9th January 2012: Andrew Brons has written to the editors of all our national newspapers, the Yorkshire newspapers, and the UK's farming publications. In his letter, he asks the newspapers' readers to only buy British eggs and help British egg producers in their battle for survival in the face of unfair foreign competition. "Dear Editor There is one thing worse than a European Union law that is enforced rigorously throughout the EU. That is a law that is implemented thoroughly, in the United Kingdom, at the expense of British businesses but unenforced in many other EU countries that are in direct competition with us. Such is the law that came into force at the beginning of this month, insisting that the old style battery cages for egg-laying hens should be replaced by ‘enriched’ cages that allow hens to spread their wings. This law, to the credit of British egg producers, has been fully implemented in the United Kingdom at the cost of £400 million. However, nine EU countries have admitted that their producers have not complied with the law and four others have indicated that they have probably not fully complied with the law. Will countries failing to enforce the new law be subject to any sanctions? They will not. Will producers in those countries face fines or constraints? They will not. Producers in those countries failing to comply with the law will benefit from not having to incur the extra costs and they will be rewarded buy being able to compete unfairly in the British market for eggs and egg products. British consumers and caterers using eggs and egg products should insist on purchasing only British eggs and egg products. Yours faithfully, Andrew Brons British National Party MEP Yorkshire & the Humber."
Chapter 2 - Equipment, routine administrative expenditure and operating expenditure 1. Equipment, operating expenditure, computer engineering and maintenance - 0.00 2. Equipment, telecommunications-related installation and maintenance expenditure - 0.00 3. Stationery and office supplies - 0.00 4. Postage and telecommunications - 0.00 5. Printing and photocopying costs - 0.00 - 0.00
Chapter 3 - Documentation, studies and research 1. Newspapers, magazines, press agencies and books - 0.00 2. Studies and research - 0.00 3. Databases - 0.00 - 0.00
Chapter 4 - Legal costs, financial charges and other operating expenditure 1. Legal costs - 0.00 3. Financial charges and exchange losses - 0.00 4. Translation and interpreting costs - 0.00 5. Other operating expenditure - 0.00 - 0.00
Chapter 5 - Expenditure on meetings and entertainment 2. Other meetings and conferences - 0.00 3. Expenditure on entertainment - 0.00 4. Guests - 0.00 5. Fact-finding missions by individual Members - 0.00 - 0.00
Chapter 6 - Publications and advertising 1. Posters, booklets, publications - 0.00 2. Advertising inserts and audiovisual advertising - 0.00 3. Advertising material, novelty items, telecommunications advertising - 0.00 4. Internet sites and cyber advertising - 0.00 5. Visits to institutions, information stands - 0.00 - 0.00
13th December 2011: The heroes of the Ukrainian history are the Cossacks who have defended their Christian faith against both the Tartars and the Turks. So it's not surprising that the construction of a huge mosque in Kiev with a capacity of 3,000 has alarmed the city's Christian community. A foundation stone for 'a small mosque' was laid in 1991, but since then the Kievan City State Administration has allowed additional allotment of land and building permits for an entire Islamic complex containing the mosque with its minaret, a prayer hall and educational centre. In a letter asking MEPs to highlight the issue of the growth of Islam in Europe, the Secretary of Bishops of the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate says that people need to be reminded that there are now more than 50 million Muslims living in Europe today. It says: "In Germany more than 3,000 mosques have been built over the past 30 years while a large number have also been built in England, France, Holland and other European countries. "During this same period there has been much bloodshed in Muslim countries where the victims have been Christians. "We ask international organizations like the United Nations and the European Union speak out and not remain silent like world powers did on the genocide of 1.5 million Armenian Christians by Turkish Muslims less than one hundred years ago in 1915."
