the President of the European Commission.
of the advantages I have as a non-attached member of the European
Parliament - I
am not a member of any political group - Is that I have
more opportunities to speak on important issues. Within the political
groups it tends to be only the Presidents of the groups who get important
On Tuesday I was able to question Jose Manuel Barroso, the President
of the European Commission.
asked him how it might be possible to have common EU policies when
time and time again we see an inability
consensus on important issues such as foreign relations and security
and defence. I suggested that it would not be possible to implement
common policy without some loss of democracy for the EU member
The President's reply was evasive to say the least. I think I hit
a raw nerve.
I was also able to ask a supplementary question concerning pan-European
He confirmed to me that these parties are an integral
part of EU integration, and the development of the EU as a state
in its own right.
We must be aware of this, and not be seduced - as some clearly are
- by the promise of extra cash if our own politicians allow themselves
to be subsumed into these wretched pan-European political parties.
asks for another €1.9 billion!
a time of extreme austerity, the EU knows no cuts, and simply asks
for more and more....
Galileo is the EU's global satellite navigation system. The project
has been beset with problems, and appears to be floundering. Therefore,
taxpayer is expected to fork out an extra €1.9 billion in order
to bring the project up to speed. Of course, I voted against this.
Galileo is 100% taxpayer funded, as attempts to attract foreign
investment failed. At one point, China became involved, and there
about allowing the Chinese to use Galileo as part of its missile
targeting system. When common sense prevailed and this idea was
Chinese moved ahead with their own system - the Beidou/Compass
satellites - which are already being deployed whilst the EU's project
in the bureaucratic doldrums.
tax - another attempt to grab our cash!
EU states operate a 'vignette' system of taxing vehicles. The system
is likely to be rolled out across
the EU, with member
to tax foreign HGVs using their roads, if they wish.
The European Parliament's Transport Committee has called for
15% of all revenue raised in this way to be handed over to
the EU to
own transport projects.
This is just one of a number of 'EU taxes' that are being discussed
at the moment. I shall, of course, vote against every single
one of these
recurring and divisive theme in the European Parliament is the cost
of relocating MEPs and staff to Strasbourg for 4
On June 8th in Strasbourg, parliamentarians debated a report
on the EU's finances. The report contained a reference
to the savings
be made to the taxpayer by ending the ludicrous practice
of having two seats. An attempt was made to quietly delete
and to keep
the extravagance hushed up. No less than 282 MEPs voted
for the cover-up, but it was defeated, and the waste remains
I was amused to note that three British Conservative MEPs
voted for the cover-up, but then retrospectively changed
exercise only - their original vote could have affected
the outcome, changing it subsequently would have no effect.
exactly what the Tories are really up to in Europe...
Whisky - under threat
always enjoy meeting representatives of British industry in Strasbourg,
and helping in any way that I can. I was
therefore delighted when
Mike Nattrass and I had the opportunity to meet with
Nick Soper of the Scotch
Whilst the EU is very precious about ensuring that
continental brands are protected - Parma Ham must
be from Parma,
Cognac must be from
Cognac, etc - Scotch Whisky suffers from the fact
that the origin need not
be shown clearly as part of the product name. If
it says 'Scotch Whisky', it is of course from Scotland,
it just says
'Whisky', then take
care - it may be from Moldova, Brazil, or anywhere