European Parliament News

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

MEPs call for close security relationship with UK

13-Jun-2018 @ 13:00

In a vote today MEPs agreed on “the need for the EU to ensure a close security and defence relationship with the United Kingdom after Brexit”. The call, contained in a report on EU-NATO relations, was welcomed by Conservative Defence and Security spokesman Geoffrey Van Orden, who commented:

“We can agree with much in this report, in particular the final paragraph which recognises the need for the EU to ensure a close security and defence partnership with the UK after Brexit, acknowledging that the UK will remain a lead contributor to European defence as both a NATO member and European nation, while no longer being a member of the EU.

“It is also right that due attention is given to the ease of mobility of allied forces across Europe, not just in time of tension, but for exercise purposes when necessary, in order to ensure the rapid and efficient reinforcement of the continent from the UK, the United States, and Canada, and the ability to sustain operations.

Mr Van Orden, a former senior British Army officer whose last military appointment was at NATO, continued: “Particularly at a time when there is some friction in transatlantic relations, and as we approach July’s NATO Summit, it is doubly important that European nations signal to the United States our willingness to bear more of the defence burden. The US, after all, has increased its European Reassurance Initiative - which confirms US resolve to defend Europe - by 40% to $4.8bn. This local increase by the US is more than the total defence spending of at least 10 European countries.

“The European burden sharing is not improved by the creation of separate defence structures, by the exclusion of major third countries from defence industrial projects, or from pursuit of an elusive and ill-defined EU 'strategic autonomy'. This is all about European political integration, not defence, and is the central flaw in EU defence ambitions.

“The danger is that it will lead to division between Europe and the United States, particularly if those pressing for removal of national vetoes in the EU on defence and foreign policy were to be successful once the UK is no longer at the EU Council table. The vulnerability of the continental nations, if they were to face a determined and aggressive power such as Russia without the backing of the United States, would quickly be exposed.

“Our first priority must, therefore, be the coherence and revitalisation of NATO. There may indeed be fields where the EU can contribute but these should be clearly defined and complementary to, not duplicative of, the NATO alliance."

Trump/Kim summit will be judged by what comes next

12-Jun-2018 @ 10:00

Conservative MEP Nirj Deva, who for the past 30 months has been engaged in behind the scenes negotiations to defuse tensions between the North and South Korea, hailed today's historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Irresponsible and unrealistic vote threatens future of EU-US privacy agreement

12-Jun-2018 @ 09:00

MEPs call for suspension of the agreement unless the US complies with the agreement by September.

A vote in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee calling for the suspension of the EU-US Privacy Shield is irresponsible and could leave EU citizens in legal limbo, warned Conservative MEP Dan Dalton.

The committee was voting on a report on the implementation of the Privacy Shield, which became operational in August 2016 and protects people when their personal data is transferred to the US for commercial purposes. It includes safeguards on US government access as well as protection and redress through dispute resolution mechanisms. In October 2017 the first review of the Privacy Shield was published and found that the agreement continues to ensure an adequate level of protection, with US authorities ensuring proper implementation such as new redress possibilities for EU citizens, including complaint-handling and enforcement procedures, and better cooperation with European Data protection authorities.

While making a number of useful recommendations to improve its implementation, such as appointing a permanent Privacy Shield Ombudsman, the committee’s resolution makes a series of impractical and unreasonable demands such as calling on the Commission to suspend the Privacy Shield if the US does not comply fully with the agreement by 1st September 2018. Suspending the agreement would, in reality, diminish the data protection rights of EU citizens and leave them in legal limbo while commercially it would most likely hit SMEs the hardest as they would be faced with urgently introducing new temporary measures, such as on contracts and corporate rules.

Speaking after the vote, Dalton said:

“We have seen before the consequences of suspending international agreements and the fragmentation and uncertainty it causes. The same people who claim they are guarding the data rights and privacy of European citizens, should be honest and admit that in the absence of the privacy shield agreement, the data rights and rights of redress for European citizens is in reality seriously diminished. The rights of EU citizens will be incomplete legal limbo.

“Commercially, small and medium-sized businesses are the most likely to be negatively affected and expecting them to put in place model contract clauses, and binding corporate rules is completely unrealistic and would have administrative and significant financial consequences.

“The EU needs to start working cooperatively with the US authorities, rather than simply calling for them and everyone else to adopt EU standards. We wouldn’t like it if it was the other way around.”

MEPs must separate fact from fiction on pesticides

07-Jun-2018 @ 16:00

The European Parliament's temporary committee on pesticides must take a common sense approach to regulation if it is to make a useful contribution, a leading member said.

