3rd July 2012: Yesterday afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons contributed, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on Recording Equipment in Road Transport*.
"I am in favour of controlling the hours driven by commercial and passenger vehicles in the interests of road safety. However, they should be drafted and enforced with flexibility and common sense and not as an exercise in obsessive compulsive disorder.
"The Rapporteur seems to be keen on a zero-tolerance enforcement policy. I am not. One of my constituents was recently fined £600 for exceeding his allotted time by fifteen minutes, so that he could reach home that night.
"There is a need for the convergence of those laws, only in the case of vehicles that leave the countries from which they operate. We do not need a converged law covering vehicles that remain in their own countries. Even then, convergence can be just as easily achieved by multi-lateral international agreement and there is no need for power hungry supranational entities to be involved."
3rd July 2012: Yesterday afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons was unsuccessful in his attempt under the Catch the Eye procedure to contribute to a debate on The Proposed Creation of a Single European Railway Area (The Serracchiani Report).
Had he been called to speak, Andrew would have told MEPs:
"Regulation, harmonisation and seeing national boundaries as an impediment are the default position of supporters of the European Project.
"However, it is a bit difficult to justify them in relation to the railway system in the UK. There is only one link to the Continent and that is through the Channel Tunnel. Nevertheless, that has not stopped the drive for harmonisation.
"The European Train Control System (ETCS) is a signalling control and train protection system. It is being imposed on the United Kingdom. However, it has aggravated the problem of delay and there have been several incidents of trains dangerously passing red lights when using the system. Furthermore, it has proved difficult to install it in the cabs of older locomotives.
"Harmonisation that enhances safety might be welcomed. Harmonisation that enhances risk is not acceptable.
"Whilst I am not an enthusiast for a Single European Railway Area, I would like to see a Single British Railway Area and a reversal of the neo-liberal fragmentation."
14th June 2012: In 2008 (before Andrew Brons was elected to the European Parliament) the European Union passed a Council Directive, 2008/120/EC, which banned the use of very restrictive metal crates for housing pregnant sows that prevented the sows even from turning around.
The deadline for member states to bring in their own legislation implementing the directive is 1st January 2013. However, the only three member states to report that they are already compliant with the ban are the United Kingdom, Sweden and Luxembourg. Indeed the United Kingdom banned the use of these crates in 1999 two years before the European Union took its first decision in 2001 to seek a ban.
Animal welfare measures of this kind are expensive and farmers might well think that the benefits of each measure should be measured against the costs of implementing it. However, farmers in the United Kingdom have already had to spend money on implementing these changes, so farmers in countries that have not complied with the ban are enjoying unfair competition against our farmers. It is only fair that all farmers, with whom our farmers must compete, should also have to comply with the ban.
In an ideal world, there would be no European Union and we would have a government that protected our farmers from foreign competition. Such a government would implement all reasonable animal welfare measures but would prevent our farmers from suffering from any disadvantage from doing so. In an ideal world, other countries would also be free from external regulation, although we would hope that they also implemented animal welfare measures.
What would be completely intolerable would be for our farmers to have to implement expensive animal welfare measures and have to compete against farmers who did not have to implement them.
13th June 2012: In his sixth speech of the week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate on The European Semester*.
"The establishment of the European Semester two years ago was based on the assumption that the Commission initially and in the end the heads of state and government, in the European Council, know what is best for each individual member state better than the government of that member state does. That assumption is self-evidently false.
"Furthermore, the government of each member state is elected directly or indirectly and responsible to the electorate, whereas the Commission has no responsibility to any electorate and the European Council, as a whole, has no responsibility to the electorate of any particular member state.
"To come to the substantive content of the 'guidance' - the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting on 21st February 2012 stated in Paragraph 20 of its conclusions:
"To promote competitiveness, reforms need to focus on labour markets, in particular wage setting mechanisms to ensure efficient adjustment of labour costs".
"This means that in the Globalist economy embraced and facilitated by the EU, the wage rates of European workers must fall to the level of those in the emergent economies.**"
* The European Semester is an annual cycle of macro-economic, budgetary and structural policy co-ordination. Any the wiser? It is an attempt to give the EU the power to tell each member state what its economic policies and expenditure and tax policies should be.
** This is true of all member states but it is particularly true of those in the Euro-Zone. Goods made by workers on high wage rates in Non-Euro-Zone countries can still be competitive if the values of their currencies fall, in response to a fall in the demand for their exports. However, the only ways in which goods made by workers on high wages in Eurozone countries can still be competitive are either for the value of the Euro to fall or the wage rates of those workers to fall.
13th June 2012: In his fifth contribution of the current Plenary Session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, this morning Andrew Brons spoke during the debate on The Multi-annual Financial Framework*.
He told his fellow MEPs:
"Paying for Growth is not like paying for a product. You might pay your money without receiving what you have paid for. In the 2008-14 MFF 44.4% of the EU Budget is being spent on "Sustainable Growth (that will go up to 48% in the 2014-2020 MFF). Is it really being spent effectively? Does the EU really know how to spend member states' money better than they do?
"The European Union's embrace of Globalism and Neo-Liberal Economics of open markets and maximised competition will defeat any strategy for growth.
