News Releases | 2013

Lib Dems dream of a Brussels FBI

14-Aug-2013 @ 13:0

Liberal Democrat MEP Bill Newton Dunn has called for the European Union to have its own FBI-style law-enforcement agency - with sweeping powers to intervene in criminal investigations across the continent. In an interview with America's NBC news website, the East Midlands MEP insisted that a Europe-wide police force was necessary to counter cross-border crime - and even claimed the move would save money. The proposal was today roundly condemned as "crazy federalism" by Conservative MEPs. Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs, said: "Sadly this is a prime example of Liberal Democrats letting their federalist ambitions get the better of them. "According to their Euro-fanatical agenda, the EU must be turned into a European superstate with all the trappings of statehood - president, foreign policy, diplomatic service, army and police force. "It is crazy federalism, pure and simple." "They have already enthusiastically embraced the idea of playing soldiers with taxpayer's money by creating a European defence capability, now they want to play cops and robbers too. "The answer to the problems of cross-border crime are closer co-operation and co-ordination between national forces, and more-sophisticated sharing of intelligence. Not a huge Europe-wide squad of supposed supersleuths. "You can imagine how our own excellent police service would react to a Euro-FBI barging in with powers to over-rule them, to interfere in their work or even take over their investigations. That is how the FBI operates in the USA. "Let me explain this to Bill as simply as I can: Europe does not need a federal police force because it is not a federal state. Take it from me, a Brussels FBI would be more Clouseau than Poirot."

Conservatives condemn Spain's ranting over Gibraltar

06-Aug-2013 @ 11:0

Conservatives condemn Spain's ranting over Gibraltar The three Conservative MEPs representing Gibraltar today accused Spain of "desperation and recklessness" over its increasingly outlandish threats against the British territory and its citizens. Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling spoke out after Spain issued a series of menacing proposals, including the imposition of a €50 charge to cross the border, and the closure of Spanish airspace to Gibraltar flights. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo summarised his list of aggressive proposals with the high-handed warning: "The party's over." The three MEPs, whose constituency is the South West and Gibraltar, responded with a joint statement: "It is clear this posturing and chest-beating is an act of desperation and recklessness. "The Spanish Government faces so many problems domestically that it is desperate to create a diversion. A bout of sabre-rattling at Gibraltar provides the perfect distraction. The Spanish papers love it and it keeps Premier Rajoy's calamitous difficulties off the front pages. "As responsible parliamentarians, however, wish to remind Spain that this kind of megaphone diplomacy should have ended with General Franco. It has no place in a modern Europe and does a disservice to the people of modern Spain. "It also flies in the face of all the rules on the free movement of people and goods which are at the heart of the European Union and the single market. "If they think such a boorish rant will advance their case one iota, they are wrong. We and the people of Gibraltar will be resolute against such bullying."

Gibraltar will not be intimidated by Spain: local MEPs

29-Jul-2013 @ 13:0

Spain's provocative efforts to intimidate and cut off Gibraltar are unacceptable, Gibraltar's Conservative MEPs said today after Spanish authorities engineered six hour queues at the border crossing with Spain this weekend.

European Commission now wants to meddle in our defence industries

24-Jul-2013 @ 14:0

In proposals aimed at extending its involvement in defence industrial production, the European Commission has published (24 July) proposals to foster cooperation among EU countries on defence matters. The EU’s commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier is urging Europe to “earn its sovereignty and not be forced to go buy equipment outside of Europe."

Welcome for EU Hezbollah blacklisting

22-Jul-2013 @ 17:0

EU Foreign Ministers have made the right decision in backing an effort led by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague to blacklist the militant wing of Hezbollah as an EU designated terrorist organisation, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said today.

Kirkhope: Conservatives will oppose European Public Prosecutor, unlike Labour and the Lib Dems

17-Jul-2013 @ 13:0

European Commission plans for a European Public Prosecutor are the thin end of the wedge that ends with the Europeanisation of national judiciaries, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative Justice and Home Affairs spokesman, said today.

Stop this reckless attempt to shackle shale-gas exploration

11-Jul-2013 @ 12:0

The search for potential deposits of much-needed shale gas could be severely hampered if MEPs are allowed to press ahead with proposals for over-zealous restrictions, a senior Conservative warned today (Thursday).

