Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

02 MAR 2017

Brussels calls on EU leaders to agree 'special relationship' with UK

Daily Express - 2 March 2017

By Nick Gutteridge, Brussels Correspondent

A MAJOR breakthrough was made in the Brexit impasse today as an influential group of Brussels politicians called on EU leaders to agree a "special relationship" with Britain for the future.

In a crucial development ahead of the divorce talks an alliance of powerful MEPs said the bloc's governments must secure a comprehensive trade deal with the UK as soon as possible.

The bombshell move by members of the European Parliament, who are overwhelmingly europhile and have been the most outspoken critics of Brexit, was hailed by British officials as a huge coup for Theresa May.

The prime minister has previously said that "no deal is better than a bad one" and has threatened to walk away from the talks if EU member states try to punish Britain for leaving.

But in a strongly worded statement MEPs have warned the other 27 heads of government they must not allow that to happen, significantly strengthening the PM's negotiating hand as she prepares to trigger Article 50.

They presented a 16-point action plan European leaders should follow for the divorce talks, which includes the creation of a "special relationship" entailing mutual market access for the UK and the EU.

An EU source said the document was a "significant development and a sign of the changing mood" in Brussels now the hard-nosed business of negotiating is imminent, whilst the Conservatives hailed the breakthrough as a "major step forward".

Tory MEP Vicky Ford said: "I have always said our future partnership needs to be much closer than the EU normally has with third countries.

"The recently agreed EU-Canada trade agreement, for example, does not give anything like the level of market access the UK is used to having across EU borders.

"By calling for a 'deep' partnership the committee is advocating significantly more co-operation than the EU has with other third countries, especially on single market issues.

"This is very significant. If these action points are endorsed by the full Parliament for inclusion in the final text, it will be a major step forward."

The proposal has been made by MEPs from the six largest political groups sitting on the influential Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, which is responsible for the single market.

It is being backed by politicians from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic and looks set to be included in the EU parliament's Brexit strategy, to be published immediately after the triggering of Article 50.

The proposal says that the committee "believes it to be in the mutual interest of the EU and the UK to pursue a special relationship...which should include arrangements regarding deep mutual market access in goods and services".

It also supports the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, continued market access for products where UK and EU standards mirror each other and specifies that there should no lessening of consumer standards by either side following Brexit.

But in addition it acknowledges that any agreement between the EU and the UK ought to be "mutually beneficial", leaving open the tricky issue of how to square economic ties with Mrs May putting an end to free movement.

The EU parliament is set to play second fiddle in the Brexit negotiations behind the Commission and the Council of 27 member states, but eurocrats will still have to give strong consideration to its preferences.

That is because MEPs will ultimately wield a veto over any deal agreed between Brussels and Britain, meaning they can torpedo the talks if they think EU leaders are not listening to their concerns. 


14 FEB 2017

Vicky Ford: The Canada deal is not the model Brexit negotiations should follow

ConservativeHome - 14 February 2017

By Vicky Ford MEP

This week MEPs will vote on the long awaited EU/Canada trade agreement known as CETA. For those of us who support free and open trade this is a welcome step. But we should be very wary of using it as a template for future UK/EU trade partnerships.

Removing barriers to trade boosts growth, encourages innovation, increases wages and gives consumers greater choices and lower prices. The EU/Canada deal will eliminate over €500 million of tariffs currently placed on European and British exports. But we should hardly be popping celebrating corks if we achieve zero tariffs in a UK/EU trade agreement as today there are already zero tariffs left to cut.

It is much more important to look at the so called "non-tariff barriers" which reflect the bureaucratic red tape faced by companies exporting into other markets and to recognise that the level of ease British companies currently have when selling into other EU markets is much much greater than that which is now offered to Canada in CETA.

When I talk to key sectors of the British economy about what they want to retain from a new UK/EU relationship while tariffs of course remain a concern, it is the non-tariff barriers which are frequently cited as being more important.