10th December 2011: On a day when the leaders of the European Union were meeting yet again to try to solve the Eurozone's spiralling debt crisis, Andrew Brons MEP launched his "Get Britain Out" billboard posters across his Yorkshire and the Humber Euro Constituency. "It couldn't have come at a better time," said Martin Wingfield, one of Andrew's researchers and MEP website editor. "The EU has been the topic of conversation in shops and workplaces up and down the country this week, so to unveil the 'Great Escape' themed posters on billboards throughout the constituency yesterday, couldn't have been more timely."
14th November 2011: Residents from an East Yorkshire village have written to thank Andrew Brons MEP for his help in supporting their opposition to a planning application for a gypsy caravan site. Last week, more than 30 residents from Keyingham travelled to a meeting at County Hall in Beverley to hear the application for retrospective planning permission refused for camp they feared could become 'another Dale Farm'. The Irish travellers, who set up camp on the outskirts of the village last September after buying the land, now have six months in which to appeal. There are four caravans already on site and the travellers were applying to build a toilet block and sewage treatment plant. Back in February, Chris Beverley - PA to Andrew Brons - spoke at a meeting in Keyingham on behalf of the MEP who was unable to attend. Chris stressed the importance of local people making their voices heard and not just relying on their elected politicians who might have their hands tied by 'Party dogma'. Chris told the meeting: "The importance of this campaign cannot be overstated. "Fortunately not too many of our rural communities will be faced with such threats but all will still have issues that require addressing locally by community-minded individuals. "Politics begins on our own streets and in discussions with our neighbours. It is at this local level that we are most able to make a positive difference to people’s lives." At the time, Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart refused to get involved with the campaign, while the local Conservative councillors were only lukewarm in their support because of concerns that the campaign might be perceived as being 'politically incorrect'. Writing to Andrew Brons at the end of last week, a residents' representative said: "I would like to thank you for your help and advice – you were the only Yorkshire MEP and mainstream politician who offered support. Hopefully this is now an end to the matter"
11th November 2011: Within the last few weeks, Andrew Brons MEP was invited to give a talk about the European Union and being a Member of the European Parliament to a secondary school not far from his constituency. The text of Andrew's intended talk is given below. He did deviated from his text in parts but not in any material way. Andrew's explanation of the workings of the European Union institutions was a textbook account and devoid of any party or ideological bias. He was invited to address the students as an MEP and not as a representative of the Party or of its viewpoint. The teaching staff did not give any indication of whether or not they knew of Andrew's Party affiliations. Andrew was teaching Government & Politics in the state and private sector right up to when he was elected and his views and party affiliations were firmly on the record. There will be bigots among the Political Class who will be appalled that a patriot should have been allowed to talk to British school students about his experiences in the European Parliament. However, we are sure that they would not have given such an objective account.
How many EU Presidents, we might ask, does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is that it doesn’t much matter as there is an abundance of Presidents in the European Union. There are: 1. Presidents of institutions; and 2. Presidents of political groups.
However there are four main ones: 1. There is the President of the European Commission – José Manuel Barroso. 2. There is the President of the Council (formerly Council of Ministers) – the Rotating Presidency, currently the Polish Government. Each country holds the Rotating Presidency for six months. 3. There is the President of the Parliament – Jerzy Buzek 4. There is the President of the European Council – Herman van Rompuy.
These are the four key legislative and executive institutions of the European Union: the Commission the Council the Parliament the European Council
Of whom do they comprise and what do they do? The Commission This comprises twenty-seven members – one from each member state and proposed by that member state but not a representative of that state or of its government. They take an oath that they will represent the interests of the EU as a whole (as distinct from the state from which they come). The Commission is seen as the guardian of the treaties. It is sometimes seen as the administration of the EU – its civil service, if you like. However, it is much more. It has the sole function of initiating legislation. How are its members chosen?
The President is: 1. proposed by the European Council; and 2. elected by the European Parliament.
The other twenty-six members are: appointed by the Council (not the European Council); agreed by the nominated President; and approved (or not!) by the European Parliament.
What does the Commission do? 1. it initiates legislation to be considered and enacted by: a. the Council; and b. the Parliament. 2. It puts into effect legislation that has been passed.