Fight goes on despite disappointing fish funding votes

10-Jul-2013 @ 18:0

Fight goes on despite disappointing fish funding votes

Russia must now play by the rules

10-Jul-2013 @ 18:0

Russia must now play by the rules

EU 'Package Holiday' rules brought into the 21st century

09-Jul-2013 @ 16:0

Gone are the days when package holidays were always booked from a brochure at a travel agents, so EU laws protecting travellers need to be updated, Malcolm Harbour MEP and Jacqueline Foster MEP said today in response to the European Commission proposals to revamp rules for 'Package Holidays'.

Copyright: moves to make licensing of copyrighted content easier

09-Jul-2013 @ 15:0

Members of the European Parliament Legal Affairs committee adopted unanimously today their position on the proposal for a directive on the collective management of copyright.

Kirkhope: The right way to engage with Europe on crime and justice

09-Jul-2013 @ 15:0

The Home Secretary deserves credit for setting out a responsible approach for a renewed relationship with the EU in the area of crime, justice and home affairs. Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs in the European Parliament, described Theresa May's announcement today as "practical, determined and realistic". The Yorkshire and Humber MEP said: "The problems we face in this area all stem from Labour's inept negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty which has left the present Government with only two options: to either opt in or out of all crime and justice legislation. "This lack of flexibility has ultimately put us in an impossible position, so the Home Secretary is doing absolutely the right thing by taking us out, with a view to opting back in to individual measures that are in the best interests of UK citizens. "What is important now is that we should be careful and courteous in our negotiations to opt back into the useful areas which are of value to the UK. It will not happen automatically, and will require a great deal of work, diplomacy and tact in Brussels and national capitals to convince our allies of the merits of allowing us to re-engage in certain areas. I will do all I can to assist the Home Secretary in securing a good outcome for the UK from these negotiations." Mr Kirkhope has been working to move forward reforms to a number of EU Justice and Home Affairs measures that would make it easier for the UK to opt back in, including Europol and the European Arrest Warrant. He believes data-sharing arrangements such as the EAW, the Visa Information System and the European Criminal Records Information System are examples of the sort of valuable protocols the UK may wish to restore after the opt-out. "The issues are far from simple," said Mr Kirkhope, himself a former Home Office minister, "But we have to engage constructively in order to get the best deal for the British people. "There is no doubt the European Arrest Warrant needs serious reform to prevent some of the abuses we have seen. However, we should seek to achieve those reforms first because we have a good prospect of success. "The Home Secretary has taken a practical, determined and realistic approach which sets us on the right road."

Horticulture - a question of growing potential

09-Jul-2013 @ 9:0

Plans for boosting the horticulture sector across Europe were under discussion in Brussels today at a hearing called by British MEP Anthea McIntyre. Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, is lead negotiator for the European Parliament on plans to introduce new strategies in the sector to boost productivity, competitiveness and income. She called the hearing, along with the chairman of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee Paolo De Castro, in order to hear the widest possible range of expert advice before drawing up her initial report. In advance of today's meeting at the European Parliament she said: "Horticulture is an important and expanding part of agriculture right across Europe, but we believe it has the capacity to contribute even more to the overall food-production mix. "Changing technology is leading to rapid advances to do with growing conditions and husbandry, which means the potential for further expansion and better yields is huge. "This sector can start to play a hugely important role in addressing issues of food security and affordable nutrition."

Campaign for a digital single market must be fought on several fronts

04-Jul-2013 @ 8:0

Achieving an effective digital single market is not just about developing new technologies, a senior British MEP warns today.

PRISM: Kirkhope calls for calm heads, not posturing

03-Jul-2013 @ 18:0

MEPs were today encouraged to remain calm and to wait for proper fact-based evidence rather than rushing to condemn the USA over spying allegations.

Labour and Liberals back introduction of new EU taxes

03-Jul-2013 @ 17:0

British Labour and Liberal MEPs today voted for theintroduction of new "Euro-taxes" to be levied across the continent - to raiseextra money directly for the European Union, bypassing Member States andremoving the ability of governments to limit EU spending.

Victory for common sense as controversial bonus cap is voted down

03-Jul-2013 @ 13:0

Syed Kamall MEP today (Wednesday) welcomed the decision by the European Parliament to drop a proposed bonus cap for fund managers after months of fraught negotiations between MEPs.

