Davies: New fishing quotas to rebuild fish stocks in 2014

Chris Davies MEP

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Environment Spokesman Chris Davies has welcomed news that national ministers meeting in Brussels have set annual fishing quotas that will allow fish stocks to recover in 2014.

The reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy, which will legally require fishing quotas to be set at sustainable levels based on scientific advice, does not technically come into force until 2014. However, ministers agreed to abide by the new rules for setting the catch and days-at-sea limits for 2014. Under the new quotas, 30 fish stocks will be at scientifically-advised maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels by 2015, up from 25 stocks at present. Fishermen are also to receive support to help them adjust to the forthcoming ban on discarding fish.

Chris Davies, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group to campaign for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, commented:

“This is an important step towards sustainable fishing in Europe. Ministers have shown they are at last willing to implement reforms and to set quotas in line with scientific advice.

“Cod stocks in the North Sea have risen for seven years in succession, and with the right approach the same will be achieved in other fisheries. We have had the pain; soon we should start to see the gain.”

Rebecca Taylor: E-cigarettes – The current state of play following last night’s negotiations

Negotiations between MEPs and national governments represented by the Lithuanian Presidency on how best to regulate e-cigarettes effectively came to an end last night (Monday 17th December). Further negotiations will take place tomorrow between all EU governments who must approve on the deal reached, which will then be subject to a final vote in the European Parliament next spring.

The current state of play on these products following last night’s negotiations is:

- E-cigs are defined as a “product for consumption” and not as a medicinal product.

-E-cigs are to be regulated according to the provisions of Article 18 of the Tobacco Products Directive concerning nicotine containing products.
-There is an exemption for products “subject to an authorisation requirement” under the Directives for medicinal products or medical devices. This essentially means that Member States could apply pharmaceutical legislation, but only if they can justify it. They are likely to encounter the problem of legal challenges referencing the EU law specifically tailored to e-cigs.

-Flavourings will not be regulated at EU level. Member States can regulate them but may not ban flavours allowed in another Member State as EU treaties forbid trade restriction in the single market.

Cross-border Sales
-Will be allowed according to Article. 16 of the TPD

-All current types of e-cigs are allowed (disposable, refillable by means of a refill container or rechargeable with single use cartridges)
-In case a national competent authority finds evidence that specific electronic cigarette
products or refill containers present a serious risk to human health, it can take appropriate measures and communicate that to the Commission and other Member States. The Commission will then assess the evidence and justifications. If such measures are taken in three or more Member States (who apply the TPD to e-cigs and not pharma legislation), the Commission will be empowered to extend these measures to products in all Member States. But this could then be blocked by a majority of MEPs in the European Parliament.

Product requirements
-Refill containers for nicotine-containing liquid may not exceed a volume of 10ml.
-Disposable cigarettes or single use cartridge for nicotine-containing liquid may not exceed a volume of 1ml.
-The liquid may not contain more than 20mg/ml nicotine.
-E-cigs and refill containers need to be child and tamper-proof. They need to be protected against breakage & leakage and have a mechanism ensuring leakage-free refilling.

Labelling and consumer information
-E-cig packs need to include a leaflet with instructions for use and information on potential adverse effects.
-There needs to be a reference that the product is not recommended for the use of young people and non-smokers.
-Unit packs need a list of all ingredients and detailed information on the nicotine dosage.
-The packs need to carry one of two health warnings.

Advertising and promotion
-Will be prohibited in press and other printed publications, in the radio or on TV (with exception for publications for trade professionals).

Detailed reporting obligations
-Will apply to manufacturers and importers while Member States shall monitor the market development, including on evidence for gateway use of young people.

Significant ground had been won in the rejection of Europe wide medicines licensing. But the decision to potentially ban refillable cartridges and devices in future would be a backward step.

The fight is now on to show that it would not be justifiable to ban refillable cartridges on health and safety grounds.

Rebecca Taylor MEP and Chris Davies MEP: Medicinal regulation avoided but fight for ecigs not over yet

There are better ways to regulate

Liberal Democrat MEP and Health Spokeswoman in the European Parliament Rebecca Taylor welcomed the fact that mandatory medicinal regulation of electronic cigarettes was rejected in negotiations on the EU Tobacco Products Directive, but expressed her disappointment over some aspects of the outcome.

