Bowles: European Parliament approvals appointment of Sabine Lautenschläger to ECB Board

Sharon Bowles MEPMEPs in Strasbourg today have approved the appointment of Sabine Lautenschläger to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) executive board, who will replace fellow German Jörg Asmussen.

The report approving Ms Lautenschläger’s appointment, authored by Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, was passed with an overwhelming majority with 443 MEPs in favour and just 47 against.

This follows a campaign by the European Parliament in 2012 for the appointment of a woman to the all-male ECB board.

Sharon Bowles, who spearheaded the campaign and chairs the Parliament’s influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, commented:

“I would like to congratulate Sabine Lautenschlager on her new post. The appointment of a well-qualified and highly experienced woman to the ECB board is well overdue.

“It is shameful that there has been no woman involved at the highest level of the ECB since 2011, and that Ms Lautenschläger will only be the third woman to serve on the ECB’s six-person board since the institution was founded in 1998. It is not the case that there is a shortage of suitable women, as has quite clearly been demonstrated.

“We have a long way to go still to achieve gender equality in the banking sector, but the Parliament’s insistence on more female candidates is clearly bearing results.

“We must continue to keep up the pressure on all EU institutions to lead by example when it comes to promoting equal opportunities for men and women.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Sharon Bowles’ report approving Sabine Lautenschläger’s appointment can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2014-0023&language=EN

Bennion: Labour and Tories are “dancing to the UKIP tune” on EU free movement

Groupe ALDELiberal Democrat MEP for the West Midlands Phil Bennion has criticised Labour and the Conservative Party for “dancing to the UKIP tune,” during a debate on EU freedom of movement in the European Parliament today.

Mr Bennion said:

“Both the Conservatives and Labour are dancing to the tune of UKIP on EU migration. It falls to Liberal Democrats to set the record straight and defend the benefits that freedom of movement brings, including for the 2.2 million or so British citizens who live and work across the EU.

“Of course, freedom to move shouldn’t mean freedom to access benefits, and it is right that the UK government is taking action to prevent any abuse of our welfare system.

“But all the evidence shows that EU migration has brought huge economic benefits to the UK and has made a significant net contribution to the public purse. Moreover, many EU migrants are highly-skilled and filling vital job shortages, including 19,000 doctors working for the NHS.

“So while we should respond to citizens’ justifiable concerns about pressure on public services and social integration, let’s not pander to UKIP by fuelling inaccurate stereotypes.”

Ludford: Ford could reassess UK business in case of EU exit

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPFord has warned that it could reassess its business in the UK if the country were to leave the EU.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Stephen Odell, Chief Executive of Ford Europe, said that by quitting the EU Britain would be “cutting its nose off to spite its face.”

He added: “I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”

Mr Odell said that while there was understandable concern about some of the rules and regulations coming from Brussels, the UK would still have to comply with many of these outside of the EU and that it was therefore better to push for reform from within.

Ford, which employs almost 15,000 people across the UK, is one of Britain’s largest foreign investors and manufacturers. A third of the world’s Ford engines are assembled at its plants in Bridgend and Dagenham.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford commented:

“We cannot ignore the message from major employers about the importance of the EU for jobs and growth. Yanking us out of Europe, as UKIP and many Conservatives would like to do, would risk seriously damaging Britain’s economy.

“Foreign investment would go down, unemployment would go up and Britain’s influence on the rules that matter to businesses would be seriously diminished.

“Liberal Democrats, as the Party of In, are committed to reforming the EU from within to make it work better for Britain. Our focus must be on creating jobs and sustaining the economic recovery, not throwing it all away by turning our back on our biggest trading partner.”

Ludford: European Arrest Warrant reform one step closer

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP MEPs on the European Parliament LIBE committee yesterday approved a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford calling for major changes to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), including the introduction of a human rights’ clause to prevent miscarriages of justice and a proportionality test to prevent the warrant being used for petty crimes.

The report calls for the European Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to reform the EAW at the EU level.

Sarah Ludford said:

“I’m delighted that reform of the European Arrest Warrant is now one step closer after my report was approved by the LIBE committee. The warrant needs to be used not only effectively but proportionately, with guarantees that safeguards are respected and human rights are not abused in the process. This will help prevent miscarriages of justice in the future.”

“My report seeks to achieve this reform with EU-wide support, rather than ad hoc and uncoordinated action by individual member states which would fail to deliver real justice for European citizens.”

“The Euro-warrant will remain a crucial crime-fighting tool, delivering swift justice compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures, ensuring that criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law by crossing into another European country. With the reforms I and my MEP colleagues are calling for – and we expect the Commission to act on – all our citizens will be able to have full confidence in its fairness as well as its effectiveness.”

Notes to Editors

The report will be voted on by all MEPs in plenary in February.

A list of case studies of miscarriages of justice arising through use of the European Arrest Warrant can be found on the Fair Trials international website here.

London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forrest are among those who have been brought to justice to the UK thanks to the EAW.

Davies: European Parliament backs report calling for EU action to promote carbon capture

Chris Davies MEP MEPs today overwhelmingly approved a report calling for EU action to kick-start the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce CO2 emissions from industry and power generation, with 524 voting in favour and just 141 against.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who authored the report, commented:

“With CO2 capture plants under construction in the USA, Canada and China, Europe could not only fail to achieve CO2 reductions at the least possible cost but also risks losing out on export orders.

“CCS can help to provide Europe with low carbon electricity even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Flagship projects to develop the technology need to be given financial support equivalent to that given to renewable energy.

“Most governments have yet to give thought to how they will achieve CO2 reductions of 80% or more by 2050. When they start to look to the long-term a significant number will realise that CCS could have a key role to play.”

The lead CCS project in Europe at present is in the UK. The British government is supporting a major engineering study into the use of the technology by the White Rose consortium at Drax power station in Yorkshire.

Chris Davies’ report calls on every EU country to publish a CO2-reduction strategy indicating how they will achieve the 2050 goal. Those governments that choose to endorse carbon capture would have to play an active role in providing financial support, assisting in the building of a pipeline network and helping to prepare storage sites. The MEP has also called for an EU-wide target to be agreed so that unused funds currently set aside for CCS are spent and a range of flagship projects brought forward. This would promote innovation, reduce costs and help make CCS become accepted as a viable option in the long-term.

Carbon capture innovation projects can now apply for £168m worth of funding for the development of clean energy under the EU’s 2014-2020 Horizon 2020 research framework. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the Parliament on Monday that the promotion of CCS would feature in the climate and energy strategy that the European Commission will adopt next week.

Notes to editors

The full report can be found here.

UK government support for the development of CCS includes a £1 billion commercialisation competition to support the development commercial-scale CCS and a £125 million 4-year research programme

https://www.gov.uk/uk-carbon-capture-and-storage-government-funding-and-support#ccs-commercialisation-competition

The International Energy Agency says that CCS should be responsible for 20% of the CO2 reductions to be achieved globally by 2050.

Lib Dem MEP Leader Fiona Hall on Business for Britain report

Commenting on the report by campaigning group Business for Britain which calls for firms that do not export to the rest of the EU to be exempt from EU regulations, Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall said:

“Ironically, this proposal would lead to less business for Britain and an increase in red tape. Having multiple sets of rules would carve the British economy in two and create a bureaucratic nightmare for businesses seeking to expand into the rest of Europe. 

“Liberal Democrats have led on reforming the EU to improve its competitiveness, including by exempting small businesses from costly accounting requirements. This should be everybody’s priority. 

“Rather than putting forward half-baked proposals, Business for Britain should be honest and admit that their real intention is to pull us out of the EU altogether, something which businesses in the UK are overwhelmingly against.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable added:

“One in 10 jobs in the UK rely on trade with the EU. By being in the EU, British businesses also benefit from a common set of rules to do business and attract foreign investors. We should be supporting all British businesses to take advantage of the single market, not holding them back by shutting the door on the biggest trading block in the world.”

Davies: MEPs approve back-loading to shore up EU emissions trading scheme

Chris Davies MEPMEPs voted today by 385 votes to 284 to support ‘back-loading’ proposals that will shore up the EU’s emissions trading scheme today by delaying the sale of carbon credits.

UK Liberal Democrat European environmental spokesperson Chris Davies commented after the vote:

“What should have been nothing more than a minor regulatory adjustment had become a test of the EU’s entire strategy on climate change. We must now ensure Europe takes the lead in the fight against global warming by pursuing long-term structural reform of the ETS.” Continue reading

Davies: Final agreement reached on rebuilding Europe’s fish stocks

Picture shows Matthias Groote MEP, Chair of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (left) with Chris Davies MEP (right) and Bill the Cod.

Major reforms aimed at rebuilding Europe’s depleted fish stocks have been agreed by MEPs meeting in Strasbourg today.The new EU Common Fisheries Policy will make it a legal requirement to set quotas for fish catches using maximum sustainable yields, with the aim of rebuilding fish stocks by 2020. It requires long-term management plans to be prepared for every fishery and devolves day-to-day decisions about fishing practice from Brussels to regional bodies.  A ban on the discard of fish will be phased in from 2015.

Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesman Chris Davies MEP, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group, claimed the new policy demonstrated the importance of Britain playing a constructive role in Europe to achieve reform.

He said: “For too long decisions were made about fishing policy that ignored scientific advice, with the result that Europe now has to import two thirds of the fish we eat. Continue reading

Bowles: Goldman Sachs may reconsider London as a hub if UK quits EU

Sharon Bowles MEPLiberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles today warned of dramatic job losses in the financial sector if the UK were to leave the EU, after co-CEO of Goldman Sachs Michael Sherwood said his company would be likely to ‘drastically reduce’ its activities in London in case of an EU exit.

Speaking to German newspaper Frankfurte Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr Sherwood warned:

“In all likelihood we would transfer a substantial part of our European business from London to a Eurozone location – the most obvious contenders being Paris and Frankfurt.”

Goldman Sachs currently employs around 5500 people in London compared to just 200 in Frankfurt.

Commenting, Chair of the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Sharon Bowles said: Continue reading

Taylor: UKIP parental leave views are ‘straight out of the Victorian era’

Liberal Democrat MEP Rebecca Taylor has launched a scathing attack on UKIP’s sexist and patronising approach to women, following comments made by UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall over Nick Clegg’s proposals to update the system of parental leave.

Nuttall, UKIP’s Deputy Leader, claimed that “new mums can hardly breast-feed – as everyone knows is best – if they’ve gone back to work after a fortnight leaving dad in charge.”

Currently fathers have less right to parental leave than mothers but under Clegg’s proposals, both parents would have the right to choose whether to share parental leave.

Rebecca Taylor commented: Continue reading