July 2011

The Situation in the Arab World

The final Strasbourg session before the summer recess has been a hectic one, and we find ourselves on the edge of major world events. Although this has not really made the press yet, the Middle East is set for a major upheaval. In September, the Palestinians plan to present the UN with a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Whilst I support the principle of self-determination for all people, this is very poorly thought out. Those parts of Palestine that are dependent upon Israel for power and for drinking water may find themselves in a precarious situation as the Israelis cease to be responsible for them. The possibility of internal factionalism leading to civil war is also a possibility. I hope that the international community will help the Palestinians to pull back from the precipice.

I met with Israeli diplomats to discuss the matter, before challenging Cathy Ashton over the future relationships between certain Arab nations and the EU. I am also particularly concerned about EU funding of the Hezbollah controlled Lebanese government.

Towards the end of this year I am due to visit Gaza as part of a fact finding mission.

The Polish Presidency

Poland has taken over the rotating presidency of the Council. The EU has so many presidents that sometimes it is hard to keep up. The Council presidency is actually undermined now, since the appointment of Herman Van Rompuy and Cathy Ashton to their respective offices. I was able to address the highly regarded Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the parliament, where I berated the EU on its record in east-west relations.

A Duff Proposal

British Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff is the author of a parliamentary report on electoral reform in the EU. This proposes the establishment of 25 transnational constituencies, to be contested by pan-European political parties.

I am opposed to every aspect of this development, and spoke out strongly against it in the parliament.

The EU appears not to be too confident about this, as the parliament has delayed discussion of this for as long as possible: the matter is constantly being pulled off of the agenda at the last minute. This week, we debated the matter, but the all important vote was postponed literally at the last minute.

Pan-European parties (PEP) are anathema to UKIP, which is currently tearing itself apart over the debate as to whether to join a PEP or not, with the 'pro' camp disseminating what can only be described as untruths. I will certainly vote against this.

French Protectionism

Wine growers from Alsace were displaying their excellent wines in the parliament this week, and we had the opportunity to try some. The French growers are concerned about the liberalisation of growing rights. 'Liberalisation threatens growers' is their slogan. "And protectionism stifles innovation" I retorted!

New Code of Conduct for MEPs

On 7 July 2011, the Parliament's Conference of Presidents unanimously approved a new Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament which sets out rules and principles which MEPs will need to follow in their contacts with outside interests and to avoid conflicts of interest.
This is following some outrageous revelations of the way in which MEPs abuse their position, and public money. I am pleased to have been instrumental in highlighting the problems, and outing some of the worst offenders in the press.
Of course, nothing will really change, and new ways will be found to milk the system. We would be better off out!

Hard Talk

I was invited to participate in the BBC's 'Hard Talk', which was broadcast on West Midlands' radio on Thursday 7th July. Issues as diverse as discrimination in political parties, traveller's invasions, and my campaign for a referendum on our continued membership of the EU were disscussed.

  BBC Radio WM Hardtalk Part 1
  BBC Radio WM Hardtalk Part 2

Campaign For A Referendum

We are getting tantalisingly close to our target of 100,000 signatures now. Some high profile advertising is planned for the coming days and weeks, and our team are out collecting signatures across the country. This weekend we will be targeting London. If you have not yet signed, you can do so online.

More of Nikkis Strasbourg Reports