For example, car manufacturers want to keep the mutual recognition of vehicle testing so once safety and emissions tests are passed in the UK they don't need to go and get the same vehicle tested and approved again. Digital entrepreneurs want to retain access to cross-border data flows. Pharma companies wish to continue to seamlessly run cross border clinical trials with a single approval for the new medicines or medical devices that result as well as to enjoy the ability to avoid double testing by having their UK manufacturing facilities certified as compliant with EU standards by UK regulators. The young Irish Occupational Therapist I met working at my local hospital wants to know that her qualifications will continue to be recognised on both sides of the Irish Sea and for our banks it's important that once they pass regulatory tests in the UK they can market the same mortgages, loans, insurance in other countries without additional requirements.

All of these are covered by the current trade arrangements we have between the UK and the rest of the EU but none of these issues are covered in any detail or with any certainty by the Canada trade deal.

When the Prime Minister spoke about leaving the Single Market she also spoke about retaining elements of cooperation, on a fully reciprocal basis and in the UK and the EU's mutual interests.

It would be logically possible to include all these specific elements into a UK/EU new trade deal provided there is trust and political goodwill. But if this is to be achieved then both sides will need to recognise that cutting and pasting terms from agreements that the EU has with other parts of the world is not the wisest place to start.


13 FEB 2017

MEP Vicky Ford put under the spotlight by Seevic students

Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo - 13 February 2017

by Charlotte Austen-Hardy

STUDENTS were able to grill a Member of the European Parliament and find out about her work during a visit.

MEP Vicky Ford met with A-Level students studying Politics and Law at Seevic college in Runnymede Chase, Benfleet.

The Conservative MEP ember of the European Parliament for the East of England is also chairman of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful economic committees of the Parliament.

She was elected a Member of the European Parliament in 2009 and is a member of the Bureau of the European Conservative and Reformist Group and a member of the Parliament's delegation for relations with China.

After an introductory talk about Vicky's work with the European Parliament, the students were able to ask questions.

Vicky was grilled on a range of topics including how law making works, how long it takes to set up a trade deal, should 16-year-olds have voted in the EU Referendum and asked about projects she is involved in.

Blake Matthews, Head of Learning for Humanities at Seevic College, said the students really enjoyed the chance to speak to a politician in depth about their work.

He said: "It is great to give the students the chance to ask about issues they have been learning or reading about in the classroom.

"The questions they were asking were really insightful and Vicky was brilliant at answering them in a clear and engaging way."

To find out more about studying Politics or Law at Seevic College, go to seevic-college.ac.uk.


09 FEB 2017

David Mundell in Brussels: Getting the best deal for the whole of the UK

David Mundell in Brussels: Getting the best deal for the whole of the UK

InvestinUK - 9 February 2017

The Scottish Secretary was in Brussels to discuss how the UK Government is representing Scotland as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell met with Scottish MEPs, EU academics and business representatives in Brussels today [Thursday 9 February], to discuss how the UK Government is representing people and business interests in Scotland.

Mr Mundell also met with other European member states while in Brussels, as part of a two-day programme of European engagement on economic, social and cultural matters. Tomorrow [Friday 10 February] he will travel to Berlin.

Speaking after the meetings, Mr Mundell said

"The UK government has been forming a strong UK-wide evidence base as we prepare for negotiations to forge a new, mutually-beneficial partnership with Europe. Today I set out how the Scottish Government and the UK Government are working together to ensure we get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

I also met representatives from a number of EU member states, and I was heartened to find a willingness to work with the UK as we leave the EU – underlining that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe."

Today [Thursday 9 February] Mr Mundell met:

  • UK MEP Vicky Ford, chair of the European Parliament's single market committee.
  • European thinktanks CEPS, Open Europe and Bruegel.
  • The Permanent Representatives of several key European partners, including Italy, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • The CBI's Brussels representative.

Mr Mundell's visit is part of the UK Government's determination to get the best possible deal for Scotland and all parts of the UK as we leave the EU. This direct engagement will ensure that key figures in Brussels understand the UK's ambitions in delivering a deal that works for the UK and all of its nations.

