15 JAN 2015

MEP negotiations for joint resolution opposing Commission's 2015 work programme collapse

Read the full story at Business Green

The European Parliament is today expected to give the green light to controversial plans to delay new efforts to tackle air pollution and waste, after MEPs failed to come up with a cross-party resolution against the proposals.

MEPs are due to vote on the work programme in Strasbourg this afternoon. But negotiations for a joint resolution fell apart after the centre-right EPP and Conservative ECR groups decided they did not want to take part.

UK Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder, who had led work on the negotiations, said separate resolutions would now be voted on, but it was unlikely that any would receive enough votes to pass.

However, a spokesman for Conservative MEP Vicky Ford defended the party's decision, pointing out that ECR's motion does scrutinise Juncker's environmental proposals, including asking the Commission to work with member states on growing the circular economy "and if necessary, reconsider the withdrawal" of the new work programme.

"There were negotiations between the groups seeking to agree a joint resolution," the spokesman said. "Following the clarification by each group concerned of their key demands for inclusion in a joint text the EPP indicated that it was clear there was insufficient grounds for a joint motion and withdrew from the process.

"As this would clearly have shifted the centre of gravity towards the left-wing groups it became clear to us that we would not be able to support a joint text so we then withdrew. We did not leave the talks as a result of any language over the air quality or circular economy packages. The points made in our own resolution stand and have been submitted to the plenary vote."

The EPP had not responded to BusinessGreen's request for comment; however its resolution included no mention of waste or air pollution.


15 JAN 2015

Parliament splinters over commission work programme

MEPs fail to reach agreement on joint resolution on commission work programme

Read the full article at The Parliament Magazine

The European commission's 2015 work programme is expected to go ahead without any input from parliament, after groups were unable to agree on the wording of a joint resolution.

Team Juncker was heavily criticised by MEPs when it unveiled its plans last December, due to proposals to withdraw legislation on clean air and waste.

S&D group vice-president Enrique Guerrero Salom said, "we expect the commission to deliver in 2015 on air quality".

Philippe Lamberts, co-president for the Greens/EFA group, accused the commission of "sharpening its knives to cut a number of important legislative proposals", imploring the college to "fight tooth and nail" to ensure laws on air pollution were not scrapped.

Bas Eickhout, treasurer for the group, said, "it seems the Juncker commission is rather 'big for big corporations'".

"Euroscepticism is not caused by ambitious EU legislation on cleaner air, a more resource efficient economy creating jobs, or better protection of pregnant workers" - Bas Eickhout

He added, "Euroscepticism is not caused by ambitious EU legislation on cleaner air, a more resource efficient economy creating jobs, or better protection of pregnant workers".

Eickhout warned that "putting these proposals into question or delaying them will only confirm those claiming that the EU puts industry lobby interests before the public interest".

He called on the commission to "make sustainability and social progress guiding principles in 2015".

Before the breakdown of the talks, Catherine Bearder, who is ALDE's shadow rapporteur on national emissions ceilings, stressed that "environmental legislation must not be dropped or watered down - the parliament must stand firm on this".

ECR deputy Vicky Ford said, "yes, we share wider objectives - higher living standards, the environment, opportunity, equality - but we need strong economies to deliver this, the economy must come first".

Clearly these objectives were not enough to bring the groups together, as negotiations collapsed after the EPP, ECR and S&D groups dropped out.


14 JAN 2015

Anne Glover's EU advisor role reinstated, MEP says

The European Commission has agreed to retain the role of EU Chief Scientific Adviser, despite the departure of Anne Glover, an MEP claimed today (14 January).

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans attended a meeting of the European Conservatives & Reformists yesterday (13 January) at which UK MEP Vicky Ford asked him to confirm the status of the role, according to another British MEP present at the meeting, Ian Duncan.

"Timmermans said that there will be a chief scientific adviser. I am very happy as it's an important function," Duncan told EurActiv.

"I have been trying to obtain a confirmation of that from the Commission today, unsuccessfully so far. However, he told us he believed the post was of value and important at this time, I don't think a remark of that type made in front of 71 MEPs would be made lightly," Duncan added.

 

Read more at EurActive.com


13 JAN 2015

MEPS vote to give member states more powers on GM crops

MEPS have overwhelmingly endorsed a significant change to EU legislation today, giving member states a much greater say over whether they grow genetically modified (GM) crops.

The European Parliament voted in Strasbourg on Tuesday by 480 votes to 159 to make it easier for member states to ban GM crops and, potentially, to push ahead with approvals on a national scale, prompting speculation about possible approvals in England within the next few years.

Conservative MEP for the East of England Vicky Ford said on Twitter: "Today's GMO vote allows UK to make own decisions on individual crops & help UK science. This breaks deadlock as no common view in EU."

Read More at FarmersGuardian


01 JAN 2015

Commissioner Timmermans is a man we can do business with

Read more at ConHome

Reforming the EU is going to be tough. Many ConHome readers will say it is impossible, and they may be right.

But I believe we should make our best effort to change the EU and, having done that, offer whatever deal we secure to the British people to decide whether we should say or leave.

And in that regard, I found some encouragement during December's plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It involved a chap called Franz Timmermans, and if you don't see him in the news too often yet, I think you soon will.

If you follow strict political labelling he is a socialist – but I can only say that if there were a few more socialists like him around, the world would be a better place.

