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..working towards the divorce of the UK and the EU...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Brussels commentary June 20/21

Brussels Commentary     Employment Committee            June 20th- 21st 2012

Events were enlivened on Wednesday afternoon by the Committee President, Madam Pervenche Beres, a French Socialist. You should know that the Commission send these issues out to Committees who then appoint a Rapporteur to write a report on it. Committee members are then invited to submit amendments. At the end of any debate the Commission are invited to make comments. In this case the Commission representative made comments on the desirability of certain amendments. That, said Ms Beres, is out of order. "Your job is to not comment onour amendments, that is not your business, stick to what you are supposed to do". That, of course, is her way of establishing the primacy of Parliament. That sounds OK, Parliament being the only democratically elected element in the EU. Problem, the majority of MEPs are there to serve the EU and regard the Commission as the fount of all wisdom.

We actually got down to discussing how to reduce the regulatory burden, at last. We'll see how this comes out at the vote later on. Here, you may have seen, on my web site, the video of May 23rd when I was asking for exactly this kind of action. This produced a "Blue card" question, also on the same video. My questioner asked what I meant by "Red Tape", and this became more extraordinary when I realised, afterwards, that she is a member of the Employment Committee! My video of May 31st in committee actually sees me agreeing with the President who has initiated the report on reducing Red Tape, as noted above. Unfortunately, my blue card questioner, Jutta Steinruck, left the committee just before I spoke! But please do not think that Jutta Steinruck is lazy for she is rapporteur for, "EU Program for Social Change and Innovation". Therefore she had to put together the amendments submitted, all 392 of them, plus a lot more from other committees as "opinions".
We voted on this today, 61 pages of amendments. It took nearly an hour and only that quick because many of the amendments had been compressed together into "compromises".

We also debated a "Statute for a European Mutual Society". Would you have believed that the EU has to promote Mutual Societies, known in the UK as Friendly Societies. Many countries do have them, why can the rest not learn from others like us and go out and do it, their style? And if they don't want to, well, let them go on without.

But then, I think we all know that the EU is not about enabling people to do things their way. Nor is it interested in encouraging people to adopt good ideas seen elsewhere. No chance, but then Europe was terribly backward before the EU took it in hand. I always think of farming and how farmers use the plough. Who invented it, where and when? No idea, except it was well over a thousand years ago. How did it spread, not by governments, that's for sure, there were no governments then, only Tribal Chiefs, War Lords, Village Elders. How did it spread? Simple, people knew a good idea when they saw one.

Right at he end of Committee today a report displaced from Wednesday was taken, to my surprise. It was, "European Maritime and Fisheries Fund", including spending more money on the CFP. So I took the opportunity to speak, it will be on my videos in a day or two.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 21st – 24th May 2012

Strasbourg Commentary            Plenary Session               21st – 24th May 2012
I try to complete my commentaries before I leave Strasbourg on Thursday, fresh in the mind. But flight times are such that I sometimes need to leave immediately after voting on Thursday, preventing write-up in the afternoon. Too late by the time I get back and Friday is catching up with the emails that have come in, hence the delay on this one.

In fact it was a rather odd week with not much serious business. Debates on, for example, Civil Liberties, Euro coins, Gender equality, Bluefin Tuna, EU and China Trade, The Ukraine, Youth Opportunities, Homophobia, and, calling for quotas on permits for EU people going to reside in Switzerland. What business of the EU is that? It makes one wonder if the EU machine is grinding to a halt, or working up to a deluge of intrusive measures.

Among all that were Debates/ votes on some real issues,-

Another raid on the fisheries of emerging nations, this time granting licences to plunder the waters of Mozambique, was carried by 566 – 89 votes.

A report to beef up EU powers to investigate UK affairs, like summoning witnesses, was defeated. It will come again.

