Lyon: Smaller EU budget will focus on jobs and growth

Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon has welcomed the news of a political deal that will give Europe the flexibility to spend a smaller budget better and looks to focus on job creation and growth over the next 7 years.

The EU Commission President confirmed this morning that agreement had been reached between the EU Parliament and Council on the final details of the EU’s 2014-2020 budget.

Mr Lyon, who is vice-President of the Budgets Committee in the European Parliament, commented:

“Since the start of this process, Liberal Democrats in Brussels have fought for a smaller EU budget that can be spent more effectively. As a result of this deal, there will not only be a 3% cut to the EU’s long-term budget, but greater flexibility to focus spending on creating jobs and growth.

“Tackling youth unemployment, helping small businesses and boosting research on innovation will all be prioritised under the new framework, complementing the campaign by Liberal Democrats to create a million more jobs over the coming years. While the fine print still has to be ironed out, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for a deal that will deliver vital EU investment to businesses and communities across the UK.”

Mr Lyon added that it looked like UK universities and research centres are set to be the big winners in the 7-year EU budget after reports of an increase in funding for research and development, but warned of a tough transition to the new programme, with the Commission threatening to initially reduce spending with the promise of larger increases in the future.


Notes to editors:

Under the EU 2014-2020 budget deal, funding for the ‘Competitiveness for Growth and Jobs” heading – which includes research and development funding and capital investment projects – will see an increase of 37% compared to the existing budget. This includes 70.2 billion euros for the Horizon 2020 research programme, of which universities and research institutes in the UK are some of the biggest recipients.

The deal will also see up to 2.54 billion euros frontloaded to 2014 and 2015, where it will be prioritised on projects to tackle youth unemployment, strengthen research and boost SMEs. This will complement efforts by the Liberal Democrats in government to create 1.2 million apprentices and 110,000 work placements for young people out of work since 2010.

Davies: Merkel calls in Cameron favours

Chris Davies MEPA deal to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and reduce their CO2 emissions was today halted in Brussels after German chancellor Angela Merkel called in favours from British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The UK had been expected to support an agreement reached with MEPs on Monday that calls for fuel efficiency improvements of more than 25% by 2020, reducing CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 95g/km.

A study by the European Commission suggests that the fuel efficiency deal could save as much as £850 for an average driver and secure a 6% reduction in UK oil imports. Continue reading

Lyon: Breakthrough deal on CAP

George Lyon MEPUK Lib Dem MEP George Lyon has welcomed the deal on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as a big step in the right direction, but stressed that Lib Dem MEPs would have liked to go further in the area of market liberalisation.

Commenting after the breakthrough deal between the European Parliuament and Member States was announced, George Lyon MEP (UK, Lib Dem), who negotiated the CAP reform on behalf of the ALDE Group, commented:

“In the Lyon report adopted by the Parliament back in 2010, I said that sustainability had to be at the heart of the new CAP if we are to address the huge challenges of a doubling of demand for food while at the same time reducing the use of scarce resources. Continue reading

Lyon: EU needs to focus spending on research not bureaucracy

George Lyon MEPUK Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon today warned the EU Commission that ‘all spending is not created equal’ after it was confirmed that officials in Brussels plan to slash funding in research and development in 2014, while demanding a hike in administrative spending.

Speaking after the publication of the EU Commission Draft Budget for 2014, Mr Lyon welcomed the overall 5.8% cut to the budget but called on officials to think again on their plans to boost spending on bureaucracy and instead prioritise investment in areas that will support job creation.

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:

“Everyone knows that when it comes to EU spending, all things are not created equal. Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Commission must show restraint and needs to prioritise spending in areas that will help create jobs and boost economic growth. This is something that it seems that the Commission have ignored and there are still big questions over some elements of this draft budget. Continue reading

Hall: EU funding helps UK punch above its weight on science

Today MEPs and national ministers in Brussels agreed on the new EU research and innovation programme “Horizon 2020″.

Over the past five years, the current EU framework programme (FP7) has brought over £3 billion in science funding to the UK, supporting cutting-edge research in areas such as stem-cell therapy, clean energy and nano-technology.

The leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and European industry spokesperson Fiona Hall said:

“EU research funding has been hugely beneficial to the UK and we punch well above our weight in the science sector.

“We need this additional EU investment in our research sector to ensure that the UK retains its competitive edge and that our world class universities continue to act as a magnet for global talent.

