Bennion: UK government right to support EU pilot flying time limits

Speaking after new rules on flying time limits were rejected in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee today, Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion commented:

“I am not convinced by the argument put forward by the pilots union that this proposal would lower standards in the UK. The British government was advised by the Civil Aviation Authority on all the safety aspects throughout the negotiations, and I believe they were right in saying that the best balance had already been struck.”  Continue reading

Lib Dem MEP welcomes EU top court ruling on rail compensation

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket in the event of significant delay, even where that delay is attributable to “force majeure”.  Continue reading

Liberal Democrats deliver billions of EU research funding for small businesses

MEPs voted today to approve the EU’s new science programme, Horizon 2020, which will invest almost £60 billion in research and innovation over the next seven years.

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

“This is an exciting time for the research community and for businesses up and down the country. Liberal Democrats have ensured that over £2.3 billion will be allocated to small innovative businesses, which provide the key to creating new skilled jobs and rebalancing the economy. We also pushed for simpler rules to reduce administrative costs and make it easier for smaller firms to apply for funding.” Continue reading

Human Rights Medal of Honour for Vice-President McMillan-Scott

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament for Democracy and Human Rights, was presented with the Medal of Honour by the President of Venice-based European Inter-University Centre forHuman Rights and Democratisation, Professor Horst Fischer, “in recognistion of his lasting efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.” 

Previous winners are Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Manfred Nowak, human rights lawyer and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

Speaking after the awards ceremony at the opening of the academic year at the Scuola Grande, Venice on 22 September, McMillan-Scott said: Continue reading

Hall: Liberal Democrat Conference Speech on Europe

Fiona Hall MEP, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, gave a speech on the importance of Britain’s EU membership today at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow.

Ms Hall commented:

“Over 3 million jobs are linked to our membership of the EU.  Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created by companies investing across the UK because we have full access to the single market and a say over its rules. If we left the European Union, would Japanese car manufacturers be likely to continue investing in Sunderland or Burnaston, or Swindon?”

“It is only us, the Liberal Democrats, who are fighting for these jobs. We realise the importance of being able to say to investors: ‘If you come to Britain, you can sell to Europe.’”  Continue reading

Watson comments on CBI EU poll

Sir Graham Watson MEPCommenting on the CBI/YOUGOV survey that 8 out of 10 firms say the UK must stay in the EU, senior Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson said:

It’s welcome news that businesses, both large and small, are speaking out about the importance of EU membership for growth and jobs in the UK. 
“As the party of ‘in,’ Liberal Democrats are convinced that Britain’s future prosperity and influence in the world depends on us playing an active and constructive role in Europe. Sniping from the sidelines is not going to help British business or deliver the kind of job-boosting reforms we need.”

Hall: EU telecoms proposal can cement UK’s place as a leading digital economy

In his annual State of the Union speech today at the European Parliament, Commission President Barroso unveiled proposals to create a single telecoms market in the EU which could boost annual GDP growth across the EU by around 0.9%. The proposals include phasing out mobile phone roaming charges and new rules to improve consumer protection.

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

“A truly integrated telecoms sector will mean lower prices and more choice for customers. Putting an end to mobile roaming charges will mean people can go on holiday in Europe without having to worry about racking up large bills while they’re abroad. And new measures will prevent the misleading advertising of internet speeds so you can be sure that you are getting what you pay for.” Continue reading

Hall: Biofuel vote is step in the right direction

MEPs today voted in favour of a 6% cap on the amount of crops that can be used to generate energy for transport and in favour of taking indirect land use change (ILUC) factors into account, but postponed a final vote on biofuels until further deliberations.

The leader of the Lib Dem MEPs and European energy spokesperson, Fiona Hall, commented after the vote:

“Indirect land use change (ILUC) needs to be taken into account when evaluating biofuels and their potential to decarbonise the transport sector. The European Parliament signalled today that from 2020 crop-specific ILUC will indeed be factored into the calculations in the Fuel Quality Directive. Continue reading

Watson: Tory call for ban on live sport betting “disproportionate” and “unnecessary”

Sir Graham Watson MEPLiberal Democrat MEPs have refused to back proposals to ban online live betting, as adopted today by the European Parliament in a report on the gambling industry drafted by Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

Whilstwelcoming some of the measures proposed in the report, in particular those to reduce gambling-related addiction, Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson has stated that banning live betting online would restrict consumer choice while failing to have a discernible impact on match-fixing.

The South West MEP commented: Continue reading

Bowles: Good news for wannabe home-owners across Europe

Sharon Bowles MEPThe European Parliament today voted in favour of new common legal framework for mortgages which will reduce irresponsible lending and make it easier for UK citizens to buy properties abroad.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, who chairs the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, commented: Continue reading