In negotiations last night (Monday), proposals from the European Commission that all electronic cigarettes should be controlled by pharmaceutical legislation were rejected by MEPs. Governments will now have to propose special legal justifications if they wish electronic cigarettes to be treated differently from conventional tobacco cigarettes.

In negotiations with representatives of EU governments, MEPs agreed on a compromise that the maximum nicotine content of e-cigs available for general sale should be 20mg/ml, a major increase on the 4mg/ml originally proposed by the Commission and above the average routinely used. The nicotine level agreed is regarded as closely comparable to that derived from smoking conventional cigarettes.

It was agreed that the flavourings that can be used in e-cigs will be specified by national governments rather than specified by EU legislation.  Refillable units, which are widely used at present, will continue to be available. They will however be subject to a safeguard clause meaning that Member States can introduce stringent national measures including a prohibition against concerned products – if justified by evidence of a serious risk to public health. If refillable e-cigarettes have been prohibited in at least three Member States, the Commission would be able to extend the ban to all Member States through a delegated act but that could be blocked by a majority in the European Parliament. The Commission was also asked to report on health and safety risks of refillables within two years’ time.

Rebecca Taylor commented:

 “Significant ground had been won in the rejection of Europe wide medicines licensing. But the decision to potentially ban refillable cartridges and devices in future would be a backward step.”

 “Second and third generation e-cigarette devices, which are used by around 80% of long term e-cigarette consumers, allow users to mix and match their desired flavours and nicotine strengths. They are a key part of what attracts someone to quit smoking tobacco and switch to e-cigarettes and to stick to vaping rather than go back to smoking.”

 “Unless manufacturers are able to adapt their products to accommodate disposable cartridges, I worry that a substantial number of e-cigarette users may be pushed back to tobacco, which is the exact opposite of what the tobacco directive is supposed to achieve.”

 “The fight is now on to show that it would not be justifiable to ban refillable cartridges on health and safety grounds.”

Chris Davies MEP added:

“We have seen a massive turnaround in the approach towards e-cigs and that is very much to be welcomed. These things can save lives because smokers find them pleasurable to use.”

“But we are determined to fight to the end on behalf of e-cig users.  Their health benefits are enormous compared to smoking tobacco and they can be a game-changer in the fight against smoking-related disease.  They should never have been included within legislation intended to regulate tobacco products.”

“So long as conventional cigarettes are available everywhere the restrictions on e-cigs should be minimal.  Too many EU governments simply don’t get it. The controls they favour will lead to people dying unnecessarily who might otherwise have switched from smoking cigarettes to using a product not now associated with any deaths at all.”



Bennion: EU triples rail innovation funding to £380mn – beneficiaries to include Bombardier and Network Rail

The European Commission today announced £380mn of EU funding for rail innovation under the EU’s new research programme for 2014-2020, three times more than the amount for 2007-2013.

The new public-private partnership, called “Shift2Rail,” consists of eight founding members including the UK’s Network Rail and Canadian firm Bombardier, which employs over 3000 across the country including at a major factory in Derby.

Phil Bennion MEP, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman in the European Parliament, commented:

 “This funding will give a significant boost to the UK rail industry and the thousands of people it employs. Continue reading

Sharon Bowles: Excessive online card fees banned under new EU consumer rights law

Sharon Bowles MEP

Excessive surcharges on card payments and pre-ticked boxes on websites are to be banned following the coming into force of new EU consumer rights legislation today. Under the new rules, which must be fully implemented by 13th June 2014, retailers across the EU will also have to give clearer price information and provide shoppers with longer cooling-off periods to cancel orders and return goods.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, who helped to steer the EU legislation though the European Parliament, commented:

“These new rules will finally bring consumer law into line with the digital era. This is particularly welcome news for customers in the UK, who now do more of their shopping online than almost any other country in the world. Continue reading

Lynne Featherstone and Sarah Ludford: Tory and UKIP MEPs fail to condemn female genital mutilation

Lynne Featherstone MP and Liberal Democrat European human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP have strongly criticised Conservatives MEPs who voted against a European Parliament resolution today condemning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Four Conservative MEPs – Marta Andreasen, Nirj Deva, Sajjad Karim and Timothy Kirkhope – voted against the motion to condemn FGM, and several UKIP and Conservative MEPs including Nigel Farage abstained.

Lynne Featherstone commented:

“It is deeply shocking that so many Tory and UKIP MEPs today refused to condemn female genital mutilation.

