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

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Strasbourg Commentary 39 Plenary Session 18 – 21 Nov 2013

Strasbourg Commentary 39 Plenary Session 18 – 21 Nov 2013

Tuesday Voting The Plenkovic report on yet another Globalisation Adjustment Fund, to award yet more of your money to failed companies who can’t keep up, does not sound very exciting. But, this was for Spanish building firms in Valencia!!

Ever since I became an MEP I have received emails from desperate people who have fallen for the, “Retirement home in the Sun” scam. They have been to Spain on holiday, attend nice little UK gatherings where a smooth talker persuades them to invest. This means selling up in Britain using the cash to fund their home, only to find, in many cases, that it does not exist. Or, it does, but the local developer has had building permission for the complex from the Regional Council only to be overturned by the National Government. The bulldozers then move in and flatten their home; money gone. One famous case involved a time-share apartment of umpteen flats all taken by hundreds of North Europeans for their 2 weeks in the sun. Bulldozed like the rest, with no recompense.

Problem is, for UK buyers especially, they think that, as we are all in the EU now, all laws and so on are same everywhere, No they are not. Spanish conveyancing has always been tortuous and local solicitors are no help. Had lunch with Northampton Solicitors a few months ago and I asked them how they would go about dealing with acquiring Spanish property. “Not with a barge pole” was the reply.

Cyprus is no better. There they get the purchaser to sign the papers to deposit all the money required in a certain bank. They then have to appoint a lawyer to act for them to pay out the monthly in instalments,- before the keys are handed over!. No signature = no home = no money back. The only bank which will offer a Mortgage is the Alpha Panetti Bank. The only acceptable go-between lawyer is called Panetti!. I spent all afternoon with Cypriot lawyers and a UK lawyer trying to sort this out!!

Wednesday Votes included “Gender £balance …Directors Companies listed on stock Exchange” All our amendments were voted down. Then came the Fox-Hafner report on, “Location of the EU’s Parliament seats.”

Most of us wish to get rid of this Brussels/ Strasbourg monthly circus. To be clear it does not affect me too much, ditto others. I go the Brussels and come home, I go to Strasbourg and come home (in an hour or so, if you’ll let me!). But most of the Parliamentary Assistants live in Brussels, so they go to & fro, plus paperwork. Outside my door now is a cabin trunk into which I can put anything I like, John ditto. Sometime tomorrow it will be collected, join the other 745 other MEP trunks, be loaded onto trucks and off to Brussels. There to be unloaded and put outside my office. Friday prior to next Strasbourg all collected in Brussels again and off to Strasbourg, all of them. I put hardly anything in mine!!

The permanent staff of Parliament move between the two places, plus their paperwork. As do the Commission staff. And the Council staff. And a lot of the admin takes place in the Third seat of Parliament, Luxembourg. That’s where all our monies are administered, so any query…..

You would think that a re-arrangement would be a simple matter. Wrong! Strasbourg sittings are a matter of the Law, in that it is in the Treaties. At the moment there is work going on to amend the treaties, which is fraught with complexity and personalities. It will be ages before anything is done about the issue of where we debate and vote. And Cameron thinks he can re-negotiate our terms of membership within the Treaties!!!

My little one minute on Creutzman, “Competiveness etc” is on the website. My rough notes here below. I had the choice of speaking to this or to “Social Change and innovation”. Although the latter was more within my brief as employment spokesman I chose Creutzman as it was more interesting!. Actually, I had been approached by the Health Foods people mentioned in my opening line and promised them I would speak to this. No, I don’t normally respond to lobbyists because they are usually big companies after a free boost for their product. That usually takes the form of getting us to promote new legislation to favour them. Inevitably that works against the small guys, hence my support of the Small & Medium Enterprises”.

Thursday Creutzman was voted on today. Guess what, it was voted down, by 554 to 27 votes. Ah well. The point is, we never give up, they are going to hear what the only grown up democracy in Europe has to say. In which respect go to UKIP MEPs website and listen to a number of speeches of this last week from Paul Nuttall, Gerard Batten and Stuart Agnew, Enjoy!!.

Entitled - EU shutting out small health food enterprises - UKIP MEP Derek Clark

Strasbourg Commentary (Part 2) Plenary session 13th – 16th Jan 2014

The outstanding event of the week was the appearance of the Greek Premier, Mr Samaras

His 40 minute presentation was to re-assure everyone that all in the Greek garden was lovely. Greece was now breaking even on the budget, that the current balance was OK. Yes, there was the outstanding Debt, he did not say how much!!, but they could now start paying back. They were on an even keel and there was social stability. He was grateful for the Solidarity shown by all the EU member states.

