Brussels Commentary 31 Employment Committee 5th Nov 2013
This was just one afternoon and I do not always attend such short sessions, it takes me away from the demands of the office for a day and it costs the taxpayer just as much as a two day visit. However, I went on this occasion because I had been invited to dinner that same evening by the NFU. They were on a group visit the following day and had invited me because of the support I have been giving them. I have made a good number of visits to poultry farms, ploughed fields, milking parlours and so on. More usefully I have been to meetings to find out how elements of the revised Farm Support Scheme operates with a view to voting in their favour as and when it arises.
All useful time spent and hence their invitation which I accepted, of course, as a courtesy. Actually, I nearly missed out. The Employment meeting that afternoon was dominated by a voting session which went on for just over one and half hours and meant that I was rather late to dinner. The taxis in Brussels are hopeless.
In the votes we had, "Social dimension of the economic and monetary Union". Over 100 amendments and I am proud to tell you that my vote against stood on its own, to 41 in favour!.
On measures to "Facilitate rights involved re freedom of movement of workers", I had support! After 200 amendments it passed by 41 to 2. But the follow up vote, nominating a team to negotiate with Council (they expect problems!), came out as 40 in favour to 1 against. I think I have just been eliminated from several Christmas card lists.
I was one of 2 to vote against the last measure, "Regulation of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund". Not surprised, this is spending wads of money to help workers when a firm re-locates or otherwise closes because EU companies are so inefficient that they can't compete on the world stage. One of the latest closures was the Danish firm that builds these monstrous wind turbines. So now, when you see one being put up, you know it's not even keeping Europeans in work.
The first of these votes revealed some of the "smoke and mirrors" which we know is prevalent. The vote lists contained "Compromises", quite a common feature in which the rapporteur talks to "shadow rapporteurs" and to groups before the vote. You realise that these are popular with other MEPs because it includes amendments which might otherwise not stand up but which go through because it is rare for a compromise to be voted down. It also saves time in voting for the amendments it includes are not then taken. In this case three amendments were listed to vote before a compromise but which, if passed would cause the compromise to fall. They were passed, consternation all round.
The committee president ruled that this was so but complained. These compromises are always put together by a number of political groups, so they pass because of that wide support. On this occasion the president said that she was surprised that she had not been informed before hand of a certain group's change of mind!!
So if you were to see my committee voting you will not be surprised to see the rapidity with which the result is declared, it's all cut and dried before hand, she has no need to look up to see the size of "fors" and "against". It's called democracy, EU style.
Keep up the good work!!
Derek Clark MEP Brussels 6th Nov 2013