Bowles backs EU proposal to close corporate tax loophole

Sharon Bowles MEPChair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, has today pledged to support EU plans to close a loophole which has allowed large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Amendments to the EU’s corporate tax legislation, proposed by Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, will introduce an anti-abuse clause which will prevent companies including Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple from stockpiling their profits in countries with lower tax rates.

Ms Bowles has led calls for the introduction of country-by-country reporting in the EU to clamp down on aggressive corporate tax avoidance. Continue reading

Ludford: European Arrest Warrant ripe for reform

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPBritish Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford is introducing her report on reform of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) tomorrow, Wednesday 27th November, in the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs committee. She has long been involved in criminal justice measures and has taken a particular interest in the EAW.

She said:

“The European Arrest Warrant is a crucial crime-fighting tool, essential for police efforts to keep the public safe. It delivers speedy surrender compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures and ensures that criminals cannot flee from justice by crossing borders. London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forest are among those who have been brought to justice thanks to the EAW.

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Hall: Siemens to stop investment if Britain leaves EU

The managing director of Siemens UK, which employs 13,000 people across the country, has warned that his company would stop investing in factories in the UK if it was not part of the EU. He added that leaving the EU would be “disastrous” for British manufacturers. This follows a poll last month which found that eight out of ten manufacturers want to remain in the EU.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall commented:

“The message from business is loud and clear, it’s in Europe in work.

“Thousands of jobs are created each year by foreign investors who see Britain as a launch-pad into the world’s largest single market. Leaving the EU would mean losing that status and putting crucial jobs and investment at risk.” Continue reading

Lyon: Astonishing that Labour votes against EU funding to tackle youth unemployment

MEPs voted for a 6.5% cut to the EU’s budget for 2014 today in Strasbourg, as agreed in a deal last week in Brussels.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Budget Committee George Lyon said:

“Liberal Democrats have voted to reduce next year’s EU budget by £7.7 billion compared to 2013. We also fought for an extra £180 million research and innovation funding, of which the UK is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

“It’s astonishing that Labour MEPs opposed this budget, which includes almost £3 billion to tackle youth unemployment and create thousands of jobs across the UK. Labour have shown that they are running scared over Europe, and are as weak and divided in Brussels as they are in Westminster. Continue reading

Bennion: Welcome EU infrastructure investment

The Liberal Democrat European transport spokesman, Phil Bennion, has welcomed today’s adoption of an EU infrastructure package worth EUR 33bn between 2014 and 2020.

The ‘Connecting Europe’ programme will help fund and facilitate projects of common interest in the areas of energy, transport and infrastructure. The UK’s West Coast Main Line corridor is among the identified priority projects that would be eligible for EU funding.

Dr Phil Bennion MEP said: Continue reading

Davies: EU move to tackle waste from plastic bags

Chris Davies MEPThe European Commission today proposed measures to reduce the amount of plastic bags littering the environment, polluting the marine system and killing wildlife across the EU.

In 2010, over 8 billion plastic carrier bags were littered in the EU, which translates to almost 200 plastic bags per EU citizen a year.

The European Commission proposal leaves it open to Member States to choose the most appropriate measures to reduce the overall usage such as charges, reduction targets or a ban under certain conditions.

Commenting on today’s proposals by the European Commission, Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesperson Chris Davies said: Continue reading

Newton Dunn: Billions of pounds in taxes and thousands of jobs being lost to organised crime

Bill Newton-Dunn MEPThe European Parliament today voted on a report calling more European coopeation to address organised crime, corruption and money-laundering in the EU. The report calls for stronger maritime cooperation and border management to stamp out human-trafficking and the smuggling of counterfeit products, weapons and illegal drugs. It also calls for better information-sharing and coordination between national authorities to enable them to fight organised crime and confiscate criminal assets more effectively.

Bill Newton Dunn MEP, the Liberal Democrat Coordinator on the European Parliament’s committee on Organised Crime, commented:

“Shockingly, at a time when governments across Europe are struggling to balance the books, we are losing billions of pounds worth of tax revenue each year to gangs of ruthless criminals. VAT fraud alone is estimated to account for €100 billion of lost revenue a year to the EU, while £4.7 billion of taxes are being lost to criminals annually in the UK. Continue reading

Davies: No fishy EU subsidies for fleet renewal

MEPs in Strasbourg today rejected calls for EU subsidies to be paid for building new fishing boats.

The European Parliament voted to support changes to the Common Fisheries Policy intended to curb overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.

The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020. MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross-party campaign group ‘Fish for the Future’, welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy.

“We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse.

“Grants of this kind were halted nearly a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal.  To have reinstated them would have been a crazy step backwards.” Continue reading

Taylor: MEPs focus on patient safety in medical devices vote

MEPs today agreed to enter negotiations with national governments on new rules for the safety and performance of medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices.

Lib Dem MEPs in particular stressed the need to act to try to prevent health scares like last year’s faulty breast implants scandal by undertaking stricter market surveillance including unannounced inspections of manufacturers and better traceability rules.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor, said:

“Patient safety and confidence must be the main focus of any new rules, but we must do this in a way that allows enough flexibility to stimulate innovation and healthy competition within the market. It is vital to strengthen transparency and controls in order to avoid health scares such as the faulty breast implants scandal. Continue reading

Bennion: New EU rules on flight times will not lower standards in UK

Commenting on today’s European Parliament vote to approve common EU flight time limits for pilots, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion MEP said:

“This is a sensible outcome. Despite concerns from pilots’ unions, these rules will not lower safety standards in the UK.

“In fact, a common system for pilot flight times will raise standards in Europe across the board, ensuring that British passengers are safe no matter what EU airline they fly with.”   Continue reading