Welcome to the mad world of the EU!

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

Monday, 23 July 2012

Listen to me on the BBC Politics Show

Northampton Commentary                                                  19th July 2012

My commentary from the Employment Committee Meeting of 10th and 11th July
2012, last before the summer break, did not appear; it was a complete
mess.  This was scheduled for Tuesday 10th July 2012 starting in the
morning, going on all day and then for the morning of Wednesday 11th July
2012.  Voting in our committee usually takes place on the morning of the
second day, in this case, Wednesday11th July, but they brought that
forward to the Tuesday morning.

I had already arranged to travel on the Tuesday morning to get there at
midday and so to Committee in the afternoon.  I was not prepared to alter
travel arrangements to get there on the Monday, which I had set aside to
produce my latest column for the Lincolnshire Echo, due in that day.

So I missed the Voting and attended the afternoon.  Cyprus having just
taken over the Presidency their Minister for Labour addressed the
Committee.  For an hour, including questions from the floor, she went on
with all the usual platitudes.  “We must introduce programmes to boost
Employment, to help the Economy, we need growth....”, but without any
specific plan to resolve any of it.

I needed to take a break after that, I had other business to attend to and
went back in good time for the last Debate on the list, “Public
Procurement”.  I envisaged making another comment or two about Bombardier.
 Imagine my feelings when I got to the Committee Room with an hour to
spare before close of business to find that they had finished, all desks
were being cleared.  I then discovered that the Wednesday morning session
was cancelled.

I was rather annoyed about that.  After all, if you have read my previous
Commentary from Strasbourg you will know that this Committee had a Voting
Session of two hours during Plenary Session (on Thursday morning) taking
us out of attending the Plenary.  That was only four days before Committee
and they could have done all those votes on the Wednesday morning instead
of cancelling that session.

As a result of that shambles I have otherwise nothing to tell you about
the last Committee before the Summer recess.   I therefore offer you some
light Summer viewing.  Please see below two links, the first of which is
from the Politics Show of last Sunday with me and Bill Newton Dunn.  I’m
not particularly happy with my effort but you can make your own mind up.
The second link is from the EFD Group with a very great number of videos
and other material.  Enjoy!

(View this at 31.30 along on the scroll bar on the video)

Link to videos/commentaries/news etc for UKIP MEPS


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session 2nd - 5th July 2012

Strasbourg Commentary      Plenary session           2nd - 5th July 2012

Tuesday   The day started with a review of yet another summit. All the usual comments, but I did not hear Verhofstadt rant on about the "Community Method"; I might have lost concentration. He did complain that Parliament was not included in the summit meetings, only the Council. The proposal for action was widely supported but rejected on procedural grounds, but a new treaty is on the way.

Barroso said that the Financial Transaction Tax is to go ahead. Further remarks of his are included in my video recorded Wednesday morning, on my web site soonest. He had a real go at the Tories so these comments about voting might interest you.

There was the "Single European Railway area", extending the original directive of 1991. In Amendment 104 premises not used for 3 years will be forcibly sold off or converted to other rail use. That is not the same as "Compulsory Purchase" which, in the UK has to go through due process, this will just happen, by order of. A communist style approach to property, where UKIP voted to delete the amendment while the Tories voted the other way.

In any case this report has caused friction between France and Spain over whether there is a "level playing field" when it comes to bidding for contracts. Tell that to Bombardier! We, UKIP, also tabled an amendment to reject the whole report which we lost (Tories abstaining) but without it the report would have gone through with no vote at all!

In two other votes the Tories were split. On" Strategies in the Mediterranean" 10 voted against, 13 abstained, while on the "Attractiveness of investing in Europe" 11 voted against, 6 abstained.

Another report introduces, "a new 112 service for citizens", 112 being the European version of 999 calls. This is the eCall.
In event of road accident, an eCall-equipped vehicle will automatically trigger an emergency call. Even if passengers cannot speak, eCall creates a voice link to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)
It sends an emergency message, known as the minimum set of data (MSD), including key information about the accident, such as,-
time, accurate location, driving direction (resulting from accurate satellite-based data) and vehicle description and eCall can also be activated manually.
Mobile operators will have to upgrade systems
Vehicle manufacturers will have include eCall modules
Member States will have to upgrade PSAPs to handle voice and data
Effectively the overall system would have total tracking capabilities of all eCall vehicles, regardless of emergency activation
Thus, satellite tracking of cars for emergency. Fine, except that the tracking will be continuous, with drivers not able to turn the transponder off. So, 'big brother" will be able to determine where any car is at any time and its speed. "Spy in the Sky" is coming, probably on new cars at first and then retro-fitted to older cars.  Who will have this information? Good question, but I can't help thinking of the casual way the DVLA will sell information on car ownership to almost anyone, as those who have been fined by a cowboy parking company will know. 

