Welcome to the mad world of the EU!

..working towards the divorce of the UK and the EU...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Oral question Parliament Oct 25th 2011 Maternity Leave directive.

Oral question       Parliament        Oct 25th 2011

Maternity Leave directive.

How can you justify this proposal to treble maternity pay, requiring firms to pay new mothers full salary for 20 weeks. Don't you know we are in the middle of one of the worst recessions of modern times?

This will present businesses with the prospect of a £2 billion burden. Even my government opposes this move.

In addition you plan to extend minimum parental leave from 3 months to 4 months for each parent. That's separate from the maternity leave with one month of the four not transferrable to the other parent.

Is the Council prepared to compromise on main issues, like the duration of maternity leave and the level of payment?

Otherwise you intend to give member states 2 years to amend their laws, 'though how you can say their laws I don't know. This comes straight from the Commission factory and we shall oppose this job destroying proposal.

Derek Clark  MEP                                                                  Strasbourg 25th Oct 2011            

Speech to Parliament Oct 25th 2011 Debate; Agenda for new Skills and Jobs.

Speech to Parliament                                           Oct 25th 2011

Debate; Agenda for new Skills and Jobs.

We've been here before. Remember the Lisbon Agenda, "The most competitive knowledge based economy in the world" leading to more and better jobs. This 10 year program started in 2000, where is it?

It failed, of course, simply because you keep on thinking that you can solve a problem by central decree. Sorry, does not work that way. Such programs need a written plan with rules and regs, and there we go, straight into the red-tape jungle.

If you could only understand that. Cut the red tape and all the restrictive regulations and let people get on with what they do best, making things and selling them.

Once again I must remind you that big business can cope with red tape, they can afford compliance officers and well paid lawyers to bail them out if they make a mistake. SMEs, which employ half the work force, do not have those resources, so when they get into trouble they fold, another one or two jobs go and fewer youngsters taken on to learn a trade.

Take this morning's farce in the vote on tyres for motor vehicle and trailers. Its not really a farce, its another head ache for the motor trade. For how many small garages will this be the last straw and go under?

This whole agenda is another "one size fits all" idea, or rather, "one size that fits no one".  The Euro is one of those, now falling apart before your eyes and all you can think of is to try more of the same. And the first casualties of that disaster are, of course, the SMEs, and more jobs lost.

Derek Clark     Strasbourg                                              25thOct 2011

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 24th - 27th Oct 2011

Strasbourg Commentary                   Plenary Session     24th - 27th Oct 2011

I'm sure you have all seen enough of the referendum vote last Monday. Whatever you think about having a referendum, especially on the terms as offered, I think you will agree that the Government are totally out of step with the electorate, which can only be to our advantage. We must try to press that home.

I was, of course, at Westminster on Monday, with Don Ransome and Sue, and some 3 or 4 hundred mainly UKIP members, protesting outside what used to be the REAL Houses of Parliament. All very peaceful with lots of placards bearing branch names,- East Mids well represented. So, like other UKIP MEPs, I missed the first day of this week's Strasbourg session.

Tuesday, got here at lunch time, just in time for voting. This included a vote on motor vehicle tyres, commented on in the first of my two speeches this week. All this way for that?  Not quite, there were 15 other reports up for voting. Another vote was on, "Application of emission stages to narrow-track tractors". Wow. These unmanned tractors work their way up and down the rows of produce, harvesting potatoes, grapes and the like, but they are nasty diesel powered jobs, emitting particulates as well as carbon dioxide. Got to be controlled.

Wednesday. Vote on the Budget for next year. In this period of financial difficulty you'd think they would hold back and trim the spending, but not this lot. The great work of the EU must go on, so most items show an increase in spending,- for which we will pay more in taxes-, and Cameron stands no chance of getting it reduced.

The budget is presented as line-by-line expenditure, about 100 lines in various groups. We voted against the lot, except for about 20 lines where a reduction in expenditure was suggested, which together would have saved about 119 Million Euros, roughly £100 million. Would you be surprised to learn that we were out voted on all but two of these lines, so Parliament was only prepared to save just under £1 million.


Votes today include minding other people's business in the Ukraine, Egypt etc. etc.

The main business is the Key Debate this morning, "Conclusions of the European Council meeting", the financial crisis and their proposals. I think I know the answer before we start. It will be more of the same, cash in enormous quantities, good money chasing bad, arrogant statements, economic government, common fiscal policy, solidarity, but my guess is, no plan "B".

