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Monday, 17 June 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session 10 – 13 June 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session 10 – 13 June 2013
Tuesday Saw a report on “Organised crime, Corruption and Money Laundering” whereby the EU is to move in with all its bureaucracy and red tape. It is intended to set up a European Prosecutor’s Office, a training centre for intelligence agents, a standing committee and all the rest of it, with massive funds attached. No problem, Cameron got a deal on the budget did he not?
Wednesday Several reports on Border control and associated measures including Schengen. Although we are not a Schengen member it will affect us, see Gerard’s speech on the UKIP MEP’s web site, with his reply to a question from the floor. Summary of this business below,-
UKIP Press release - EU stops states acting over abuse of Schengen
For the first time, it will be possible for EU inspection teams to make unannounced visits to monitor any attempt to introduce illegal border checks at internal borders within Schengen.
New rules laying down common procedures and deadlines for handling asylum applications and basic rights for asylum seekers arriving in the EU were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday.
Note, they don’t like the Government’s newly announced decision to police our borders more closely. How effective will that be with EU agents round their necks?
Today started with a debate, “Preparation for the European Council Meeting”, again, which included a great deal of hot air about unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Some points raised included,-
Barroso declaring again that SMEs show great deal of youth unemployment so we need to press on with the “Youth Guarantee” and we need to go on a journey for growth and jobs. At this point my apologies. I serve on the employment committee but I have no clear idea as to what the “Youth Guarantee” is. It has been mentioned several times but what exactly it is in practice I know not, in spite of listening closely to the debates in committee.
Swaboda, the Socialist leader, was disappointed with the Irish Presidency, now ending, because they failed on the budget.
Verhofstadt, Liberals, criticised Msr Hollande for saying that the crisis was over when it is not (at least that’s realism) and to cure it we cannot go on with 27 different governments and banking systems; we must have a Banking Union!!
For almost the first time today I thought that we were at Westminster for PMQs. There were a number of angry interventions starting with a Greek MEP who called a Point of Order, but turned it into a tirade about the closing down of the Greek national Radio/ TV station. He alleged that this had been done by order of the ‘Troika’ now running Greece and, “ was this Democracy?”, he asked. With 68% youth unemployment in Greece he has a right to be angry. The President, Schultz himself at that time, told him in no uncertain terms that he could not use a point of order to raise political issues, and promptly turned off the offender’s microphone.
Later on Commissioner Olli Rehn attempted to put this TV close-down into perspective. He said it had been done by the legitimate Greek Government authorities alone and recent documents endorse his statement. This was met by a round of boos and cat-calls, almost as if he was not believed!
Another MEP tried to turn a Point of Order into a political issue and he found his microphone switched off very quickly.
Perhaps the best was a woman MEP , Ms Ungureanu I think, who was mis-identified by the President. We all have a number in front of our place for identification, but there was a similarity of names. Ms “U” started to make a fuss about something. The chair had changed by then but this experienced deputy President was ready. He accused her of sitting in the wrong place deliberately, so as to make him call the wrong name and cause confusion. She got cut-off too!
And we are the Clowns!!
Thursday The last day is always light both on debates and votes because so many MEPs leave late Wednesday or mid-day Thursday. I usually start off for home late afternoon having completed the commentary but the agenda is particularly light today. Debates on Central Africa, breaches of human rights, rule of law in Russia, and so on.
I shall stay for voting at 1200 and off to the airport, I hope. There is a strike of Air traffic Controllers due to end this morning, but there will be a back-log. Indeed, will it end this morning? There is also a strike of the French railways, also due to end this morning, so change of plan dubious. My flight takes me to Brussels with change of flight to Birmingham so there is double the chance of being stranded.
Funny, these strikes always seem to occur during a Strasbourg week! They know perfectly well that there is no direct flight from/ to anywhere in the UK for Strasbourg, likewise, Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy (well, at least Rome). Travel to and from France and Germany is, naturally, easy and various, and there is a good motorway system.
Just my way of reminding all those chancing their arm with MEP selection of life’s little difficulties, EU style.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg 13th June 2013.

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