Newton Dunn: Billions of pounds in taxes and thousands of jobs being lost to organised crime

Bill Newton-Dunn MEPThe European Parliament today voted on a report calling more European coopeation to address organised crime, corruption and money-laundering in the EU. The report calls for stronger maritime cooperation and border management to stamp out human-trafficking and the smuggling of counterfeit products, weapons and illegal drugs. It also calls for better information-sharing and coordination between national authorities to enable them to fight organised crime and confiscate criminal assets more effectively.

Bill Newton Dunn MEP, the Liberal Democrat Coordinator on the European Parliament’s committee on Organised Crime, commented:

“Shockingly, at a time when governments across Europe are struggling to balance the books, we are losing billions of pounds worth of tax revenue each year to gangs of ruthless criminals. VAT fraud alone is estimated to account for €100 billion of lost revenue a year to the EU, while £4.7 billion of taxes are being lost to criminals annually in the UK. Continue reading

Ludford: Lib Dems block Tory attempt to go soft on crime

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat MEP and European spokeswoman on justice and home affairs Sarah Ludford has welcomed the news that Conservative plans to opt out of key EU crime-fighting measures have been blocked by Liberal Democrats in coalition government.

Earlier today, following prolonged negotiations within the coalition, Theresa May announced that the government will be opting back in to 35 of the 136 pre-2009 EU police and judicial cooperation measures, including all those deemed vital by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Sarah Ludford commented:

“The Tories are now so blinded by their anti-EU ideology that they have become soft on crime. They were proposing to abandon key European crime-fighting measures which leading law enforcement figures have repeatedly warned are vital for Britain’s national security. 21st century criminal gangs do not stop at our borders. Neither should our efforts to pursue them and bring them to justice.” Continue reading

Bearder/ Ludford: MEPs set to back job creating EU-US trade talks

On Thursday MEPs in Strasbourg are set to adopt their recommendations for the forthcoming EU-US free trade negotiations.

The EU and US together represent about half (47%) of the global economy and 30% of global trade. According to government figures, a free trade agreement between these economic powerhouses could be worth between £4-10bn a year to the UK economy.

South East MEP Catherine Bearder, the Liberal Democrat European spokesperson on trade, commented ahead of tomorrow’s historic vote:

“An EU-US trade deal would open up and increase economic activity on both sides of the Atlantic. Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament and in government in the UK are concentrating our efforts on pushing for a speedy conclusion of negotiations to strengthen the European economy and bring new private sector jobs into the UK.”  Continue reading

Hall: Nigel Lawson short-sighted and reckless on EU

Fiona Hall MEPResponding to Lord Lawson’s call for the UK to leave the European Union Fiona Hall MEP, the leader of the Liberal Democrat delegation in the European parliament, commented:

 “It is absurd to suggest that we must somehow choose between trade with Europe and with the rest of the world. We are on the cusp of a game-changing trade deal between the EU and the US, worth billions of pounds to the British economy, and major trade agreements with India and Japan are also in the pipeline. To leave the EU now would be ridiculous. We would be turning our back to the global economy and jeopardising crucial trade and investment.” Continue reading

BEARDER: Ban pesticides which could harm bees

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe Government has been branded “beyond complacent” after it stalled on banning chemicals which could damage bees.

Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for the South East of England, is backing calls to suspend the use of neonicotinoids amid fears of the impact on the bee population.

Members of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have demanded a moratorium on use of the chemicals.

However, the UK Government is still unconvinced and is asking the European Commission to launch a major study to settle the debate.

But Catherine said: “This is beyond complacent. Britain cannot continue to flap around on the issue. We all know how important bees are to our biodiversity. Continue reading

Lyon: Lib Dems call for reform of European Parliament’s budget

Today the European Parliament voted on the guiding principles for its 2014 admin budget.
 
Commenting after the votes, senior Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon, Vice-President of the Budget Committee, said:
 
“When budgets are tight all across the EU, the European Parliament needs to set out realistic plans for future budgets and seizing opportunities to find long-term savings.
 
Already this year we have made cuts to Member’s travel allowances and have made significant savings in our buildings policy, but more can be done . We need to use the 2014 budget to look at whole-hearted structural reform to find further efficiencies in areas such as translation, interpretation, transport and catering and also to improve the efficiency and quality of MEP’s work. Continue reading

Fighting tax dodging and corruption: MEPs vote for tough new rules on corporate transparency

MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee today voted in favour of tough amendments to European Commission’s proposals requiring oil, mining and logging companies to disclose payments to governments of countries in which they operate on a project by project basis.  MEPs also succeeded in extending the scope of the legislation to cover the banking, construction and telecommunications sector. Continue reading

Ludford: Ashcroft’s Crimestoppers campaign at risk from Tory europhobes

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPTory peer and donor Lord Ashcroft, chairman of Crimestoppers, has been warned that his charity’s new campaign to catch the UK’s most serious criminals hiding abroad will be doomed if the UK pulls out of essential European police cooperation measures as demanded by 102 backbench Tory MPs.

Under the new project ‘Operation Zygos’, Crimestoppers is appealing for information from Cypriots and the expat community on the whereabouts of nine individuals wanted under UK-issued European Arrest Warrants for serious crimes committed in the UK, including rape, child sex assault, drug dealing and serious fraud.

However, the success of the campaign is at risk from 102 Conservative MPs who have called on the UK Government to withdraw from European police cooperation measures despite senior former UK police and security chiefs pleading with David Cameron and Nick Clegg that the UK should stay involved in measures like the Euro-warrant.

Commenting, senior Liberal Democrat MEP, Sarah Ludford, the party’s European Justice and Home Affairs spokeswoman, said: Continue reading

Watson:Cypriot presidency of the EU – small country, big challenges

Sir Graham Watson MEPDuring the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, Lib Dems highlighted the priorities and challenges that lie ahead for the incoming Cypriot presidency of the EU over the next six months. Cyprus will have to take forward the budget talks and the EU’s roadmap 2050 and will oversee EU talks on bank supervision and sovereign debt.  The worrying situation in Syria also requires strength and leadership from the EU in order to help bring about peace and freedom.

Uk Lib Dem MEPSir Graham Watson  and President of the European Liberal Democrat (ELDR) Party spoke during the debate on behalf of the Liberal Group and said that “Cyprus cannot lead by size or strength, so they must lead by example“.  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