Author Archives: Catherine Bearder MEP

Brexit Resolution: statement from Catherine Bearder MEP

Yesterday the European Parliament voted in favour of a Resolution to allow Brexit talks to progress to the next stage.

Both the Commission and Parliament have now recommended to the European Council that progress has been made in the three key areas: on citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the financial settlement.

This Resolution is the last piece in the puzzle to allowing the Brexit talks to progress to the next stage.

It effectively moves the UK one step further away from a disastrous “no deal” situation which would risk thousands

Posted in Europe / International and Europe Referendum | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Now is the time for an ivory ban

Think of Africa, and you think of elephants. But sadly, these glorious and magnificent animals are under serious threat from poaching. It is estimated that one elephant is killed every fifteen minutes by poachers who are part of a chain of criminal activity that makes immense profits from selling ivory tusks onto the global market. This illegal ivory is distributed all around the world with routes mirroring those of drugs, guns and trafficked people. It is shocking to find that more raw and carved ivory is traded through the EU to …

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…EURATOM: The wedge dividing the Tories’ ideological Brexit

The Tories’ division on Europe is widening. Nothing demonstrates this more than on one simple issue: EURATOM.

In Theresa May’s letter invoking Article 50 she confirmed that Brexit would mean more than Brexit as the UK would also withdraw from the European Atomic Community, a separate legal entity from the EU.

The UK, a country dependant on nuclear energy, relies heavily on EURATOM; our electricity generation, healthcare provision, scientific development, and nuclear safety are all closely intertwined with EURATOM’s regulatory regime.

Withdrawal could restrict the movement of nuclear materials, damaging scientific research and innovation (particularly in the development of future fusion power plants), and threatening the UK’s nuclear power supply.

What many won’t realise is that this could also restrict supply of key materials for radioactive cancer treatment. Dr Nicola Strickland, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, has already warned of the damage this could do to over 10,000 cancer patients being directly treated by imported radioactive isotopes and the increased cost burden this would place on an NHS already stretched for resources.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Brexit, one year on

A lot can change in a year.

On 23rd June 2016, I was left heartbroken after a tough and exhausting referendum campaign saw a victory for an insular nationalist vision of Britain.

The vote to Leave has divided our country in a way even ‘Project Fear’ could never have imagined.

After the referendum, we were told that the populist right was on an unstoppable rise. Geert Wilders, Netherland’s answer to Donald Trump, would storm to victory in the Dutch general election; Marine Le Pen would triumph over the established political consensus in the French Presidential election; and the Liberal Democrats’ fight to keep Britain in Europe was laughed off.

But a lot can change in a year.

Our ALDE sister Party, VVD, secured victory in the Netherlands with a lead of over 8 points. Voters in France chose a pro-European liberal vision of hope as Emmanuel Macron overwhelmingly won the Presidency and obtained an absolute majority in the French Parliament.

And in the UK, it’s still all to fight for. Theresa May called a general election to ask the electorate to force through her destructive Brexit and the public refused to give her the mandate.

The latest polling on Brexit shows big movement – 53 per cent of people now back the Lib Dem position for a final say on the Brexit deal.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 16 Comments

“Dear Mrs May…”, an open letter from Catherine Bearder

Dear Mrs May,

You called an election last week so that British voters can, you claim, by electing a large Conservative parliamentary majority, give you the “strongest hand” possible in the Brexit negotiations. But I am afraid Mrs May you have already decided on the direction you are taking this country in and I think you already know that.

Today the leaders of the 27 EU countries will meet to finalise their negotiating guidelines, for what Guy Verhofstadt described to Liberal MEPs this week as probably the shortest Council meeting ever. Why? Because …

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Why we want to let Brits keep their EU passports after Brexit

Last weekend the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference voted to support Guy Verhofstadt’s proposed initiative to allow Brits to keep their EU citizenship (if they want to!). Lib Dems believe that with our country split nearly 50/50 on our EU membership, it would be unfair to allow the process of leaving the EU to completely ignore the wishes of the side that narrowly lost and who want to continue with the EU.

