Bowles: EU member states want to continue hiding debts

Sharon Bowles MEPThis morning the European Parliament suspended trialogue negotiations with member states on legislation regarding the disclosure of information of national and regional public accounts.

The Parliament’s negotiating team, led by rapporteur Sharon Bowles MEP, issued the following statement:              

“Three years down the line and some EU governments are incredibly still blind to the most basic lessons to come out of the sovereign debt crisis.    Continue reading

Lyon: Clarity needed from Member States on 2013 EU budget bids

George Lyon MEPSenior UK Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee, George Lyon has called on EU Member States to publish their spending forecasts for 2013 in an effort to find potential savings to the proposed EU budget for next year.

Commenting after a vote in the Budget Committee on the mandate for negotiations with EU Member States on the 2013 budget, Mr Lyon said:

“The Commission’s proposed budget increase of 6.8% for 2013 is predominately based on Member States’ spending estimates for the coming year, as 94% of the EU budget is spent in Member States’ own backyards.  Continue reading

Bearder: Time for strong action to stop trafficking

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandA new European strategy aimed at stemming the flow of women, men and children trafficked across the continent, has been welcomed by Catherine Bearder MEP.

It came as Catherine hosted the Fighting Human Trafficking event at the European Parliament earlier today (Wednesday).

Row for Freedom members travelled to Brussels to speak about becoming the first all-female crew to cross the Atlantic. The team completed the challenge earlier this year to raise awareness of the problem of trafficking.

The European Commission has this week agreed to adopt the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016). Continue reading

Bowles: MEPs vote through tough new rules on corporate transparency

Sharon Bowles MEPThe European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has today voted through amendments to the EU’s Transparency and Accounting Directives, making it harder for big multinational companies to hide profits made in the developing world.

Currently, multinational companies only need to submit one set of consolidated accounts despite often having hundreds of subsidiaries – this has allowed some multinationals to hide details of their business activities abroad and also avoid paying taxes to host countries.

After much political negotiation, the ECON committee voted for all sectors to disclose payments to host governments on a country by country and project by project basis, reports of which will be fully audited. 

Speaking from Brussels today, committee chair Sharon Bowles MEP, said: Continue reading

Bennion: Time to boost job market

West Midlands region MEP Phillip Bennion and the Liberal group in the European Parliament called today for pro-growth reforms to reverse soaring unemployment across the EU.

Unemployment in the EU rose to 10.3% in the most recent April figures, as employers cut 102,000 jobs from their payrolls. Unemployment in the EU has not been this high since 2000, with many governments facing the double challenge of reducing both unemployment and budget deficits at the same time.
The Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament (ALDE) today stressed the need for structural reform of the labour market to tackle unemployment and reach the EU2020 goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive jobs and growth.

Phil Bennion (UK Lib Dems), a member of the Employment committee, welcomed a resolution voted on today at the Parliament in Strasbourg, following on from the Employment package presented in April by the European Parliament.  

McMillan-Scott: European pressure on China as Dalai Lama visits UK

On the eve of Tibetan Spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, speaking at the Yorkshire International Business Convention [Friday 15 June], the European Parliament has increased pressure on China by passing a resolution on Tibet [Thursday 14 June], co-sponsored by Yorkshire & Humber MEP Edward McMillan-Scott (Liberal Democrat) in his capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for Democracy and Human Rights. The resolution draws attention to the chronic human rights abuses taking place in Tibet which has tragically caused 38 Tibetans to self-immolate in protest since 2009.

Mr McMillan-Scott has for many years been highly critical of the way the Chinese regime treats people in Tibet.  In 1996 he visited Tibet, and afterwards he met the Dalai Lama who had been forced into exile in 1959 by the Chinese Communist Party.  McMillan-Scott is campaigning for a truly independent Tibet, free from Chinese repression; in 2008 he sponsored a successful political boycott by key EU figures of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony because of human rights abuses by China in Tibet, and in China itself.

Following the passing of the resolution in the European Parliament, Mr McMillan-Scott commented: Continue reading

Hall: EU energy efficiency deal a welcome breakthrough

Fiona Hall MEP The European Parliament and EU Member States last night reached a tentative deal on the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, after months of tough negotiations.

The proposed Directive intends to step up efforts to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain; from the source all the way to final consumption. This includes a target of a 20 percent cut of energy use through savings against predicted levels by the end of the decade.

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs and Liberal Democrat Energy Spokesperson in the European Parliament, Fiona Hall said: Continue reading

Lyon: EU budget must be fit for purpose

George Lyon MEPSenior Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon has made it crystal clear that there should be no unilateral cut in the UKrebate.

His call comes as the European Parliament debates the EU budget.

Mr Lyon wants to see substantial reform of the way that the EU is funded, including a move to ‘own resources’ that would allow a substantial reduction in Member State contributions. 

However, Mr Lyon, who is the Vice-President of the Budget Committee, added that the Commission’s flawed proposals for a Financial Transaction Tax were not part of the solution.

Commenting on the Parliament’s position on the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020, Mr Lyon said:

“With 94% of the EU budget being spent in Member State’s own back yards it is an important tool for investment and growth across Europe. But negotiations on the multiannual framework must take account of the tough financial times that face Member States. Continue reading

Hall: Commission cycle safety report not good enough

Fiona Hall MEPThe leader of the Liberal Democrat delegation in the European Parliament has attacked a European Commission report on cycle safety which concluded that there is currently not enough evidence to require heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to be mandatorily fitted with new technology to eradicate blind spots.

Fiona Hall MEP, who co-authored a Written Declaration (similar to an Early Day Motion) calling for blind spot technology to be made mandatory as part of the cycle safety campaign “See Me-Save Me”, commented on the findings of the report:

“It is simply not good enough that the Commission has taken over a year to come out with this study that basically says there are not enough facts and figures available to assess the cost-effectiveness of new devices designed to eradicate blind spots. Continue reading

Bowles: EU banking union is a good idea

Sharon Bowles MEPFollowing calls from EU Commissioner, Olli Rehn, and President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, for the EU to establish a “banking union”, Sharon Bowles MEP, who chairs the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, has said that an EU banking union “is a good idea”.

Speaking on Newsnight Ms Bowles said:

“I think there are elements of a good idea in the proposed EU banking union. I think that one of the things it recognises is that banking supervision has to take account of what monetary policy is, so to have the ECB involved in supervision of Eurozone banks and therefore taking account of Eurozone monetary policy in that supervision is a good idea. Continue reading