European Parliament News

Here you can find an archive of all the news items that have been on this website.

Tories wary over poor-value food giveaway

28-May-2015 @ 9:30

Conservative MEPs last night voted against proposals to spend millions more taxpayers' money on an inefficient scheme that sends free fruit, vegetables and milk to schools outside Britain.

The programme was established in the days of EU milk lakes and food mountains as a way of usefully getting rid of tons of produce that would otherwise go to waste.

But when the surpluses stopped, the EU instead began buying fruit and vegetables on the open market to keep the scheme going.

Today MEPs are voting on a proposed overhaul to the programme which would see an extra €20 million a year spent on milk distribution. It would also set a compulsory proportion of the scheme's overall budget to be spent on education about food and healthy eating.

The UK is one of three EU countries that opts out of the school fruit scheme and it applies the school milk scheme only in Northern Ireland. Instead the UK runs its own healthy eating programmes in schools.

Conservative Agriculture spokesman Richard Ashworth said:  "Nobody is denying the benefits of fresh fruit, vegetables and milk to school-age children. We agree with promoting healthy eating generally, but we object to this EU scheme on several grounds.

"For a start of this is simply not an area the EU should be concerning itself with.  It needs to be looking at the bigger picture of competitiveness, jobs and growth and leave projects like this – worthy as they may be – to member states or regional and local government.

"Secondly the EU's Court of Auditors has repeatedly criticised this scheme for its inefficiency and poor value.

"Finally, this is not a proper use of Common Agricultural Policy spending. That budget is already stretched and this is not the type of thing it was intended for.

"Getting fruit and milk into schools may be a good thing, but the EU are the wrong people to be doing it."

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Kirkhope: Commission proposals on resettlement will not fix migrant crisis

27-May-2015 @ 17:45

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, ECR Home Affairs Spokesman, has warned that plans to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU countries will not help to tackle the source of Europe's migration crisis.

The European Commission has announced proposals to relocate Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers to 23 of the 28 EU countries, with each country receiving 6,000 Euros for each migrant they take in.

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Conservative EU budget message is winning through

27-May-2015 @ 14:15

Pressure from David Cameron and Conservative MEPs is helping to achieve greater budgetary discipline in the EU.

That was the view from Richard Ashworth MEP today as he responded to an announcement by the EU Commission of its draft budget for the bloc in 2016.

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Tory welcome for Gibraltar's new base in Brussels

27-May-2015 @ 10:45

Conservative MEPs have welcomed the opening this week of a new office in Brussels to promote the interests of Gibraltar.

Ashley Fox and Julie Girling, who represent the South West of England and Gibraltar in the European Parliament, said the office would give the British Overseas Territory a permanent base in Brussels to maintain links with key contacts in the EU institutions.

Call to action on Missing Children's Day

22-May-2015 @ 17:00

 If you do one thing on Bank Holiday Monday – make sure you sign up to the international alert system that saves children's lives.

Duncan – Scottish Government breaking EU fishing law

21-May-2015 @ 11:0

Ian Duncan MEP has demanded an urgent explanation from the Scottish Government over their refusal to store and transport discarded fish. Ian has been informed by the Shetland Fishermen´s Association that Marine Scotland deny financial responsibility, claiming that it is for fishermen to dispose of the fish, despite it being written into EU Law.  

The Discard ban was brought in at the start of this year as part of reforms to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, and aims to resolve issues around the storage of fish that cannot be sold. Last month Ian brought forward an amendment to the ban, backed by the European Parliament´s Fisheries Committee, giving fishermen a two-year "grace period" to adapt to the ban. 

The Discard ban also requires that

Conservatives call for sound sense on conflict minerals, not grandstanding

20-May-2015 @ 16:45

Eye-catching headlines are no substitute for sound legislation and a measured approach, Conservatives warned in Strasbourg today as MEPs voted on the issue of so-called conflict minerals.

To improve the protection of endangered missing children in Europe we suggest the following first five steps:

20-May-2015 @ 1:0

  1. A bigger, stronger AMBER Alert network
  2. More flexibility in issuing child alerts
  3. Border checks on children’s passports
  4. Better cross-border police cooperation
  5. Better cross-border information sharing

AMBER Alert Europe’s ultimate goal is to improve the protection of endangered missing children in Europe. This is achieved by providing training and coordination to law enforcement and connecting citizens with law enforcement when the police believe the public can help find the child. 

AMBER Alert: The Campaign For Improvement

20-May-2015 @ 01:00

Each year one million children go missing or are abducted in Europe. 76% of those children are killed within three hours of the abduction.

Urgent action needed to end the Vatmoss devastation

19-May-2015 @ 9:45

Conservative MEPs today issued an urgent call to the EU and its Governments to address devastating problems caused by new rules for VAT collection.

Kirkhope: Binding EU quotas will not solve migration problems

13-May-2015 @ 1:0

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman in the European Parliament on home affairs, has warned that the European Commission's proposals issued today on the introduction of migrant quotas will not solve Europe's migration crisis.

He feels strongly that legally binding quotas will not help to stem the flow of people into Europe.

Mr Kirkhope, who is a former UK immigration minister, stresses that we need to go to the source of the problem: it is important that we do what we can to help create stability in North Africa, while also assisting the countries arrival.

