Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session July 1st- 4th 2013
Tuesday Enda Kenny, in closing the Irish Presidency, mentioned several MEPs by name, praising some, severely criticising others. A new departure, not heard before
The Commission are to spend 7 million Euros on a European Youth Event, 5000 attendees, on May 9th ,Europe Day just before the Euro elections, to show them how wonderful it all is.
Entrance security at the event will ensure that only banners corresponding to the established criteria will be allowed into the building; what do you think that means?
Stuart Agnew reported on progress on reform of the CAP. Yes, progress of a sort, but the proposed measures will, in fact, take more land out of production! We already import a great deal of our food and the world population is growing all the time!! The revisions have been described by others as a “Dog’s breakfast”.
Caravans- ,one of 3 related reports. They did not listen, of course, to my one minute effort on Monday evening, on web site. Same problem as always. Neither the rapporteur, nor any other speaker, has any experience of towing a caravan, We are in the hands of idiots who just want to make a name for themselves, reducing road accidents in this case. Tell me, when did you last see an accident caused by a towed caravan? By the way, one of the 3 reports specified the actual size of the road worthiness documents which you might be asked to produce. Seriously, its all there, size of paper and everything.
NB the Chairrman of the committee asked for the legislative resolution of all three reports not to be put to a vote to start the legislative process, so that they can go back to committee for further work. That was adopted. So we wait and see.
Wednesday. Votes included the Financial Transaction Tax which will cripple the City of London, as intended. We were able to vote for some amendments, like the one to take Pension Funds out of the scope of the tax;- no use, out voted by 225 to 458 where UK Labour MEPs voted against. Enjoy retirement!
One of the worst features of the FTT is that unless the tax is paid the purchaser has no right to the Title. Neither has the vendor. Who has the title rights is then uncertain. A lot of pension funds change hands from one company to another!
There was also a vote on, “Timing of auctions of greenhouse gas emissions”. Here they plan to “backload” the taxes, ie not just to tax when it takes effect but to go back in time and tax previous emissions. That would be like coming back to you for the extra tax on petrol you bought a year ago when it was less! We did not vote at all, see my explanation of vote,-
“I did not vote on any of the amendments because they gave the Commission authority to exact payments either on current emissions or on earlier emissions,- backloading-, or on both. To vote either "yes" or "no" to any amendment would have endorsed the authority of the commission to extract these payments, there was no way to vote to oppose the granting of this authority.
I therefore voted "no" to the whole proposal”.
(NB. MEPs can always explain how they voted, either verbally after voting has ended, or later in writing. In any case the explanation goes on to the Parliament web site where, for controversial votes, the hordes of pressure groupers just love to see how we voted on their cause. Quite right, we are elected by the people who have the right to know how we voted.)
Double Standards You may have perhaps picked up the affair of Marine Le Pen, now leader of the National Front. She objected to two streets in Paris being taken over by Muslims praying, since France is a secular country and the roads belong to everyone. She was threatened with prosecution but relied on her Parliamentary Immunity. As a result there was a move to remove her immunity by way of a vote in Parliament. We, including myself, voted against this, but were outvoted and she lost.
A while ago an MEP in home state broke a traffic law while not on Parliament business, assaulted a policeman and was arrested. MEPs voted to preserve his immunity.They like double standards here, hence the comment in the press release;-
A UKIP spokesman said:
"We voted to keep her immunity because we believe that freedom of speech is sacrosanct.
She made her comments in pursuance of her work as an elected politician. There was no fraud or incitement to hatred involved.
There should be one rule for all, immunity should not be lifted just because you don't like the MEP's politics."
The Labour Party was accused of "craven dishonesty" for voting against a UKIP amendment in the European Parliament today to return unspent money to national budgets.
UKIP MEP William Dartmouth placed two amendments to a Motion for Resolution on the EU 2014-20120 Budget (MFF)
It called for "unspent money at the end of each year cannot be transferred to the following year but must be returned to national budgets;"
UKIP MEPs as well as the Tories voted in favour of the amendment,
Labour and LibDem MEPs voted to reject it.
Also a vote today on the state of democracy in Hungary. It is alleged that the government is ultra right wing and needs “correction”, with lots of emails contradicting this view. Interestingly this report was very divided with the final vote being like the amendments, 370 in favour, 249 against. It is usually much more one-sided.
Thursday is usually very low key, except today, main vote on the Snowden whistle blower and USA surveillance systems. Plenty of hot under the collar stuff. Much condemnation of the US but support too. Vote of 483- 98 in favour of opposing the US.
More to our point was the Duff (MEP Eastern) report on the Euro elections of 2014. Open primaries suggested to establish candidates, (not supported), plenty of support for further items not to our liking. All of which may overwhelm our own decision taken by conference vote a year ago, not to support pan-European parties. This will come, be sure of it.
Finally, a report on an Increase in duties on Norwegian agricultural products. Mixed support for amendments but report passed. They do not like Norway, anyone like to suggest why?
Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg 4th July 2013