Lib Dems launch ‘Think Small First’ campaign across Europe

 Today, Liberal Democrat MEPs are launching a Europe-wide campaign to boost successful entrepreneurship in theUKand across the EU. Ahead of the Spring European Council dedicated to growth initiatives and competitiveness, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament is stepping up pressure on national governments and the EU Commission to further improve the framework conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Europe’s approximately 23 million SMEs make up to 99% of all businesses and provide two-thirds of all private sector jobs in the EU. A study presented by the Commission in January revealed that six in ten new jobs are created by small enterprises. More than half of the value creation of European companies is attributed to SMEs Continue reading

Hall: MEPs resume fight to end roaming rip off

Fiona Hall MEPMEPs today voted to extend EU rules aimed at reducing the cost of using mobiles and smartphones while abroad and approve new structural measures to inject more competition into the roaming market. Since 2007, EU roaming regulations have gradually introduced price caps on cross-border mobile phone calls and text messages and established guarantees against ‘bill shocks’. Continue reading

Ludford: Liberals in Europe key group for LGBT rights

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has expressed disappointment at the defeat of a key paragraph in a European Parliament committee vote on a report on EU citizens’ rights. This paragraph demanded full freedom of movement with legal rights for same-sex couples and an end to Member States’ obstruction of a 2004 EU law meant to achieve this.

The right-wing parties succeeded in deleting this paragraph by just 3 votes in the Petitions committee because of the behaviour of MEPs from the European Socialist & Democratic group (S&D), to which British Labour party MEPs belong. The S&D has 8 votes on the committee but only 4 or 5 of their MEPs were present and in any case they had a free vote rather that a disciplined group position in favour. Continue reading

Hall: A Green Deal for Europe

Fiona Hall MEPToday, the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee voted on proposals to ensure the EU achieves the goal agreed in 2008 to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020. Current forecasts predict that the EU is only on track to achieve a 9% reduction on 1990 levels.

The Leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and energy expert Fiona Hall, chief negotiator for the Parliament’s Liberal and Democrat Group on the Efficiency Directive, said that the new Energy Efficiency Directive was necessary to get the EU back on track towards the 20% target. She went on to highlight the influence that Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government had had on the Commission’s proposals. She said the new Energy Company Obligation and the Green Deal both introduced by the Coalition Government inspired some key provisions proposed in the new bill, including an obligation on energy utilities to assist their customers with energy saving measures. Continue reading

Bearder: Court clarification over ACTA is needed

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandA decision for the European Union’s highest court to rule on the legality of a controversial anti-piracy agreement has been welcomed by Catherine Bearder MEP.

Rights campaigners have attacked the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) because they believe it will strangle online freedom of expression.

But EU trade head Karel De Gucht said the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will now check whether the treaty is in line with the union’s principles on rights and freedoms.

The ACTA agreement, which is aimed at standardising international copyright protection measures, has been signed by 22 EU member states, as well as the USA and Japan.

Catherine said the European Commission’s decision to ask the ECJ to clarify the trade agreement was sensible as too many questions still needed to be answered. Continue reading

BOWLES: Asian countries concerned over spill-over effect of Eurozone crisis on world trade

Sharon Bowles MEPA delegation of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee (ECON) led by its chairwoman UK Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles has been meeting Ministers of Finance, Supervisory Authorities, stock exchange officials and monetary authorities in Hong Kong and in Singapore on the impact of the Eurozone debt crisis on Asian markets as well as developments concerning EU financial services legislation in line with the G20 agenda, such as capital requirements for banks (Basel III) and over-the-counter derivatives. Continue reading

Re-election of Edward McMillan-Scott excellent news – Browne


Edward McMillan-Scott in Tahrir Square the day after Hosni Mubarak’s fall

Commenting on the re-election of Edward McMillan-Scott, Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire & Humber, as Vice-President of the European Parliament with the portfolio for Democracy and Human Rights, as well a new responsibility for Transatlantic Relations, British Foreign Office Minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Taunton Deane, Jeremy Browne said:

“I am delighted at Edward’s re-election. He has proved a passionate, determined and highly effective campaigner for human rights and democracy.  Continue reading

NEWS: Lyon – EU civil servants must share the pain

George Lyon MEPAhead of a Debate on the Floor of the Commons on the pay, pensions and organisation of EU staff, Senior Lib Dem MEP George Lyon, Vice President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee and author of a report to modernise the EU Staff Regulations, has spoken out in support of a major reform to the salary, pensions and working hours of EU civil servants which could save an estimated €1000 million between 2013 and 2020.

Highlighting the current climate of austerity, Mr Lyon has backed proposals that will cut EU staff numbers by 5%, increase their working week by 2.5 hours, increase the retirement age from 63 to 65 and make it easier to work to 67. There will be other changes to certain staff categories and a 50% reduction in the number of days staff are entitled to subsidised travel back to their home countries.  He also wants to ensure that staff are rewarded based on their performance and the quality of their work Continue reading

Ludford: MEPs lead EU challenge to Hungarian democratic threat

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament today of a resolution condemning the controversial new Hungarian constitution.

Commenting after the vote, Sarah said:  

“The European Commission and Hungary’s fellow EU governments have been slow to act on the blatant erosion of civil liberties in Hungary taking place under Viktor Orban and his right-wing ruling party. They have twiddled their thumbs as Orban misused a two-thirds parliamentary majority in parliament to restrict dissenting journalism, suborn independent bodies and entrench discrimination and party hegemony through a highly partisan constitution.” Continue reading

MEPs vote to tighten their own belts

MEPs in Strasbourg have today voted to freeze their own allowances until mid-2014 and cap the travel budget at the present level in order to meet demands that all EU institutions cut their administrative spending.

Senior Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice President of the Parliament’s Budget Committee, George Lyon, who is pushing for the EU budget to be radically restructured and independently evaluated to find further savings, commented after the vote:

“At a time when people across the country struggle to make ends meet, it is important that MEPs show some leadership in keeping the Parliament’s costs under control. Continue reading