Derek Vaughan MEP

Working hard for Wales in Europe

Blog

Today I’m focusing on young people, who voted overwhelmingly for the UK to stay in the EU.

This month the first steps were taken to implement the European Parliament’s plan to give a free Interrail pass to Europeans turning 18 to help foster a sense of community in Europe. It will give an estimated 20,000-30,000 young people a travel experience that will help reinforce common European values and promote the discovery of European sites and cultures. It will offer these young people, regardless of social or educational background and including people with reduced mobility, a chance to travel abroad.

We must never forget that the EU was founded in order to promote peace and initiatives like this help future leaders and voters across the continent connect and understand each other. Young people in the UK can take advantage of this initiative for as long as we remain in the EU.

In other recent news the European Parliament has now voted on the next EU budget which will include increases in the funding of programmes for young people, like Erasmus+, which will receive €30 billion (£26.4bn). This programme opens doors to new opportunities for young people across Wales – opportunities that will enhance their career prospects and develop their ability to work in today’s global economy. The programme also helps our schools, colleges and universities develop partnerships in Europe and share best practice.  

In the new budget there is also a 50 per cent increase in investment in research and innovation, with €100bn (£87.9bn) for flagship programmes Horizon Europe and Euratom, a 900% increase in investments in digital transformation and networks to €12bn (£10.6bn), and increases in expenditure for external border management, security, and external action. But after Brexit our young people are unlikely to benefit from these programmes.

Most young people did not get the chance to vote in the referendum, with those that did overwhelmingly voting against Brexit; being excluded from Erasmus would be punishing them further, weakening their future prospects and those of British industry that needs broad educational and cultural experience.

Likewise, for research and innovation, it is essential the UK continues to participate in programmes like Horizon Europe - the successor to Horizon 2020 - and Euratom, both of which bring essential research partnerships to the UK's world-class research and science sectors.

If you are a young person concerned about Brexit and how it might impact you or if you have an EU issue I might be able to help with, please contact me via contact@derekvaughanmep.org.uk

 

Young People

Today I’m focusing on young people, who voted overwhelmingly for the UK to stay in the EU. This month the first steps were taken to implement the European Parliament’s plan...

Dear members and friends,

In May I will switch to the Labour members only email list due to changes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you aren’t on the Labour members’ mailing list or don’t know if you are and still want to receive my enews please email contact@derekvaughanmep.org.uk to give your permission.

Brexit Update
The EU has said again there will be no transition period and future trade deal until the Tory government comes up with a sensible solution to the Irish border issue. A hard border with Northern Ireland would violate the Good Friday Agreement and a hard border in the Irish Sea would be unacceptable for the DUP who are propping up the Tory government. It would also cause huge problems for Welsh Ports as customs and border checks would have to be undertaken there. Clearly the sensible solution is to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union.

As the reality of Brexit becomes clearer public opinion has shifted towards a second referendum, with 80% of the Labour membership now in favour of a second vote. And just this week, a Media Wales survey revealed the majority of people in Wales think we would be better off inside the European Union. As such, we must give voters a say on the final deal. This is a point I made in a number of speeches at last week’s Welsh Labour Conference.

Market access
Meanwhile a UK parliamentary committee this week warned that without access to European markets, British exports of processed foods such as chocolate, cheese, beef and pork will suffer, and shoppers will face higher prices on supermarket shelves. It is clear that if the government persists with its policy of leaving the Customs Union, British exporters, importers, workers will suffer, along with our whole economy.

In the Parliament
Last week in Strasbourg my report on the European Parliament’s spending was passed with a majority of 540 to 140. The text included calls for improved workers’ rights and more transparency for Parliament’s spending.

This week in Parliament I will present my report on the impact of cohesion funding in Northern Ireland which notes the tremendous impact EU Peace Programme funds have had and argues that the programme must continue post 2020.

 

April e-news from Brussels

Dear members and friends, In May I will switch to the Labour members only email list due to changes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you aren’t on...

