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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


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