MARCH 2012

Quotas, again... and again... and again... !

The call for quotas and 'affirmative action' was heard again in Strasbourg this week. Having sat on the parliament's Women's Committee since 2009 it is a call I am getting used to, and it is always guaranteed to make me see red! The suggestion that women need quotas in order to succeed in the boardroom or in the political arena is not only outdated, it is downright insulting.
I have been somewhat outspoken in my opposition to quotas in the past, and I will continue to speak out against, and to vote against, all forms of discrimination wherever it comes from and whoever it is aimed at. As I have said in the past, - All discrimination is wrong, and even positive discrimination creates victims!


A €10 billion Black hole...

One of the reports being debated this week concerned provisions for the European Commission's 2013 budget. It is important to scrutinise these reports carefully, as they often reveal little nuggets of information. This report, authored by an Italian MEP, Giovanni La Via, revealed that in 2011 the Commission asked the Council of Ministers for an extra €10 billion as it was somewhat short of cash, and was unable to pay its bills. The Council refused the request, and so the Commission is now paying bills from 2011 from its 2012 budget. This has implications for the 2013 budget. The text follows, and it is clear that the economic crisis is worse than the EU is letting on.
"23. Regrets the fact that, while the Council refused in December 2011 to finance identified additional needs, some payment claims amounting to more than EUR 10 billion could not be honoured in late 2011, which is now impacting directly on available 2012 payments; is concerned at the fact that this resulted from the Council's questioning of the Commission's implementation data and assessments of need without providing any alternative data or source;"

The full report can be found here:


Carbon Trading...

Or as many in Brussels and Strasbourg are now calling it, "flogging a dead horse"! Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies presented a report on the mess that is the EU's carbon trading scheme, and he looked even more fed up than usual. The scheme was supposed to provide the cash needed for investing in renewable energy but so many carbon credits have been given away that there is now a surplus and the price has fallen so low that there is no incentive for companies to invest in Green Energy. In order the rectify this it proposed that the ETS is 'fixed'. As the EU is only responsible for 11% of global CO2 emissions people are now realising that the cost of green energy is making the EU uncompetitive.
Another example of good intentions gone horribly wrong!


World Water Forum

The 6th World Water Forum has just taken place in Marseilles in France. The European Parliament, of course, felt obliged to issue a motion for a resolution on the event - huge amounts of MEP's and staff time are spent on these largely pointless declarations as the political wrangle over every line and every punctuation mark.
There is a potential threat to UK consumers here. The Forum is held under the direction of the World Water Council, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that seeks to influence policy issues relating to water supply. The president of the council is one Loïc Fauchon, a Frenchman with a commercial interest in the sector. I raised my concerns about this in parliament on Thursday morning. Of course businesses should have a say in the policy process - but those interests should be declared, and should be transparent. My fear is that in any future privatisations foreign interests may benefit to the cost of British ones. Our suppliers are regulated by OFWAT, lets us keep it that way and not open the door to French corporate interests disguised as altruistic NGOs.
I was pleased to be invited to appear on the BBC West Midland Politics Show to discuss this and other issues on Sunday.


And finally...

I was sorry that Baroness Ashton was unavailable for a number of key debates this week. We seem to be seeing less and less of her these days. This is a shame as I always enjoy our exchanges in the chamber, and I look forward to the next round!


Campaign For A Referendum NEW Petition

We achieved our first goal of collecting 120,000+ signatures gaining the debate in Parliament we wanted on 24th October 2011. To keep the pressure on the government, we started a NEW petition on 31st October 2011. The aim is to collect as many signatures as we can in 12 months. Please register your signature on the link below even if you signed the previous petition.

More of Nikkis Strasbourg Reports