He said: "True solidarity cannot be created through compulsion alone, and binding quotas oversimplify a very complex situation.

"We need a dynamic and adroit response to ensure that policies are drawn up, which mean asylum seekers are processed quickly. An efficient returns policy for those who are not granted asylum must also be put in place.

"Just as importantly, we must create a strategy which tackles the problem at the source. We need to work with police forces in third countries, to train them to identify, investigate and prosecute human traffickers and organised criminal groups.

"Whilst legal migration forms part of the European Commission's wider migration strategy, I do not believe that we can solve the problems we have seen in the Mediterranean and address the huge numbers of refugees through further forms of legal migration. There needs to be a clear differentiation between economic migrants and those seeking genuine asylum in order for Europe's asylum approach to work effectively and efficiently."


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Kirkhope: EU asylum-quota bid will meet a resolute response from British Conservatives

11-May-2015 @ 12:0

A senior Conservative MEP has called for cool heads and British resolve in response to an expected call from the EU Commission for the UK to take a mandatory quota of refugees trying to reach Europe from North Africa.

Syed Kamall: David Cameron has a clear mandate to call for EU change

08-May-2015 @ 11:0

London MEP Syed Kamall, who leads the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the  European Parliament has welcomed the Conservative Party's anticipated win in the General Election and said the  Conservatives now have a mandate to push for change in the EU ahead of a  promised referendum in 2017.

Conservatives welcome compromise on EU emissions rules – but concerns remain

06-May-2015 @ 19:0

A compromise to exempt gas turbines and gas engines used on offshore platforms from new EU emissions rules has been backed by Conservative MEPs.

In a vote in the Environment Committee in Brussels on the so-called Medium Combustion Plants Directive (MCPD), a majority of MEPs voted to ensure that offshore oil and gas rigs do not now have to install expensive new equipment.

The proposed law is designed to limit the emissions of certain pollutants from medium sized combustion plants such as gas turbines and gas and diesel engines, however for some sectors and operators the costs may be disproportionate.

Conservative MEPs remain concerned, however, as small back-up generators would be forced to comply with the directive.

This could have a detrimental impact on remote communities, such as Scottish islands, where small generators provide additional power during peak periods and maintain power for emergency systems.

Astonishingly, despite the potential impact on Scotland, the SNP's own group failed to back the exemption for offshore platforms, or support an exemption for back-up generators.

Conservative Environment Spokesman Julie Girling said: "I'm pleased that common-sense prevailed over offshore platforms.

"It seemed as if the Commission decided to include offshore platforms in the directive as an afterthought - an ill-conceived move which could have cost the vital oil and gas industry thousands and led to massive job losses, while providing only minimal air quality benefits.

"However I'm disappointed that MEPs have not supported our call to exempt back-up generators from the directive.

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Commission proposals on VAT rules a step in the right direction

06-May-2015 @ 12:45

Conservative MEPs have given a cautious welcome to proposals from the European Commission to ease the burden on microbusinesses caused by cross-border EU VAT rules.

Duncan Welcomes Agreement on Carbon Market Reform

06-May-2015 @ 9:30

Conservative Energy Spokesman Ian Duncan MEP has welcomed an agreement being reached on the market stability reserve (MSR).

Bringing the Maldives back from the brink

30-Apr-2015 @ 13:30

A senior MEP and foreign affairs specialist today (Thurs) put forward a blueprint to save the paradise islands of the Maldives from descending into chaos and ever-greater bloodshed.

How EU rules are hitting British forestry

30-Apr-2015 @ 13:0

European rules on marketing timber are harming British forestry businesses, an MEP has cautioned.

Conservative Anthea McIntyre said regulations intended to block illegally-sourced wood being imported from abroad were proving a big drain on domestic producers.

The West Midlands MEP issued the warning in Strasbourg during a debate on  the European Union's Timber Regulation, which the EU Commission is proposing to review this year.

Currently it demands that businesses marketing timber or timber products in the UK market undertake a "due diligence" exercise to minimise the possibility that they contain any illegally-harvested timber.

That means a burdensome investigation process, including seeking any evidence of lawful harvesting, before undertaking a risk assessment and mitigating any possibility of wood coming from illicit sources.

The legislation was intended primarily to deal with imports of illegal timber from non-EU countries, but is badly affecting woodland-owners in the UK where illegal logging is a non-issue.

Miss McIntyre  said: "The legislation may be well-intended as an environmental measure - but because it is over-prescriptive it has unintended consequences.

"Illegal logging has to tackled - but not where it doesn't exist.

"The UK timber industry entirely supports the principle of stopping the criminal trade, but the EU must come up with a better way of doing it.  We need to apply the regulation to third-country imports, but a blanket approach in the EU is not necessary given that the level of illegal logging is so infinitesimally small.

"We need targeted activity, working with problem countries to strengthen their internal governance procedures, so that the vast majority of woodland owners across the EU are not burdened with unnecessary cost or pointless bureaucracy."

Supreme Court Ruling on UK Air Quality

30-Apr-2015 @ 12:30

After  the election on May 7th, the new government will be left in no doubt about the need for immediate action to tackle air quality following a judgement  by the Supreme Court which ordered that the UK must submit new air quality plans to the European Commission by the end of 2015.

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