Then the round of lead speakers began.

Daul (EPP President) said Greek farmers would do better if they were not saddled with 10% on borrowing. They ought to reduce that, and that was the kind of Solidarity we need, MR FARAGE!

Swaobada Socialist) the demands of the Troika were not acceptable. It was destroying the social network in Greece., must be phased out. On a UK tack he complained that Cameron suppresses publication of benefit figures until after the Euro Elections.

Verhofstadt (ALDE) FARAGE wants to block worker movement when it is only 2.8% of working population. This is far too low, we want more movement, not less.

Harms (Greens) A mistake to say that reforms are working. The people do not buy into the systems. Public services are poor, Greece is in Depression, not recession. Greek jobs are being done in Brussels. Greece has foreign companies exploiting their resources.

Callanan (ECR) Samaras painted a nice picture but it is misleading.

Zimmer (NGL) It’s a social disaster in Greece with very high unemployment. There is a lot of illegitimate debt, ie conversion of private debt into Government debt.

So, not exactly a rosy Greek picture after all. You will have seen Nigel’s piece already, if not on this link. http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_779_Farage-A-Battle-of-National-Democracy-vs-EU-State-Bureaucracy.html and I have never seen Nigel attacked by speakers before he got up to speak, still less two of them.

Personally I have been wrong on one count. I thought that they would all rally round Greece with the Euro elections in May so as to keep up the pretence of all being well, but not this week. Perhaps they will find some magic in April.

Derek Clark MEP 16th Jan 2014

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg 21st Nov 2013.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Brussels Commentary 31 Employment Committee 5th Nov 2013

Brussels Commentary 31 Employment Committee 5th Nov 2013

This was just one afternoon and I do not always attend such short sessions, it takes me away from the demands of the office for a day and it costs the taxpayer just as much as a two day visit. However, I went on this occasion because I had been invited to dinner that same evening by the NFU. They were on a group visit the following day and had invited me because of the support I have been giving them. I have made a good number of visits to poultry farms, ploughed fields, milking parlours and so on. More usefully I have been to meetings to find out how elements of the revised Farm Support Scheme operates with a view to voting in their favour as and when it arises.

All useful time spent and hence their invitation which I accepted, of course, as a courtesy. Actually, I nearly missed out. The Employment meeting that afternoon was dominated by a voting session which went on for just over one and half hours and meant that I was rather late to dinner. The taxis in Brussels are hopeless.

In the votes we had, "Social dimension of the economic and monetary Union". Over 100 amendments and I am proud to tell you that my vote against stood on its own, to 41 in favour!.

On measures to "Facilitate rights involved re freedom of movement of workers", I had support! After 200 amendments it passed by 41 to 2. But the follow up vote, nominating a team to negotiate with Council (they expect problems!), came out as 40 in favour to 1 against. I think I have just been eliminated from several Christmas card lists.

I was one of 2 to vote against the last measure, "Regulation of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund". Not surprised, this is spending wads of money to help workers when a firm re-locates or otherwise closes because EU companies are so inefficient that they can't compete on the world stage. One of the latest closures was the Danish firm that builds these monstrous wind turbines. So now, when you see one being put up, you know it's not even keeping Europeans in work.

The first of these votes revealed some of the "smoke and mirrors" which we know is prevalent. The vote lists contained "Compromises", quite a common feature in which the rapporteur talks to "shadow rapporteurs" and to groups before the vote. You realise that these are popular with other MEPs because it includes amendments which might otherwise not stand up but which go through because it is rare for a compromise to be voted down. It also saves time in voting for the amendments it includes are not then taken. In this case three amendments were listed to vote before a compromise but which, if passed would cause the compromise to fall. They were passed, consternation all round.

The committee president ruled that this was so but complained. These compromises are always put together by a number of political groups, so they pass because of that wide support. On this occasion the president said that she was surprised that she had not been informed before hand of a certain group's change of mind!!
So if you were to see my committee voting you will not be surprised to see the rapidity with which the result is declared, it's all cut and dried before hand, she has no need to look up to see the size of "fors" and "against". It's called democracy, EU style.

Keep up the good work!!

Derek Clark MEP Brussels 6th Nov 2013