"As Sir James Goldsmith said a decade ago: the only way the West would compete with the Emergent Economies in a Free Market would be by our wage levels equaling theirs.
"It is all very well to think that our Research and Development will make our industries more competitive but innovation spreads by industrial piracy countries of the Far East and industrial treachery by Western based Multi-Nationals.
"The Commission's Europe 2020 document waxed lyrically about Europe's talented work forces but that presupposed that the present populations of Europe would survive and would not be replaced by immigration."
* This is the major overhaul of the EU Budget negotiated at seven year intervals.
12th June 2012: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on The Appointment of an EU Special Representative on Human Rights.
"The report refers to freedom of expression (including on the internet). Only a few months ago the Commissioner for Home Affairs was advocating the criminal prosecution of the Dutch Freedom Party, because of content on its party website. Many member states prosecute and imprison people for publishing heretical opinions, in speech, written word or in electronic form.
"The freedom to express oneself is important but not as important as the freedom to hear or to read what has been said or written by others. The British Government is currently proposing a law, the Communications Data Bill, which will provide the security services with access to all of the websites visited by everybody in the United Kingdom. If somebody in a sensitive government job were, just out of curiosity, to log onto a disapproved of party website, that person's job would be at risk.
"Freedom of association is mentioned prominently but there have been bans or attempted bans on parties in Belgium and Germany.
"In the European Union, Human Rights are for export only.
"Perhaps, the person appointed as Special Representative will pay attention to these concerns."
12th June 2012: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on Budgetary Surveillance of Member States in the Euro-Zone.
"It is not the business of the EU to give instructions to member states on their budgets, even if the instructions were wise and the member states foolish? Democracy means Rule by the People and not Wise Rule by the People. Democracies have the right to be foolish!
"Some of the member states might have been foolish. However, that does not mean that austerity measures are the answer. Putting the populations of debtor countries out of employment will not help those countries to get out of debt.
"Advice for countries to be frugal should be addressed to them before they get into debt and not when they are heavily indebted.
"Is the answer to borrow even more so that they can engage in Keynesian expansion?
"My advice would be that Quantitative Easing would be preferable to credit creation and borrowing. However, full payment should be delayed until any resulting production has emerged as an increase in goods and services, in order to avoid inflation.
"However reversion to devalued domestic currencies would itself produce export-led growth that would generate government revenue and reduce debt."
12th June 2012: Andrew Brons made his second contribution of yesterday afternoon to a debate on an EU scheme to give Tariff Preferences to Developing Countries.
"Our position is that control of trade should be in the hands of member states. However, our starting position must be the 2008 scheme which is in place and is now being reviewed.
"Some of the proposed changes are self evidently beneficial, such as the removal of preferences for high income or upper middle income countries. However powerful and damaging exporters such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand would continue to be part of the scheme, at least for the time being. The changes to the safeguard clauses allowing EU producers the legal right to seek action if they face serious disturbances to their business and/or deterioration of the financial/economic situation are clearly beneficial.
"The graduation process whereby a country loses its preference if its exports of a product exceed 15% of the Generalised System of Preferences(GSP) total will unfortunately be raised to 17½%. In my view, individual states should have the authority or last word over the withholding of preferences based on the impact of imports on that state and not on the exporter's percentage of the GSP total."
12th June 2012: It's a Plenary Session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week and Andrew Brons was quick off the mark yesterday afternoon with a speech. under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on Trade Negotiations with Japan.
He told MEPs:
"Mutual reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, between two countries or between one country and a trading bloc, sounds very even handed and fair but it is based on an assumption of the existence of comparable markets in each of the two countries or trading blocs Indeed it is based on an assumption of utility-maximising consumers in each - consumers in each buying goods on the sole criteria of price and quality.
"However, Japanese consumers are as different from Western consumers, as they are admirable. They do not buy on these criteria alone. They are predisposed to buy Japanese goods, because they are Japanese goods.
"All of this means that the removal of EU tariffs on Japanese goods will be as efficacious as the removal of Japanese tariffs on European goods will be utterly irrelevant."
28th May 2012: After his seven speeches at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week, Andrew Brons has continued his relentless climb up the Votewatch 'League Table' which monitors the status MEP who have addressed the Plenary sessions.
According to the Votewatch website, which examines the performances of the Members of the European Parliament, Andrew now stands as the 76th most prolific speaker in the European Parliament, up from 84th, the position he held back in February.
His 175 parliamentary speeches is a credible achievement for one of the 'new intake' of MEPs considering there are 754 MEPs being monitored.
Andrew is 7th out of the 71 United Kingdom MEPs in the domestic league table, and is pulling away from Tory, Kay Swinburne, in 8th place and closing in on the DUP's Diane Dodds in 7th place.
TOP TEN UK MEPs 1 David MARTIN (Lab)773 speeches 2 Edward McMILLAN-SCOTT (Lib-Dem) 374 3 Charles TANNOCK (Con) 278 4 Daniel HANNAN (Con) 189 5 Derek VAUGHAN (Lab) 183 6 Diane DODDS (DUP) 179 7 Andrew BRONS (BNP) 175 8 Kay SWINBURNE (Con) 159 9 Ian HUDGHTON (Green) 158 10 John BUFTON (UKIP) 153
Full Votewatch Plenary League Table can be found here.