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..working towards the divorce of the UK and the EU...

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee March17th - 18th 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee March17th - 18th 2014

This should have been a two day meeting, as it usually is, but it was cut down to just Tuesday morning. With the cancellation of the meeting scheduled for March 26th & 27th it makes the extra meeting held on Monday 10th March even more strange. As earlier reported that was from 7.00 pm at the start of a Strasbourg week when committees are not supposed to be held. So I rushed to get there, just in time to vote, when it could have been done in good order today.

However, a further comment about due process. Many of the votes in committee are by show of hands, with an electronic check if the President is not sure. The final vote, to approve or not, is always electronic. Each political group has a specific number of MEPs on each committee in proportion to total group numbers and, at the start today, the President took a check. We all pressed a key, revealing that both the Lib-Dems and the EPP each had one too many. One of each then withdrew their voting card from the machine but, in voting for various amendments, the same extra numbers re-appeared. Apparently, someone had defected from the Lib-Dems to the EPP, causing the problem. That is unusual but extra numbers have appeared before. This is easily corrected in electronic votes but what about a show of hands vote, ie the majority of votes? True, the President checks electronically if not sure, and MEPs call for checks, but I can't help thinking that sometimes a report goes through against MEP's intentions. Not a good way to make laws affecting all of us.

In the votes yet more money was gifted in the "Globalisation Adjustment Fund" for firms re-locating outside the EU. Much worse was a vote on giving the Commission authority to spend money from the, "European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived". That's not in the third world, that's deprived people in the EU. So they foul up the economies of Europe with their crazy Euro currency and then give the Commission a blank cheque to spend on the disadvantaged Europeans they created, without having to clear it with anyone!

I enjoyed the last vote where they are getting excited about the rights of Seafarers. The rapporteur, Licia Ronzulli, from Italy, took on the President, the formidable Pervenche Beres, a French Socialist. Ms Ronzulli complained that the president had mis-represented parts of the case. Never in the last five years have I heard anyone do that. About a year ago, after a debate in Plenary, the Commission indicated they would not accept the vote by Parliament to adopt a report sponsored by the Employment Committee. I asked her what she would do if the Commission maintained their position. This very positive lady's response was, "I shall take them to Court!"

However, back to today's Seafarers. Ms Ronzulli's further comments indicated that she herself, although the rapporteur, would not support this report, making a series of pungent points. This was opposed by a Spanish MEP, Ms Barandica, who argued the case for vehemently. Other MEPs took part, several raised voices at the same time, a committee divided as never before.

This was unfortunate for I had intended to speak. One of the results of this report would be that Ships approaching a foreign port would be required to fly the flag of the country whose harbour they were about to enter. But that is already done by way of ancient custom and as a courtesy. Why enforce that which is already happening and deny ship's Captains the courtesy of the seas?

On the other hand is the second objection to this proposal. This is that owners are to be given the right to sack ship's crew when they get to a foreign port. That too is an ancient custom but one which, I think, should be abolished, not cemented in law. How would anyone feel on being dumped in a strange place without a job, even in these days of seamen's institutes?

So, they propose to endorse the unacceptable but enforce that which needs no help. They have it all the wrong way round. I was going to speak accordingly but thought better of it as the bust-up got going. I did not want to distract from the row going on, still less did I want to give them a common enemy, that might have united them. So, my departure from the Employment Committee was silently to encourage discord rather than deliver a modest contribution of my own. After all, what do most of them know of ships, compared to one whose childhood playground was the Bristol docks.

Ah well, see you in a street somewhere soon, with an armful of leaflets.



Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg March 18th 2014          

Friday, 14 March 2014

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, see earlier commentary. 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.

http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_813_Clueless-Chemistry-Behind-Greenhouse-Gases-Theory.html

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.

See - http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_814_Under-the-Rule-of-the-Unelected-Troika.html 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”.


Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg March 13th 2014

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 24th – 27th Feb 2014



A short week for me, and others. Due to the Spring Conference in Torquay I am returning home on Wednesday.

Tuesday Votes on a report about countering violence against women, what for? Is violence of any sort, especially directed against women, not against the law in all countries. It is in the UK, what else do we need? But this was about FGM and that becomes a religious matter and, we think, best left to individual countries to sort out for themselves.

Plant breeding was also voted on with many amendments. Like others I have received emails about restrictions on seed varieties which have been around for ages, but the EU does not like them. Must be harmonised, you see.
Wednesday A very big voting session, well over an hour and a half. Two reports stand out.

There was the report on “eCall” in-vehicle systems. This sounds OK as it enables cars fitted with the system to be assisted in an emergency, (as all cars will be by EU law) without the driver calling rescue services. All cars will be fitted with an automatic device which will tell the police to send for assistance if you crash, even if all car occupants are rendered unconscious. That obviously means the police, or whatever agency, will have you pinpointed wherever you are at all times. How do you like that, big brother watching over you. From there to the device mentioned before, enabling the police to bring a car to a halt wherever it is, is but a step. The installed transmission system for the one is easily modified for the other.
Then came the McAvan vote on the Tobacco Directive. In voting sessions it has become very noticeable that the lists have been arranged so that reports with a lot of “RCV” votes are being located at the end of the vote session. An RCV is a vote made electronically and recorded, so that those who wish to see how we voted can do so. No problem, even when we get people asking why we voted a certain way, like the email I received last week. People keep an eye on things, quite right too.

But an RCV has another function. As well as signing in every day record is kept of one’s RCV votes. If an MEP fails to record half of the RCVs in any one day, and that happens for half the days over a period of time, we can be required to repay the money received under,” General Expenditure Allowance”. This is the funding for the office in the UK and all that goes with it; rent, ‘phone bill, purchase of computer, supplies, newspapers, periodicals and so on. A tidy sum.

It is not uncommon to see MEPs counting up the RCVs as we go along and leaving the chamber when the 50% has been reached. I don’t do that normally, not least because our assistants have spent hours over the paper work to advise us of our vote and I do not like to see that wasted. Their work is discussed in a voting meeting of the assistants and MEPs immediately prior to the voting session. Gerard, as our whip, will have spent at least a half hour before that with the assistants knocking it into shape. (Or, me when Gerard has not been present, a rarity).

Hence the comments above and the new-style placement of reports with lots of RCVs.

So, imagine our surprise when it went wrong on Wednesday. This was in the vote on the McAvan report. This has already been aired in a previous plenary session and it was up today for final vote. Our Vote list had only 3 votes,- 1, The text as a whole, 2 to adopt the Commission proposal and 3 to authorise legislation. Suddenly, as the vote was to start we were informed of a change. The committee responsible had earlier asked to submit the text to vote in several different amendments but this had been refused, all in one was ruled, votes as per above. Now, in the last hour before voting, an email had been circulated giving permission for the Text to be in several votes after all. But we did not have that information, de-valuing our votes. Remember, this has been the subject of acrimonious emails between MEPs and the vociferous smoking lobby over a period of time.

I do not believe our assistants were to blame. As noted above they were all busy with either Gerard, or all of us, in the vote meetings for at least the hour when the president’s email was sent out. In any case, in a previous voting session this month a rapporteur was furious that his request to speak before the final vote was taken. He had emailed the president’s office with the request before-hand but the president for that vote session had not received it, so the vote went ahead, ignoring the rapporteur’s wishes.

Can you believe that the outcome of important votes are subject to last minute emails, which require someone to be watching a computer all the time!

You should not be. Remember my video of a few weeks ago when I complained about the lack of transparency in the budget report which authorises the spending of billions of taxpayers money? Now we have fudged votes, the outcome of which will affect a great number of companies and traders. But don’t worry, “Its how we do things here”!