Wednesday  No less than 8 reports on farming and the CFP voted on today, with 2 on animal welfare. Biggest vote was on ACTA, the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement with many other countries across the world which has brought the most enormous lobby. Like all MEPs I must have received 1000+ emails all asking for a "No" vote. Counter productive of course. Impossible to read them all so delete. My computer had at least 750 in one continuous list, did I lose other messages as I whizzed through them?
In the event this was defeated by 39 votes to 478 and already some thank-you emails have come in. However, all is not clear. There was first a move to have this postponed by members who reckoned on getting a ruling from the European Court of Justice. This proposal was rejected, 255 for & 420 against. We voted to take it now, the Tories voted to postpone. In the vote on the actual report we voted against, the Tories abstained, as did Labour and lib-Dems. In summing up the Commission said that they would now take this to the ECJ for a ruling, as they would not have done so if the vote had gone the other way. So ACTA is dead, unless the ECJ perform a revival.

Member of the Civil Liberties committee, UKIP MEP Gerard Batten said today,

"UKIP are in favour of internet freedom and against the criminalisation of offences in ACTA under article 23.
Genuine copyright and intellectual property rights must be protected, but the EU is building up its own police state.
Criminalisation opens up all types of sinister possibilities to prevent free speech, dissent and alternative points of view.

The three Establishment parties in the UK are guilty of rank hypocrisy over ACTA because they allowed this treaty to pass through Westminster committees in 2011.

They said it had no political or legal importance, which was false. It was only when the media spotlight turned on ACTA that they changed their tune. Their actions on ACTA are not credible, the LibLabCon are hypocrites and cannot be trusted on this matter. "

There was also a report on the preliminaries for the 2013 budget where the Budget Committee want a 6.8% increase! Our EFD amendment to reduce the budget was defeated by 112 to 552 votes, while the ECR amendment to freeze the budget lost by 102 to 554 votes. At least the Tories supported us on these votes but the whole report was adopted by 540 to 93. So our contribution will go up again.     

I need to close my commentary today, Wednesday, because tomorrow will be impossible. The morning has but two reports, The Rio+20 Summit and Responsibilities under the CITES convention (Endangered species) with a reduced voting list. I shall miss all debate because, unusually, the Employment Committee is meeting at 9.30 am for a 2 hour voting list. Committees are not supposed to meet in plenary sessions but this was allowed. This will take me up to our own vote meeting for plenary followed by the plenary vote itself. That ends the morning and I have to be away to catch my flight straight after.   