The group leaders will all have a say, which includes Nigel, and his speech will be on the web in full so I will leave that for you to see. (In fact Nigel went home early so as to do ‘Question Time’ tonight, that’s much more important.  The speech as Group Leader will be given by our Dutch MEP Bas Belder).

In any case I am writing this commentary before the day's business begins as my bus to Frankfurt leaves at 1.00 pm for my 5.15 flight. Voting starts at 12.30 and I have to spend time this week as whip, standing in for Gerard, and that takes quite a bit of time each morning. I may be asked to squeeze a TV interview in as well, so I'm taking the chance to complete this week's edition now, this morning, in the right atmosphere. I can send it home to complete there, and I have done that before, but I find it loses impact for me.

Derek Clark    MEP                                     Strasbourg 27th Oct 2011.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Brussels Commentary Plenary session 13th - 14th Oct 2011

Brussels Commentary     Plenary session               13th - 14th Oct    2011

Wednesday saw Barroso pontificating about the Euro and the measures being taken to rectify the problems. All the usual pie-in-the-sky stuff, quite divorced from reality. Its now 2 trillion Euros for the ECB to bail out whoever next goes pear shaped. You will have seen newspaper report of how Slovakia put a spanner in the works, which drew this response from Barroso,-

I congratulate those elements in the Slovakian Government  who supported the Euro against the selfish approach of pure national interests.

His arrogance as he promotes the EU/Euro, whatever the damage done to societies and to the real people of them, is quite breath taking.

Even Schultz criticised Barroso but note the term used, "people were being confused by your Parliament"

William Dartmouth asked a question of Schultz, "Would any treaty changes be ratified by referendums, or not?" The response was that, as we should know, the UK is one of those countries which MUST have a referendum for this kind of thing. News to us!! And Schultz is not short of informed advice. As he spoke there sat right behind him none other than Stephen Hughes, Labour North East!

Video of Nigel's response is on the web but see below part of it, quoting the rebel Slovakian Parliamentarian, -
"I'd rather be a pariah in Brussels than feel ashamed before my children who would be deeper in debt"

Thursday  a photo shoot outside the Berlaymont, the Commission building. This was to support the Federation of Small Businesses in handing over a letter to the Commission. The Commissioner responsible, Tajani, said a week ago he could not come so senior team member Valentina Superti would stand in. Late yesterday Ms Superti announced that she could not make the agreed 10.30 am meeting, could only manage 3.30 pm, but of course the FSB could not cancel the arrangements involving their Reps, MEPs photographers and all, so it went ahead anyway.

I will post pics showing a number of us holding the banner of protest. This is against the Commission banning our new tall trucks, those up to 4.9 metres high as opposed to the regular 4.0 m. It does not take a genius to work out how an extra one fifth capacity will cut down on trucks, so less motorway congestion, carbon dioxide etc, etc. UK hauliers will not be taking these high trucks abroad anyway, so it has no impact on the continent, except to make our hauliers more competitive. But the EU does not like competition, hence the regulation. I expect many will remember that we had to re-build bridges to take the extra load when continental trucks got bigger.

Its called, a level playing field.

  Derek Clark   MEP                                           Brussels  13th Oct 2011

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee 5th/6th Oct 2011

Brussels Commentary       Employment Committee                  5th/6th
Oct 2011

Wednesday started with an MEP complaining that there was no translation
into his language, Danish. He's right of course, and several others
supported him, but in terms of showing "solidarity" with him. They just
can not talk in ordinary terms, they have to use Euro-speak.

We must help combat poverty and social exclusion, apparently, by
submitting a Reform program to the Commission, that's in the Lisbon
treaty. We must also provide more affordable housing and there are moves
afoot to introduce a minimum income.

The issue of Seasonal Workers was debated. Illegal immigrants are being
exploited, surprise, surprise, although some people think it's the other
way round. Some of the committee want the employers to pay for the travel
of these workers from home back to home, and to find their insurance,
while equal pay was raised. Other members thought that only EU people
should be allowed to move about as seasonal workers!

Of more interest to me was a debate on health and safety regarding
electromagnetic fields. For once I was interested because a presentation
from 5 people was largely technical, usually any visiting experts are just
hot air. I am interested in MRI scanning because the 2004 regulations set
the levels of field strength so low to protect medical staff that it would
have spelt the end of MRI. Hence my question, the video of which will be
on my web site in due course.

