By Derek Clark MEP | Related VIDEO
• You will have read that the EU powers that be, i.e. the Conference of Presidents, intended to compel MEPs to attend the "State of the Union" address by Barroso on Tuesday. At the opening of this week's business on Monday several MEPs objected, with stronger opposition to anything "they" have previously ruled before. As a result, the plan to have three checks of our presence by way of the electronic vote system was abandoned. We thought this a pity, think of the adverse publicity we could have generated. That's why we did not join the chorus of disapproval.
In the event I think they were right to try to blackmail us into attending; Barroso's over long speech was a dreary affair. He simply trotted out all the usual buzz words, like solidarity and sustainability, in reciting the same catalogue we have heard so many times before. Never mind, it gave Nigel a chance to respond and I expect you will have seen this on the web site already, with part of the Barroso speech.
You may have seen a transcript of my speech of Tuesday on "Employment Guidelines". My reference to a vote earlier in the day was in a report, "A better functioning food supply chain in Europe". I should have spoken on Monday evening as well, on the "Globalisation Adjustment Fund". That debate was cancelled, not the first time this has happened to me. Very annoying, it takes quite a long time to prepare a speech. In a one minute speech every second counts, unnecessary words and comments eliminated, still trying to get a message across while keeping to the time allowed.
Wednesday, there were only three reports for voting, including that on Employment Guidelines. I did not expect to carry the day, after all, opposing it in committee had got me nowhere, so I was not surprised that is was carried by 566 votes to 59. There was also a vote on the "Protection of animals used or scientific purposes". We abstained as this is best left with national governments, as I have said to the great number who emailed me about this. Animal issues promote more emails than any other topic.
Thursday and another very light voting list. The most contentious issue will be the, "Situation of the Roma people in Europe", especially in view of the recent French stand. I can not say how this will turn out as I have to leave immediately after voting to catch my flight at Frankfurt. No time to get to my office (Yes, Frankfurt, nearly 3 hours by bus laid on by the mayor of Strasbourg. There are no flights direct from the UK to Strasbourg at any time. It is so difficult to get here that no less than 200 MEPs come through Frankfurt.)
So, not very much this week by way of legislation, it will crank up in due course. For all his tedium Barroso did lay out an ambitious program on Tuesday so there will be plenty of action soon.
To conclude this commentary I must comment on the benefit of our membership of the EFD. Because we are in a political group, and because Nigel is the co-leader of it, he gets to respond in debates like this "State of the Union". That there should be no such item (who do they think they are?), is beside the point, our MEP leader was taking part in a formal debate by right. In addition, we have the absolute right to places on whatever committees we nominate. So no one could stop Marta from sitting on the Budget Committee, Stuart on Agriculture and so on. All of which generates such publicity as we do get.