In Berlin Mr Mundell will meet Scottish academic and business interests, and host a reception for the Edinburgh International Film Festival at the British Embassy. This will showcase the Edinburgh festival to the world's cinema industry, who will be in Berlin for the Berlinale.


25 JAN 2017

East Anglia Euro MP says her single market post suggests Europe does want to work with Britain over trade

East Anglia Euro MP says her single market post suggests Europe does want to work with Britain over trade

Eastern Daily Press - 25 January 2017

By Annabelle Dickson

Conservative Vicky Ford MEP was re-elected as chairman of the European Parliament' Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) and will hold the post until the next European parliament elections when Britain is expected to have left the European Union and the single market.

She took up the role in 2014 and was reappointed in the mid-term committee elections today.

She said "I am pleased to be able to continue this work and to do all I can to help maintain amicable and open dialogue across Europe and between the UK and the EU-27.

"The IMCO Committee looks at the practical elements of removing barriers to trade across Europe. I hope that many of these practical co-operation networks will continue for both the UK and the rest of the EU post-Brexit.

"Re-confirming a UK Conservative in this important role confirms my view that many across Europe wish to maintain a close co-operative partnership with the UK, minimise barriers to trade and keep an amicable and open dialogue during all negotiations, including those on Brexit."


17 JAN 2017

Ford responds to PM's speech

Ford responds to PM's speech

Cambridge News - 17 January 2017

By Jenny Chapman

Theresa May's speech on Brexit now offers both the EU and UK an opportunity to move beyond simplistic 'in or out' scenarios on the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and instead focus on finding a new partnership – according to Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who chairs the European Parliament's internal market committee.

Speaking from the parliament in Strasbourg, Mrs Ford said: "We now need to move beyond the simplistic and binary view that we must either be in or out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Theresa May's speech now sets the scene for the kind of detailed and nuanced discussion that is needed once Article 50 is triggered.

"Many countries have preferential access to the Single Market, and an enhanced relationship on Customs matters. None of the existing models fit perfectly with the UK's position, and the extent to which the economic ties between the UK and the rest of Europe have become intertwined. It is in the interest of all parties to find an arrangement that maximises market access and maintains close regulatory cooperation.

"This new relationship needs to work practically as well as politically. I hope that moving past this binary 'in or out' discussion will mean all negotiators can now roll up their sleeves and start focusing on the specific details of a new partnership that benefits both sides."


29 NOV 2016

AstraZeneca reaffirms commitment to Cambridge as they meet with Vicky Ford MEP in Brussels to discuss Brexit fears

AstraZeneca reaffirms commitment to Cambridge as they meet with Vicky Ford MEP in Brussels to discuss Brexit fears

Cambridge News - 29 November 2017

By Josh Thomas

The implications of Brexit on world-leading Cambridge -based company, AstraZeneca, will be discussed at a meeting in Brussels today.

Vicky Ford MEP, Conservative Member of European Parliament for East of England, will be meeting with representatives from the pharmaceuticals company to discuss their position on Brexit and how leaving the EU could impact on the price of medicine and free movement of workers.

Today, Mrs Ford will meet AstraZeneca to discuss their priorities on Brexit negotiations. Including in particular the importance for UK patients being able to participate in cross border clinical trials and ensuring there are no unnecessary delays to regulatory approvals for advanced medicines or medical devices.

Mrs Ford said: "I am in ongoing dialogue with a lot of companies in the area looking to make sure they can keep a strong relationship with the European market. From AstraZeneca and the life sciences point of view, a key issue is they are committed to Cambridge and are going through with their headquarters here.

"They are looking at the impact on collaborative research and making sure they can continue cross border trials and keep a smooth regulation process."

Mrs Ford said that, from European companies' point of view, it was vital to keep British expertise on board.

last month, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said Brexit could end up having an impact on the cost of medicine should AstraZeneca not be able to operate as normal.