But it is not simply an issue of fairness that we are asking for Brits to be allowed to apply for EU citizenship. It is that as liberals and pro-Europeans we believe that this Conservative Brexit Government should not rip away someone’s identity, assuming that that was the wish of Leave voters in a referendum that was won on lies and misinformation (something that former Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings admitted recently).

Many young people are desperate to travel Europe and seek out opportunities to study, meet new people, learn languages and new skills. Can the people who voted Leave deny their children, grandchildren and their grandchildren’s children the right to do this? The fact that 75% of 18-24 year olds voted remain means that young people genuinely do care about their EU citizenship and won’t give up their demands for the retention of it easily. 

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Golden opportunity to end the illegal ivory trade wasted

serious-about-willdife-crime-picI was honoured to be part of the European Parliament’s observer delegation to the CITES CoP17 in South Africa. As a campaigner for wildlife protection I know the opportunity to influence protection at the highest level is rare.

Before I headed to South Africa I voted in favour of a European Parliament resolution calling for all elephants to be listed on Appendix 1 of CITES (the Convention in Trade of Endangered Species) This would mean in effect a total ban on the international trade in elephants.

The resolution was overwhelmingly supported by MEPs which shows the European Parliament’s strong opposition to the trade in elephants and their ivory which in the past decade alone has seen the loss of 110,000 African elephants as a result of poaching and the massive global demand for ivory tusks as well as for trophy hunting.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes: Churchill and Mandela would have been with us on the March for Europe

As thousands of Brits marched across the uk to show their support for our continued EU membership relationship I was with Liberal Democrat president Sal Brinton, past MEP Sarah Ludford and many other activists, PPCs, councillors, new and old members and others who wanted to be with the Liberal Democrats in our fight to get the best for our country post the referendum result.

The organisers were initially determined not to allow any elected political speakers on to the platform.  It seems the phrase ‘cross party’ had again been confused with ‘no party’, despite the speakers from the world of entertainment and media clearly having political affiliations.  However, sense and justice prevailed and I was allowed to speak to the assembled crowds.  It seemed only fair as the Liberal Democrats formed a major part of the March, and for that I must say thank you to Kelly-Marie Blundell and her team for organising us all and making sure our voice is heard across the country.

This then is the gist of what I said….

For every one who is marching to day, not just here in London, but right across the country, there are hundreds who are not on a march, but are with us in spirit.  They know as you do that this campaign was fought on lies and untruths and the question was simplistic.  The result cannot therefore be allowed to stand.  Reasons for voters supporting leave were varied, and we now know that what they were asked to vote on – Brexit – is a total unknown.  No one knows what it is.  Even the Brexiteers still don’t know what they want.

So many people and European flags flying is good to see, but there are two other people in this square with us who would be joining us if they could, one is Winston Churchill, the other is Nelson Mandela.  They both recognised that working together across borders is the best way to deliver peace and prosperity for all. They would be horrified to think there is a possibility of the UK leaving the best and biggest club on the planet.   We have to do all we can to stop that, and if we can’t we must make sure that we get the best deal possible – and then put that deal to the voters in the UK.

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Lib Dems will offer an optimistic alternative to Brexit Britain

It’s been a tough few weeks for all of us who believe in the European ideals of cooperation, openness and trade between nations. But as if the referendum result was not bad enough, the aftermath has left the UK the laughing stock of the world. First there was the resignation and disappearance of many of those who led the Leave campaign and the shameless disowning of key pledges on the NHS and immigration. Then last week a number of leading Tory Brexiteers were elevated by Theresa May to the highest offices of the state.

We have seen Brexit Minister David …

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Thanks to all for a positive campaign

IntogetherThis has been a tough week for us all. It’s followed the hard work in the build-up to voting day, the exhaustion of the day itself and the dreadful night as the results saw the collapse of the political and structural certainties we have all come to understand.

