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

Taylor: MEPs focus on patient safety in medical devices vote

MEPs today agreed to enter negotiations with national governments on new rules for the safety and performance of medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices.

Lib Dem MEPs in particular stressed the need to act to try to prevent health scares like last year’s faulty breast implants scandal by undertaking stricter market surveillance including unannounced inspections of manufacturers and better traceability rules.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor, said:

“Patient safety and confidence must be the main focus of any new rules, but we must do this in a way that allows enough flexibility to stimulate innovation and healthy competition within the market. It is vital to strengthen transparency and controls in order to avoid health scares such as the faulty breast implants scandal. Continue reading

Bennion: New EU rules on flight times will not lower standards in UK

Commenting on today’s European Parliament vote to approve common EU flight time limits for pilots, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion MEP said:

“This is a sensible outcome. Despite concerns from pilots’ unions, these rules will not lower safety standards in the UK.

“In fact, a common system for pilot flight times will raise standards in Europe across the board, ensuring that British passengers are safe no matter what EU airline they fly with.”   Continue reading

MEPs break down barriers for qualified professionals

MEPs in Strasbourg voted today to make it easier for qualified professionals to practice their profession in another EU country.

MEPs approved the introduction of an e-card detailing a person’s qualification and experience and enabling the mutual recognition of professional qualifications across the EU.

Among many other professions, the new rules cover health professionals including doctors and nurses and explicitly allow for their language skills to be tested, recognising that a good grasp of the local language is important for patient safety.  

Lib Dem MEP Rebecca Taylor, European health spokeswoman, commented:

“These new EU rules will help the UK to ensure that doctors and nurses who offer their services to the NHS are not only appropriately qualified, but also have English language skills that enable them to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues. The new e-card will allow easy and uncomplicated background checks and existing rules on language tests have been clarified.

“The rules on mutual recognition of professional qualifications are also great news for Brits abroad who want to market their skills in other EU countries.”

MEPs also voted for the creation of an alert mechanism which requires Member States to exchange information on professionals who have been struck off or restricted from practicing their professional activity or who have used falsified documents.

Ends

Note to editors:

The revised Professional Qualifications Directive adopted by MEPs today also includes an evaluation process of national regulations on qualified professions to help reduce barriers of free movement. The evaluation process will take place between Member States and is expected to conclude in 2016. For more information, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/policy_developments/131002_communication_en.pdf

Davies/ Davey: Reform of EU emissions trading scheme crucial for green investment

Chris Davies MEP, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesman in the European Parliament, today asked what steps the European Commission is taking to reform the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) in a parliamentary question to Environment Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Chris Davies said:

“The back-loading of carbon allowances approved by the European Parliament in July was an important step, but it was just a temporary sticking plaster.

“To really fix the EU’s Emissions Trading System, we need to treat the cause not just the symptoms. That means long-term structural reforms to shore up investment in green technologies, and the forging of links with other trading schemes to achieve a truly global carbon market.

“Structural reform of the ETS would also level the playing field for British industry, by bringing the price of carbon in the EU into line with our own ambitious carbon floor price.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey added Continue reading

Watson: Tory call for ban on live sport betting “disproportionate” and “unnecessary”

Sir Graham Watson MEPLiberal Democrat MEPs have refused to back proposals to ban online live betting, as adopted today by the European Parliament in a report on the gambling industry drafted by Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

Whilstwelcoming some of the measures proposed in the report, in particular those to reduce gambling-related addiction, Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson has stated that banning live betting online would restrict consumer choice while failing to have a discernible impact on match-fixing.

The South West MEP commented: 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

Taylor: EU steps up fight against cross-border health threats

MEPs in Strasbourg today adopted new EU rules to strengthen cross-border cooperation to tackle serious cross border health threats such as influenza, coronavirus and E-coli. 

As part of the strengthened cooperation framework, EU-wide health emergencies can be declared and a new voluntary mechanism will allow countries to club together to bulk-order vaccines. 

Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem European health spokesperson commented:

“Europe needs to be better prepared against outbreaks of communicable diseases such as avian flu or swine flu, but also against other health threats which can spread across borders such as those of a chemical, biological or environmental origin. 

“The new rules mean that there will be more cooperation between EU countries in the planning, monitoring and response stages of tackling a health crisis. 

“EU countries remain responsible for putting wide-ranging action plans in place, but are required to undertake risk-assessment procedures in a transparent way and to coordinate their responses to avoid the chaos of the 2011 E-coli outbreak where different EU countries blamed different vegetables for the outbreak before the facts were properly established, which was very confusing for citizens.”

“The framework will also be linked to the veterinary sector as animal health and zoonotic infections have been a factor in many recent cross-border health threats.”

Lyon: EU must live within its means

Lib Dem MEP George Lyon, Vice President of the European Parliament Budget Committee, has welcomed a vote by MEPs to approve a major reform to EU staff regulations which will save billions of euros between 2013 and 2020.

Mr Lyon commented:

“This shows that the EU is finally beginning to get its house in order and taking steps to live within its means.” Continue reading

Bennion: Safer roads in the UK and across Europe

MEPs in Strasbourg today approved proposals for new EU rules to test the roadworthiness of vehicles and set minimum standards for technical roadside inspections with the aim of reducing the number of road fatalities across Europe by 50% between 2010 and 2020.

In the UK, the number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police dropped by 8% to 1,754 in 2012 from 1,901 in 2011.

UK Liberal Democrat European transport spokesperson Phil Bennion said:

“The UK has led the way on road safety standards. These proposed new EU rules aim to raise standards right across Europe. Continue reading