Today, when you drive between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the only way you can tell you have crossed a border is that the painted lines in the middle of the road are different. The check points which once divided them are gone.

This year it is 20 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which paved the way for peace in Northern Ireland. Prior to the agreement many people, especially in the region, saw peace as an unachievable dream. Impossible in their lifetimes.

I visited Northern Ireland in March to assess how EU funds have been spent as I am responsible for reporting on this issue to the European Parliament. EU spending in Northern Ireland has amounted to EUR 1.2 billion since the creation of the first Peace Programme.

I had been to Northern Ireland previously, but this visit was truly eye opening. It is incredible what has been achieved.

If you are from other parts of the UK, particularly if you weren’t around during the ‘troubles’, it’s easy to forget just how terrible things were and how essential it is that we do everything in our power to ensure the senseless killings and injuries that took place during that period in many of our lives are never repeated.

I witnessed first-hand how EU programmes are giving young people from both communities the opportunity to come together to learn, train and socialise. These young people have the possibility of a conflict free future in a peaceful and stable country.

We’ve come so far. But there is still a long way to go.

Just weeks ago police in Northern Ireland were attacked with petrol bombs and other missiles after they tried to stop an illegal dissident parade. The major political parties have publicly cut ties with terrorist groups but many of the groups themselves remain active.

It is clear that we still need the Peace Programme.

However, after Brexit, Northern Ireland could lose EU funding.

In my report to the European Parliament I will recommend the Peace Programme funding continues post Brexit and Interreg funding for cross border projects also continues. But will the UK Government guarantee same amount of funding the EU currently provides? And will it commit to continuing to do so after the Tories no longer need the DUP to prop up their weak position? It is hard for May to rule when there is faction within her party: ‘the enemy within’ which wants a Brexit no matter the costs - even if that means reinstating the border the Good Friday agreement removed in 1998.

A hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would absolutely contravene the Good Friday Agreement. Just last week, the man who brokered the Agreement, Mr George Mitchell said a hard border after Brexit could lead to “serious trouble” and a return to the violence of the 1970s and 1980s. During my visit I was told that attitudes in both communities have hardened since the Brexit decision.

Theresa May’s Government will fall without DUP support in Westminster, so she cannot let Northern Ireland stay in EU and have a hard border in the Irish Sea. It would be simply unacceptable for the DUP. 

We are now less than a year away from leaving the EU and there has been no progress on this issue.

Short of remaining in the EU, the only real solution is for all of the UK to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. No other option provides security or stability for Ireland and by extension, the UK. It may be time to face up to the undeniable truth that peace in our time was created through Europe coming together, not splintering apart.

 

Irish Border-only real solution for UK is to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union

Today, when you drive between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the only way you can tell you have crossed a border is that the painted lines in the...

This month has been alarming for Welsh workers, to say the least, with three big manufacturers warning they may need to move production due to Brexit.

Airbus has warned it fears future customs and paperwork delays will make UK plants uncompetitive, Vauxhall says it may need to stop production until the Brexit terms are clear and Ford has warned that any sort of border restrictions or customs friction would be an inhibitor to them continuing to conduct business here.

These are big employers in Wales. Airbus Broughton employs over 6,500 people, the Ford factory in Bridgend employs close to 2000 and many people travel over to the Vauxhall factory in Cheshire for work. And, it is not just these jobs that would be affected. When you take 6,500 people’s salaries out of a community every single shop and service in the area will see less business. From the truck drivers who transport goods, to local supermarkets, cafes and hairdressers.

Manufacturing is just one of many sectors that is concerned about the lack of a clear UK government Brexit plan and a post Brexit world in which we will be worse off. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary says if there is no Brexit deal by September (including replacements for EU airline agreements) he will be forced to cancel flights after March 2019 because flight schedules are planned six months in advance. He also warned that post Brexit, there will be no cheap flights to popular EU holiday destinations like Portugal, Spain or Italy.

