Ludford: EU must clamp down on torture goods trade

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has called for tougher EU laws on the trade in instruments used in torture, repression and the death penalty, including drugs used in executions.

An Amnesty International report today, marking this week’s International Day against Torture, shows that torture instruments such as electric-shock belts are being marketed by EU companies while spiked batons are being promoted for sale in the EU and the sale of thumbscrews and leg irons is not banned.

The report follows a successful campaign last year – which Sarah co-led – to close loopholes under which ‘dual-use’ pharmaceuticals which do have a legitimate medicinal use were in fact being exported for illegitimate use as paralytic agents in executions. Continue reading

Hall: New EU caps on roaming charges come into force on 1 July

Fiona Hall MEPOn 1 July, charges for using a mobile phone abroad will be significantly reduced thanks to new EU rules negotiated earlier this year.

The new prices caps (excluding VAT) are: 23p per minute to make a call (compared with 28p previously); 6p per minute to receive a call (rather than 9p); 7p to send a text message (compared with 9p); 56p per megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the internet whilst travelling abroad (no previous cap).

Fiona Hall MEP, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat delegation in the European Parliament and the party’s European industry spokesperson, commented:

“The new caps on roaming charges are great news for holidaymakers and business travellers alike. Continue reading

Lib Dem MEPs call on UK Government to support deal on European Patent Court

Senior Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, chair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, has today called on the UK Government to support a proposed deal on the location of the new European Patent Court.

A European patent that covers the whole of the single market rather than the current system which requires patents to be registered in European countries separately and at greater cost (including substantial translation costs) has been on the table for over four decades.

Last year, the 40 year long battle over which languages should be admissible came to an end with the decision of 25 EU Member States to push ahead with the creation of a common patent regime without the involvement of ItalyandSpain. However, for the past 6 months,France,Germanyand theUK had blocked further progress over a disagreement on the possible location of the newEuropean Patent Court. Now a compromise deal has been proposed by Council President Herman van Rompuy to end the stalemate at the European Council this week. 

Commenting ahead of the European Summit this Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Ms Bowles, who is also the Parliament’s only European patent attorney, said: Continue reading

McMillan-Scott: spotlight on China on International Day against Torture

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP

After her release Zhang, a Beijingaccountant who was imprisoned for her religious beliefs, sent the MEP a list of 50 escalating torture steps used to persuade her to recant. Zhang Lianying and her husband Niu Jinping, another ex-prisoner whom Edward met in Beijing during his last visit in May 2006, now live in theUSA. Another former prisoner of conscience whom McMillan-Scott met, Cao Dong, was then imprisoned and tortured until his release in November 2011. However, on June 8 2012 he was re-arrested and McMillan-Scott fears that he is again being tortured somewhere. Continue reading

McMillan-Scott: Coherent EU strategy on human rights overdue

Edward McMillan-Scott MEPA senior UK Liberal Democrat MEP has welcomed today’s adoption of a strategic framework on human rights and democracy by the EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers as an overdue step towards enhancing the effectiveness and visibility of the EU’s human rights policy.

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, a Vice President of the European Parliament responsible for the promotion of human rights and democracy, commented:

“The Arab Spring is only the latest of developments to highlight the importance of a coherent human rights and democracy promotion policy. Continue reading

Bearder: Let’s get ‘game-changing’ EU-US Free Trade Agreement

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandLiberal Democrats in the European Parliament today welcomed the interim report of the EU-USA High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth and urged both parties to launch a free trade agreement as soon as possible.

The interim report concludes that a ‘comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement’ is the best option for supporting jobs and promoting growth and competitiveness across theAtlantic. Such an agreement could have huge benefits for the British economy, and the US Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the elimination of import tariffs alone would raise EU-US GDP by $180 billion.

Catherine Bearder MEP, Lib Dem EU spokesperson for international trade, commented:

“I call on the European Commission and their American counterparts to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement as soon as possible. Continue reading

Watson: EU delegation to Northern Cyprus asks South to enfranchise Turkish Cypriots

LSir Graham Watson MEPiberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson today led a delegation of eight MEPs to Northern Cyprus, where he met Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, leaders of the Turkish Cypriot political parties and leaders of business and non-governmental organisations.

Sir Graham said:

“Liberal Democrats deeply regret that, as Cyprus prepares to take on the rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers, the island is still divided and the Turkish Cypriots still denied the rights and privileges of EU citizenship.” Continue reading

Ludford: EU deal will help British victims of crime in Europe

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPA senior UK Liberal Democrat MEP has welcomed a deal reached between Euro-MPs and EU Member States to set minimum standards for helping crime victims across Europe.
For business or leisure travellers abroad the trauma of being a victim of crime is compounded by language difficulties, lack of knowledge about the foreign justice system and cultural barriers.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said: Continue reading

Bearder: Tories reject new transparency rules to clamp down on corruption


Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandA Senior UK Liberal Democrat MEP has today criticised Conservative MEPs on forming and ‘unholy alliance’ with UKIP and fascist MEPs to vote down new EU rules calling for big businesses to publish what they pay to governments in developing countries.

Due to the Conservative and far-right alliance, the International Trade Committee today rejected tough amendments to Commission proposals requiring oil, mining and logging companies to publish payments to countries in which they operate to help curb corruption and bribery.

Catherine Bearder MEP, the Lib Dem spokesperson for international trade in the European Parliament, commented after the vote: Continue reading

Bearder: Standing up fo online freedoms means stopping ACTA

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe European Parliament’s Trade Committee today voted against the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA) as a recommendation for the whole Parliament to reject the deal during its next plenary session in July.

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder commented after the hotly contested vote:

“Liberal Democrat MEPs take the issue of copyright and counterfeiting very seriously as property rights – including intellectual property rights – form the basis of our economy and also help prevent dangerous counterfeit products, such as medicines, electronics and toys from entering our markets.  Continue reading