Bennion: EU triples rail innovation funding to £380mn – beneficiaries to include Bombardier and Network Rail

The European Commission today announced £380mn of EU funding for rail innovation under the EU’s new research programme for 2014-2020, three times more than the amount for 2007-2013.

The new public-private partnership, called “Shift2Rail,” consists of eight founding members including the UK’s Network Rail and Canadian firm Bombardier, which employs over 3000 across the country including at a major factory in Derby.

Phil Bennion MEP, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman in the European Parliament, commented:

 “This funding will give a significant boost to the UK rail industry and the thousands of people it employs. Continue reading

Phil Bennion – EU migration debate must not fuel inaccurate stereotypes

There is a case for Britain to adjust the rules for some benefits but this should not be used to fuel inaccurate stereotypes about the impact of migration, Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion has said following a meeting with EU Employment Commissioner Lazlo Andor.

The West Midlands MEP and Lib Dem Employment Spokesman says he has grown increasingly concerned at the direction of debate in recent days.

He commented: “We need to separate spin from substance. The current system of EU free movement of labour does not mean freedom to access benefits without contributing through taxes. It is therefore right that we close loopholes in order to prevent abuses. 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

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

Proposals to cut red tape are major step towards EU reform

The European Commission announced today that it would be repealing and simplifying EU rules in several areas in order to reduce the burden of regulation, especially for small businesses.

Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion commented:

“These proposals are a clear sign that by working together with our European partners, we can deliver an EU that is more competitive, more open and less bureaucratic. Continue reading

Bennion: UK government right to support EU pilot flying time limits

Speaking after new rules on flying time limits were rejected in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee today, Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion commented:

“I am not convinced by the argument put forward by the pilots union that this proposal would lower standards in the UK. The British government was advised by the Civil Aviation Authority on all the safety aspects throughout the negotiations, and I believe they were right in saying that the best balance had already been struck.”  Continue reading

Lib Dem MEP welcomes EU top court ruling on rail compensation

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket in the event of significant delay, even where that delay is attributable to “force majeure”.  Continue reading

Bennion: EU Boost for British Holidaymakers

Lib Dem MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed proposals from the European Commission to modernise the EU’s rules on package holidays and bring them into line with the modern era. The new rules include stricter controls on price surcharges, reduced red tape for travel agents and improved cancellation rights for customers who book package holidays online.

“Almost half of Brits went on a package holiday in 2012, and in this tough econonimc climate people are increasingly looking to save money by booking customised package deals online. These new rules will strengthen the rights of customers to claim compensation, cancel their bookings and access all relevant information, even when buying online packages with several different companies across Europe. Continue reading

Bennion: Safer roads in the UK and across Europe

MEPs in Strasbourg today approved proposals for new EU rules to test the roadworthiness of vehicles and set minimum standards for technical roadside inspections with the aim of reducing the number of road fatalities across Europe by 50% between 2010 and 2020.

In the UK, the number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police dropped by 8% to 1,754 in 2012 from 1,901 in 2011.

UK Liberal Democrat European transport spokesperson Phil Bennion said:

“The UK has led the way on road safety standards. These proposed new EU rules aim to raise standards right across Europe. Continue reading

Bennion: Revised Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive ‘safe but practical’ for industry and hospitals

A revised proposal for the Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive adopted by the European Parliament inStrasbourgtoday is ‘safe, proportionate and practical,’ say Liberal Democrat MEPs, who lobbied hard for the original draft directive to be withdrawn.

The new text has been substantially modified after Lib Dem MEPS, especially former West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne, highlighted objections from industry and in particular health services that safety restrictions to prevent exposure to Electro-Magnetic Fields were so tightly drawn that technology such as hospital MRI scanners would be impossible to use.

Her successor, Phil Bennion MEP, the current Lib Dem Employment and Social Affairs spokesman, said the new proposals, supported by the UK government, were now practical and evidence-based.

“The previous EMF directive ruled out the use of MRI scanners in hospitals, by prohibiting nurses and other medical staff from being present in a scanner room with a patient during scans. Continue reading