The Council (formerly Council of Ministers) The Council comprises one representative from each member state and that representative is a representative of the government of the member state. Its main function is to enact (or refuse to enact) legislation ( with the Parliament) proposed by the Commission.
The Parliament The Parliament comprises (currently) 736 MEPs, elected in member states by some form of proportional representation.
Its functions are to: enact (or refuse to enact) legislation proposed by the Commission. Consider legislation at an earlier stage and propose amendments. Ask questions of invited speakers in Committees. Discuss matters that are not yet ready for legislation. Question proposed commissioners (and others) about their suitability for appointment. Make speeches in the Parliament and in Committees and delegations.
The European Council This comprises the heads of government of each member state (and in the case of France the head of state). It did not exist officially until the Lisbon Treaty but has existed in practice since the 1960s. It considers: proposed treaties and treaty changes; strategic decisions of the European Union.
5. The European Court of Justice
It comprises a senior judge from each member state.
it acts as a court of first instance in disputes between: member states; institutions of the EU; and employees or ex-employees of the EU and the body that employed them. it acts as a court that interprets legislation for courts in member states that refer the interpretation to the ECJ.
How do these institutions liaise with each other?
Legislation Since the Maastricht Treaty, the Parliament has played a much greater part in legislation. This was known as ‘co-decision’ until it was re-named ‘the ordinary legislative procedure’ by the Lisbon Treaty.
the Commission has the sole power to initiate legislation. the Commission’s proposal is sent to: the Parliament; and the Council.
If the Parliament and the Council agree, without qualification, the Commission’s proposal it is enacted. However, the Parliament and the Council invariably amend the proposal and the amendments must be agreed by all three.
What is it like being a member of the European Parliament?
at first bewildering: a. geographically finding one’s way around b. constitutionally – understanding where one institution’s powers end and another’s begins c. linguistically – there are twenty-three different languages and interpretations are carried out contemporaneously and however, good the interpreters – and they are proficient – nuances are missed. It is rather like joining a large secondary school in another country, after attending a village school. It is confusing even to those who thought that they understood it such as people like me. It must be incomprehensible to those who had not previous acquaintance with it.
It has been tremendously stimulating. Most people have heard of Mr. Barroso, Mr. van Rompuy, Baroness Ashton. The individual members of the government of whichever member state holds the Presidency of the Council are less well known but they are no less powerful for that. To be able to pose questions to them in the plenary and in our committees is a great opportunity and even a way of making your mark.
It gives you the opportunity to make speeches that will be heard by others and will stay on the record – perhaps for ever. Most people leave this life with little permanent trace but become an MEP and your words are in the record for as long as the institution lasts but that does not mean that anybody will read them!
However, you cannot just speak at will. You must either:
(a) ask for time in advance, which is like to be two minutes at most and more likely to be one; or (b) ask for time under the Catch the Eye procedure, in which case you will get one minute only. Whatever can you say in one minute? Quite a lot if you write it – no spontaneity here – and time it by practising it.
It gives you a feeling of importance if you are interested in that sort of thing (You are flattered with ‘honourables’ and they give you badges that open doors as though by magic) and that distracts you from the reality that you probably achieve very little. That does not mean that the European Union achieves very little. It achieves a great deal – for good or ill depending on opinion; it is responsible for 70% plus of our laws. However, individual MEPs apart from the leading members of the big groups probably achieve little.
If you were to serve three four five terms, you would become as knowledgeable of its rules and procedures as some of the veterans are. They can quote chapter and verse from the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union or the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament without so much as a crib sheet.
It was the former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney who said there were things that you know you don’t know and things that you don’t know you don’t know. After two and a half years, I know a little more about the EU and there is less that I don’t know I don’t know but there is still an awful lot that I know I don’t know!