“I have made it a priority of this government to end this horrific practice within a generation. That means working through international organisations like the EU to help shape cultural attitudes worldwide.

“Sending out mixed signals like this completely undermines the global fight against FGM on which Britain is playing a leading role in support of the many African countries who have already banned the practice.”

Sarah Ludford added:

“Today’s vote was a betrayal of the millions of young girls who have been subjected to genital mutilation the world over.

“Tory and UKIP MEPs would do better to put their personal attitudes towards the EU aside when it comes to something as important as the fight against FGM. Surely we should be standing united in condemning this barbaric practice and working together to end it.”

Notes to editors:

Lynne Featherstone MP is a minister in the Department for International Development and UK Ministerial Champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas. In March this year she announced a £35m DFID programme to help end FGM worldwide within a generation.

Today’s European Parliament resolution stated: “strongly condemns the disgraceful practice of female genital mutilation in certain parts of Africa, honour killings, gender-based abortion and forced marriage;”

Four Conservative MEPs voted against (p.61-62), four Conservative MEPs and five UKIP MEPs abstained: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/doc/votingResult/P7_PV(2013)12-11(RCV)_en.pdf

The coalition government has set up a new NSPCC helpline to allow children affected by FGM to talk to someone in confidence: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/news-and-views/our-news/child-protection-news/female-genital-mutilation-helpline/fgm-helpline-launched_wda96863.html

The coalition government has also established a £35m fund to help communities across Africa get the support they need to reject this barbaric practice: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-help-end-female-genital-mutilation



Hall: New opportunities for UK universities and businesses as £12.5bn EU research funding announced

The European Commission has announced that from today, universities and businesses across the UK can apply for £12.5 billion worth of European funding under the first of two years of the EU’s latest research programme.  The new EU framework, Horizon 2020, will be the world’s largest research programme with an overall budget of over £65 billion over the next seven years. Areas due to be prioritised in 2014 and 2015 include energy efficiency, digital security and healthcare.

UK universities have been particularly successful at accessing funding under the current framework, receiving more than higher education institutions in any other EU member state. In total, the UK has received almost £4 billion of EU research funding since 2007.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall commented:

“EU research funding brings huge benefits to the UK economy, helping to drive innovation and create jobs in some of our most cutting-edge sectors. Every £1 of EU research spending leads to an estimated £11 of added value to industry. Continue reading

Bennion: New EU rules allow use of electronic devices on planes during take-off and landing

The EU’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has ruled that electronic devices can be kept switched on during the total duration of flights, including take-off and landing, as long as they are in “flight mode.”

Phil Bennion, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman, called on the European Commission to review the ban on the use of mobile phones in planes back in March 2013.

Commenting, he said:

“I’m glad that the rules are being updated in line with scientific evidence and the latest technology. Using smartphones, tablets and e-readers has become part and parcel of modern travel, and so it’s good news that passengers will now be able to keep reading and working while in flight-mode.” Continue reading

Davies: MEPs approve back-loading to shore up EU emissions trading scheme

Chris Davies MEPMEPs voted today by 385 votes to 284 to support ‘back-loading’ proposals that will shore up the EU’s emissions trading scheme today by delaying the sale of carbon credits.

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

“What should have been nothing more than a minor regulatory adjustment had become a test of the EU’s entire strategy on climate change. We must now ensure Europe takes the lead in the fight against global warming by pursuing long-term structural reform of the ETS.” Continue reading

Davies: Final agreement reached on rebuilding Europe’s fish stocks

Picture shows Matthias Groote MEP, Chair of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (left) with Chris Davies MEP (right) and Bill the Cod.

Major reforms aimed at rebuilding Europe’s depleted fish stocks have been agreed by MEPs meeting in Strasbourg today.The new EU Common Fisheries Policy will make it a legal requirement to set quotas for fish catches using maximum sustainable yields, with the aim of rebuilding fish stocks by 2020. It requires long-term management plans to be prepared for every fishery and devolves day-to-day decisions about fishing practice from Brussels to regional bodies.  A ban on the discard of fish will be phased in from 2015.

Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesman Chris Davies MEP, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group, claimed the new policy demonstrated the importance of Britain playing a constructive role in Europe to achieve reform.

He said: “For too long decisions were made about fishing policy that ignored scientific advice, with the result that Europe now has to import two thirds of the fish we eat. Continue reading