Mr Zeichner said: "Few people were thinking about the price of medicines when they voted in the referendum. But as the chief executive of AstraZeneca warned at the weekend, if the Government gets this wrong, the drugs bill will rise, so less money for the NHS - exactly the opposite of what people thought they were voting for."


27 OCT 2016

Vicky Ford: We shouldn’t ditch the Single Market wholesale – we must work out which bits we want to keep

ConservativeHome - 27 October 2016

By Vicky Ford MEP

Over the past forty years, politicians across the world have worked to tear down barriers to trade but increasingly we now risk tipping into a new era fueled by protectionism. Public support for trade agreements will not be regained if politicians only focus on the small minority of elite consumers who shop across borders: after all, the vast majority of consumers consume in their local area. Decisions on the new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU's Single Market or what trade agreements we should make with other parts of the world need to be made from the viewpoint of the ordinary consumer.

During the referendum there was much debate on the impact of the Single Market on business, on jobs, on workers, on services and standards, but its value to everyday consumers was hardly mentioned.

The abolition of mobile phone roaming charges was briefly highlighted but whilst this may be important to younger voters and to those who regularly travel overseas it did not resonate with many older voters, those of lower income, and those in less affluent areas. It was only recently when suddenly British consumers found that Marmite and Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough might not be quite as readily available that the discussion on the impact for consumers really began.

Margaret Thatcher championed the Single Market. It is about more than just tariff-free trade. There are a plethora of networks for practical co-operation which have been built up under the past forty years. When we are preparing for the negotiations ahead we should look at these networks and the practical benefits they bring to many every day lives and consider which we might wish to maintain. I have encountered many examples.

Important for children is the Rapex alert system. If a dangerous toy is spotted in one market, this system is used to alert trading standards officials all across Europe so that recalls can be made across the supply chain.

On the subject of health, at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham MPs from all over the UK visited the Cancer Research UK stand to pledge their support. Clinical trials for those with rare cancers are increasingly run across borders as larger numbers of participants give more meaningful results. The charity's top priority post-Brexit is to make it easy for British patients, especially children, to take part in joint clinical trials run across many EU countries so that they will be able to access latest treatment. The common approach across the Single Market to sharing of medical data and tissue samples enables these trials.

Patient safety today is also backstopped by an Internal Market Information Sharing System. This enables the UK's General Medical Council to easily check the qualifications of doctors from other countries, and ascertain whether they have ever been barred from practice. We are the largest sharer of information on this system. In Brussels we are currently looking at using the same system to share information on applications for firearms certificates.

Last month in Ware in Hertfordshire I saw lifesaving new asthma inhalers rolling off the production line. The manufacturer, Glaxo Smith Kline, has just invested £74 million in additional capacity at the factory. The management team's top ask post-Brexit is to keep close UK/EU cooperation on approvals for medical devices so that new innovations can come to market faster.

A common declaration system for imports from outside the EU helped customs authorities across Europe to seize over forty million counterfeit goods last year , not just illegal cigarettes, but fake medicines, toys and household electrical goods too. However, our port operators warn that if full customs declarations are also needed for goods moving between the UK and EU this could lead to huge delays at ports and airports. HMRC estimates that the number of customs declarations they would need to process would increase from 100 million each year to 350 million. If the Conservative Government is really committed to preventing unnecessary red tape then we must look for a simpler options.

Some of these Single Market networks are currently only used by the 28 EU countries, others are also accessed by EEA members, Switzerland or other neighbours.

In the UK, the Single Market is under scrutiny as never before. Having free movement of goods across the Single Market has on the whole given consumers greater choice, greater diversity and lower prices – even despite the propensity for the European political left to add extra costs into the supply chain or ban certain products.

Import prices matter to consumers, and trade deals with other parts of the world will bring new opportunities in the longer term, but currently over 50 per cent of the products that we import into the UK come from other EU countries. If we have to rely on a World Trade Organisation backstop for these products then British consumers will face expensive tariffs especially on food products, and negotiating a new free-trade agreement with Brussels to rectify this could take many years of uncertainty.