16th September 2011: Dear President Buzek The debate about, and one minute silence for, the victims of the Oslo massacre I should like to express my concern about the way in which the debate was conducted yesterday. To say that the massacre was deplorable would be an understatement. Breivik's actions were horrendous. However, many of the speakers were allowed to make political capital out of the outrage, in complete disrespect for the victims. Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt, Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Diana Dodds spoke as though Breivik's real crime was being a racist, a xenophobe or a person on the 'far right' and not the appalling murder of seventy-six young persons. The innuendos were clear: that Nationalists in the European Parliament somehow shared Breivik's guilt. Terrorist outrages are to be condemned because they are murderous and not because of any political objective that the terrorist might have had. The United Kingdom has experienced many murderous terrorist incidents carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The culpability for such incidents certainly extended to all IRA members and to members of the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein. However, nobody would have suggested that culpability extended to the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which shared the IRA's objective of a United Ireland but which pursued that objective only by peaceful means. When a Muslim carries out a terrorist atrocity, the guilt extends to his collaborators and sympathisers but not to innocent and unconnected Muslims. The debate was restricted to one representative from each of the political groups. Mr. Le Pen was given a very limited opportunity to defend himself against an attack on him by name. However, other Nationalists, who were obviously being smeared by the leaders of the political groups, were given no such opportunity. I had thought, perhaps naively, that the occasion would be restricted to a demonstration of unanimous condemnation by the European Parliament of the terrorist atrocity. You should have either told the party leaders to restrict their comments to condemnation of the atrocity or opened up the debate to MEPs generally. The attempt to associate Breivik with Nationalists, inside and outside the European Parliament, was not only unfair, it was based on a false assumption: that Breivik was a Nationalist and an opponent of all immigration. He was not a Nationalist and his opposition to immigration would seem to be restricted to opposition to Muslim immigration. Breivik is a Zionist and his opposition to the Norwegian Workers' Party was, in all probability, motivated by his support for Zionism and the actions of the state of Israel and the Workers' Party's support for the Palestinian cause. The Norwegian Foreign Minister had in January announced that the Government would recognise Palestine as a state, if negotiations between Palestinians and Israel had not succeeded by September. It would, of course, be wrong to extend Breivik's culpability to all Zionists but not as wrong as to extend it to all Nationalists and opponents of immigration. Yours sincerely Andrew Brons
5th September 2011: British National Party activists led by Andrew Brons MEP leafleted the streets adjoining Harrogate town centre on Saturday morning, with a new ‘Great Escape from the EU' leaflet. While one team was leafleting, another ran a stall in the town centre promoting the same anti-European Union message. The Harrogate group of the British National Party had become inactive following the resignation, in February, of organiser, Steve Gill. Steve had always ensured that regular leaflet distribution was at the centre of the Group’s activities. Emma Utley is now organising activities locally, and she re-established the regular leafleting sessions with the distribution of the newsletter of Andrew Brons MEP last Wednesday. On Saturday afternoon, the hardworking activists were able to relax and enjoy a barbeque in the lovely surroundings of a member's home in a nearby village.