The former Dutch Foreign Minister is now senior vice president of the EU Commission – in other words, Juncker's number two. And he is charged with addressing our Conservative agenda for reform in Europe. Some have labelled him the Commissioner for Avoiding Brexit.

He speaks half a dozen languages fluently – all of them plainly, I am told, and without political flam.

His English is delivered without any hint of a foreign accent. He looks and sounds British. He understands that Europe is broken and has to change.

He even has a sense of humour. So quite how he got (almost) to the top of the EU bureaucracy I can but wonder. These qualities are normally a positive barrier.

Now, none of this makes him Britain's salvation. None of it means there will be an easy ticket in our quest for radical renegotiation of our terms of membership. Certainly it does not mean we are definitely staying in Europe – far from it. That is something the British people must decide for themselves.

But it does mean that along with UK Commissioner Jonathan Hill, there is at least one other person high up in the Commission who understands and shares our frustration with the EU's failings – and will give us a hearing. When it comes to reform, Timmermans gets it.

During this week's plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, he set his stall out by announcing a comprehensive refocusing of the EU's legislative programme.

This was presented under the uninspiring banner of "The Commission Work Programme 2015″. But what was really served up was a radical first: A senior commissioner spelling out his plans to scrap proposed legislation which he saw as meddlesome or unhelpful, and to concentrate on the more important stuff that would actually drive growth and jobs instead of getting in the way.

My colleague Vicky Ford had co-ordinated a list of our priority items which we proposed for inclusion in the Work Programme. She told both Timmermans and Juncker they must make it easier for businesses to thrive in Europe, which would in turn see higher living standards, an improved environment, opportunity and equality.

She warned: "Europe needs to change. Commissioners, you have talked about change – we need to see you deliver.

A key element of the Timmermans package was withdrawing plans which had been on the books for a so-called Common European Sales Law. We Conservatives happen to think existing British laws do an excellent job already in protecting both consumers and vendors, so in the last parliament we mounted a vigorous campaign against proposals we saw as unnecessary and confusing.


16 DEC 2014

Reforming the EU is going to be tough. Many ConHome readers will say it is impossible, and they may be right. But I believe we should make our best effort to change the EU and, having done that, offer whatever deal we secure to the British people to decide whether we should say or leave. And in th

VICKY Ford MEP for the East of England has demanded that EU Commissioners make wide changes, print fewer laws and focus on helping build economic growth.

Mrs Ford was speaking on behalf of the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR), the third largest group in the Parliament during a debate on the EU's work plan for the next year. This followed an announcement that the incoming EU Commission intends to scrap many new EU laws, including the so-called plant reproductive materials directive. Mrs Ford has campaigned against this directive warning it will damage the horticulture sector worth nearly £10 billion to the UK economy and remove much loved garden plants from local nurseries.

Read more at Your Thurrock


11 DEC 2014

Mildenhall College Academy students and staff travel to Belgium for unveiling of historic World War One monument

Read more: Bury Free Press

Students and staff from Mildenhall College Academy helped to make history on Saturday when they unveiled a World War One monument in Belgium.

More than 20 school representatives travelled to the Peace Village of Mesen to unveil the historic memorial to the Christmas truce in 1914, thought to be the first of its kind in Europe.

Pupils led the project with counterparts from the Gymnasium Theodorianum School in Paderborn, Germany to create, and unveil the monument.

The sunset ceremony was opened by the British and German Ambassadors to Belgium, Alison Rose and Eckart Cuntz, and the event included speeches from Mildenhall students and staff about the monument's creation.

Also on the guestlist were Vicky Ford, MEP for the East of England, the Mayor of Mesen, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for schools and skills and the Governor of Paderborn.


06 NOV 2014

Lavenham aiming to win world heritage status

Read the full story at Bury Free Press

The medieval village of Lavenham is making a bid to become a Unesco world heritage site.

The aim is to preserve the village's historic wool trade character while protecting it from the pressures of high tourist traffic and heavy lorries travelling along its narrow streets.

The project was launched by the Lavenham Forum and has been backed by MEP Vicky Ford and Conservative Parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk James Cartlidge.


30 OCT 2014

MEP backs our campaign to save the Morston mussel

Read the full story at EDP 24

Vicky Ford, who is a member of the European Parliament for the East of England, yesterday pledged to visit the North Norfolk coast and taste the renowned Morston mussels.

The Conservative said she would give local fishermen support to apply for protected designation of origin from the European Union, if they wanted the status for their harvest.

Mrs Ford said protected status for the Morston mussel, which could place the mollusc in the same league as Champagne, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Fenland celery, could give a welcome boost to the industry.

North Norfolk seafood is not just Cromer crabs.


16 OCT 2014

Vicky Ford explains to the Parliament Magazine why 'better regulation does not always mean more regulation'.

Read the full story at The Parliament Magazine

For Vicky Ford the stakes could not be higher. "A well-run single market" she says, "can be the key to unlocking prosperity, innovation and greater competitiveness in Europe, which will benefit businesses and consumers. Misdirected, it can stifle entrepreneurship and create a clipboard culture in business." As chair of parliament's internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee, Ford is committed to "bringing down internal barriers to trade in goods and services". "The single market is meant to help people trade easily across 28 countries and sell to more than 500 million consumers," she stresses; "it is not meant to add more red tape, costs and bureaucracy."


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