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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 14th- 17th 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 14th- 17th 2013

Once again the week started for me with an Employment Committee meeting on Monday evening at 7.00pm. This was short notice, we are never given very much time to prepare properly for anything. No wonder the EU is a mess.

This meeting was to vote on two issues, "Corporate Social Responsibility", which will add to the regulatory burden. Then, "Better Governance of the Single Market", in which the president remarked that, "the Single Market was not an end in itself but a means for Social Progress". So there you have it, nothing to do with easier trade and everything to do with an enlarged and more expensive welfare system. Our trade is pretty healthy, on the whole, so it is pretty clear whose Social Progress is improved by the much lauded "Free Movement of workers", and whose economy is to pay for it.

Incidentally, the President indicated at one point that there were too many people voting, as shown by the electronic voting machine. This has happened before, when usually the president says that there were too many of a certain party voting. So the machine corrects this, but most votes are taken by show of hands, without counting, so how many of those are legitimate?

Plenary session.

Tuesday. One measure here was the "Horn of Africa" which concentrated on the Ethiopian Piracy. Did not mention that this has arisen because of the EU awarding fishing licences for European fleets to raid the waters of the third world, in this case that part of the Indian Ocean. These fleets destroy stocks of fish there, leaving the locals destitute. In this case that drove some Ethiopians back into their old ways of piracy. Now they are trying to resolve the issue but that does not include assisting Ethiopians to resume their traditional fishing rights.

Wednesday Was dominated by Enda Kenny the Irish premier addressing the house at the start of the Irish Presidency. He went on for a considerable length of time. Nigle's response is on the web. Among the issues voted on was fishing again. Baltic stocks and Conserving resources. They are going to eliminate discards (at last) but in stages. That's some progress but they will not adopt the best approach, reverting to national waters of 200 miles from the coast with the countries being responsible for what happens there. In vain do we point out that this works for Norway and Iceleand. By the way, did you know that your fish'n chips probably came from Iceleand, well, the fishy bit anyway? Europe imports more than half the fish it consumes.

More importantly today saw the attempt by the EU to arrange its own Credit Ratings Agency through the Domenici report. Godfrey had something to say about this so see his intervention via this link,-

Suffice it to say that we have another disaster on the horizon.

Thursday Most important was the debate and vote on EU - Mercosur trade relations. Mercosur is an anagram for the participating countries of South and Central America, the abbreviations used being of the Latin names. William Dartmouth spoke to this in the morning and his statistics are very useful in the current context of the Cameron speech. One of the EU supporter's commonest ploys is to say that we need to be in the EU to trade with its countries. Nonsense and I have my own personal response, but William has provided a better one. Of the Mercosur countries Brazil is the strongest economically, with a GDP of around 2.48 trillion dollars, while the UK is about 2.49 trillion $. Of Brazil's exports some 37 % goes to the other Mercosur countries while the UK figure is about 40% of our exports to the rest of the EU.

But no one anywhere is suggesting that the Mercosur countries should form a political association, to foster trade, or anything else.

If you think about it where else in the world is there a EU-style political union starting? Australia merging with New Zealand. India and Pakistan, sorry, forgot, they separated in blood shed years ago. Libya, Algeria and Egypt all one country? Since the US President, and his associates, has said we should be in the EU why do we not ask him the same question. Why is the USA not a real United States of America and go into political union with Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the rest of central America. You then point out that, like the EU before it, you make it work by introducing, and forcing, a common currency on all the countries involved. Try that on the corporate boys in Wall Street!

Happy New Year!

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg, 17th Jan 2013.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Northampton Commentary

Northampton Commentary                                                                         31st Dec 2012
As you know I try to send a Commentary after every Brussels or Strasbourg sitting but that became impossible after that of Dec 2nd. I did attend Employment Committee, Dec 6th and again on Dec 18th but had to miss the Strasbourg week of Dec 10th to 13th . This was due to a family funeral in Devon, which had to come first, with several visits there over that period.
Those two Brussels Employment committee sittings were just a half day each and I cannot write a commentary while in committee. With appointments to see other people time ran short, leaving me no chance to write a commentary while still in Brussels.
Dec 6th was dominated by a long voting session where I opposed, they adopted, 3 reports. First, “European Mutual Societies”, which is intended to apply to all Mortgage providers. So watch out if you have a mortgage, be even more watchful if you intend to take that particular plunge. Remember, this is the EU which cannot even audit their accounts properly.
Second, votes on “Active and Healthy Ageing” (tell me about it!), then 18 pages with over 230 amendments on Electro-Magnetic Fields (which they persist in calling the “Physical Agents Directive”; there are many more Physical Agents than E-M Fields).
Dec 18th  Nine items for debate, plus a” Public Hearing on ‘Social Housing’, a Way Out of the Crisis”, and a voting session too, all in a half day, 3.00pm to 6.30pm. The 9 debates included one on Asbestos and on my web site you will find video of my contribution. Note that the President gives me the hurry up. I ploughed on because of a farcical situation which had arisen.
There is a timetable of debates in Committee and, unlike plenary, members just indicate if they wish to speak as each one comes up. They are taken in sequence of asking, with no formal time limit. However, on Dec18th the debate previous to Asbestos went at least 15 minutes over time due to a protracted legal argument. In the end what should have been done in the first place was decided, get the lawyers to sort it out. The President then tried to limit each speaker to 2 minutes, I was not happy with that, hence her attitude when I spoke.
Suffice it to say that I was alone in my assertion that white asbestos is harmless. I hope to speak to this in plenary when it arises there, where speaking is by prior arrangement.
For Plenary sittings a time table listing the speakers, showing precise speaking times, is produced. But early speakers often extend their allocated time which ruins the schedule. To get back on track, following speakers are asked to keep to their time, even though earlier speakers generally have a greater time allowance! The President then often threatens to cut a speaker off, which has happened. That is why a video of any of us can show us glancing up as we speak. This might make us look a bit “swivel eyed” , but we are looking at the count-up clock over the presidential desk to keep within the time allowed.
No prizes for guessing which MEPs are most likely to be cut off when straying over time.
Sorry to miss wishing you all a Merry Christmas, so have a Happy New year,- and make sure you see Nigel’s New Year Message on the Party web site.
Derek Clark   MEP                                           Northampton  Dec 31st 2012