1st September 2011: R&R Ice Cream, which started life in the UK in Richmond in Yorkshire back in 1985 and has production sites at Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire and Crossgates in Leeds, have written to Andrew Brons MEP asking him to raise the issue of the spiralling cost of sugar in the European Parliament. Last year the average market price in the UK was €500-€550 per tonne but now the prices being demanded by producers have been hiked up by another 50%. That's because across Europe, more than 80 sugar factories have closed down since 2004 following the World Trade Organization's ruling that the European Union must cut production and import sugar from developing countries as well as major producers such as Brazil and Australia in order to keep prices high. The iconic British sugar producer, Tate & Lyle, which was based in Silvertown in London's East End for 132 years, sold its refineries last year to American Sugar Refining Inc. Now Europe has gone from being one of the world’s largest exporters of sugar to one of its largest importers. The current shortages of sugar in Europe have been caused by last year's decreased output from the least-developed countries and the diversion of what they have produced, normally imported into the EU duty-free, to the world market to benefit from higher prices. Speculators are getting in on the act which is leading to price inflation and the inevitable export of jobs from Europe’s sugar refineries to emerging nations where production costs will be much lower. In an ideal world, the spiralling cost of sugar would encourage British farmers to grow more sugar beet to meet our nation's requirements. Such a move would benefit both farmers and boost employment in Andrew Brons' constituency of Yorkshire and the Humber as the centre for beet farming is the Eastern areas of England, from Yorkshire to Essex. Because beet is a heavy and bulky crop, transport distances are kept as short as possible to reduce costs. New sugar factories would be built in the beet growing areas and located close to large towns, which can provide the workforce required. On arrival at the factory the beet is cleaned in large tanks of water and chopped into slices called cossettes. The cossettes are then mixed with the hot water at around 70°C for a period of time and the sugar of the beet passes from the plant cells into the surrounding water by a process known as diffusion. The resulting brown liquid is then filtered and boiled under vacuum conditions to produce a thick syrup in which crystals start to appear. Tiny sugar crystals called "seeds" are then added to encourage crystalisation and the resulting crystals are separated from the syrup in a centrifuge. These crystals are then granulated to produce sugar as we know it. The sugar beet industry established itself in Britain during the 1920s for two main reasons: Firstly to make Britain more self-sufficient in sugar production after severe shortages during World War I; and secondly to boost the depressed agricultural industry by giving farmers the opportunity to grow a valuable cash crop. Today some 8,500 farmers are responsible for growing the crop which extends to around 170,000 hectares. The crop yields around 10 million tonnes of fresh beet that produces 1.4 million tonnes of sugar and 750,000 tonnes of animal feed. Responding to R&R Ice Cream on behalf of Andrew Brons MEP, his Constituency Office Manager Chris Beverley wrote: "Many thanks for your correspondence regarding the price of sugar and the reasons behind this. Mr Brons will certainly do whatever he can to help UK businesses that are being harmed by EU legislation. He will look for references to this in the European Parliament and for ways to address this."
30th August 2011: Andrew Brons MEP has pledged his support for the efforts to cut European Union imposed red tape by The Forum of Private Business. This is a member-led organisation that represents the interests of thousands of small businesses throughout Britain. In its quarterly newsletter entitled Referendum, the Forum publishes its recent research which shows just how difficult it is for small businesses to survive in today's difficult financial climate with so much new regulation coming into force. Over the last two years, 84% of businesses have seen an increase in the amount of time spent complying with regulation and 67% had seen an increase in the costs of external support. The cost of compliance has risen to £16.8 billion in total, with total internal costs of £11.0bn and £5.8bn being spent on external support. This is equivalent to £14,200 per small employer (£9,300 in internal and £4,900 in external costs). Major costs are health and safety (3.8bn), employment law (4.2bn) and tax compliance (5.1bn). Internal costs make up 74% of employment compliance costs, 82% of health and safety costs and 35% of tax compliance costs. Small businesses want a more realistic assessment from legislators and enforcers about what they can and should do in terms of compliance. Enforcement officers are not incentivised to support businesses in compliance when this is needed as Business Link has been rolled back and support from HMRC (in terms of local tax offices and their helpline) is insufficient. There is a general feeling that although compliance has helped in some areas of management, the time and cost involved has become excessive. 21% of respondents felt that the time and cost spent complying with legislation had led to poorer business performance, 18% felt that it had an impact on the motivation and even the health of their team and 5% felt that compliance would hinder employment opportunities in the future. Businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated by the Government's inaction in reducing red tape and the lack of assistance it provides with regard to compliance with new legislation. There has been no improvement in terms of funding support, clarification on how these new laws fit in with existing legal requirements or advice on how to comply with the new laws. Responding to the Forum of Private Businesses, the Constituency Office of Andrew Brons has said that it will highlight the work of the Forum and look for ways in which it can be assisted through the work of the MEP.