Hall: Government review shows EU membership vital for jobs in UK

Today the UK government published the first six reports of its balance of competences review, launched in July 2012, which aims to provide a comprehensive audit of the impact of EU membership on the UK.

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

“This review should inject a welcome dose of realism into the current debate on Britain ‘s EU membership. Most importantly, it underlines that being an influential member of the EU single market is vital for jobs and growth in the UK . Continue reading

Hall: EU announces 22 billion euro boost for innovation

The European Commission has announced that it will be teaming up with the private sector and national governments to invest 22 billion euros in key sectors over the next seven years. The funding will be part of the new EU research and innovation programme “Horizon 2020,” which is due to be voted on in the European Parliament in September.

Leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and European industry spokesperson Fiona Hall commented:

“Investing in innovation is the key to delivering sustainable jobs to the UK while promoting the transition to a greener, more competitive economy.” Continue reading

Taylor/Davies: Lib Dem MEPs will continue fight for availability of e-cigarettes

MEPs in the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee today voted to update the ten year old tobacco directive  including provisions to ban the use of ‘characterising flavours’ (such as  chocolate and menthol) and slim-style cigarettes which are designed to appeal to younger and/or female consumers to encourage them to take up smoking.

Apart from packaging and labelling, other provisions included ingredients, cross-border sales and traceability for the purposes of enforcing product safety standards.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor MEP welcomed the adoption of rules requiring that all cigarette packets in future should have health warnings covering at least 75% of the surface  to make packaging far less appealing to consumers  and discourage them from starting smoking. She said:

“One in two smokers dies as a direct result of their smoking and tobacco related diseases place a great burden on the NHS. Clear and visible  health warnings on cigarette packets  play a role in making tobacco less attractive, particularly to potential first time consumers, who are overwhelmingly young, as 94% of smokers start smoking before the age of 25. Continue reading

Bennion: EU Boost for British Holidaymakers

Lib Dem MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed proposals from the European Commission to modernise the EU’s rules on package holidays and bring them into line with the modern era. The new rules include stricter controls on price surcharges, reduced red tape for travel agents and improved cancellation rights for customers who book package holidays online.

“Almost half of Brits went on a package holiday in 2012, and in this tough econonimc climate people are increasingly looking to save money by booking customised package deals online. These new rules will strengthen the rights of customers to claim compensation, cancel their bookings and access all relevant information, even when buying online packages with several different companies across Europe. Continue reading

Ludford: Lib Dems block Tory attempt to go soft on crime

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat MEP and European spokeswoman on justice and home affairs Sarah Ludford has welcomed the news that Conservative plans to opt out of key EU crime-fighting measures have been blocked by Liberal Democrats in coalition government.

Earlier today, following prolonged negotiations within the coalition, Theresa May announced that the government will be opting back in to 35 of the 136 pre-2009 EU police and judicial cooperation measures, including all those deemed vital by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Sarah Ludford commented:

“The Tories are now so blinded by their anti-EU ideology that they have become soft on crime. They were proposing to abandon key European crime-fighting measures which leading law enforcement figures have repeatedly warned are vital for Britain’s national security. 21st century criminal gangs do not stop at our borders. Neither should our efforts to pursue them and bring them to justice.” Continue reading

Taylor: EU enables record number of young Brits to study abroad

Figures released by the European Commission today show that since 2007 almost 70,000 young Brits have studied or undertaken work experience in another European country thanks to the EU Erasmus mobility programme.

Since the scheme was launched in 1987, more than three million students from across Europe have received EU grants designed to cover part of the additional costs of living, studying and working abroad for a limited period of time.

For the year 2011-2012, 13662 young Brits – more than ever before – took up the opportunity to go abroad to study or gain work experience in companies or other organisations with the help of the Erasmus programme. Of the 4568 students who took advantage of a work placement abroad, a majority gained experience in the education sector but manufacturing, professional and technical activities also proofed popular.

Liberal Democrat European youth spokesperson Rebecca Taylor commented:

“It is fantastic to see ever greater numbers of British students take up the opportunity to study or work in another EU country with the help of Erasmus funding. Continue reading

Lyon: Lib Dem MEPs back smaller and more growth-oriented EU budget

The European Parliament voted today on a resolution to approve the deal reached on the EU’s long-term budget last week, pending a final vote in September.

Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon commented:

“Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have consistently argued for a smaller EU budget that can be spent more effectively and is more targeted towards creating jobs and growth. That is exactly what the deal reached last week will deliver. Continue reading

Davies: backloading vote a stepping stone to deeper structural reform of EU ETS

Chris Davies MEPMEPs voted today to support the EU’s beleaguered emissions trading system (ETS), its principal tool in the fight against global warming.

The European Parliament gave its backing to ‘backloading’ proposals intended to support the price of carbon and maintain trading by delaying the sale of carbon allowance.

The hotly contested vote was widely seen as a test of support for EU efforts to reduce CO2 emissions at a time of economic crisis.

The UK Liberal Democrat European environmental spokesperson Chris Davies commented after the vote:

“What should have been a modest regulatory adjustment has taken on huge importance and had divided governments across Europe. Continue reading

Taylor: EU steps up fight against cross-border health threats

MEPs in Strasbourg today adopted new EU rules to strengthen cross-border cooperation to tackle serious cross border health threats such as influenza, coronavirus and E-coli. 

As part of the strengthened cooperation framework, EU-wide health emergencies can be declared and a new voluntary mechanism will allow countries to club together to bulk-order vaccines. 

Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem European health spokesperson commented:

“Europe needs to be better prepared against outbreaks of communicable diseases such as avian flu or swine flu, but also against other health threats which can spread across borders such as those of a chemical, biological or environmental origin. 

“The new rules mean that there will be more cooperation between EU countries in the planning, monitoring and response stages of tackling a health crisis. 

“EU countries remain responsible for putting wide-ranging action plans in place, but are required to undertake risk-assessment procedures in a transparent way and to coordinate their responses to avoid the chaos of the 2011 E-coli outbreak where different EU countries blamed different vegetables for the outbreak before the facts were properly established, which was very confusing for citizens.”

“The framework will also be linked to the veterinary sector as animal health and zoonotic infections have been a factor in many recent cross-border health threats.”

Lyon: EU must live within its means

Lib Dem MEP George Lyon, Vice President of the European Parliament Budget Committee, has welcomed a vote by MEPs to approve a major reform to EU staff regulations which will save billions of euros between 2013 and 2020.

Mr Lyon commented:

“This shows that the EU is finally beginning to get its house in order and taking steps to live within its means.” Continue reading