The Leave campaign told voters they could reap the benefits of EU membership without respecting any of the rules and obligations. But the reality is becoming clearer as time passes. The pound has collapsed increasing inflation, the UK has gone from being the fastest growing to the slowest growing economy in Europe and we stand to lose jobs in and around our manufacturing bases.

This is hard evidence that at the very least we need to remain part of the Customs Union and Single Market. Nobody voted to be worse off and politicians need to be honest about what is at stake and what is achievable.

To contact me about an EU issue or if you have concerns about how Brexit will impact on you or your business email contact@derekvaughanmep.org.uk

Brexit, Alarming for Welsh Workers

This month has been alarming for Welsh workers, to say the least, with three big manufacturers warning they may need to move production due to Brexit. Airbus has warned it...

The Government’s latest surrender to the Brexit hardliners, ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU, will lead to even greater economic damage to Wales.

By ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU, they have swept yet more options off the table, leaving the UK Brexit negotiators with even less to work with as talks resume – and leaving our EU partners even more baffled.

If we are not in the Customs Union Welsh ports will suffer.

There cannot be a soft border between north and south in Ireland while putting in place a hard (maritime) border between the Republic of Ireland and Wales. If this was the case, Irish freight would seek to avoid using Welsh ports.

With over 70% of Irish cargo currently passing through Wales this is very worrying indeed as ports make a large contribution to the Welsh economy, supporting around 11,000 jobs and providing an economic hub and trade gateway with Europe and the rest of the world.

Even if we ignore the issue of the border in Northern Ireland, we would need significant infrastructure to carry out customs checks. Towns like Holyhead would suffer greatly, there is simply no space in or around the port for the kind of infrastructure that will be required for customs checks. Infrastructure needs in this context would mean new roads, new border check offices and new IT systems. It could mean additional staff, but the economic argument for this seems unlikely to be justified as this would only be to retain existing trade.

Many large exporters in Wales would face delays and additional costs. Tata Steel, for example, uses Welsh ports to export to the French and Spanish markets but they have manufacturing facilities on mainland Europe and could choose to relocate to be back inside the Customs Union and Single Market. The same can be said for Airbus which manufactures wings at its plant at Broughton for delivery to the company's assembly factory at Toulouse in southern France.

This is not taking back control, it is relinquishing control. That is why I believe there should be a public vote on the final deal.

What Will Brexit Mean for Wales

The Government’s latest surrender to the Brexit hardliners, ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU, will lead to even greater economic damage to Wales. By ruling out...

I support the revision of the tobacco products directive, which aims to reduce the number of people who smoke.

E-cigarettes vote statement

I support the revision of the tobacco products directive, which aims to reduce the number of people who smoke. Read more

We’re going to hear a lot about Europe from the Tories this year. Cameron wants a referendum… his backbenchers want one sooner… and they all want to “re-negotiate, re-negotiate, re-negotiate".

Message from Glenis Willmott MEP - Cameron's Great European Scam

We’re going to hear a lot about Europe from the Tories this year. Cameron wants a referendum… his backbenchers want one sooner… and they all want to “re-negotiate, re-negotiate, re-negotiate". Read more

Want to know everything about the European Institutions? Here's a 3-part video user guide of the Lisbon Treaty. This tool, launched on S&D Group's initiative, is presented by Michael Cashman, member of the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament.

Lisbon Treaty, a user guide

Want to know everything about the European Institutions? Here's a 3-part video user guide of the Lisbon Treaty. This tool, launched on S&D Group's initiative, is presented by Michael Cashman,... Read more

On 30th November 2011, I was delighted to host representatives from the Ospreys Rugby Club at the European Parliament.

ospreys.jpg

Welcoming Ospreys to Brussels

On 30th November 2011, I was delighted to host representatives from the Ospreys Rugby Club at the European Parliament. Read more

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