Native wildlife to be protected from invasive species under EU proposal – Catherine Bearder MEP

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe European Parliament has backed proposals to tackle the spread of non-native animals and plants throughout the EU. It is estimated that over the past 20 years more than 12,000 invasive species have been recorded in Europe, costing nearly £10 billion annually in damage to local ecosystems. In the UK, where there are an estimated 2,000 invasive species present, the bill is thought to be at least £1.7bn a year.

These species can pose a major threat to local biodiversity. This includes the American mink, which has devastated local wildlife in parts of the UK, or “demon shrimp” which originated from the Black Sea and has disrupted ecosystems in Britain’s rivers and lakes. Some species such as Japanese knotweed have also caused significant damage to buildings while other pests have damaged agricultural yields or threatened human health by spreading disease.

Under the proposals, national governments would have to work together to detect invasive species placed on a list of high concern and to put in place measures to minimise the harm they cause. Initially it was proposed that this list should have a fixed cap of 50 non-native species, but MEPs have called for a more flexible approach that can be rapidly adapted to deal with new threats. The new law will require EU countries to analyse how invasive species enter the country, step up official checks at EU borders and develop long-term action plans on how to manage the troublesome species.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who was one of the lead negotiators on the legislation in the European Parliament’s trade committee, commented:

“Invasive species can cause huge damage to native plants and wildlife, but they also pose a threat to agriculture, buildings and to human health.

“They do not respect national borders and can be easily spread through trade, travel as well as the pet trade, so it’s vital we work alongside neighbouring countries to combat them.

“We need action at the local level to minimise the damage being caused, but even more important is preventative action at the national and European level to stop these troublesome species being introduced in the first place.”

Notes to Editors

The full report voted on today can be found here. The proposal must now be approved by national governments in the EU Council before it becomes law.

The cost of Invasive non-native species (INNS) to the British economy is estimated at £1.7 billion a year.

Catherine Bearder MEP: Universal phone charger on the way

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandLiberal Democrat MEP for South East Catherine Bearder has welcomed news that universal mobile phone chargers across Europe will finally become a reality after years of campaigning, following a final vote today in the European Parliament on new rules for electronic devices.

The new rules will mean all manufacturers placing new electronic devices on the EU market will be required to make them compatible with a universal charger.

Currently most phones use the same MicroUSB charger, following a voluntary agreement between the EU and 14 mobile phone manufacturers in 2011 which put pressure on them to introduce a common charger.

However, several manufacturers including Apple have kept unique charging ports for their devices. The new legislation will place a legal requirement on manufacturers to make their devices compatible with a universal charger.

Ms Bearder said:

“This is a great victory for common sense.”

“Being part of Europe, the world’s biggest market for mobile phones, means we can put pressure on manufacturers to put an end to cable chaos.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress towards a universal charger in recent years but this will mean that finally every electronic device will have to be compatible.”

WTO chief warns UK over EU exit

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandRoberto Azevêdo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, has warned that Britain may risk losing influence in trade negotiations if it were to quit the EU during a hearing this morning at the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

In response to a question from Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who asked what impact leaving the EU would have on the UK’s place within the WTO, Mr Azevêdo stated:

“I think that’s a call that the UK will have to make for itself.”

“But of course, the more that a country or a member is in a position to join with others in defending a particular idea or defending a particular agenda, the easier it is to push through its interests.”

Ms Bearder, Liberal Democrat Trade Spokeswoman in the European Parliament, commented:

“UKIP and many Tories claim we can just pull out of Europe and trade using WTO rules, but now even the head of the WTO has turned round and said we are better off staying in.”

“Being part of the world’s largest trading bloc allows us to get a better deal for Britain and to open up new markets for our businesses overseas.”

“Liberal Democrats are the party of In Europe because In is good for jobs, the economy and Britain’s influence on the world stage.”

A number of leading British business organisations have previously spoken out to emphasise the benefits that EU membership brings when it comes to global trade negotiations.

In a report in November 2013, the CBI stated that “the EU has helped open global markets to UK firms on terms that support its trading ambitions, through its leading role in global trade negotiations.”

Meanwhile the EEF manufacturers’ association has stated following a 2013 survey of its members that “UK manufacturers recognise the benefits a strong EU voice in global trade agreements and disputes brings to UK exporters…There is no support for the UK to tackle trade negotiations alone, not least because of the concerns that a deal with the UK would be a lower priority for countries that are currently agreeing deals on a multilateral basis.”

The Scotch Whisky Association has also stressed that “the EU is vital to the industry’s long term sustainability, both as an internal market and as a strong voice in international trade negotiations.”

Catherine Bearder MEP: Arms Treaty must receive more global cooperation

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe ratification of the United Nation’s Arms Treaty by the European Parliament this week is welcomed news for those campaigning for better control over the trade of arms. Last year world leaders voted by a large majority to pass the treaty which prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons in violation of arms embargoes, or weapons that would be used for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorism.

MEPs backed several recommendations calling for the EU to take a leading role in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty; including the provision to closely monitor the progress made by nations through close cooperation between governments.

Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for South East said:

“After a long diplomatic process, I am very pleased that we have reached the stage where we can turn our words into action and turn the Arms Trade Treaty into action. However, the treaty has still not been agreed to by both China and Russia who export large amounts of arms every year. Until we receive their support, we will lack a global solution to a truly global issue”

“The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a universal arms treaty in order to create a safer world in which dangerous weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. By working alongside our EU partners, we can work to prevent future lives being lost from the irresponsible trading in arms”

Bearder welcomes WTO ruling upholding EU ban on seal products

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandLiberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has welcomed news that an EU ban on seal products has been upheld in a World Trade Organisation ruling.

The ban was steered through the European Parliament by former Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis four years ago.

Commenting, Ms Bearder said:

“Four years ago, MEPs voted to ban the trade in seal fur in order to put an end to this needless massacre. The WTO ruling upholds that democratic decision. Continue reading

Liberal Democrat MEPs call on EU to speed up release of Greenpeace activists

MEPs yesterday called on High Representative of the EU Catherine Ashton to press the Russian authorities over the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists who being detained Murmansk, following news that piracy charges had been dropped and replaced with lesser charges. 91 MEPs from twenty countries, including ten Liberal Democrat MEPs from the UK, have signed a statement of solidarity with the Arctic 30 on the Greenpeace website.


Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder met many of the crew members aboard the Arctic Sunrise last June when it docked inHastings as part of aUK campaign to support endangered local fishing communities. She commented:


 “I welcome the news that the piracy charges have been dropped. Even President Putin had admitted it’s obvious the Greenpeace personnel and independent journalists accompanying them were not pirates.


“All they were doing is highlighting the risks and dangers inherent in oil extraction in the Arctic region.  They were speaking for all of us who, following theGulfofMexico Oilspill, worry about extraction in even more vulnerable parts of the globe.


“The European Parliament needs to show we are doing all we can to support them. That is why I am calling on High Representative Catherine Ashton to take up this issue at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on 21st November, just three days before the activists’ pre-detention hearing. That way we can work to secure their release and get them all home before Christmas.”


Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West and ALDE Party Presidet Graham Watson, who has written a letter to Mrs Ashton urging her to take action on the issue, commented:


“My thoughts are with my constituents Alexandra Harris, Iain Roger, Keiron Bryan and their families. I can only begin to imagine what they and their colleagues are going through after being arbitrarily locked up in cold cells and solitary confinement.


“Russiahas to guarantee that all thirty detainees are given a free trial – and I have asked that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton makes sureRussiafulfils its human rights obligations on this matter.


“We owe it to these brave young people not to allow this incident to weaken our resolve in future when it comes to challenging other countries – big or small – over drilling for oil in theArctic.”




Bearder: Farage exposed over tax haven fund

Catherine Bearder has criticised Nigel Farage following revelations that he set up an offshore account on the Isle of Man in order to avoid paying tax.

Catherine commented: “Nigel Farage’s claim to represent ordinary people has once again been exposed as a sham.”

“Last month 6 UKIP MEPs voted against measures to tackle tax evasion, on one of the unusual occasions that they actually turned up to vote.”

“Voting UKIP isn’t a protest. It is a vote for the greedy, lazy and self-serving.”

In May 2013, UKIP voted against a European Parliament report which called for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion.

Bearder/ Ludford: MEPs set to back job creating EU-US trade talks

On Thursday MEPs in Strasbourg are set to adopt their recommendations for the forthcoming EU-US free trade negotiations.

The EU and US together represent about half (47%) of the global economy and 30% of global trade. According to government figures, a free trade agreement between these economic powerhouses could be worth between £4-10bn a year to the UK economy.

South East MEP Catherine Bearder, the Liberal Democrat European spokesperson on trade, commented ahead of tomorrow’s historic vote:

“An EU-US trade deal would open up and increase economic activity on both sides of the Atlantic. Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament and in government in the UK are concentrating our efforts on pushing for a speedy conclusion of negotiations to strengthen the European economy and bring new private sector jobs into the UK.”  Continue reading

BEARDER: Ban pesticides which could harm bees

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe Government has been branded “beyond complacent” after it stalled on banning chemicals which could damage bees.

Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for the South East of England, is backing calls to suspend the use of neonicotinoids amid fears of the impact on the bee population.

Members of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have demanded a moratorium on use of the chemicals.

However, the UK Government is still unconvinced and is asking the European Commission to launch a major study to settle the debate.

But Catherine said: “This is beyond complacent. Britain cannot continue to flap around on the issue. We all know how important bees are to our biodiversity. Continue reading

Lib Dem MEPs lobby for fair distribution of EU funding

Lib Dem MEPs have welcomed the Coalition Government’s commitment to ensure that cuts to European funding from 2014 onwards will be shared in a fair manner across the UK.

The Coalition Government has announced that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be subjected to an equal percentage cut of around 5% compared to the current 2007-2017 EU funding levels.

MEPs and national governments are currently negotiating the next long-term EU budget for 2014-2020. Although a final deal has yet to be reached, the EU’s budget is expected to be cut in real-terms for the first time in its history.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat delegation in the European Parliament, North East MEP Fiona Hall, said: Continue reading