Local and traditional British produce in line for EU funding to boost sales abroad

FoodLiberal Democrat MEP and Agriculture Spokesman George Lyon has welcomed the approval of a new EU funding programme in the European Parliament which could help win over thousands of new customers around the world for traditional British products such as Scottish smoked salmon and West Country Farmhouse cheddar.

The new scheme will fund programmes to promote high-quality agricultural products in Europe and in fast-growing economies around the world such as China and South Korea. It will see a major increase in funding, from £51 million across the EU in 2014 to £165 million in 2020.

Mr Lyon said:

“This new scheme will give local producers the opportunity to bring a taste of Britain to the world.”

“One of our big achievements has been to ensure that traditional products with European protected status such as Scotch whisky will be given extra funding to boost their exports and win over new customers abroad.”

“This is an example of how we can work through the EU to help small businesses, build up the reputation of quality local British food and strengthen our economy.”
Currently 62 unique products in the UK have gained EU protected status, protecting them from imitation or fraud and ensuring that customers know they are buying an authentic locally sourced product. The prestigious award also helps to boost sales by increasing visibility both at home and abroad. A number of new British products including West Country beef and lamb, Anglesey Sea Salt and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese have been awarded the status in recent months.

Mr Lyon added:

“Liberal Democrat MEPs will now be working with more food and drink producers to encourage them to apply for protected status and for European funding.”

“We should be proud of our unique traditional products, and that means using our membership of the world’s biggest trading bloc to promote small producers on the international stage.”

“At next month’s European elections Liberal Democrats will be fighting to keep Britain in the EU so we can protect jobs and continue delivering for the local economy.”

Notes to Editors

Projects funded under the new scheme will aim to increase awareness about the high quality of these products and the traditional methods used to make them, with a specific focus on winning over new customers in high-growth markets abroad. 70-80% of funding for each programme will come from the EU, with the remainder being paid for by the individual producer or group of businesses.

In November, the EU funded a range of events in Japan and South Korea to promote British products including West Country Farmhouse cheddar Scotch Whisky.

As well as traditional products with EU protected status, certain other high quality agricultural products are eligible including organic produce and fresh fruit and vegetables.

More information about the current scheme in the UK, administered by the Rural Payments Agency, can be found here

New figures show EU roaming caps have saved £8bn since 2009

george lyonNew figures uncovered by Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon have shown that EU caps on roaming fees have saved consumers across Europe an estimated £8bn over the past 5 years.
In a response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Mr Lyon and eight other Liberal Democrat MEPs, the European Commission has estimated total savings for EU consumers since 2009 at about 9.6 billion euros (£8bn).

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:

“These figures show that EU price caps have literally saved customers billions of pounds, with the average cost of roaming now five times lower than it was in 2007.

“Liberal Democrats in Brussels have led the charge to cut unfair roaming charges, and are now campaigning to end them altogether in the EU by 2015.

“This is yet another example of why in Europe means a better deal for Scotland and for the UK. Out of Europe would leave travellers counting the cost of these unfair charges.

“At the European elections we are campaigning as the Party of In Europe, because being in means we can protect jobs at home and cut costs for UK citizens abroad.”

Notes to Editors

The Parliamentary Question and Answer from the European Commission can be found here
The EU has achieved retail price reductions across calls, SMS and data of over 80% since 2007

George Lyon MEP: EU membership crucial to Scotch Whisky success

george lyonScottish Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon said today that protecting Scotland’s place in Britain and Europe is crucial to securing jobs, after the world’s largest spirits company Diageo warned that whisky exports owe much of their success to EU global trade deals and membership of the single market.

Diageo is Scotland’s top manufacturing exporter thanks to whiskies such as Johnnie Walker, J & B and Talisker. Its intervention follows a submission from the Scotch Whisky Association to the UK government’s EU review which stated: “The SWA firmly believes the UK’s EU membership provides significant benefits in improving trading conditions for Scotch Whisky.”

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:

“We all want to see the Scotch industry to continue to thrive. These interventions from some of the leading lights of our whisky sector show just how crucial access to the UK and EU markets are to the success of the sector.

“It is clear that our place in Britain and the EU provides significant benefits to the scotch whisky trade.

“With the President of the EU Commission saying just this week that it would be ‘difficult, if not impossible’ for an independent Scotland to negotiate EU membership it is becoming clear that that best way to keep Scotland in Europe and protect jobs is to stick with the UK family.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are making the case for Scotland staying in Britain, in Europe – and in work.”

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

Lyon: EU budget deal to fund vital infrastructure and create jobs in UK


The European Parliament voted today to approve the deal reached on the EU’s long-term budget.

Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon commented:

“Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for a smaller, more efficient EU budget that is more targeted towards creating jobs and growth. That is exactly what this deal will deliver.”

“Most importantly, European funding will now focus more on areas where it adds real value such as infrastructure, support for local businesses and innovation. Continue reading

Lyon: EU 2014 budget cut by 6% despite €200mn boost to research spending

Commenting on yesterday night’s deal over the EU’s 2014 budget, Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Budget Committee George Lyon said:

“On top of delivering a 6% cut compared to the 2013 budget, we have increased research and development funding by 200 million euros.”

“That means more money for UK universities, who currently receive more EU research funding than those in any other country.”

“This is a sign that the EU budget is becoming more streamlined, efficient and targeted towards promoting jobs and growth.”´

European Parliament approves 5.4% reduction to EU’s 2014 budget

The European Parliament voted today for a 5.4% cut to the EU’s budget in 2014 compared to 2013.

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

“Liberal Democrats understand the need for tight control of spending in these difficult times, and have helped to deliver a 5.4% cut to the EU’s budget for 2014. That’s a bigger cut than the vast majority of European countries will make next year.

“Despite the additional costs of holding the 2014 European Elections, we also achieved a real-terms freeze to the European Parliament’s budget by finding €24.2 million of savings, including to MEP allowances and staff costs.

“This outcome demonstrates our commitment to building a more efficient and streamlined EU.”

Lyon: European Parliament budget freeze is pure common sense

The European Parliament’s Budget committee today voted for a freeze in the European Parliament’s budget for 2014, following pressure from the Liberal Democrats led by George Lyon MEP, Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee.

Mr Lyon commented:

“This is pure common sense. The European Parliament must not be exempt in these times of austerity across Europe. This budget freeze, despite extra costs arising from the fact that 2014 is an election year, is a positive signal to citizens that the European Parliament is tightening its belt.”

‘We have succeeded in further reducing MEP travel allowances and there will be a 1% reduction in staff across all the European institutions.” Continue reading

LYON: Shocking waste in EU interpretation budget

Liberal Democrat MEPs today warned officials that action must be taken to reduce waste in the EU interpretation budget after it was revealed that almost 12% of the budget last year was spent on services not used on account of late requests or cancellations

While welcoming the news that 10 million euros of savings were made in 2012, Liberal Democrat MEP GeorgeLyonsaid that more efforts were needed to reduce the European Parliament’s administrative budget.

The Scottish MEP, who is Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee, commented: Continue reading

Lyon: Lib Dem MEPs back smaller and more growth-oriented EU budget

The European Parliament voted today on a resolution to approve the deal reached on the EU’s long-term budget last week, pending a final vote in September.

Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon commented:

“Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have consistently argued for a smaller EU budget that can be spent more effectively and is more targeted towards creating jobs and growth. That is exactly what the deal reached last week will deliver. Continue reading