8th October 2013: This evening at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on EU-Taiwan trade relations.
"The EU has a trade deficit with Taiwan but it has a surplus in services. The UK had a substantial trade deficit* with Taiwan (a ratio of almost 3:1), which has undermined and is continuing to undermine British industry. Our surplus in services is diminishing year by year.**
"UK investment in Taiwan dwarfs Taiwan's investment in Britain by a factor of almost 4:1***. Thus British capital - deferred consumption in the UK - is financing competition from Taiwan. Furthermore, Taiwan is investing in low wage economies in the Far East that will also compete with all of our manufacturers.
"The Rapporteurs are not commending trade with Taiwan pragmatically because it benefits the EU. They commend it because it advances the WTO objective of open trade world-wide. The EU is not pursuing European objectives but Global objectives."
* 5.06 billion US$ compared to 1.84 billion US$
** UK export of financial services, insurance is diminished by 4.3% in 2012. Taiwan's export of services to the UK rose by 19.5% in 2012
*** 674 projects in sixty years compared with 174 projects during the same period.
8th October 2013: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following speech during a debate on EU-China negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement.
"Investment in its simplest form is the deferral of present consumption in order to facilitate more production that will enable greater enrichment in the future. If the people deferring present consumption are the ones to benefit from future enrichment, all is well and good.
"However, if the deferred consumption is used to facilitate more efficient production and greater enrichment elsewhere, there has been a mismatch.
"That sums up the investment relationship between European countries and China. Europe invests nearly seven times as much in China as China does in Europe. Europe is deferring current consumption to make China a more efficient producer and competitor.
"Most of the arguments about trade with, and investment in and from China, have concentrated on the level playing field argument - a removal of non-tariff barriers; getting China to improve working conditions; paying attention to environmental concerns; and ending counterfeiting.
"No attention has been paid to the question of whether we should be assisting a potentially enormous emergent economy to compete with the developed world for scarce resources, compete with our industries and perhaps direct its newly-found industrial power into even greater military capability.
"The West insists on being Globalist to its own detriment when dealing with China, which, whatever its lip-service to Marxist rhetoric, is an Economic Nationalist State."
8th October 2013: Yesterday evening at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made a One Minute speech under Rule 150 on Democracy in Greece.
"MPs should not be above the law especially if they are implicated in crimes of violence.
"However, the arrest of six Greek MPs including their party leader, at the behest of the Government, only days after violent protests against their party, by left-wing demonstrators, following the horrific stabbing of a left-wing activist, must give us cause for concern.
"We must think what Pastor Martin Niemoller might have said, "First they came for Golden Dawn but I did not speak out because I was not its supporter".
"These were the first arrests of MPs in Greece since the fall of the infamous Colonels' dictatorship in 1974.
"Whatever we might think of Golden Dawn, no evidence has been cited of a connection between the alleged murderer and the MPs and it appears that the arrests took place to assuage the anger of violent demonstrators.
"I am sure that if the Hungarian Government had imprisoned opposition MPs instead of just tinkering with the Constitution we would have held non-stop debates.
"Democratic rights are not to be granted or withheld at the whim of Government. We must always be sceptical when governments imprison oppositions."
15th September 2013: On Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on the EU's Military Structures.
"We are used to the EU using the crisis (recession) as a pretext for greater integration of member states' economies. It is now being used as a pretext for pooling defence industries and sharing of military capabilities.
"Apparently, surrender of the ability to take independent action is a panacea for all ills.
"Sovereign states that lose their own capabilities and defence industries cease to be sovereign. Supranational bodies that gain a capacity to wage war without the express consent of member countries become, by stealth, sovereign states but of course that's the idea.
"The Report seems to look back at previous involvements in conflict with a degree of nostalgia and bemoans the fact that the EU does not (yet) have a clear Common Security and Defence Policy.
"It refers, with approval, to the European Council's meeting in 2008 at which the objective was set to be capable of deploying 60,000 men in sixty days. I cannot be sanguine about the possibility of a trigger happy EU, deploying an army of that size.
"Alliances, such as the EU Mutual Defence Clause, have the potential for transforming a localised conflict into a world war. If we doubt that think of 1914."
15th September 2013: On Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons was unsuccessful in his attempt to make a 'Catch the Eye' contribution to a debate on Syria.
Had he been called to speak, he would have said:
"The supposition that the Syrian Government was responsible for the Sarin gas attack was tantamount to saying that it wanted to give the United States and others a pretext for attacking it - not a very convincing conclusion!
"To find the culprit we would have to ask which country would benefit from the replacement of the secular Assad Government by an Islamist régime or by a Syria weakened from a US attack.
"However, it does now look as though the imaginative diplomatic initiative of Russia has managed to provide an agreement that will make it more difficult for the Obama Administration to launch an attack on Syria. For that we should be thankful.
