Phil Bennion – EU migration debate must not fuel inaccurate stereotypes

There is a case for Britain to adjust the rules for some benefits but this should not be used to fuel inaccurate stereotypes about the impact of migration, Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion has said following a meeting with EU Employment Commissioner Lazlo Andor.

The West Midlands MEP and Lib Dem Employment Spokesman says he has grown increasingly concerned at the direction of debate in recent days.

He commented: “We need to separate spin from substance. The current system of EU free movement of labour does not mean freedom to access benefits without contributing through taxes. It is therefore right that we close loopholes in order to prevent abuses. Continue reading

Ludford: Tory eurosceptics’ proposals would be a Fresh Start for criminals

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

Tory Eurosceptic group Fresh Start yesterday published a report calling for the UK to withdraw from all EU policing and criminal justice measures.

Commenting, Sarah Ludford MEP said:

“These proposals would indeed be a fresh start, for the thousands of criminals who would find it far easier to escape justice.

“UK police chiefs have made it clear: you cannot fight cross-border crime without cross-border police cooperation. Pulling out of EU crime-fighting measures altogether would be a gift to drug-smugglers, human-traffickers and online sex offenders. Continue reading

Bowles backs EU proposal to close corporate tax loophole

Sharon Bowles MEPChair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, has today pledged to support EU plans to close a loophole which has allowed large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Amendments to the EU’s corporate tax legislation, proposed by Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, will introduce an anti-abuse clause which will prevent companies including Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple from stockpiling their profits in countries with lower tax rates.

Ms Bowles has led calls for the introduction of country-by-country reporting in the EU to clamp down on aggressive corporate tax avoidance. Continue reading

Ludford: European Arrest Warrant ripe for reform

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPBritish Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford is introducing her report on reform of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) tomorrow, Wednesday 27th November, in the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs committee. She has long been involved in criminal justice measures and has taken a particular interest in the EAW.

She said:

“The European Arrest Warrant is a crucial crime-fighting tool, essential for police efforts to keep the public safe. It delivers speedy surrender compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures and ensures that criminals cannot flee from justice by crossing borders. London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forest are among those who have been brought to justice thanks to the EAW.

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Bearder welcomes WTO ruling upholding EU ban on seal products

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandLiberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has welcomed news that an EU ban on seal products has been upheld in a World Trade Organisation ruling.

The ban was steered through the European Parliament by former Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis four years ago.

Commenting, Ms Bearder said:

“Four years ago, MEPs voted to ban the trade in seal fur in order to put an end to this needless massacre. The WTO ruling upholds that democratic decision. Continue reading

Hall: Siemens to stop investment if Britain leaves EU

The managing director of Siemens UK, which employs 13,000 people across the country, has warned that his company would stop investing in factories in the UK if it was not part of the EU. He added that leaving the EU would be “disastrous” for British manufacturers. This follows a poll last month which found that eight out of ten manufacturers want to remain in the EU.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall commented:

“The message from business is loud and clear, it’s in Europe in work.

“Thousands of jobs are created each year by foreign investors who see Britain as a launch-pad into the world’s largest single market. Leaving the EU would mean losing that status and putting crucial jobs and investment at risk.” Continue reading

Hall: UK in line for billions of EU funding for universities and small businesses

Fiona Hall MEPLeader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall today hailed a major victory for the UK research community as the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the EU’s new £64 billion research and innovation programme.

The new framework, Horizon 2020, will be the largest research programme in the world and will see an increase of funding of almost a third compared to the current period. That means the UK could be in line for almost £5 billion worth of science funding from 2014-2020.

Universities in the UK have received almost £3 billion under the current research programme, FP7, more than universities in any other EU country. Continue reading

Lyon: Astonishing that Labour votes against EU funding to tackle youth unemployment

MEPs voted for a 6.5% cut to the EU’s budget for 2014 today in Strasbourg, as agreed in a deal last week in Brussels.

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

“Liberal Democrats have voted to reduce next year’s EU budget by £7.7 billion compared to 2013. We also fought for an extra £180 million research and innovation funding, of which the UK is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

“It’s astonishing that Labour MEPs opposed this budget, which includes almost £3 billion to tackle youth unemployment and create thousands of jobs across the UK. Labour have shown that they are running scared over Europe, and are as weak and divided in Brussels as they are in Westminster. Continue reading

Taylor: Increase in Erasmus funding will allow 4 million to study and train abroad

The European Parliament today approved the new Erasmus+ programme which will provide over £12 billion for young people, staff and teachers to study or train abroad over the next seven years, an increase of 40% compared to the current budget. The programme also includes a new Masters Loan Guarantee, backed by the European Investment Bank, which will enable students to take out low-interest loans of up to 18,000 euros to undertake post-graduate studies across the EU. Continue reading

Bennion: Welcome EU infrastructure investment

The Liberal Democrat European transport spokesman, Phil Bennion, has welcomed today’s adoption of an EU infrastructure package worth EUR 33bn between 2014 and 2020.

The ‘Connecting Europe’ programme will help fund and facilitate projects of common interest in the areas of energy, transport and infrastructure. The UK’s West Coast Main Line corridor is among the identified priority projects that would be eligible for EU funding.

Dr Phil Bennion MEP said: Continue reading