Our next group of MEPs will take up the fight I’m sure but, in the meanwhile, what about you? You are all dedicated to UKIP’s fight to get us out of this undemocratic mess but the great British public needs information, hence my commentaries. These are not confidential nor are they subject to copyright: they are ammunition. Use them in the pub, in letters to the papers, in chatting to your pals, but use them. Just get the facts right as written, that’s all.

And good luck



Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg 26th Feb 2014

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

BRUSSELS COMMENTARY EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE FEB 12TH – 13TH 2014



The Report on “Promoting inland waterway transport” was further debated and voted on. It was adopted by 34 to 3 votes. Some of our UKIP members have expressed concern about this, not least because the construction of HS2 will have an impact on the canals. Not sure there needs to be concern because this report is all about connecting the big rivers of Europe together. But wait and see. If you wonder if the rapporteur has sufficient knowledge of canal systems don’t worry. This is not really about the mechanics or geography of linking the waterways. It is about social provisions! They use much bigger barges over here so if some of them are taken out of service there will be less employment and therefore benefits will increase.
In the “Growth and Employment” debate it turns out that the UK is a stumbling block. Article 351 requires that ratification of this report must have a legal base and that will need a UK Parliamentary Bill to bring all the items it covers into one document. Apparently this can only happen once a year. Germany is in exactly the same position and both Germany and the UK have yet to reply, hence the slow delivery. I can’t help wondering what the situation would be if it was just the UK with this problem.
In the debate on “employment…. Role of the Troika £EC, Commission, IMF)”, an interesting comment was made. An MEP stated that the countries most heavily in debt, including Italy and Greece, had not been forced into accepting the bail-outs, or that they have been put upon in any way. They themselves had asked for intervention with massive loans. The speaker did not mention that duly elected Prime Ministers had been ejected from their positions and replaced by unelected bureaucrats.
There were 5 “Discharge” votes. That is, authorising expenditure after the money has been spent. If you ask why not before spending millions of public money, remember the comments I made a few months ago, and my intervention in the House. The budget was voted on last autumn but in such a way that it was impossible to know exactly what each amount was being spent on. When I complained that alterations to some amendments were made in such a way that it was impossible to relate the changes to the items listed I was told that, “this is how we do things”. Meanwhile the Auditors continue to refuse to sign the books off.

And so to, “conditions of Entry and resident of third country nationals”, meaning non-EU people. So please see this video of my contribution and the President’s comment in reply to me. In itself it is unusual to get such a response but I think you will guess what my reaction will be; http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_794_EU-illegally-discriminating-against-Commonwealth-nationals.html
I hope you are not disappointed in me in not taking the chair of this committee. A presidential shortage occurred with the President herself absent, as were all but two deputies. One of these disappeared so one of the Committee secretarial staff came over to see me. The remaining deputy, who had taken then chair, was also about to depart. The rules require an authorised president to conduct committee meeting sand, in the absence of all elected deputies, that becomes the oldest member, i.e. Me! I declined with thanks and it passed to the next oldest. Just think of the fun I might have had, but I am not there to help them on their way.


Derek Clark MEP Brussels 13th February 2014.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 3rd-6th Feb 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 3rd-6th Feb 2014

Monday Conflict of interests. Business starts at 5.00 pm on the Monday and I was down to speak about food labelling in the first debate of the evening but did not know exactly when, speakers list not published until just before start. However, the Employment Committee had called an emergency meeting starting at 7.00pm that evening. Committees are not supposed to meet in Strasbourg but the president of the Employment Committee is a formidable lady. Notice of this meeting did not appear in time to re-schedule my flight, due in Strasbourg at 6.30 pm. In the event I got to Committee in time to vote, but only because John had prepared my voting list and met me at the door. Then found I was not speaking after all, so no frantic dash from Committee to Parliament Chamber after all. A certain amount of flexibility is required in this place.

