Ludford: Rendition inquiries in Lithuania positive but incomplete

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has visited Lithuania as part of a delegation following up the 2007 European Parliament inquiry report – of which she was vicechair – on European collusion in extraordinary rendition and torture.

She is co-rapporteur of a new report aiming to determine European states’ progress in investigating and determining accountability in the last 5 years.

Sarah Ludford commented:

“Credit must go to Lithuania for having instituted both a parliamentary and a prosecutorial inquiry, more than any other country. This positive example shames bigger states, like the UK under the Labour government, which have refused to lift the lid.” Continue reading

Duff: EP constitutional affairs committee rejects greater voting transparency

Andrew Duff MEPThe Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament today rejected – by 14 votes to 8 a proposal from Andrew Duff MEP (UK, Lib Dem) to make all final legislative votes in the Parliament, at whatever stage of the legislative process, subject to roll-call.

Reacting to the vote, Mr Duff said: “It is hugely disappointing that the two large groups in the Parliament decided not to open up legislative votes in committee to full democratic accountability. It sets the Parliament someway behind the best practice in many national parliaments and in the US Congress. Continue reading

Lyon: Members States can’t have their cake and eat it on EU budget

George Lyon MEPToday the European Commission published its draft proposals for the 2013 EU budget. The proposals set out a budget of €138bn, a 6.8% increase on this year’s spending.

Commenting on the draft budget, Senior Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice President of the Budget Committee in the European Parliament, George Lyon said:

“During tough economic times when households budgets are shrinking and people are worried about their jobs it is hard to justify any EU budget increase. Continue reading

Hall: Liberal Democrat MEPs pull the plug on ACTA

Fiona Hall MEPLiberals and Democrats in the European Parliament have today announced that they will reject the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). There is now a majority in the Parliament to vote against the ratification of this plurilateral treaty which was aimed at establishing international standards for intellectual property rights (IPRs). However, the agreement had come under severe criticism for its lack of precision and potential side effects on fundamental rights of individuals.

Fiona Hall MEP, the leader of the Liberal Democrat delegation in the European Parliament, commented:

“We have had a very close look at ACTA because the protection of intellectual property rights is important for our knowledge-based economy and for our consumers who need to be protected from potentially dangerous counterfeit products such as toys, medicines and electronics. Continue reading

Bearder: Stop ‘silent massacre’ on biodiversity

 Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandMEPs today voted on concrete steps to protect and restore biodiversity in Europe over the next 10 years as a matter of urgency.

In Europe, some 25% of all species are threatened with extinction and worldwide an estimated 75% of fish stocks are over-exploited or significantly depleted. Around 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost worldwide since 1990.

Senior Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who authored an opinion on the report on behalf of the Parliament’s regional development committee said: Continue reading

Ludford: Biometric passports require competent staff and cooperation

Sarah Ludford discusses the importance of making travel documents more secure but warns against putting too much trust in biometric passorts. As technology advances so does the ease with which criminals can exploit weaknesses in our systems. We need the cooperation of individual applicants and ensure that officials operate the system competently. We also need comprehensive research into failure rates and reliability of information.

Watson: Azerbaijan deserves ‘nul points’ for freedom

Sir Graham Watson MEPSpeaking to the European Parliament today in Strasbourg after MEPs had voted on a report on an EU-Azerbaijan Association agreement, ELDR President and Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson said:

I wish to see closer relations between the Azeri people and those of the EU. EU-Azeri relations are increasingly frustrated by the government of Azerbaijan. Journalists, bloggers, politicians and others who dissent from the government’s opinion are regularly – indeed almost routinely – harassed, imprisoned and maltreated.” Continue reading