Tag Archives: european parliament

LibLink: Luisa Porritt MEP: Britain’s Democracy Gap

In an article for Politico, Deputy Leader of Britain’s Lib Dem MEPs Luisa Porritt argues that the behaviour of the British Government is damaging democracy in this country.

A British government that is threatening to march the country out of the European Union because it claims its institutions are “undemocratic” shut down its own country’s parliament last month. Prime Minister Boris Johnson uses incendiary language and accuses those who disagree with his Brexit policy of “terrible collaboration” with the EU.

Britain today is increasingly out of step with the basic principles of democracy it once would have championed.

The Brexiteers, ironically, decry the EU as undemocratic. That’s simply not true:

Compare that with what’s happening in Brussels. While my British parliamentary colleagues were shut out of their chamber against their will, members of the European Parliament have been pressing on with urgent issues.

The European Parliament is scrutinizing the incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s new team and has taken a strong stand against nominees with potential conflicts of interest. MEPs have also set an ambitious agenda to tackle the climate emergency and ensure that the EU’s member states uphold the rule of law — something our own government needs reminding of.

How far, she notes, we have fallen:

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Guy Verhofstadt talks Brexit some more…

This speech was given by Guy Verhofstadt MEP was delivered on Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg:

The British Parliament may be shut down, we are clearly showing today the European Parliament is not.

Eurosceptics like bashing Europe by saying that the European union is undemocratic. And they repeated that today. Well, Juncker or Tusk can do a lot but at least they cannot close the doors of this House. So, if the Eurosceptics here want to look again for a ridiculous comparison with the Soviet Union (as they often do), from now on they can point their finger to Westminster

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Opportunity for young people to visit the European Parliament

This is not one for members of our youth organisation, because you can’ t take part if you are politically active, but it might be one to flag up with any young people who are interested in how the EU works.

Renew Europe has the pleasure to announce that the tenth edition of the Young Volunteers Programme will take place from Monday 11 November to Friday 15 November.

The aim of the programme is to offer an opportunity to those youngsters who do not have the connections or the means to be acquainted with the EU institutions and who have never followed a similar programme. The Young Visitors will be invited to spend five days in the Parliament during the mini-Plenary and they will get to know the EP from the inside. All costs, including transport to/from Brussels, are paid for by the Renew Europe Group.

The YVP is specifically targeted at young people, who fulfil all of the following requirements:
· Aged between 16 and 18
· Not politically active (for example, not a member of a political youth organisation)
· Has not visited the European Parliament before
· At the level of intermediate or lower grade vocational training, or secondary school
· Basic level of English is necessary to follow the programme

The theme of this edition of the YVP will be Climate Change.

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16 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Umunna: Ministers asleep at the wheel in the face of online shopping time bomb
  • New Lib Dem leader to hold Brexit talks with Barnier
  • Lib Dems: New PM must not delay Domestic Abuse Bill

Umunna: Ministers asleep at the wheel in the face of online shopping time bomb

The introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) will lead to two-factor authentication for all online purchases. The aim of this is to cut down on fraud and improve digital security, however the Government have failed to both support retailers or inform consumers about this change.

Furthermore, it is estimated that around 2 million people do not have …

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10 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Tories must follow Welsh govt in gender neutral school uniforms move

Welcoming the decision by the Welsh government to make school uniforms accessible and gender neutral, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

It is great news that children in Wales will be able to wear affordable, gender neutral school uniforms. I am proud of the role my colleague Liberal Democrat Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has played in securing this progressive change.

The Conservative government must now take this step into the twenty-first century. Dictating what children wear because of their gender is outdated and harmful.

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WATCH: Martin Horwood’s speech to the European Parliament: Brexit is not inevitable

Lib Dem MEP Martin Horwood was cheered in the European Parliament today as he gave his maiden speech, saying that Brexit was not inevitable and asking that the EU continue its policy of patience with our Government which, he waist, was acting like it was in Mr Bean or Monty Python.

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28 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Winning is, it has to be admitted, so much better than losing, but the ramifications of the European Parliamentary elections keep coming. A block of sixteen MEPs are a significant factor in choosing who leads Europe for the next five years, and Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to be heard at the top table, with seven Liberal members of the European Council.

And today’s press releases give you a flavour of the possibilities…

  • Corbyn remains a block to Labour support for a People’s Vote
  • Catherine Bearder elected to lead Lib Dem MEPs
  • Prime Ministers meet to discuss election result

Corbyn remains a block to Labour

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European Elections 2019: results from across the sea… (part 2)

For earlier results, check out part 1…

First, an update. The BBC have got the Latvian result wrong, and our sister Party, Attistibai, have retained their seat. Unexpected that, the BBC getting it wrong…

Time to look at some of the bigger stories, and we start with Romania, where the USR have gained eight seats as the main element of the Coalition Alliance 2020. The collapse of the ruling Social Democrats has been followed almost immediately by the news that the Prime Minister, Liviu Dragnea, has lost his appeal against a prison sentence for corruption. He’s already been transferred into captivity…

In France, …

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The Digital Single Market should enable users and innovators, and not constrain freedom

In the rather dry text of the Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on copyright in the Digital Single Market there lurks, behind the good intentions, an information restricting and illiberal set of proposals. The infamous Article 13. The objections of the technically informed and creative internet users were ignored last June by the majority in the European Parliament who passed the proposal by a sizable majority and the final vote on the directive is immanent.