Ashley Fox: Research is too important to play politics with

07-Jun-2018 @ 15:00

The EU is being urged to act quickly and formalise the UK's post-Brexit involvement in the bloc's scientific research programme.

Conservative Industry and Research Spokesman Ashley Fox MEP was speaking following publication of details of how the Horizon Europe scheme will operate from 2021. The UK receives the largest share of grants from the current programme and today's document leaves the door open for it to continue participating after Brexit.

Single seat: France should open talks, not resort to the courts

05-Jun-2018 @ 13:00

France should engage in constructive discussions to end the European Parliament's costly treks to Strasbourg, not rely on the courts to obstruct change, Conservative MEPs' leader Ashley Fox said today.

EU must follow UK ban on ivory trade

05-Jun-2018 @ 10:00

The EU is being urged to follow the UK's lead and introduce a near total ban on the sale of ivory.

EU should "lead by example" in response to US tariffs

31-May-2018 @ 20:00

Tariffs on EU steel and aluminium will fail to address global overcapacity and cost European citizens and businesses, says Conservative Joint International Trade spokesman Emma McClarkin MEP.

Responding to the White House's decision to impose tariffs Miss McClarkin said: "I am extremely disappointed that both the EU and the US did not find a permanent deal to exempt European businesses from the tariffs on steel and aluminium.

EU must not ban theatre stage lighting

31-May-2018 @ 14:00

European officials should extend stage lighting's exemption from energy efficiency rules or risk forcing theatres to close, Conservative MEPs' leader Ashley Fox warned today.

The European Parliament backed Mr Fox's amendment calling for the Commission to exclude tungsten, arc and LED lamps used for stage lighting from the EU's efficiency rules because there is no alternative available for local theatres or performance venues.

MEPs urge Iran to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

31-May-2018 @ 12:00

A motion calling for Iran to immediately release the jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been backed today by the European Parliament.

Highlighting the plight of his constituent Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other joint EU-Iranian nationals jailed in Iran, Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman and London MEP Charles Tannock said many of those imprisoned were often denied consular assistance because Iran did not recognise dual nationality.

He told MEPs: "Iran's detention of dual nationals continues to place a strain on its relations with EU member states.

"I support the call for the release of all those detained purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and also those, such as Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who have been detained on spurious charges invoking bogus national security concerns."

The motion, backed by Conservative MEPs, urges the "immediate and unconditional release " of EU-Iranian dual nationals "unless retried according to international standards". It also calls on the Iranian judiciary "to respect fair trial and due process, to grant suspects access to legal counsel, consular visits and visits by UN and humanitarian organisations as well as full access to medical treatment."

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in 2016 as she was heading back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit. She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment and jailed for five years.Last week it emerged she may face a second trial on new security charges.

Conservative MEPs hail steps to protect North Sea fish stocks

29-May-2018 @ 13:00

Measures approved today have been hailed by Conservative MEPs as a major step forward in securing the long term sustainability of North Sea fish stocks.

The European Union's North Sea Plan, which was passed by a large majority in the European Parliament, is expected to come into force this summer. It sets limits on fishing quotas to avoid them exceeding levels regarded as sustainable by the latest scientific research.

EU must see if GDPR works before legislating again

25-May-2018 @ 09:00

The EU must adopt a wait and see approach after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before introducing further legislation, Daniel Dalton MEP said today.

Kamall: Who needs Interpol when you have Mark Zuckerberg?

22-May-2018 @ 20:00

Commenting after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before MEPs in the European Parliament, ECR Group co-chair Syed Kamall said:

“I went into the hearing wanting to give Mr Zuckerberg a fair chance to address Facebook users’ and non-Facebook users’ concerns. However, what this hearing highlighted is that we still don’t know the depths that people's data has been abused. Until we genuinely know what has happened, and is still happening, Facebook and legislators can’t put in place the right solutions to prevent the same issues in the future. It’s like trying to cure a disease without knowing what the illness is.         

​Asia-Europe cooperation is more important than ever

18-May-2018 @ 17:00

The second Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF) concluded in London today by calling for cooperation between the two continents to tackle global problems such as climate change, disaster relief, major diseases and combating the pollution of our oceans. The forum, hosted by a senior Conservative MEP, brought together political party representatives from 22 countries across Asia and Europe.

EU defence spending about integration, not military capability

04-May-2018 @ 13:00

A proposed 22-fold increase in the EU defence budget could mean less money being spent on key areas, Conservative Defence Spokesman Geoffrey Van Orden warned today.

Foster: "Cosmetic testing on animals must be banned worldwide”

03-May-2018 @ 01:00

Today Conservative MEPs backed a call for the EU to spearhead a global ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals.