Welcome to the mad world of the EU!

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

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee June 19th - 20th 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee June 19th - 20th 2013

Wednesday "Tackling Youth Unemployment, possible ways out". Yet again they talk about unemployment without actually putting forward concrete proposals. That's because the Euro is collapsing and European industry is losing out to other parts of the world. European goods are becoming uncompetetive.

But we did hear that people should be allowed to work away from their member state, and we certainly do not want to stop free movement! We need a European future, not a local one, while respecting the working practices of member states! Among this we were told that fewer polish people were leaving Poland and that more were returning home.

Thursday Business was scheduled for a 9.00 start followed by voting at 9.30, but the secretariat did not turn up until about 9.45 when voting started under a deputy, since the President turned up at about 11.00 am . This massive voting session finished at about 12.45 and all other business was postponed. Having arrived the President was challenged about the sequence of votes, promoting a lively exchange in which she relied on "Standing Orders". I wonder if that had caused her late arrival and that of the secretariat.

Among the reports finally voted on was that on "Gender balance among non-executive directors of companies on stock exchanges". It seeks to establish 40% of each sex on these Boards, without saying what the remaining 20% should be! The proposed plan "encourages" companies to work towards this, with perhaps government legislation, and to show that efforts are being made, with explanations given for failure. Member states could suffer infringement proceedings if there are no national rules and sanctions would only be imposed on companies if they were not seen to be trying.

Voting was dominated by the "Posting of Workers" Directive, to which there were over 600 amendments. This is intended to ensure that workers posted by their employers to work outside their own country, but within the EU, receive all the benefits that are available for workers move elsewhere on their own account. It is of course a legal minefield but that does not stop the EU from trying to make water-tight regulations to cope.

This report was only adopted by 23 votes to 18 with 6 abstentions. Such a relatively narrow result ís a reflection of this committee's uncertainty, for once. There was then further debate on what to do with it, send it on to Plenary for final approval, or enter into negotiations with the Council of Ministers to decide its future. The latter course needed a mandate to send it to Council, which, after thought, I supported, as did the committee. No doubt this will proceed to conciliation in due course; a very longwinded affair.

Derek Clark MEP Brussels, 20th June 2013.         

Monday, 17 June 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session 10 – 13 June 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session 10 – 13 June 2013
Tuesday Saw a report on “Organised crime, Corruption and Money Laundering” whereby the EU is to move in with all its bureaucracy and red tape. It is intended to set up a European Prosecutor’s Office, a training centre for intelligence agents, a standing committee and all the rest of it, with massive funds attached. No problem, Cameron got a deal on the budget did he not?
Wednesday Several reports on Border control and associated measures including Schengen. Although we are not a Schengen member it will affect us, see Gerard’s speech on the UKIP MEP’s web site, with his reply to a question from the floor. Summary of this business below,-
UKIP Press release - EU stops states acting over abuse of Schengen
For the first time, it will be possible for EU inspection teams to make unannounced visits to monitor any attempt to introduce illegal border checks at internal borders within Schengen.
New rules laying down common procedures and deadlines for handling asylum applications and basic rights for asylum seekers arriving in the EU were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday.
Note, they don’t like the Government’s newly announced decision to police our borders more closely. How effective will that be with EU agents round their necks?
Today started with a debate, “Preparation for the European Council Meeting”, again, which included a great deal of hot air about unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Some points raised included,-
Barroso declaring again that SMEs show great deal of youth unemployment so we need to press on with the “Youth Guarantee” and we need to go on a journey for growth and jobs. At this point my apologies. I serve on the employment committee but I have no clear idea as to what the “Youth Guarantee” is. It has been mentioned several times but what exactly it is in practice I know not, in spite of listening closely to the debates in committee.
Swaboda, the Socialist leader, was disappointed with the Irish Presidency, now ending, because they failed on the budget.
Verhofstadt, Liberals, criticised Msr Hollande for saying that the crisis was over when it is not (at least that’s realism) and to cure it we cannot go on with 27 different governments and banking systems; we must have a Banking Union!!
For almost the first time today I thought that we were at Westminster for PMQs. There were a number of angry interventions starting with a Greek MEP who called a Point of Order, but turned it into a tirade about the closing down of the Greek national Radio/ TV station. He alleged that this had been done by order of the ‘Troika’ now running Greece and, “ was this Democracy?”, he asked. With 68% youth unemployment in Greece he has a right to be angry. The President, Schultz himself at that time, told him in no uncertain terms that he could not use a point of order to raise political issues, and promptly turned off the offender’s microphone.
Later on Commissioner Olli Rehn attempted to put this TV close-down into perspective. He said it had been done by the legitimate Greek Government authorities alone and recent documents endorse his statement. This was met by a round of boos and cat-calls, almost as if he was not believed!
Another MEP tried to turn a Point of Order into a political issue and he found his microphone switched off very quickly.
Perhaps the best was a woman MEP , Ms Ungureanu I think, who was mis-identified by the President. We all have a number in front of our place for identification, but there was a similarity of names. Ms “U” started to make a fuss about something. The chair had changed by then but this experienced deputy President was ready. He accused her of sitting in the wrong place deliberately, so as to make him call the wrong name and cause confusion. She got cut-off too!
And we are the Clowns!!
Thursday The last day is always light both on debates and votes because so many MEPs leave late Wednesday or mid-day Thursday. I usually start off for home late afternoon having completed the commentary but the agenda is particularly light today. Debates on Central Africa, breaches of human rights, rule of law in Russia, and so on.
I shall stay for voting at 1200 and off to the airport, I hope. There is a strike of Air traffic Controllers due to end this morning, but there will be a back-log. Indeed, will it end this morning? There is also a strike of the French railways, also due to end this morning, so change of plan dubious. My flight takes me to Brussels with change of flight to Birmingham so there is double the chance of being stranded.
Funny, these strikes always seem to occur during a Strasbourg week! They know perfectly well that there is no direct flight from/ to anywhere in the UK for Strasbourg, likewise, Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy (well, at least Rome). Travel to and from France and Germany is, naturally, easy and various, and there is a good motorway system.
Just my way of reminding all those chancing their arm with MEP selection of life’s little difficulties, EU style.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg 13th June 2013.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee May 29th - 30th 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee May 29th - 30th 2013

More money for the taxpayer to find

Wednesday we voted on Regional Policy for wider State support schemes. My one vote was the solitary "No" against 36 in favour.

Thursday we voted on a Youth strategy which will cost 6 billion Euros. Did better here, my one vote against was supported by one other, as opposed to 35 in favour.

Then "crisis on access to care for the vulnerable" will cost a lot more, but no figure given!. I was down to voting against on my once more, 36 in favour.

Lastly, "social investments for growth and cohesion, implementing the European Social Fund". I got 2 to support me against 34 in favour this time.

So, in spite of Dave's stand on the budget it looks like we will end up finding more cash.

I got rather fed up in the debate on "Improving private International Law, jurisprudence rules applicable to employment". This became a matter of yet more laws to allow workers to move from one country to another without being penalised by the different employment laws they then will find. This was admitted to being a legal minefield so, instead of letting the lawyers earn their money and sort it out, they will now want to bring in a raft of laws to ensure that people can move countries and still be employed on the same legal basis. No adaptation needed.
No chance of allowing people to work to the laws they find themselves under on making a move of course. That is the thin and of the wedge, all other national laws will be "harmonised" over the course of time. Not that this will be apparent for years to come, one thing at a time, very slowly so as not to frighten the horses.

Did I hear you say, "When in Rome......"

I regret to say I did not stay long enough to hear the Employment Commissioner in an exchange of views, "in the context of the structured dialogue". What dialogue do you ask?,- quite.

Lastly, I wish you all to know that I am not seeking re-election as MEP. I will continue to work as one of your MEPs over this last year, as indeed you would expect me to.

Derek Clark MEP Brussels 30th May 2013