenary. This is where all MEPs come together to speak and vote, usually in Strasbourg. Catherine, our sole representative in the European Parliament, has voted on …

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Bearder elected Quaestor in the European Parliament

Catherine Bearder - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0News reaches the Voice that Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has become a Quaestor in the European Parliament:

Catherine was voted in as a Quaestor, a position responsible for helping to manage the day-to-day running of the Parliament and representing MEPs on its executive body, the Bureau.

She will be the UK’s only representative on the Bureau, which is responsible for overseeing the budget, administration and organisation of the European Parliament.

Catherine has said she will use the position to improve transparency, making more information available to MEPs and to the people they represent.

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Catherine Bearder writes … Back to work in the European Parliament

European Parliament, StrasbourgIn May’s European elections, it was liberals across the EU who stood up against the growing tide of nationalists, anti-Europeans and populists. Today, the newly elected MEPs met for the first time in Strasbourg to officially open the 8th European Parliament.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the political group with which Liberal Democrats sit in the European Parliament, took a big hit when we lost all of my hardworking Lib Dem colleagues and nine German FDP MEPs. But it is not all doom and gloom. Liberals topped the polls in the Netherlands, and our numbers have been boosted by new liberal parties from Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic, meaning we are still the fourth largest group with 68 MEPs.

photo by:
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Opinion: What’s going on in Brussels? Political groupings in the European Parliament

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgFollowing on from my post last week on post-election developments in Brussels, here’s the first of two updates. Today’s will focus on developments concerning the formation of political groups in the Parliament itself whilst tomorrow’s will address issues regarding nominations to the European Commission.

Political parties have until tomorrow, June 24th to form their European Parliamentary groups. In order to qualify as a group, you not only need at least 25 MEPs but these must be drawn from at least 7 EU countries represented in the Parliament.

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What’s going on in the European Parliament this week?

European FlagDebates between the political parties in the European Parliament to form the all-important political groups, on which depends importance Committee places and speaking rights, continue in Brussels this week.

The Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group, in which the UK’s Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder sits, is continuing negotiations with liberal-minded parties either newly elected to the European Parliament or no longer content with their existing groups.

It is now unlikely that ALDE will remain the third largest group in Strasbourg-based Parliament as the European Conservatives

photo by: rockcohen
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Edward McMillan-Scott writes … an open letter to the Leader of the Conservatives in Europe

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgMr Syed Kamall MEP (London, Conservative)

Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament

Dear Syed,

As the former leader of the Conservative MEPs, I have followed with interest the current speculation over your potential future bedfellows in Europe. It appears likely that the number of Conservative MEPs will fall from 26 to around 15, your Czech allies will all but vanish, and the Polish Law and Justice Party will be the dominant force in the ECR group. To survive, there are informed reports that Tory MEPs with the backing of David Cameron are trawling the wilder shores of European politics for new allies.

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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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LibLink: Tim Farron: European Parliament makes it easier for you to know what’s in the medicines you are taking

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgRoughly a third of people take part in the European elections. That turnout reflects that people don’t necessarily feel engaged with the European Parliament. Yet this body, whether it be on e-cigarettes, abolishing (with Liberal Democrat support) mobile phone roaming charges or even the medicines your doctor prescribes, makes laws that affect our daily lives. Tim Farron has been highlighting its important work in this medical field in an article over at the Huffington Post.

First of all, he outlines the problem:

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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…

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