Ludford: MPs and Lords right to support EU crime-fighting measures

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPThe House of Commons Justice Committee and House of Lords EU Committee have both published reports today on the UK’s decision over which EU policing and criminal justice measures to stay a participant in.

The Justice Committee broadly supports the coalition government’s intentions while the House of Lords EU Committee goes further in arguing that the UK should seek to rejoin several additional measures on grounds of coherence.

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Liberal Democrat European Spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs, commented:

“Parliamentarians in both Houses have rightly concluded that EU police and judicial cooperation is clearly in the national interest. Continue reading

Sharon Bowles MEPA new poll, published today, conducted by IPSOS-MORI for TheCityUK has found that four in five business leaders in the financial and professional services sector want the UK to stay in the EU.

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

“The UK financial services sector employs over 2 million people and contributes billions to the economy each year.

“Key to its success is the UK’s access to the EU single market, the world’s largest trading bloc, and influence over its rules.

“Leaving the EU would be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”

Liberal Democrat MEPs call on EU to speed up release of Greenpeace activists

MEPs yesterday called on High Representative of the EU Catherine Ashton to press the Russian authorities over the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists who being detained Murmansk, following news that piracy charges had been dropped and replaced with lesser charges. 91 MEPs from twenty countries, including ten Liberal Democrat MEPs from the UK, have signed a statement of solidarity with the Arctic 30 on the Greenpeace website.


Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder met many of the crew members aboard the Arctic Sunrise last June when it docked inHastings as part of aUK campaign to support endangered local fishing communities. She commented:


 “I welcome the news that the piracy charges have been dropped. Even President Putin had admitted it’s obvious the Greenpeace personnel and independent journalists accompanying them were not pirates.


“All they were doing is highlighting the risks and dangers inherent in oil extraction in the Arctic region.  They were speaking for all of us who, following theGulfofMexico Oilspill, worry about extraction in even more vulnerable parts of the globe.


“The European Parliament needs to show we are doing all we can to support them. That is why I am calling on High Representative Catherine Ashton to take up this issue at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on 21st November, just three days before the activists’ pre-detention hearing. That way we can work to secure their release and get them all home before Christmas.”


Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West and ALDE Party Presidet Graham Watson, who has written a letter to Mrs Ashton urging her to take action on the issue, commented:


“My thoughts are with my constituents Alexandra Harris, Iain Roger, Keiron Bryan and their families. I can only begin to imagine what they and their colleagues are going through after being arbitrarily locked up in cold cells and solitary confinement.


“Russiahas to guarantee that all thirty detainees are given a free trial – and I have asked that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton makes sureRussiafulfils its human rights obligations on this matter.


“We owe it to these brave young people not to allow this incident to weaken our resolve in future when it comes to challenging other countries – big or small – over drilling for oil in theArctic.”




Newton Dunn: Billions of pounds in taxes and thousands of jobs being lost to organised crime

Bill Newton-Dunn MEPThe European Parliament today voted on a report calling more European coopeation to address organised crime, corruption and money-laundering in the EU. The report calls for stronger maritime cooperation and border management to stamp out human-trafficking and the smuggling of counterfeit products, weapons and illegal drugs. It also calls for better information-sharing and coordination between national authorities to enable them to fight organised crime and confiscate criminal assets more effectively.

Bill Newton Dunn MEP, the Liberal Democrat Coordinator on the European Parliament’s committee on Organised Crime, commented:

“Shockingly, at a time when governments across Europe are struggling to balance the books, we are losing billions of pounds worth of tax revenue each year to gangs of ruthless criminals. VAT fraud alone is estimated to account for €100 billion of lost revenue a year to the EU, while £4.7 billion of taxes are being lost to criminals annually in the UK. Continue reading

Davies: No fishy EU subsidies for fleet renewal

MEPs in Strasbourg today rejected calls for EU subsidies to be paid for building new fishing boats.

The European Parliament voted to support changes to the Common Fisheries Policy intended to curb overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.

The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020. MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross-party campaign group ‘Fish for the Future’, welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy.

“We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse.

“Grants of this kind were halted nearly a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal.  To have reinstated them would have been a crazy step backwards.” Continue reading

European Parliament approves 5.4% reduction to EU’s 2014 budget

The European Parliament voted today for a 5.4% cut to the EU’s budget in 2014 compared to 2013.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the Budget Committee George Lyon said:

“Liberal Democrats understand the need for tight control of spending in these difficult times, and have helped to deliver a 5.4% cut to the EU’s budget for 2014. That’s a bigger cut than the vast majority of European countries will make next year.

“Despite the additional costs of holding the 2014 European Elections, we also achieved a real-terms freeze to the European Parliament’s budget by finding €24.2 million of savings, including to MEP allowances and staff costs.

“This outcome demonstrates our commitment to building a more efficient and streamlined EU.”

Taylor: MEPs focus on patient safety in medical devices vote

MEPs today agreed to enter negotiations with national governments on new rules for the safety and performance of medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices.

Lib Dem MEPs in particular stressed the need to act to try to prevent health scares like last year’s faulty breast implants scandal by undertaking stricter market surveillance including unannounced inspections of manufacturers and better traceability rules.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor, said:

“Patient safety and confidence must be the main focus of any new rules, but we must do this in a way that allows enough flexibility to stimulate innovation and healthy competition within the market. It is vital to strengthen transparency and controls in order to avoid health scares such as the faulty breast implants scandal. Continue reading

Ludford: EU privacy law – Liberals achieve good balance

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPCo-negotiator for the Liberal group in the European Parliament (ALDE) and Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed an MEP compromise agreement on the new EU Data Protection Regulation to be voted on in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee later today.

Sarah Ludford said:

I’m extremely proud of the crucial leading role played by Liberal Democrats in securing a balanced text which will both guarantee substantive privacy rights across Europe and permit technological innovations that benefit customers.”

“The end result is very different to either of the extremes we faced: reams of prescriptive bureaucracy from one side and a desire to allow businesses free rein on the other. Continue reading

EU-Canada trade deal can boost UK economy by £1.3 billion – Vince Cable and Catherine Bearder MEP

Commenting on today’s agreement on a comprehensive trade deal between the EU and Canada, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said:

“Today’s historic trade deal will give an important boost to growth in Canada and the EU, including long-term economic benefits of over £1.3 billion for the UK.

“This is a blow to those who claim the EU somehow restricts our trade with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. The combined negotiating power of the EU helps us to create jobs by increasing inward investment and opening up new markets for British firms overseas.

“Bringing standards closer together on both sides of the Atlantic is also an important step towards an even bigger prize, a trade deal between the EU and US that could bring up to £10 billion a year to the UK economy.” Continue reading

Fiona Hall and Danny Alexander: The message from manufacturers is clear – in Europe, in work

Commenting on today’s EEF report, ‘Manufacturing: Our Future in Europe,’ leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall said:

“The message from manufacturers is clear: in Europe, in work. Our priority should be creating more jobs by reforming the EU, not putting them at risk by pulling out.”

Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

““Entertaining the idea of UK exit from the EU risks throwing our recovery away. Our focus must be on jobs and growth. Continue reading