Ludford: European Arrest Warrant reform one step closer

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP MEPs on the European Parliament LIBE committee yesterday approved a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford calling for major changes to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), including the introduction of a human rights’ clause to prevent miscarriages of justice and a proportionality test to prevent the warrant being used for petty crimes.

The report calls for the European Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to reform the EAW at the EU level.

Sarah Ludford said:

“I’m delighted that reform of the European Arrest Warrant is now one step closer after my report was approved by the LIBE committee. The warrant needs to be used not only effectively but proportionately, with guarantees that safeguards are respected and human rights are not abused in the process. This will help prevent miscarriages of justice in the future.”

“My report seeks to achieve this reform with EU-wide support, rather than ad hoc and uncoordinated action by individual member states which would fail to deliver real justice for European citizens.”

“The Euro-warrant will remain a crucial crime-fighting tool, delivering swift justice compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures, ensuring that criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law by crossing into another European country. With the reforms I and my MEP colleagues are calling for – and we expect the Commission to act on – all our citizens will be able to have full confidence in its fairness as well as its effectiveness.”

Notes to Editors

The report will be voted on by all MEPs in plenary in February.

A list of case studies of miscarriages of justice arising through use of the European Arrest Warrant can be found on the Fair Trials international website here.

London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forrest are among those who have been brought to justice to the UK thanks to the EAW.

Davies: European Parliament backs report calling for EU action to promote carbon capture

Chris Davies MEP MEPs today overwhelmingly approved a report calling for EU action to kick-start the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce CO2 emissions from industry and power generation, with 524 voting in favour and just 141 against.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who authored the report, commented:

“With CO2 capture plants under construction in the USA, Canada and China, Europe could not only fail to achieve CO2 reductions at the least possible cost but also risks losing out on export orders.

“CCS can help to provide Europe with low carbon electricity even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Flagship projects to develop the technology need to be given financial support equivalent to that given to renewable energy.

“Most governments have yet to give thought to how they will achieve CO2 reductions of 80% or more by 2050. When they start to look to the long-term a significant number will realise that CCS could have a key role to play.”

The lead CCS project in Europe at present is in the UK. The British government is supporting a major engineering study into the use of the technology by the White Rose consortium at Drax power station in Yorkshire.

Chris Davies’ report calls on every EU country to publish a CO2-reduction strategy indicating how they will achieve the 2050 goal. Those governments that choose to endorse carbon capture would have to play an active role in providing financial support, assisting in the building of a pipeline network and helping to prepare storage sites. The MEP has also called for an EU-wide target to be agreed so that unused funds currently set aside for CCS are spent and a range of flagship projects brought forward. This would promote innovation, reduce costs and help make CCS become accepted as a viable option in the long-term.

Carbon capture innovation projects can now apply for £168m worth of funding for the development of clean energy under the EU’s 2014-2020 Horizon 2020 research framework. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the Parliament on Monday that the promotion of CCS would feature in the climate and energy strategy that the European Commission will adopt next week.

Notes to editors

The full report can be found here.

UK government support for the development of CCS includes a £1 billion commercialisation competition to support the development commercial-scale CCS and a £125 million 4-year research programme

https://www.gov.uk/uk-carbon-capture-and-storage-government-funding-and-support#ccs-commercialisation-competition

The International Energy Agency says that CCS should be responsible for 20% of the CO2 reductions to be achieved globally by 2050.

Lib Dem MEP Leader Fiona Hall on Business for Britain report

Commenting on the report by campaigning group Business for Britain which calls for firms that do not export to the rest of the EU to be exempt from EU regulations, Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall said:

“Ironically, this proposal would lead to less business for Britain and an increase in red tape. Having multiple sets of rules would carve the British economy in two and create a bureaucratic nightmare for businesses seeking to expand into the rest of Europe. 

“Liberal Democrats have led on reforming the EU to improve its competitiveness, including by exempting small businesses from costly accounting requirements. This should be everybody’s priority. 

“Rather than putting forward half-baked proposals, Business for Britain should be honest and admit that their real intention is to pull us out of the EU altogether, something which businesses in the UK are overwhelmingly against.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable added:

“One in 10 jobs in the UK rely on trade with the EU. By being in the EU, British businesses also benefit from a common set of rules to do business and attract foreign investors. We should be supporting all British businesses to take advantage of the single market, not holding them back by shutting the door on the biggest trading block in the world.”

Tory attempt to block Snowden EP evidence foiled

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

MEPs from the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee today voted to invite video testimony from whistle-blower Edward Snowden to the European Parliament’s inquiry into mass surveillance. The evidence session is expected to be held in coming weeks, possibly as early as the week commencing January 20th.

British Conservative MEPs strongly opposed Snowden giving testimony, but were heavily defeated with 36 MEPs voting in favour and only the two Tory MEPs in the committee voting against. Continue reading

Graham Watson: UK government must claim EU aid for flood victims

Sir Graham Watson MEP

Sir Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, is calling on the UK government to urgently apply for aid from the EU’s Solidarity Fund to help rebuild communities devastated by flooding in recent weeks.

The fund, which has a budget of up to £414mn for 2014, was set up to provide financial assistance to EU countries struck by major natural disasters. The UK has applied once before for funding in 2008, when it received around £128m in aid to help repair damage caused by devastating floods the previous summer. Money from the fund can be used for clear-up work, infrastructure restoration, providing temporary accommodation, and funding rescue services.

However, under EU rules the Government must submit an application for assistance from the fund no more than 10 weeks after the disaster occurred, including an estimate of how much the damage cost. In a letter to Environment Minister Owen Paterson and Flooding Minister Brandon Lewis, Sir Watson is calling for urgent action to ensure the UK benefits from the fund. Continue reading