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

Liberal Democrats deliver billions of EU research funding for small businesses

MEPs voted today to approve the EU’s new science programme, Horizon 2020, which will invest almost £60 billion in research and innovation over the next seven years.

Fiona Hall, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and European industry spokesperson, commented:

“This is an exciting time for the research community and for businesses up and down the country. Liberal Democrats have ensured that over £2.3 billion will be allocated to small innovative businesses, which provide the key to creating new skilled jobs and rebalancing the economy. We also pushed for simpler rules to reduce administrative costs and make it easier for smaller firms to apply for funding.” Continue reading

Bennion: EU Boost for British Holidaymakers

Lib Dem MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed proposals from the European Commission to modernise the EU’s rules on package holidays and bring them into line with the modern era. The new rules include stricter controls on price surcharges, reduced red tape for travel agents and improved cancellation rights for customers who book package holidays online.

“Almost half of Brits went on a package holiday in 2012, and in this tough econonimc climate people are increasingly looking to save money by booking customised package deals online. These new rules will strengthen the rights of customers to claim compensation, cancel their bookings and access all relevant information, even when buying online packages with several different companies across Europe. Continue reading

Taylor: EU enables record number of young Brits to study abroad

Figures released by the European Commission today show that since 2007 almost 70,000 young Brits have studied or undertaken work experience in another European country thanks to the EU Erasmus mobility programme.

Since the scheme was launched in 1987, more than three million students from across Europe have received EU grants designed to cover part of the additional costs of living, studying and working abroad for a limited period of time.

For the year 2011-2012, 13662 young Brits – more than ever before – took up the opportunity to go abroad to study or gain work experience in companies or other organisations with the help of the Erasmus programme. Of the 4568 students who took advantage of a work placement abroad, a majority gained experience in the education sector but manufacturing, professional and technical activities also proofed popular.

Liberal Democrat European youth spokesperson Rebecca Taylor commented:

“It is fantastic to see ever greater numbers of British students take up the opportunity to study or work in another EU country with the help of Erasmus funding. Continue reading

Bowles on Banking Union: Making ECB accountable is great victory

 Sharon Bowles MEPSpeaking from Brussels today following the final negotiations on the Banking Union Sharon Bowles MEP, who chairs the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said:

“This was an historic agreement to establish first steps for a Banking Union which will see the ECB take over supervision of systemic banks, or those receiving state aid, and revise the voting arrangements of the European Banking Authority. Continue reading

Lib Dems want better deal for UK in EU’s long term budget

George Lyon MEPLiberal Democrat MEPs today supported the size of the EU’s multi-annual financial framework deal reached by Member States last month. They also supported moves to renegotiate the shape of the budget to make it more flexible and focused on areas that will bring jobs and growth to the UK, such as investments in R&D, innovation and infrastructure.   

Commenting after the votes, Lib Dem European budget spokesperson George Lyon MEP, said:

“At a time when people all over Europe have to tighten their belts we need to ensure that the EU is working to create jobs and build the stronger economy that we need. Our priority needs to be supporting projects that have real economic benefits in the UK and across the continent, not signing off on massive increases in administration budgets. Continue reading

McMillan-Scott: spotlight on China on International Day against Torture

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP

After her release Zhang, a Beijingaccountant who was imprisoned for her religious beliefs, sent the MEP a list of 50 escalating torture steps used to persuade her to recant. Zhang Lianying and her husband Niu Jinping, another ex-prisoner whom Edward met in Beijing during his last visit in May 2006, now live in theUSA. Another former prisoner of conscience whom McMillan-Scott met, Cao Dong, was then imprisoned and tortured until his release in November 2011. However, on June 8 2012 he was re-arrested and McMillan-Scott fears that he is again being tortured somewhere. Continue reading

Watson: EU delegation to Northern Cyprus asks South to enfranchise Turkish Cypriots

LSir Graham Watson MEPiberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson today led a delegation of eight MEPs to Northern Cyprus, where he met Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, leaders of the Turkish Cypriot political parties and leaders of business and non-governmental organisations.

Sir Graham said:

“Liberal Democrats deeply regret that, as Cyprus prepares to take on the rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers, the island is still divided and the Turkish Cypriots still denied the rights and privileges of EU citizenship.” Continue reading