Article 13 risks being nothing more than an act of corporate welfare; with big business standing to gain while individuals see little benefit and potential disadvantage. The argument that this legislation primarily benefits the creatives and other innovators, who produce content that is currently being shared on the internet without permission, is flawed. 

More often than not, copyright of such content is not owned by the creators themselves but large corporations, such as Universal Music Group, who then pay artists a percentage of the profits made from the copyrighted material. It should be the responsibility of these corporations to ensure that their artists are fairly remunerated for their work, and that responsibility should not be shifted unfairly onto platform providers such as Facebook or YouTube. In addition, there are wider, perhaps unintended consequences. According to cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier, “Aside from the harm from the provisions of Article 13, this infrastructure can be easily repurposed by government and corporations – and further entrenches ubiquitous surveillance into the fabric of the Internet.”

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Carry on Brussels – David Davis asks Vince Cable to ‘sack’ Catherine Bearder

Last night’s episode of ‘Carry on Brussels’ on Channel 4 featured our own MEP, Catherine Bearder. Unfortunately she was juxtaposed with UKIP Press Officer, but it makes for entertaining viewing.

Catherine is seen gathering support amongst her European allies for her Exit from Brexit campaign.

The documentary demonstrates the links that Catherine has with Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator on Brexit. He is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, but of more importance to us, he is the Leader of ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, which is the political group in the European Parliament to which UK Liberal Democrats are affiliated.

Catherine is shown greeting him as a friend in various meetings, including one with a UK delegation including Lindsay Northover (our Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Lords), Sarah Ludford (former Lib Dem MEP) and Graham Tope.

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Catherine Bearder MEP: ‘Brexiteers lied to us. We want our country back’

Catherine Bearder on cracking form in the European Parliament.

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What the Lib Dem PPCs got up to in Brussels

Earlier this autumn I was at the London AGM where Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder  gave a rousing speech. I was lucky enough to see her at the Newbie Pint at Conference, so I know how passionate she is. When Catherine mentioned that she was running a training event in Brussels aimed at PPCs, I leapt at the opportunity. And what an experience!

It was my first time to Brussels, the European Parliament was gladiatorial in size and the scope of what it does is extraordinary. Even for someone who is an ardent European (currently Brexit will remove it legally but not in birthright) I hadn’t understood the wealth of research, knowledge and resource that it provides. We were given a tour and a tutorial to have a better understanding of exactly how all the cogs work.  That should be taught in all schools.

Then we had the chance to meet lobbyists, MEPs and the Brussels Lib Dems. They were kind enough to host us for the evening for a wonderful night, doing what we do best, waxing lyrical about liberalism! We took in a light show in the heart of Brussels to celebrate St Nicholas Day, with some amusing videography from the enthusiastic Daisy Benson. 

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Introducing the new hate figure for the tabloid press…

The European Parliament has appointed its lead negotiator for the Brexit discussions. And it’s someone well known to Liberal Democrats. He announced it on his Twitter this afternoon:

The BBC has this to say about his appointment:

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A Dutch liberal MEP’s perspective on Brexit

Last week, Dutch MEP Sophie in”t Veld made a speech in the Parliament about Brexit. Conference goers will remember her from Bournemouth last year where she gave a keynote speech.

Here are a few key quotes:

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Who makes the decisions in the EU?

 

I have become increasingly frustrated that so many people, including journalists and UK politicians, do not seem to know how the EU actually works and who is responsible for making the decisions on legislation. Over and over again I hear that unelected bureaucrats are in charge and people endlessly talk about the democratic deficit. The reason they do that is that they have been fed this misinformation by the majority of the press and media for years.

I thought it was about time to try and put the record straight. Having been both an MP and then an MEP I can genuinely say that I had more power to shape legislation as an MEP than I did as an MP even though I was a front bench spokesperson.

Most legislation in the EU has to be passed by both the MEPs and the Council which are made up of Ministers from each Member State that is why I get so frustrated when people say that unelected bureaucrats make the decisions. They are usually under the misapprehension that the Commission are the ones who actually legislate.

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LibLink: Edward McMillan Scott – The embarrassing link between Cameron and Germany’s anti-Islamic movement

Writing on Politics.co.uk, former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott highlights a potential cause of tension at today’s meeting in London between the Prime Minister and the German Chancellor:

When Angela Merkel meets David Cameron in London today, one topic could cause embarrassment to both leaders: Cameron’s association with the German anti-Islamist movement, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), which was condemned at the New Year by the German chancellor.

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ALDE gather in Lisbon: setting sail for a new, more liberal world?

Sailing in Lisbon by Pedro Ribeiro SimõesOnce again, liberals from across the European Union and beyond gather this week for the Annual Congress of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE). And whilst Portugal might not be the most obvious place, given the absence of a liberal party in Portuguese politics for some years now, the emergence of the Earth Party as a serious contender – it won two seats (out of twenty-one) in this year’s European Parliament election – makes Portugal an interesting place to be.

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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.

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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

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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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