Firstly I want to give a huge thanks to all those up and down the country who have worked their socks off campaigning to keep the UK in the EU. Ours was a positive, passionate and patriotic campaign. It was always going to be a tough fight, trying to reverse in a matter of weeks the anti-EU propaganda and anti-establishment mood that built up over many years. But the Lib Dems stood firm, and our thousands of activists can be proud that when the time came, they stood up for the values we hold dear and for what we believe was firmly in the national interest.

On my return to Brussels on Monday, the overwhelming mood amongst my fellow MEPs was not one of anger, but of huge shock and sadness. Sad that a country that they love and admire could be so led astray by the lies and deception of the Leave campaign, and sad for the millions of young people who overwhelmingly voted to remain but who are set to be deprived of the opportunities EU membership brings. There was a spontaneous sign written on the windows of the European Parliament that simply said: “We will miss you.” This is the real European Union. Not faceless bureaucrats, but real people from all over Europe working together, celebrating our differences and eccentricities and doing our best to respond to big common challenges. That’s a vision that millions of people in the UK share. And it’s one we must stand up for in the difficult months and years ahead.

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100 Days to go to secure our place in Europe

There are now just 100 days to secure Britain’s place in Europe. There is so much at stake. If we leave, the country faces a future of uncertainty, isolation and diminished influence in the world. If we stay we will secure opportunity, prosperity and security for future generations and we can lead the way in shaping a better, more liberal Europe.

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Government U-turns on EU flood funding in victory for Lib Dems

As many of you know Tim Farron and I have been fighting for months to persuade the government to apply for EU solidarity funding for flood victims. The European Commission had confirmed to me last December that this money was there for the taking, so it was flabbergasting that the government had so far refused to apply on the flimsy grounds that it would not offer immediate help (an application takes a few months to process). The real reason I suspect was that the government was worried about upsetting its eurosceptic backbenchers by asking for help from the rest of Europe in a time of need.

So it came as something of a shock to find out today that finally the Conservatives have U-turned and will be making a last-minute application. This is a huge victory for the Liberal Democrats, who have been piling the pressure on the government on this issue from day one. And of course it is fantastic news for the communities across the North of England and Scotland whose lives were turned upside-down by the floods and who will finally get the additional funding they deserve.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Nominate a hard-working local activist or councillor for a Europe leader award

I am encouraging Lib Dem members to help me nominate a hard-working local activist or councillor for the Europe-wide Local Leader award.

Last year I was delighted when two of my nominations, Andrew Nesbitt from Scotland and David Tutt from Eastbourne made it through to the final round. I was hugely proud that David went on to win the prize for “Achievement in Government”.  I know that we have lots of talented people working hard on their communities, so do let me know so I can nominate them.

The Liberal group in Europe (ALDE) are offering a variety of awards for exceptional local representatives of European liberal parties. The award categories on offer are:

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Our best weapons against terrorism are unity, tolerance and compassion

Last Friday’s sickening Paris attacks shocked us all. They weren’t just attacks on France, but attacks on our shared values and way of life. Seeing such horrific tragedy being inflicted on a city that so many of us associate with joy, love and freedom has been deeply upsetting. At the same time, it has been profoundly moving to see the courage and resilience of the French people and the solidarity shown with them from around the world, including in the UK.

When emotions run high, it is important that our responses are made with great care and with a cool head. Most of all, we must remember that the central aim of these attacks was to sow division and conflict in our societies.

Provoking resentment against refugees and Muslims, as is being done by the likes of the Daily Mail with its despicable cartoon likening refugees to rats, is exactly what these terrorists want. This fosters a cycle of prejudice and hatred, playing into the hands of the far right and extremists across Europe. We as Liberals must not fall into this trap, but fight it at every turn.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes: Europe is about more than the economy, it’s about opportunity

Catherine Bearder with Liberal Youth members October 2015At the official launch of the Stronger In Campaign on Monday it was great to see such a huge range of people, of all ages and from all walks of life, prepared to work together to secure Britain’s place in Europe. The board of the campaign represents all sections of society – students, the arts, business and trade unions – and almost half its members are women. This couldn’t contrast more with the male, pale and stale line-ups of the Vote Leave and Leave EU campaigns.