Tuesday We voted against their idea of better law making, but abstained on all parts of the “Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination”. We have no problem at all regards to varying sexual orientation but it’s simply, “live and let live”. We also voted against “Smart grids” for electricity supply. I hope all are aware that these are coming to a front door near you! They will not only tell the electricity company how much power each of your various devices are using but there is the potential for device control as well!

Don’t laugh about that. Only this week Commission News declares that in about six year’s time all vehicles will have remote control. No, not by you,- the driverless car-, but a device built in to all new cars allowing the Police to stop your car as you drive! They may well develop the technology but what rules and regs will there be? As to the consequences, use your imagination.

Wednesday We voted on an arms aid treaty and Protection about imports from non EU countries and about explosives for civil use. Then, the “Framework for climate and energy policies”, which degenerated into farce. Well over 150 amendments at the end of which there is the vote on adopting the “Committee Resolution”, passing which would send this on to the next stage. Here the rapporteur objected saying this should be referred back to committee. This is not unusual but there was a procedural problem. To ensure this went back to committee he had to rise and speak to say so, but, was not seen or heard by the president until the resolution vote itself was in progress. Result, according to rules, no chance, it goes on. He protested saying he had informed services as required and, failing that he was going to withdraw his name from the report. The vote was concluded among tumult.

The President ruled he had not risen to make his point before the vote started so he was out of order and that he had not asked for the floor before the vote started, which therefore went ahead, adopted by 341 to 263. Pandemonium.

Martin Callanan (Tory leader of the ECR) claimed that an email had been sent at 4.50 the previous day, asking for the floor. He went on to accuse the president, Mrs Podimata, of malpractice earlier in the week over a new time table for Strasbourg in 2015. He was ruled out of order. The vote stood with claims that it be re-run the following day but, this was the last vote of the day and by the time this was said many MEPs had left the chamber.

Thursday Yesterday’s events continued, except that there was no re-run of the last vote on Climate policies. One of our lady EFD number, not a Brit, sent a letter to the President of Parliament saying that the previous day was disgraceful, especially the conduct of the lady President of the day, Mrs Podimata. For once I disagreed with an EFD colleague.
My letter said that Mrs Podimata had kept an even tempo throughout ( not easy with Electronic votes by the dozen), that she had been proved right most times when challenged to hold an electronic vote to check her declaration of the result on show-of-hands, and that her own call for electronic votes had been justified when most of those showed a close result. This lady’s letter to the President of Parliament was duly amended.

I hope you will understand that I was more than annoyed when an email from a Brit (Tory) MEP came out accusing those on our side of the chamber always losing no opportunity of calling out anti-women comments whenever a voting dispute occurred. That is just not true, but not worth my time in responding, this time. We are under attack all the time, good.

Schultz himself took the chair for the first part of voting and explained that Mrs Podimata had acted properly throughout and that the rapporteur’s email asking for the floor had indeed, not reached her. Why, was not explained.

Votes today were the usual light weight stuff, situation in Egypt, Syria and so on. Of course it’s very serious for these people but they do not deserve EU interference. UKIP’s stance is much better. Never mind spending millions on foreign aid to India, etc, which does not need it, and of course we need border controls to stop mass migration, but genuine refugees from Syria are a different matter. When did Britain ever turn its back on genuine refugees who really do need someone to help them over a problem not of their making?

If you watch one of my last speeches you will see that I advocate British, West European Industry setting up businesses in Eastern Europe. This would first help these people, then see them on to greater prosperity, reducing the need for mass migration. After all, who really wants to leave their homeland if they can use their talents and live reasonable well there? What chance of success, none. Most industry is out for financial gain alone, and never mind anyone else.

We received a Maltese delegation in our EFD group this week. They are an amalgam of left and right, and totally fed up with the EU. They want to leave the EU as it conflicts with Malta’s written constitution. They hope to gain a seat in the Euro elections this May, perhaps two out of the six on offer. That would be an immense gain. Any chance that small countries like this could start to prise open the door?


