Derek Clark's Strasbourg Commentary: Plenary session March 10th-13th March 2014
• Monday and yet another emergency Employment Committee Meeting, which is not supposed to happen in a Strasbourg week. Scheduled for 7.00 pm when my flight gets in at 6.30pm! Change flights when we only receive information few days ahead? Flight half hour late leaving Brussels anyway so got there with John champing at the bit, voting list in hand. After all that only three votes! And they’ve now cancelled the next Committee meeting for March 26th. Why, we could have done all this emergency business in that meeting. Do you wonder that the EU is a complete mess? And that would have been my last committee meeting anyway, so I am denied a triumphal departure!
Tuesday: Massive voting list including plant seeds which they wish to regulate, for once thrown out with a call for the Commission to resign! Several reports on transport all of which will regulate your travel even more. Equality between men and women seems to have been defeated.
Then came Fluorinated greenhouse gasses and my "blue card question" at its end. I would not have done that had I not been there to speak in the following debate.
The links below show my questions and I must say I have never before know anyone get two bites of the cherry. The rapporteur is a “Green” and I am still none the wiser from his answers. The other link is of my own offering on freedom of movement.
Now Tuesday evening is “Gadfly Dinner” evening, MEPs and assistants, and my speech was scheduled for 9.30pm but this slipped to 10.30. So I took a Parliament car to the restaurant with a booking to pick me up from there at 9.45 and just about finished main course. Finally spoke at 11.30 pm, and went back to hotel!
Wednesday: We voted against an “Anti Missile shield for Europe” on the grounds that it will wind up Russia even more, not a good idea at the moment. The Marinescu report was passed against our vote 489–154 because it will not help Gibraltar, quite the reverse. Ditto the Sassoli report on air traffic services. The Mayer report was passed by 610 to 58 votes and that will hike up the cost of insurance for package holidays and so on. Have a nice day in the Costa del Sol!
Also voted on Fluorinated greenhouse gasses, and freedom of workers. Both were adopted as was the vote on Russian gas which comes to Europe by way of the Ukraine which they now want to by pass. They also passed the report which will establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Sounds more and more like the French revolution, and you think I’m kidding?
Later my speech on the TROIKA and was there in time to hear about 15 other speakers before me; they all rubbished the Troika, in no uncertain terms. How will the vote go?
Thursday: A massive vote session conducted at such a rapid speed by the lady President that we got lost from time to time. The Zuber report on Equality between Men and women was defeated by 289 to 298. If you think that reflects the ratio of men to women in the chamber you may be right, but be it noted that we sometimes come under attack for allegedly exhibiting unhelpful tendencies towards women. Nonsense, “some of my best friends are… “
Also today the vote on the “Troika” to which I spoke on Wednesday evening where I remarked that many speakers rubbished the Troika. Surprise, surprise, the vote on it today did not reflect that in any way. There were many RCV votes, so you look it up yourselves, and the final vote was 408 to 135 in favour. Ah well!
Finally the vote on the situation in the Ukraine. We took the view that this is nothing to do with the EU, or the USA. I agree. We have interfered there before, remember the Crimean War. Ditto 3 times in Afghanistan, the Suez Crisis, Lawrence of Arabia …… where will it stop. We had a civil war of our own, who came to help in that to any real extent? So we got on and sorted ourselves out, result, a Parliamentary Democracy the envy of the world with which Europe is trying to catch but making the mistake of trying to short-cut, hence the mess.
See you in the campaign to preserve our democracy, by which, to quote Nelson, ”we shall save Europe too”.