The challenge now for Stronger In will be to translate such a broad base of support into a coherent and positive message. We don’t just need to win over undecided voters, we need to make sure those who are broadly in favour of remaining in Europe turn up to cast their vote and play an active role in the campaign. Young people in particular are historically the least likely to vote, but the latest polls show 83% of them want to stay in the EU. They probably won’t get passionate about dry economic facts on the impact of Brexit on trade and investment. We need to develop a powerful and uplifting narrative about why Britain’s future in Europe matters to them and their everyday lives.

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Catherine Bearder MEP speaks… Britain after Brexit

Bearder Oxford UnionCatherine delivered the following speech to the Oxford Union, painting a picture of what life would be like after Brexit.

I want to take you to a land, not so far away. Close your eyes and think of Britain after Brexit.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Why Tim Farron is the right person to rebuild the Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats have taken an electoral pounding over the last five years. When we entered coalition government in 2010 it gave us the opportunity to put Liberal Democrat policies into practice for the first time in generations.  We tempered the excesses of the Tories, as is becoming increasingly clear as the new government adopts a frightening, hard right-wing agenda. For this we have paid a heavy price. The loss of so many brilliant and hard-working councillors, MPs and MEPs means we will have to spend time rebuilding and reorganising the party from the bottom up.

It seemed we were so busy being in government that we forgot to remind ourselves and our voters just exactly what it is we stand for. We talked about what we had blocked the Tories from doing, but not enough about what drives us – those values and ethical beliefs that brought us all into politics. Our new leader will need to do that.  He will need to take the liberal values we espouse in our constitution and convey them to the electorate. He will have to energise the grassroots, inspire a new generation of activists and get people back out on the doorsteps, making the case for why we need a strong Liberal voice in British politics.

I believe that Tim Farron is the best man for that task. Tim is a stalwart campaigner and a passionate, inspiring communicator. He has all the skills, vision and drive to reach out to our existing members, all those who have recently joined and those who will join when they know how important it is to have Liberal Democrats defending the values that we hold dear.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…The fight for Britain’s future starts now

As the dust settles from the elections and we lament the loss of so many talented and dedicated Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors, there will inevitably be discussions over what went wrong and how it could have been avoided. As a party we have a lot of hard thinking to do about how best we rebuild. But there is no time for a protracted period of introspection. The country stands at a crossroads: one way leading to a strong and united Britain at the heart of the EU, the other to a little England isolated from its neighbours at home and abroad. The voice of the Liberal Democrats and liberalism is needed now more than ever.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… Launch of MEP group on Wildlife Crime

Wildlife crime is a major threat to international security. This trade is now worth an estimated $20 billion a year and has become the fourth largest illegal activity in the world after drugs, arms and people-trafficking. From Al Shabab in Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria, armed groups and criminal gangs are making huge profits from the illegal wildlife trade, fuelling instability and conflict.

We need to act now to stop them.

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Catherine Bearder writes… 100 days to stop the Tories or Labour neglecting the environment

The countdown starts today. Just 100 days left to ensure that any future government has a strong Liberal voice in it. That means a strong voice for social justice and economic responsibility, ensuring that we finish the recovery and do so fairly. But it also means a voice that will continue to stand up for a radical approach on issues like drugs policy, indiscriminate snooping and constitutional reform. Crucial issues, but ones that both Conservatives and Labour would happily sweep under the carpet and forget about altogether if they were given the chance.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… We need to act now to protect elephants

ELephants Bostwana Sedudu Photo by Mp3iefEvery 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory. This rapid rate of human destruction has seen the population of African elephants plummet from 10 million in 1910 to a low 434,000 now.

If we want to protect elephants from being confined to the history books we need to act now.

That’s why this week I called for an EU Action Plan to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade in a letter to the new European Commission, co-signed by 82 fellow MEPs from 24 countries.