“Economic growth and job creation are driven by innovations that rely on science and research. Research is an area with clear EU added-value and it should be a priority for EU spending.”

The deal still has to be approved by EU Member States and the Parliament’s plenary and is subject to the EU’s long term budget before it can come into force. 

Note to editors:

Horizon 2020 is structured around three pillars.

The first pillar ‘Excellence in the science base’ aims to strengthen the EU’s world-class excellence in science, particularly through a significant strengthening of the European Research Council, which mainly focuses on frontier research.

The second pillar ‘Creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks’ aims to support business research and innovation. Actions will cover: increasing investment in enabling industrial technologies and support for innovation in SMEs with high growth potential.

The third pillar ‘Tackling societal challenges’ aims to respond directly to challenges identified in Europe 2020. Its focus will be on the challenges of: health, demographic change and well-being; food security and the bio-based economy; energy; transport; supply of raw materials; resource efficiency and climate action; inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

EU deal on cleaner and cheaper cars

Last night a deal was reached between MEPs and national ministers in Brussels on EU targets to reduce CO2 emissions in cars.

The deal confirms the 2020 target of 95g CO2/km and puts a cap on super credits that are used to reward manufacturers of polluting cars if they also produce low carbon cars such as electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles. 

The leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and European energy spokesperson Fiona Hall said:

“This deal will not only give much needed certainty to manufacturers and boost the production of low carbon cars; it will also benefit drivers by making cars more fuel efficient and cheaper to run. Continue reading

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.

Hall: EU deal will boost UK SMEs

A deal reached yesterday between MEPs and EU Member States will bring a big boost to SMEs across Europe, according to the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, Fiona Hall MEP.

The deal relates to the competitiveness of entreprises and small businesses (COSME).

Ms Hall, the Lib Dem European industry spokesperson, said:

“SMEs are the backbone of our economy. At this time of economic stagnation and high unemployment, we must support our SMEs and unlock their potential for growth and job creation. The COSME programme with its concrete measures to improve access to finance and markets for SMEs and its efforts to reduce bureaucracy and red tape will play a crucial role in boosting business here in the UK and across Europe.”

Yesterday, the Commission also published a follow-up to its consultation on the top ten pieces of EU regulation that can prove burdensome for SMEs.

Ms Hall added:

“Lib Dem MEPs are committed to the Think Small First principle and work tirelessly to cut unnecessary red tape when amending legislation in the Parliament.

“We will continue to work closely with SMEs to find the best ways to simplify EU regulations and minimise unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Jayne Almond, EU advisor at the Federation of Small Businesses, commented:

“The Commission has made a great start in identifying how the most onerous and disproportionate laws can be improved. Now it’s up to MEPs and the Member States to do their bit so small businesses notice a difference on the ground.”

Ludford: Commissioner’s answers inadequate on PRISM and data protection

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPAppearing before MEPs, European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, responsible for data protection, has failed to confirm that she would positively support the reinsertion in the draft new EU data protection law of an ‘anti-FISA’ clause as called for by MEPs, including ALDE shadow rapporteur Sarah Ludford.

Sarah Ludford wants to ensure that EU customers are shielded from US National Security Agency data-mining authorised by the Patriot Act and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, such as the recently revealed ‘PRISM’ programme. But before the draft EU privacy law was published, Viviane Reding and her colleagues caved in to American pressure and dropped a clause that would have ensured no snooping decision by a foreign tribunal would be recognised unless regulated by an international agreement.

Sarah Ludford said: Continue reading

Davies: Tories blow second chance on business carbon vote

Chris Davies MEPConservative MEPs got a second opportunity to help British business today – and once again blew it.

In April, the European Parliament voted on a proposal to backload the continent’s Emissions Trading Scheme that sets a price for industrial carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to combat climate change.  The vote was lost be 334-315 with British Tory MEPs voting against.

Today, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament voted again on the measure, sending it back to the full parliament for another attempt to pass the legislation.

Tory MEPs voted against backloading despite knowing that carbon prices in the UK leave UK manufacturers paying more for their electricity than their EU competitors and the EU plans would have reduced that gap.

Their votes pu tUK manufacturing industry at a disadvantage compared to Germany or the Netherlands.

Speaking after the Environment Committee’s 2-1 endorsement of the plan UK Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies MEP said, “Conservative MEPs have turned their back on the future and shown their contempt both for the needs of British industry and the policies of the coalition government. Continue reading