Brussels Commentary Employment Committee
During a previous visit to Strasbourg I made a speech in which I deplored the proliferation of "red tape" which hampers small businesses in particular, costing them money and causing closures. I pointed out that SMEs between them employed half the work force and that this therefore raised the unemployment figures.
On that occasion I took the opportunity to remind MEPs that none other than Barroso had mentioned in the House a year or two before, "Red tape was strangling SME's". Following my speech I was "blue-carded", that is, an MEP raised a blue card to demand I answer a question. This turned out to be a query as to what was Red-Tape! I informed the lady that it was the mass of petty instructions and requirements imposed on businesses and which fell more heavily on the SME's because they had few resources to cope with it.
I was amused to realise some while later that this MEP is now serving on the Employment Committee, whose lady president recently tabled a report to reduce the amount of 'Red Tape', so as to benefit small businesses.
I therefore had to keep a close watch on my tongue today. The very MEP who had queried me on the re-tape issue months ago is herself today the rapporteur for 2 reports;-
1) "Effective labour inspections as a strategy to improve working conditions in Europe".
2) "An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU"
"Inspections" conjures up an image of a whole regiment of inspectors, just like a collection of Traffic Wardens. As for a delivery market to cater for developing e-commerce I would think that the suppliers would have their delivery systems already sorted. Certainly my new hedge trimmer, ordered on line, turned up on time a year ago. They took it away two weeks later when I expressed dissatisfaction, and then returned it again on time. So what's the problem?
I leave to you to consider the red-tape possibilities inherent in these two reports. Suffice it to say that these people just do not listen, they all think that their new set of rules must go through, it's the others we can do without.
By the way, the first of these two reports, all 15 pages of amendments to labour inspections, was adopted by 22 to 15, that's close by EU standards. The second report on parcel delivery passed by 31 - 4 votes, that's more like it, and guess who was one of the 4 against.
I did something a little unusual today. we often get multiple emails about some issue or another. These are often identical having been composed by some kind of central body. Those for the CFP reform ran to 1500. Could not answer all of them so sent a specimen reply.
Today was different. Some 20 identical emails about the disaster about to be inflicted on Western Sahara. This very much third world country is where the Sahara meets the sea. It is poor with hardly any rainfall. They have but two resources, the phosphate mines (in that climate!) and fish. Twice now the EU has made available fishing licences for European fleets to fish these waters but these vessels out-class the locals, fishing as much in a day as the more primitive local boats get in a month.
Not only does this put the locals out of business in a land with no benefit system, these rapacious European fleets strip the waters clean, so the licences are only made out for 5 years. Then, renewed as the stocks recover.
Worse still, in the world of UN guaranteed self-determination Western Sahara does not have its own government. It was once a Spanish colony, given up when Spain joined the EU, now it is run by Morocco, which has turned it into a police state. About half the Sahrawis have fled to Algeria which allowed them to settle in refugee camps, together with their Government in Exile, the Polisario.
Why raise this now? Because the EU is on the point of agreeing an EU-Morocco fishing agreement. An agreement with Morocco which has done more to terrorise and subjugate the people of Western Sahara than any other country!
I have now promised my correspondents to write to the Foreign Office, hoping to get some kind of helpful and civilised answer.
Derek Clark MEP Brussels Nov 26th 2013