"Those who say that nobody could be worse than Assad should remember the summary executions, atrocities against Christians and ethnic cleansing by the Islamist opposition."
15th September 2013: On Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons had hoped to make the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on the State of the Union speech by the President of the Commission.
The usual reason for failing to Catch the Eye is the exercise of the discretion or arbitrary whim of the President, but this morning it was announced on the large screens that there would be no Catch the Eye procedure for anybody. This was presumably a decision of the Council of Presidents – a meeting of the Presidents of all of the Committees. We in the Non-Attached group receive very little scheduled speaking time, so we are reliant on gaining Catch the Eye opportunities. If these are curtailed, we shall have very little opportunity to say anything at all. This is what I would have said had I been able to:
"There appear to be two principal preoccupations of Mr. Barroso:
- economic recovery with sustainable growth and a reduction in unemployment; and
- more Europe, by which he means something completely different - more EU.
The second is seen as a means of achieving the first, though with a breath-taking lack of success.
In reality, countries surrendering control over their economic and social policies is the objective and unsolved economic problems are the means by which that objective will be achieved.
Mr Barroso boasted in May that the existential threat to the Euro was over. Whether or not that is the case, at what cost?
Spectacular unemployment; house losses; suicides; destruction of industries; with the German taxpayer picking up the bill.
It takes a very special person to see that as acceptable collateral damage."
15th September 2013: On Monday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on Youth Unemployment.
"Unemployment is caused by a single currency that is overvalued for the countries of the South, where youth unemployment is at its highest.
"It is caused by high energy costs, because of the EU's mad dash for renewables. The EU's energy costs are between two and four times those in the United States.
"It is caused by the EU's embrace of Globalism and unlimited trade with low wage economies.
"Last but not least it is caused by unrestricted immigration. Paul Nuttall's hypocrisy on this issue was astounding. UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage has advocated that 250,000 work permits should be issued by the UK every year.
"UKIP is a pro-immigration party, like all of the others that express pretended and very recent concerns about this.
"Youth unemployment is particularly significant because it is even more difficult to find a new job than it is to hold on to an existing one. However, its causes and solutions are not qualitatively different."
15th September 2013: On Monday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on A Proposed Directive on the Right of Access to a Lawyer in Criminal Proceedings.
"This might not yet apply to the UK but there are issues of wider concern.
"The substantive content of the proposal is completely sound. Suspects should indeed enjoy access to a lawyer at least for those suspected of serious offences, as well as the other rights listed.
"However, there is no need for EU legislation and, indeed, such legislation would not satisfy the need completely.
"The EU is not (yet at least) the whole world and people travelling internationally do not restrict their visits to other member states.
"What is needed is not EU legislation but an international treaty encompassing as many countries as possible throughout the world to the effect that the rights listed should apply with reciprocity to all countries that are signatories.
"I cannot help feeling that this proposal is not so much about the rights of the suspect, with EU legislation being the means.
"It is much more about extending EU legislative competence and the rights of the suspect are simply a means to this end."
3rd July 2013: Today at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on the programme of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council.
"This Presidency will be even more inspired by the EU and less by the presiding country because, unusually, the key player will be the President* rather than the Prime Minister. Why? Because the President is a former Commissioner with an EU mind set.
"There will be more of the same: Single Market, Banking Union, neo-liberal global free trade and talk about growth and unemployment without considering the conditions of the first or the causes of the second.
"The Eastern Partnership is of particular interest. We are told that the politically-inspired prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko has affected relations with Ukraine. I look forward to the politically-inspired prosecution of Marine Le Pen affecting relations with France.
"Most important players in the EU Project are invited to Bilderberg conferences. I wonder if the Lithuanian President was invited to the recent conference in Watford. If not, why not! I think we should be told."
*Dalia Grybauskaitė President of Lithuania was a European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget from 2004 to 2009.
3rd July 2013: Today at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the 'Catch the Eye' procedure, to a debate on Bonus Payments in the Fund Management Sector.
"Bonuses awarded in the fund management sector are certainly high. It is difficult to justify such bonuses and it is tempting to want to do something about them.
"However, a restriction on bonuses would inevitably lead to compensating increases in basic income. That would be worse because basic salaries, unlike bonuses, cannot easily be reduced to reflect poor performance.
"Should we then restrict increases in basic salaries? We could but should we then logically legislate for all salaries? Do we really want the EU or Member States for that matter to have that power?
"The real problem that needs to be addressed is the high level of expense ratios of investment funds - the amount paid by investors to the funds.
"In the United States, equity funds charge an average of 0.64%. In Europe, most funds charge over 1%. (This apparently small difference can erode returns seriously over 5 - 10 years)."