However, be alarmed at the Podimata report, establishing the Financial Transaction Tax which will destroy the City of London. We supported a Tory amendment to reject, lost by 112 – 557 votes. The report was then passed by 487 – 152. You may have picked up adverse comments about Godfrey Bloom and Marta Andreason about this. Vicky Ford, Tory MEP Eastern, speaking in the House, slated them both for being absent from committee when this was adopted, prior to plenary. She was completely out of order. First she said that the final vote in committee was 22 all, in which case the report fails and it would not have come to plenary. But Marta had sent in a substitute (commonly done) to vote for her and, in any case, the final committee vote was 32 – 10, so our two MEPs made no difference anyway. The 22-all vote referred to an amendment debated in an earlier meeting. Was this an error on Ms Ford’s part, or did she think we were not listening ?      

Finally, a letter of mine which has appeared in several regional papers and quoted in the London Press Summaries which appears in the EU emails every day, this one 20th May

Remploy workplaces- 'Closure of Remploy will drive people out of work' (Letter from Derek Clark MEP to Derby Evening Telegraph, p. 14): "I hope that many people are as appalled as I am at the recent comments by Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary. He proposes to close a number of Remploy workplaces and thus drive disabled people out of employment. His scathing comments about the work ethic of these people is beneath contempt. Disabled people at Remploy have the dignity of going to work, rather than calling on the benefits system - an example to us all. If that was not bad enough the Foreign Secretary William Hague now tells us we all have to work harder (...). In any case, many British people cannot work any harder. Does the Foreign Secretary of all people not know that we are in the EU? We are subject to the 'Working Time Directive' which limits employees to 48 hours per week. How then, can they work harder?"

I enclose this one following our very good day in Chesterfield, Sat 26th, to promote the UKIP candidate in a council by-election, July 5th . Our candidate is ex-Lib-Dem Councillor, Keith Lomas, one of four Lib-Dems in that branch to have joined us. A fine candidate, he deserves to do well and I was very pleased to see the support of local branch members, including the recent recruits. Just down the pavement from our stall was the Socialist Workers Party, fixing placards to lamp posts denouncing the Remploy closures! I tried to engage the placard-fixer-in-chief in conversation saying how much I agreed with him over that, if on nothing else. No reply! They packed up an hour before we did!

Derek Clark MEP                               Northampton, in lieu of Strasbourg, June 3rd 2012

Friday, 1 June 2012

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee 30th - 31st May 2012

Brussels Commentary   Employment Committee    30th - 31st May 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in the European Parliament on Wednesday evening. Organised by a Tory MEP British MEPs were invited and of course I went, as did Roger Helmer and many of our assistants. A lot of people there but I did not see many Lib-Dems or Labour! The Minister for Europe gave an address, followed by the Ambassador to Belgium and Sir John Hutton. In the middle of the Parliament the National Anthem was sung and glasses were raised to the Queen!

Wednesday  Bernadette Segol, General Secretary of the ETUC, was present in Committee and the questions included one on today's Irish Referendum. She said that the ETUC was against this Budget Treaty, but were aware of the position of the Confederation of Irish Trade Unions. She did not wish to interfere in Irish affairs.

The committee was happy to vote to spend a lot of money, eg 2.5 million Euros from the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help Spain compete with China in footware production. No one ever offered that to Northampton losing its shoe makers to various countries. Of course I lost the vote, carried by 32 to 1! As I did on the European Statistical program, 300 million Euros, heavily defeated again; 41 to 2.

Other insidious measures were debated. "Optimising the role of territorial development in Cohesion policy", means strengthening the Regions at the expense of the nation state. Hello, East Midlands, goodbye England. Carried, 38 to 1.

Couple that with, "Establishing a European Neighbourhood Instrument", which means creating bonds with non-European Countries. Hello Turkey, Georgia... goodbye  Western democracies. Carried again, 32 to 1.

Thursday  Agenda included several items on SMEs, for once helping them. I had to agree with the President's report and question to the Commission and you can see my contribution on video soon.

Finally, thank you for helping in the football tournament held here Wednesday. An Astroturf pitch had been laid out between the Parliament buildings close to the main road. Surrounded by a wire fence, team tents and portable stands several teams of five-aside, all in professional kit, did their stuff. The pitch surrounds carried advertising but I doubt that would have been sufficient and you, the E taxpayer, no doubt made a contribution. Thank you for your generosity.     

Derek Clark    MEP                                                    Brussels  31st May 2012.