Thursday    Having debated work-place stress a member from the Czech
Republic said that he felt under stress having seen the voting list for
the day. I don't know why, the votes on whether Croatia should join the EU
only covered a page and a half. I'll admit the voting list for Poverty and
Social Exclusion did occupy 36 pages, but he is paid to do this! Including
the items mentioned above it passed by 34 to 5 with 5 abstentions.

Today ended with a visit by Commissioner Andor, our man in the EC. I was
going to ask a question, but that was impossible because I wanted a real
answer. His twenty minute presentation, -with plenty of "solidarity"-,
included "Gender equality", the unemployment situation,- esp among the
young-, and telling us that there was a 430 million Euro budget for the
Globalisation Adjustment Fund. My question, on "Bombardier", would have
needed a bit of time to answer but, had this been the full one hour
session as advertised, that would have worked. However, he turned up 30
minutes late, having preferred to take a press conference into overtime.
So I waited for him to finish and departed, there being only 12 minutes
left, within which he would have found no time for Bombardier.

Derek Clark   MEP                                      Brussels Oct 6th 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 26th - 29th Sept 2011

Just when responsible people and governments are watching every penny you propose more expense,-

Starting this week with the biker's protest last Sunday, herewith the gist of my letter to the local press.

On Sunday some 60 groups across the country set off at the same time, operating a rolling 'road block' for about 20 miles before pulling off and dispersing. I went to Thrapston, junction of A45 and A14, so as to get to an early afternoon official engagement in Cambridgeshire in good time.
Bikers are astonished at the proposed measures including, for me the prize for lunacy, which is to prohibit bikes over 7 years old from urban areas. The proposers of this regulation do not understand that the great majority of "bikers" keep their machines in very good order, after all, it’s their necks! 

As with so many other regulations the stupid EU bureaucrats who dreamed this up have absolutely no understanding of the activity they seek to restrict..

So my wife and I had a great day out on Sunday, talking to bikers and even being allowed to give them the "GO" at 1.00 pm. It was real pleasure to wave them on their way, all 150 of them; bikes, trikes and mopeds alike.


Strasbourg this week was dominated by two grand stand speeches.

Tuesday - Question time with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Eurogroup and president of Luxembourg. and,Wednesday - Barroso, "State of the Union"

The main theme throughout was, and which tells all,-
 "We need Community method, not a National Government one."

So There, and we then received the notes on,-

The 6 Pack or "goodbye economic sovereignty"

The so-called "six pack" are six linked measures which extend and reinforce economic governance: in short, they represent a massive increase in the ability of the undemocratic EU to tell the member states, especially those in the Euro zone, how to run their economies and to interfere and punish behaviour the generally faceless and unelected bureaucrats do not like.

It builds upon and gives teeth to the Stability & Growth Pact (SGP):

A new directive on national budgetary frameworks requires member states to achieve set fiscal standards and to report on how their budget plans conform with their Medium Term Objectives (MTO) set as part of their Stability or Convergence Programmes (SCP)

In doing so, member states must guarantee transparency which means they have to provide detailed budgetary information and guarantee its accuracy.

This information is assessed against a 'scoreboard' of indicators which are in turn used to provide an early warning system which flags up the need for preventive and corrective action under a new Excessive Imbalance Procedure (EIP).  Once a member state is placed in EIP, it has to submit a corrective action plan with performance deadlines. 
The excessive deficit procedure (EDP) requires member states to keep deficits below 3% of GDP and government debt below 60%. Failure to perform or make progress to these targets causes the member state to be placed in "EDP". 

Once placed in EDP. Euro-zone countries can be required to pay a non-interest bearing deposit of 0.2% of GDP.  On a recommendation by the Commission, with limited Council powers to block it, this can be converted into a fine which can be increased for repeat offences

Sufficient repeat offences can cause the fine to be as much as 1% of GDP.

Though it is all written in the most complicated, jargon-laden language, the bottom line seems to be this.  Member states will:
- be set economic, budgetary and fiscal targets
- report on performance against those targets
- be told what action they have to take if they fail to meet those targets
- fined for non-performance.

Clearly in these circumstances, the freedom of action of the member state government has disappeared and the views of the electorate are irrelevant! 


I copy the above without apology for it is the blue print for the horrors to come. Each of these was the subject of a separate vote on Wednesday and all were adopted by majorities ranging from 354 - 269 up to 554 – 90.

The rapporteur for the first, Ms Wortmann-Kool was presented with a bouquet when the result was announced. And a burst of applause.

Is that enough for one week?

Derek Clark   MEP                                        Strasbourg  29th Sept 2011