Therefore before we fully walk away from our entire relationship with the Single Market it is important to consider seriously strategies. Some politicians in other EU countries may say no to an "a la carte" relationship for the UK, but when one examines the EU's own scoreboard for how individual countries implement Single Market agreements it is clear that some of those same countries already take quite an "a la carte" approach themselves.

Our on-going relationship with the Single Market will of course be partly shaped by the decisions we make to ensure the UK has control over migration, but even in this area things are not as inflexible as sometimes portrayed. Politicians on both sides of the channel risk being locked into positions based on theological purity, laying down absolutes as non-negotiable whereas real world examples show that there already exist many examples of more flexible approaches.

In practical terms it is impossible to move to Belgium without a reasonably well-paid job, Switzerland is about to introduce new rules so that jobs must be advertised to local people before non-domestic residents, and in its relationship with Lichtenstein the EU has already conceded the principle that a country with a firm cap on migration can have preferential access to the Single Market.

After Brexit, a new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU's Single Market will be needed but this is not a simple "leave" or "stay" decision. It requires sophisticated consideration and a multi-layered approach


16 OCT 2016

Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford says 'Liechtenstein solution' could solve PM's Brexit dilemma

Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford says 'Liechtenstein solution' could solve PM's Brexit dilemma

Cambridge News - 16 October 2016

By Adam Care

A Cambridgeshire MEP has suggested Theresa May could have a third option when choosing between a 'hard' and 'soft' Brexit.

According to Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the east of England, it would be possible to impose tougher limits on immigration, whilst retaining access to the single market.

Speaking to the Guardian , Mrs Ford, who chairs the European parliament's committee on the internal market, said the UK should look to other EU nations that have devised alternative solutions to restricting migration.

She said: "If you look at a country like Liechtenstein, in the EEA, they have access to free movement of goods within the single market [but they] have an absolute cap on the number of people given residency a year – and it is only 90 people."

She suggested the "Liechtenstein solution" was not perfect for the UK, but demonstrated set migration limits were a possibility.

The also pointed to other countries with harsher restrictions than the UK.

"Look at a country like Belgium," she said.

"To live in Brussels you need to have a social security card, you need to be registered with your local area. And you have to have an employer who is committed to pay your social security benefits – or to be able to prove that you've got substantial private funds.

"In practical terms it is not possible go and live in Belgium and access public services without a job ... Without your social security card you can't get housing, education, healthcare, rent a property."


03 OCT 2016

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford talks Brexit with the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford talks Brexit with the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce

Herts & Essex Observer - 3 October 2016

A "calm and reasonable" approach to Brexit negotiations will benefit big business in Hertfordshire, according to the area's MEP.

Vicky Ford, a Conservative who represents the East of England, spoke at an event hosted by the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce at the town's golf club on Friday (September 3).

That morning she had visited the GSK plant in Ware to get a feel for the effect of the Brexit vote on business in the area.

Speaking to a range of businesspeople and local politicians, she said: "I have been seeing the asthma inhalers they make there and GSK are going to invest another £74million in those products which will be sold in over 100 different countries.

"It's critical to their operations that we have a negotiation between the UK and the rest of Europe that is as calm and reasonable and damage limiting as possible."

She added: "It's a great local example of the kind of work I have been doing around Brexit."

Mrs Ford also gave her views on the negotiations surrounding the single market, national security, science and research hubs in Cambridge, and free movement around Europe.

She was introduced by chamber committee member John Stigwood from Nockolds Solicitors and a range of businesspeople from the town attended.

Many shared concerns about the difficulty of doing business internationally since the referendum.

But many others said, while trade had slowed initially, the result had made little difference to the day-to-day running of their business.

Robert Lee, the president of the chamber, said: "The members of the chamber greatly enjoyed a frank and informative discussion on the effects of Brexit and the likely future negotiations.

"It's important the chamber members understand the opportunities and the difficulties that Brexit will bring."

For more information on the chamber visit www.bschamber.org


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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.