Derek Clark   MEP                                           4th June 2012


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Defra and the sausage saga

Northampton Commentary                                      June 29th 2012
There was no Commentary for the Strasbourg week of 11th - 14th June due to my return home early on the Wednesday; reason, sausages! I have been trying to help the Lincolnshire Sausage Association to obtain Geographical Protection status for their product but their application has been turned down. So on Thursday 14th I was in London at Defra arguing the case. The Lincolnshire people have appealed and it is now under review; wait and see.
Following day, a visit to a farm near Uppingham. All in the name of engaging with that important sector of UK life and very informative for me. Quite a busy week.
The following Tuesday was Leicester, talking to the Ambulance people about the new regional system. I have been concerned that response times in Northants have been below national average. The officers I spoke to were confident that the two year old East Midlands Service would improve things. We shall see.
A great deal of time recently has been with the fishermen of Boston. I highlighted their problems in the first of my monthly Lincolnshire Echo columns three months ago. Due to the wretched EU Fisheries Policy, the CFP, up to June 3rd they have had only 3 days work since August. Not having quotas for white fish, except for some sprat quota borrowed from Germany, they are reduced to shell fish. To their great frustration there are 30,000 tons of covckles in the Wash, ready to harvest all that time. Their lack of work is a total loss to them, insurances and finance for their boats still need paying, as well as house keeping.
In addition, across from their moorings is a factory which takes all their cockles for canning, selling to a ready market in Portugal and Spain. So these workers are also out of work while the country loses foreign exchange. We are supposed to be in debt!
After several visits talking to the EIFCA (Eastern Inshore fisheries and Conservation Agency) we had success, noted in a letter in the Boston Standard very generously giving me thanks. Then disaster. Perhaps you caught the TV news in the East, early last week, of a vandal releasing 5000 litres of Pesticide in Peterborough on Sunday evening, 17th June. This found its way into the River Nene and went down stream. The Dept for Food Standards promptly closed fishing in the Wash. If you think that’s appropriate action then know this.
First, when I called the Environment Agency, which advised the Food Standards people, the officer I spoke to knew nothing of it! That was on Wednesday morning as I waited for my flight to Brussels at Birmingham airport. Second call, Wednesday evening with an informed officer, the pesticide had got as far as Wisbech. That’s 25 miles in three days, with another 10 miles to the Wash. As I have previously discovered, the Env Agency are very well versed in river flows, speeds and times of arrival at specific points.
So, the fishermen could have been fishing for at least three days, why stop them early? After all, if the cockles were to be contaminated best to get as much in as possible before that happened. Now that seems to be common sense, but we are dealing here with an agent of the EU which operates the “Precautionary principle”. If it looks dangerous ban it. Then examine it and perhaps allow continuance under a regime of rules, regs and red tape.
And that is why the Boston Fishermen have such a problem, like all the fishermen around our coasts. Just survey the agencies they have to deal with; EIFCA, Natural England, MMO (Maritime Maintenance Organisation), Environment Agency and Food Standards Agency.
And so to last Friday and another trip to Kings Lynn for a bigger meeting of fishermen EIFCA and all. This time it was an allegation of marking the sea bed, fishing have been resumed on Monday of that week. What does it matter if a boat marks the sand or fishing gear cuts a hole, the next tide or two smoothes it over again. But at least they were able to go on fishing this time. My contribution was, I hope, common sense. “If that has happened”, I said, “it is due to a careless fisherman and you can’t punish all for the sake of one or two. Answer, send inspectors out unannounced, without warning, and check out boats at random. Any guilty parties found can then be dealt with”.  I didn’t bother to say that, as a teacher, that happened to me. I had my share of School Inspectors dropping in without notice, usually in the middle of a lesson. No complaint, that’s as it should be and, no, I got no adverse reports. 
By the way, EIFCA takes a serious view of marking the sea bed. A short while ago one fisherman let his boat rest on the sand an left a mark about a yard wide, 10 yards long, I’ve see n the photo. For that he was fined, - £50,000 !! He got away with it because he refused, went to court and found a magistrate with sense who quashed the fine.
 Finally, you may find this speech by Senator Ron Paul of interest,-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rCvfwoRGMg - Ron Paul, Floor Speech, Jun. 19 2012

Derek Clark   MEP                                            Northampton  1st July 2012

Lincolnshire members may well have seen my column in the Lincolnshire Echo. I have a once a month spot, Roger Helmer likewise, in alternate fortnights. My first column three months ago was to highlight the problems of the Boston Fishermen. At the end of a non-Brussels / Strasbourg I think it right to provide some further detail to illustrate the great difficulties they have.
The fishermen of Boston are only allowed to fish by the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Agency (EIFCA). In turn this unelected body is advised by Natural England, with the marine management Organisation (MMO) also putting their oar in. Following EU rules and regs, under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Boston is but a shadow of its former thriving fishery. I have made several journeys to Boston and Kings Lynn trying to help and you may also have seen the letter of thanks to me in the Boston Standard from the Chairman of the Boston Fishermen’s Association
Boston Fishermen have been reduced to shell fish as the quotas for white fish are virtually non-existent for them. True, they got small quota recently for Sprat, but that was by borrowing from Germany. Although there are over 30,000 tons of cockles in the Wash ready to harvest most of the fishermen have only had 3 or 4 days fishing since last August. After much effort the cockle fishery was opened to them from June 7th, on a scheduled basis, day by day. They have an allowance of 2 tonnes per boat per day, which is enough for decent living.
Then a near catastrophe struck on Monday 18th June, cockle fishery closed again. This was due to the vandal who caused 5000 litres of pesticide to run into the River Nene at Peterborough. You may have caught this on Eastern TV for it killed many fish in the river. The Food standards Agency, acting on information