The joint campaign with the Sunday Mirror and Born Free has already attracted broad-based support from all of the party groupings in the parliament. Many of my colleagues can see that we can no longer dilly-dally if we want to halt and reverse the terrifying trend which sees many creatures firmly on the road to extinction.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes… EU climate targets thanks to Ed Davey and Lib Dems

Green wind farmThis week, European leaders including David Cameron thrashed out an agreement on the EU’s climate change targets up until 2030.

The EU has been a world leader in the fight against climate change, becoming the first region to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the face of the financial crisis, leaders have become more nervous and the momentum behind the drive towards a greener economy has started to wane.

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Catherine Bearder writes… Now the referendum is over, we need a unifying vision for Britain

Now that the people of Scotland have voted to remain a part of the UK, discussions over what further devolution of powers for Scotland will take place – as well as for the other British nations and regions – will inevitably dominate public debate. However, a big risk facing us as a country is that we become too introspective, turning in on ourselves rather than looking at the wider picture.

That’s because as well as a new constitutional arrangement, we desperately need a unifying vision of Britain and its place in the world. Indeed, it’s the lack of such a vision that has been one of the key factors fuelling Scottish separatism and the nationalism that feeds UKIP.

Posted in Op-eds | 28 Comments

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 …

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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.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes … The British media is in love with the Euromyth

The invented tales about European Union policy have the ability to amuse and terrify the public.

But Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England, explains why she has launched her Euromyth Buster campaign to make sure fact is not substituted for fantasy.

Let’s face it, is it any surprise people in the UK get exasperated by the European Union? They are swamped with erroneous tales of alleged devious directives and barmy plans from ‘meddling Brussels bureaucrats’. I have my favourites.

  • There was the ‘fear’

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…The simple Lib Dem approach to aviation

Why was I not surprised?

The knee-jerk, short-sighted reaction of Tory backbenchers to dwindling airport capacity was simple: Bung another runway onto the sprawling tarmac at Heathrow.

The airport already pumps out pollution and noise affecting hundreds of thousands of people and a moment’s respite lasts 90 seconds until the next jet swoops from the skies.

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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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Lib Dem MEPs help expose draft ACTA text

The secrecy surrounding Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has concerned me and many of my constituents as it has many MEPs. As a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, I met the European Commission in early March to discuss the unacceptable level of secrecy in which these negotiations are shrouded, and demanded that we in the European Parliament, as the only directly elected representatives of the public at European level, be given immediate access to the final draft of the consolidated negotiating text. You can view my question here.

Following severe criticism from myself and a number of my …

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Opinion: Climate change – a final chance to act

Catherine Bearder MEP at the Wave climate march

So it has finally arrived, the first day of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit. We have been led to believe that it’s going to fail, then it’s going to succeed and then it will fail again, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. This has really tested the participating countries’ resolve to tackle this issue. This is made tougher because of the economic crisis which has caused hardships for so many people and so it’s understandable that the economy …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMick Taylor 19th Oct - 8:54am
    From my earliest time in politics I was taught to refer to independents as Condependants. Often individuals stand as independents because they haven't a cat...
  • User AvatarDavid Davis 19th Oct - 7:30am
    Fundamental point: should the next referendum be advisory/non-binding (like the last one), or mandatory/binding? I would strongly prefer the advisory sort, provided that parliament (both...
  • User AvatarJoeB 19th Oct - 1:19am
    Michael 1, If Masonic influences were a significant factor in the Castle Baynard elections surely the chap (or chapess) with the moniker Charming toff would...
  • User AvatarTonyH 19th Oct - 12:00am
    For those of us who can't make it to the march, there are other things we can do for the cause. e.g. tonight's Question Time...
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Oct - 11:16pm
    Well Peter I think enough posters have presented enough facts and arguments to suggest your dream of free trade won't happen, I look forward to...
  • User AvatarGordon 18th Oct - 11:13pm
    Even TM seems to have accepted that financial services are a lost cause after Brexit by not including them in her Chequers plan. So just...