"Silly and dangerous" Lib Dem plans to have us vote for European parties

03-Jul-2013 @ 9:0

The European Parliament will vote tomorrow (Thursday) on whether to adopt anastonishing report proposing intrusive changes to the way European elections arerun in Britain. The report has been drawn up by Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff and urgesa series of measures which he thinks would create greater engagement of votersacross Europe. As well as promoting the idea of a directly-elected president ofEurope, it calls for pan-European parties to be given party political broadcastsand for their logos to appear on ballot papers. Ashley Fox MEP, Conservative spokesman in the parliament on constitutionalaffairs, today labelled the plans "silly and dangerous" and vowed he and hisfellow Tories would oppose them resolutely. Mr Duff, an MEP for the East of England, is proud to hold the post ofPresident of the Union of European Federalists and makes no secret of his wishto see Britain swallowed into a European super-state, run from Brussels, withvotes cast along pan-European party lines rather than according to nationalpolitics. South West MEP Mr Fox said: "This sounds like the sort of screamingfederalist nonsense you might expect to come out of Belgium or Luxembourg. Forit to come from a British MEP just shows how far he and his party are out oftouch with British voters on such a key issue. "His federalist dream is everyone else's nightmare. He is effectivelycalling for a directly-elected President of the European Commission. Europe doesnot need any such thing because it is not a state, much as he might want it tobe one. "Nor do we need the logos of European parties on our ballot papers. Britishvoters know exactly who Labour and Conservatives are. Some even recognise thename Liberal Democrat - but nobody has the faintest idea what ALDE or S&Dstands for. "I have not yet been inundated by demands from voters for extra partypolitical broadcasts. I would suggest they have quite enough already, thank youvery much, without being force-fed more from federalist European parties. "I'm all for ways of improving voter engagement in the European elections -but these silly and dangerous proposals would have the opposite effect. Theywould turn voters straight off. "They will simply create more hostility to Brussels and its constantinterference in national affairs rather than foster some pan-Europeanidentity."

Foster: We will fight EU plan for caravan and trailer tests

02-Jul-2013 @ 9:0

Conservative transport and tourism spokesman Jacqueline Foster has vowed to do all she can in the European Parliament to resist proposals which would impose a cumbersome and intrusive inspection and testing regime for caravans and light trailers. The European Union has drafted a raft of proposed legislation on vehicle safety testing which would hugely extend the scope of the current regime for MOT tests, as well as roadside tests on commercial vehicles. Mrs Foster, Conservative MEP for North West England, said: "Caravan enthusiasts and the caravan industry itself are extremely fearful. This proposed regulation will bring extra costs and inconvenience that could spoil their holidays and leisure time. "It also poses a threat to ordinary householders occasionally using small trailers for jobs like taking garden waste to the tip. "I am all in favour or improving road safety, but this is set to take our perfectly good British system backwards." The draft legislation includes proposals that could potentially ban some repair garages from also conducting MOT tests and for making caravans and light trailers (under 3.5 tons) subject to frequent MOT tests. Mrs Foster said: "I have spent many months objecting to the inclusion of caravans in this proposed regulation. I believe it to be pointless and it would contribute nothing to improve road safety. It is accepted that our roads are among the safest in Europe. "Caravans are generally well-maintained by their owners and used typically in good driving conditions with low annual mileage. I am pushing hard to protect the UK from yet more overly prescriptive, burdensome and unnecessary regulation from the European Commission. "With so many caravan owners across the United Kingdom, not least the one million members of the Caravan Club, this industry is worth more than £6 billion a year. It contributes greatly to our local and national economies. This is an important part of our leisure and tourism industry which we should be encouraging, not penalising." In a speech to the plenary sitting of the Parliament in Strasbourg last night (Monday), Mrs Foster told fellow MEPs: "I was also stunned by colleagues calling for measures that would have banned some repair garages from operating testing services. This would have potentially affected the work of up to 50,000 inspectors, and 20,000 SMEs in the UK, threatening some with closure. In these tough economic times, we should be supporting our SMEs, not closing them." On roadside inspections, Mrs Foster played a key role in removing initial plans to have smaller vehicles included in the proposal. She said: "Widening the scope to smaller vehicles would only reduce attention of Heavy Goods Vehicles, which is where the bigger danger lies. Our roadside inspectors need to make sure that they can inspect what is really necessary. HGVs pose a far higher road safety risk than smaller vehicles, so we should not undermine road safety. "This proposal is a Commission classic: Over-burdensome, too prescriptive, and too costly."