Earlier, there had been a debate on the European External Action Service, a.k.a. an EU Foreign Office, headed by Baroness Ashton. Of interest will be the speech by Charles Tannock, Cons. S.West. He said that the Tories used to oppose the EEAS as eroding British prerogatives in independent foreign policy, but, "now they will engage constructively with the EEAS since it is a political reality".
"Baroness Ashton", he continued, "deserves credit for crafting a consensus to allow a way forward. Conservatives will protect British interests by lobbying influential groups, for the EEAS must be built on merit".
So the Tories roll over again to demonstrate their pro-EU credentials. Any chance of a "Referendum Lock" on this one?
By the way, we have a Con-Dem coalition government, all happily working together, but here the Tories sit in the ECR political group, at Dave's insistence, while the Lib-Dems remain in the ALDE group. When is a coalition not a coalition?
Marta Andreasen MEP, Budget committee member, speaking today in plenary said: "Like a thief, the EU now wants to directly plunder the pockets of the British taxpayer. Be it a carbon tax, bank levy, or whatever, it is certain that the taxpayers will be taking more pain. When people see the EU taking their money, they will increasingly resent the EU waste and lack of transparency."
Wednesday, 20th October: The Marta Andreason quote above was followed today with the vote on the budget: nearly two hours, voting line by line on15 pages, to allocate millions of Euros. Cannot begin to copy all of it but here are one or two highlights:
• €241,941,800 on EU satellite navigation systems (e.g. Galileo);
• €17,000,000 on training and information for workers organisations;
• €50,000,000 for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund;
• €99,437,968 for the European Aviation Safety Agency;
• €121,210,000 - cooperation on energy (they wanted 30 million more, we beat them down);
• €525,000,000 - combating poverty, in spite of my speech!
• €300,000,000 - dairy fund subsidy;
• €128,983,000 - democracy & human rights;
• €842,950,400 - cooperation with Mediterranean countries (partnership agreements);
plus several votes for increases with no figures shown, all carried.
We voted against all of these but were out-voted, mostly by enormous majorities. We only supported when there was a proposal to reduce a particular budget, we lost most of those!
Then to "Estrela" (A7-0032/2010) - "Safety & Health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding". Reported in the UK press.
Over 100 amendments with us trying to bring common sense, many of our votes are supported by HMG, many not. We did succeed in a vote on "All parents have the right to care for their child". For those who follow the disgraceful accounts of children being taken from their parents by crazed social workers this could be good news.
Thursday, 21st October: Lots of MEPs left early to beat the French Transport strike. That had made me late on Wednesday because the tram was not able to run the section up to Parliament. Did not know until I got there, the police had closed the road, including tram track. Must have been over 100 CRS police, all in riot gear, and not a striker to be seen!
Most votes today were on individual spending issues, all carried, of course.
"The future of European Standardisation" (Kožušník - A7-0276/2010) knocks SMEs again and, of course, got a big vote in favour. Astonishing how this lot debate increasing employment, or reducing poverty, and then go on hammering businesses, especially SMEs, with yet more rules and regulations.
More money for an "Integrated Maritime policy" (Meissner A7-0266/2010), setting up a Maritime Safety Agency and a European Coastguard Service, all well supported, especially by MEPs from countries with no coastline. They never think to ask countries who have been doing it for donkey's years, they think they have to re-invent the wheel every week.
Lastly, "Country of origin.... products from third countries", (Muscardini A7/0273/2010), passed with over 500 votes in favour. They did not support our EFD amendment 49 to make clear where and when there are several different countries of origin. So "Bernard Mathews Norfolk Turkeys" are indeed bred ready for the table in Norfolk, and that's what the label says. What it will probably still not say is that, after slaughter they go all the way to Hungary for packaging and back again. Enjoy your well-travelled turkey this Christmas!