WTO chief warns UK over EU exit

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandRoberto Azevêdo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, has warned that Britain may risk losing influence in trade negotiations if it were to quit the EU during a hearing this morning at the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

In response to a question from Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who asked what impact leaving the EU would have on the UK’s place within the WTO, Mr Azevêdo stated:

“I think that’s a call that the UK will have to make for itself.”

“But of course, the more that a country or a member is in a position to join with others in defending a particular idea or defending a particular agenda, the easier it is to push through its interests.”

Ms Bearder, Liberal Democrat Trade Spokeswoman in the European Parliament, commented:

“UKIP and many Tories claim we can just pull out of Europe and trade using WTO rules, but now even the head of the WTO has turned round and said we are better off staying in.”

“Being part of the world’s largest trading bloc allows us to get a better deal for Britain and to open up new markets for our businesses overseas.”

“Liberal Democrats are the party of In Europe because In is good for jobs, the economy and Britain’s influence on the world stage.”

A number of leading British business organisations have previously spoken out to emphasise the benefits that EU membership brings when it comes to global trade negotiations.

In a report in November 2013, the CBI stated that “the EU has helped open global markets to UK firms on terms that support its trading ambitions, through its leading role in global trade negotiations.”

Meanwhile the EEF manufacturers’ association has stated following a 2013 survey of its members that “UK manufacturers recognise the benefits a strong EU voice in global trade agreements and disputes brings to UK exporters…There is no support for the UK to tackle trade negotiations alone, not least because of the concerns that a deal with the UK would be a lower priority for countries that are currently agreeing deals on a multilateral basis.”

The Scotch Whisky Association has also stressed that “the EU is vital to the industry’s long term sustainability, both as an internal market and as a strong voice in international trade negotiations.”

Bennion: Labour and Tories are “dancing to the UKIP tune” on EU free movement

Groupe ALDELiberal Democrat MEP for the West Midlands Phil Bennion has criticised Labour and the Conservative Party for “dancing to the UKIP tune,” during a debate on EU freedom of movement in the European Parliament today.

Mr Bennion said:

“Both the Conservatives and Labour are dancing to the tune of UKIP on EU migration. It falls to Liberal Democrats to set the record straight and defend the benefits that freedom of movement brings, including for the 2.2 million or so British citizens who live and work across the EU.

“Of course, freedom to move shouldn’t mean freedom to access benefits, and it is right that the UK government is taking action to prevent any abuse of our welfare system.

“But all the evidence shows that EU migration has brought huge economic benefits to the UK and has made a significant net contribution to the public purse. Moreover, many EU migrants are highly-skilled and filling vital job shortages, including 19,000 doctors working for the NHS.

“So while we should respond to citizens’ justifiable concerns about pressure on public services and social integration, let’s not pander to UKIP by fuelling inaccurate stereotypes.”

Ludford: Ford could reassess UK business in case of EU exit

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPFord has warned that it could reassess its business in the UK if the country were to leave the EU.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Stephen Odell, Chief Executive of Ford Europe, said that by quitting the EU Britain would be “cutting its nose off to spite its face.”

He added: “I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”

Mr Odell said that while there was understandable concern about some of the rules and regulations coming from Brussels, the UK would still have to comply with many of these outside of the EU and that it was therefore better to push for reform from within.

Ford, which employs almost 15,000 people across the UK, is one of Britain’s largest foreign investors and manufacturers. A third of the world’s Ford engines are assembled at its plants in Bridgend and Dagenham.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford commented:

“We cannot ignore the message from major employers about the importance of the EU for jobs and growth. Yanking us out of Europe, as UKIP and many Conservatives would like to do, would risk seriously damaging Britain’s economy.

“Foreign investment would go down, unemployment would go up and Britain’s influence on the rules that matter to businesses would be seriously diminished.

“Liberal Democrats, as the Party of In, are committed to reforming the EU from within to make it work better for Britain. Our focus must be on creating jobs and sustaining the economic recovery, not throwing it all away by turning our back on our biggest trading partner.”

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: Government review shows EU membership vital for jobs in UK

Today the UK government published the first six reports of its balance of competences review, launched in July 2012, which aims to provide a comprehensive audit of the impact of EU membership on the UK.

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

“This review should inject a welcome dose of realism into the current debate on Britain ‘s EU membership. Most importantly, it underlines that being an influential member of the EU single market is vital for jobs and growth in the UK . Continue reading

Lyon: Lib Dem MEPs back smaller and more growth-oriented EU budget

The European Parliament voted today on a resolution to approve the deal reached on the EU’s long-term budget last week, pending a final vote in September.

Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon commented:

“Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have consistently argued for a smaller EU budget that can be spent more effectively and is more targeted towards creating jobs and growth. That is exactly what the deal reached last week will deliver. Continue reading

Lyon: EU needs to focus spending on research not bureaucracy

George Lyon MEPUK Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee George Lyon today warned the EU Commission that ‘all spending is not created equal’ after it was confirmed that officials in Brussels plan to slash funding in research and development in 2014, while demanding a hike in administrative spending.

Speaking after the publication of the EU Commission Draft Budget for 2014, Mr Lyon welcomed the overall 5.8% cut to the budget but called on officials to think again on their plans to boost spending on bureaucracy and instead prioritise investment in areas that will support job creation.

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:

“Everyone knows that when it comes to EU spending, all things are not created equal. Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Commission must show restraint and needs to prioritise spending in areas that will help create jobs and boost economic growth. This is something that it seems that the Commission have ignored and there are still big questions over some elements of this draft budget. Continue reading