Finally, personal comment. I went out for dinner last evening in Strasbourg town centre, as I usually do on Wednesday evening, but found a disturbing new element. I used a restaurant close to the Cathedral which I have not used much before but saw something I had not seen before. All round that area there were small groups of people - twos, threes fours. Many with a dog, all with belongings in bags, sacks and so on. They were there for the night and seemed to be families together. One lot were under police questioning. Who were they, on this cold winter night?

I leave that with you.






Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg Feb 6th 2014

Friday, 31 January 2014

CAEF

Members may wish to know, if they didn’t already, that I’m also a Member of CAEF, The Campaign against Euro Federalism.  This is very strongly a trade union movement and it consistently speaks against our EU Membership.  Two of the best speeches condemning our membership I have ever heard were from Lord Peter Shore his widow later joined us.  The second being Bob Crowe of the RMT.  Each of them denounced the EU, the former in gentlemanly terms, the latter like a wrecking ball.   
I therefore receive the ‘Democrat’ every month and on the front page of the current issue it reports:-
·           Gallop Survey showed 19% of Greeks approved of the EU in 2013, and 21% of Cypriots.
·           Less than a third approve of the EU, in the UK, the Czech Republic and Sweden.
·           Spain showed a decrease in support from 59% to 27% last year.
·           Ireland went down from 70% to 47%.
All those are bail out countries but Sweden went down 17 points, Finland 14 points and Denmark 10 points.  The Netherlands down from 59% support to 48%. 
It also points out that support among the young in the countries so badly affected by the Euro has dropped by very significant figures. 
Now to quote some data from the last meeting of the Employment Committee which points out that SME’s are the backbone of the EU economy, 20.7 million SME’s provide 67% of private sector employment. 
It also points out that there is a drop in the EU among those who want to be self employed from 45% down to 37% in the last three years. 
50% say they cannot obtain sufficient information on how to start a business.  In that respect the report says that in Belgium it takes 4 days to set up a business but in Malta it is 40 days. 
It lists a whole range of policies which favour SME’s including innovation, competitiveness, internationalism, reducing bureaucracy etc etc.
It does point out that the unemployment rate among young Europeans, aged 15-24, has reached 23% and above 50% in those, “Members states hardest hit by the crisis”. 
This Employment Committee document goes on to worry about a huge brain drain but nowhere does it mention the adverse affect of the Euro currency.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee Jan 22nd, 23rd 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee Jan 22nd, 23rd 2014

Debates this week on eleven topics such as,-

*Economic and social aspects in the Annual Growth survey, 260 amendments and adopted by 32 to 3

*How can the EU create a hospitable environment for enterprises and new jobs

*Proposal for a directive for Seafarers

*Social Summit for Growth and Employment

*Directive to promote inland waterway transport

*Posting of workers

* Five discharges listed not debated. That's saying OK to spending already made.

Otherwise none of these topics were voted on this time while Votes were taken on a text on "Rights of Freedom of movement of workers", but without debate, adopted by 31 to 1

Finally, a debate and vote on, "Are tools in place to monitor the effectiveness of European Social Fund spending on Older Workers", which arose from the Auditors Special report. Adopted it by 33 to 2 without even offering me a slice of the Social Fund! So mine was one of the 2 votes against.

After all this a presentation by the Greek minister for Labour, Mr Yannis Vroutsis since it is the start of the Greek presidency and at the change all Committees get a visit by the appropriate minister.

He sounded just like his boss, the Greek premier a week earlier. The problems are not just of Greece, there is instability in the whole EU. Greece is now showing positive signs. In the last year employment has now stabilised reflecting the economy as a whole and Greece will show a surplus this year.

Their top priority will be to tackle Youth Unemployment. In the wider employment field their "Artemis" program will tackle undeclared work which denies the Greek exchequer of revenue.

They will press on with equal opportunities and try to end discrimination. In particular they will seek to achieve a gender balance on company boards.

A bit like most of the initial presentations by Ministers of Member States.



Derek Clark MEP Brussels 23rd Jan 2014