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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 3rd-6th Feb 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 3rd-6th Feb 2014

Monday Conflict of interests. Business starts at 5.00 pm on the Monday and I was down to speak about food labelling in the first debate of the evening but did not know exactly when, speakers list not published until just before start. However, the Employment Committee had called an emergency meeting starting at 7.00pm that evening. Committees are not supposed to meet in Strasbourg but the president of the Employment Committee is a formidable lady. Notice of this meeting did not appear in time to re-schedule my flight, due in Strasbourg at 6.30 pm. In the event I got to Committee in time to vote, but only because John had prepared my voting list and met me at the door. Then found I was not speaking after all, so no frantic dash from Committee to Parliament Chamber after all. A certain amount of flexibility is required in this place.

Tuesday We voted against their idea of better law making, but abstained on all parts of the “Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination”. We have no problem at all regards to varying sexual orientation but it’s simply, “live and let live”. We also voted against “Smart grids” for electricity supply. I hope all are aware that these are coming to a front door near you! They will not only tell the electricity company how much power each of your various devices are using but there is the potential for device control as well!

Don’t laugh about that. Only this week Commission News declares that in about six year’s time all vehicles will have remote control. No, not by you,- the driverless car-, but a device built in to all new cars allowing the Police to stop your car as you drive! They may well develop the technology but what rules and regs will there be? As to the consequences, use your imagination.

Wednesday We voted on an arms aid treaty and Protection about imports from non EU countries and about explosives for civil use. Then, the “Framework for climate and energy policies”, which degenerated into farce. Well over 150 amendments at the end of which there is the vote on adopting the “Committee Resolution”, passing which would send this on to the next stage. Here the rapporteur objected saying this should be referred back to committee. This is not unusual but there was a procedural problem. To ensure this went back to committee he had to rise and speak to say so, but, was not seen or heard by the president until the resolution vote itself was in progress. Result, according to rules, no chance, it goes on. He protested saying he had informed services as required and, failing that he was going to withdraw his name from the report. The vote was concluded among tumult.

The President ruled he had not risen to make his point before the vote started so he was out of order and that he had not asked for the floor before the vote started, which therefore went ahead, adopted by 341 to 263. Pandemonium.

Martin Callanan (Tory leader of the ECR) claimed that an email had been sent at 4.50 the previous day, asking for the floor. He went on to accuse the president, Mrs Podimata, of malpractice earlier in the week over a new time table for Strasbourg in 2015. He was ruled out of order. The vote stood with claims that it be re-run the following day but, this was the last vote of the day and by the time this was said many MEPs had left the chamber.

Thursday Yesterday’s events continued, except that there was no re-run of the last vote on Climate policies. One of our lady EFD number, not a Brit, sent a letter to the President of Parliament saying that the previous day was disgraceful, especially the conduct of the lady President of the day, Mrs Podimata. For once I disagreed with an EFD colleague.
My letter said that Mrs Podimata had kept an even tempo throughout ( not easy with Electronic votes by the dozen), that she had been proved right most times when challenged to hold an electronic vote to check her declaration of the result on show-of-hands, and that her own call for electronic votes had been justified when most of those showed a close result. This lady’s letter to the President of Parliament was duly amended.

I hope you will understand that I was more than annoyed when an email from a Brit (Tory) MEP came out accusing those on our side of the chamber always losing no opportunity of calling out anti-women comments whenever a voting dispute occurred. That is just not true, but not worth my time in responding, this time. We are under attack all the time, good.

Schultz himself took the chair for the first part of voting and explained that Mrs Podimata had acted properly throughout and that the rapporteur’s email asking for the floor had indeed, not reached her. Why, was not explained.

Votes today were the usual light weight stuff, situation in Egypt, Syria and so on. Of course it’s very serious for these people but they do not deserve EU interference. UKIP’s stance is much better. Never mind spending millions on foreign aid to India, etc, which does not need it, and of course we need border controls to stop mass migration, but genuine refugees from Syria are a different matter. When did Britain ever turn its back on genuine refugees who really do need someone to help them over a problem not of their making?

If you watch one of my last speeches you will see that I advocate British, West European Industry setting up businesses in Eastern Europe. This would first help these people, then see them on to greater prosperity, reducing the need for mass migration. After all, who really wants to leave their homeland if they can use their talents and live reasonable well there? What chance of success, none. Most industry is out for financial gain alone, and never mind anyone else.

We received a Maltese delegation in our EFD group this week. They are an amalgam of left and right, and totally fed up with the EU. They want to leave the EU as it conflicts with Malta’s written constitution. They hope to gain a seat in the Euro elections this May, perhaps two out of the six on offer. That would be an immense gain. Any chance that small countries like this could start to prise open the door?

Finally, personal comment. I went out for dinner last evening in Strasbourg town centre, as I usually do on Wednesday evening, but found a disturbing new element. I used a restaurant close to the Cathedral which I have not used much before but saw something I had not seen before. All round that area there were small groups of people - twos, threes fours. Many with a dog, all with belongings in bags, sacks and so on. They were there for the night and seemed to be families together. One lot were under police questioning. Who were they, on this cold winter night?

I leave that with you.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg Feb 6th 2014

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