Welcome to my newsletter for July 2018, the last before September as the Parliament goes into recess during August.
Brexit negotiations are now completely shambolic with two key Tory ministers resigning over May's latest proposals, and a possible leadership challenge on the horizon.
The UK Government White Paper on Brexit sticks to the Tory's 'having your cake and eating it' approach and will still not be acceptable for the other 27 Member States. We are now nine months away from leaving the EU for good and it is difficult to see what progress has been made. Big Welsh employers, including Airbus, Ford, Tata Steel and Toyota, say they may have to reconsider their UK bases in the event of a hard Brexit or no deal. We cannot take that chance.
Brexit campaign 'broke electoral law' in referendum
The Electoral Commission has fined Vote Leave more than £60,000 and reported them to the police after an extensive investigation revealed illegal conduct in the EU referendum campaign.
The watchdog found evidence the group exceeded its legal spending limit by almost £500,000 by funnelling money through the 'BeLeave' campaign. It also failed to account for a significant amount of its spending and refused to be interviewed by the watchdog on the matter.
The people's vote
Calls for a vote on the final deal are becoming impossible to ignore. The Leave campaign lied to voters and now the reality has become clear. Brexit is economic suicide.
There is no majority in the UK Parliament for no deal, a hard brexit or a soft Brexit. This is yet another reason why it should be put back to the people. I am pleased the Labour leadership has not ruled this out. We must let people have a say on the final deal so they can make an informed choice.
The next EU budget
Business as usual continues in the Parliament. I am in charge of writing reports on the EU budget for 2019 and the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 to establish funding priorities across the EU.
The European Parliament's position on budget 2019 has been agreed, including a strengthening of the Youth Employment Initiative and new funding for Erasmus + and other flagship programmes, such as the Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon Europe. Sadly, Wales will no longer benefit from these funds after 2020.
If you have an EU query or if you are concerned about how Brexit will impact you please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my newsletter for July 2018, the last before September as the Parliament goes into recess during August. Brexit Update Brexit negotiations are now completely shambolic with two key...
The UK Government is still stuck on the Irish border issue and stuck on how to handle the flow of goods post Brexit. They have been fumbling with these issues for over a year now and still have no feasible solutions, with just 10 months to go.
Myself and 30 other leading politicians in Wales have signed an open letter calling for a public vote on the final Brexit.
Wales was promised a whole host of things by Vote Leave during the 2016 EU referendum. We were promised we wouldn’t be worse off; we were promised that our funding would continue; we were promised £350m a week for the NHS.
It’s clear that these promises will not be kept. This real and tangible Brexit economic drag is impacting business growth, productivity, and people's futures.
Voters were lied to by the Leave campaign. They now deserve a vote on the final deal.
You can see the text of the letter in full here: https://walesforeurope.org/31-05-2018/
Meanwhile, in the European Parliament
Posted workers - This week Labour MEPs backed the recent agreement on posted workers (employees sent by their employer to carry out a service in another EU country on a temporary basis). The new measures, which we have long been pushing for, include posted workers receiving the same pay as local workers from day one of their posting; the same allowances; and temporary work agencies guaranteeing posted workers the same terms and conditions as temporary workers hired locally. This agreement protects workers posted to another EU member state and stops employers undercutting wages.
Zero-hour contracts - Labour MEPs have supported calls for the Commission and national governments to take action against precarious employment such as zero-hours contracts and to work with trade unions to promote secure, well-paid employment. After Brexit Wales will lose EU workers’ rights protections and will have to rely on the Tory Government to introduce workers’ rights legislation.
EU-US trade relations – The US has implemented a 25% tariff on steel. The EU has already warned it will implement ‘counter balancing measures’ if it needs to. The President of the Commission, Mr Junker, has said publicly that without an exemption the EU is left with no choice but to proceed with a World Trade Organisation dispute settlement case and the imposition of additional duties on a number of US imports. He says the EU will defend the EU’s interests, in full compliance with international trade law. If the UK, outside the EU, has to fight against these duties, we will have substantially less bargaining power.
If you have an EU issue I can help with or are concerned about what Brexit means for you contact me via email@example.com
Brexit update The UK Government is still stuck on the Irish border issue and stuck on how to handle the flow of goods post Brexit. They have been fumbling with...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to give your permission.
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.
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.
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...
Dear members and friends,
The Tories have bowed to all EU demands.
• The UK will continue to pay into the EU budget.
• The UK will continue to accept all EU rules including Freedom of Movement.
• The UK will have no say on the rules.
Legal uncertainty for UK businesses will continue until an agreement is signed and ratified – likely in 2019 (provided an agreement is reached).
The border with Northern Ireland is still unresolved. The agreement says Northern Ireland will stay under EU law and in the Single Market and Customs Union unless another solution can be found (which seems doubtful). This is despite May insisting previously that no British prime minister could sign up to a text that could “threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea”. The solution is of course, for all of the UK to stay in the Customs Union and Single market.
So, the Tories have essentially ‘kicked the can down the road’. They have no clear position or solutions, so they are delaying any decision making on the big issues.
US steel tariffs
Trump’s threat to impose tariffs of 25% on imports of steel could mean real trouble for Tata Steel which employs 3500 in Neath Port Talbot, 1250 in Llanwern and Newport, 600 in Trostre and 200 in Caerphilly. Around 10% of Welsh steel exports go to the US.
I have held a number of meetings to support EU-wide actions on tariffs and to discuss concerns about the dumping of more steel in the EU.
The EU has been played a key role in promoting the economic development of Northern Ireland via financial support for the PEACE programme and through funding community projects and infrastructure in economically disadvantaged areas.
I am currently working on a report on the impact of EU cohesion policy there and I will lead a fact-funding mission this week to see projects on the ground and speak to locals about what having those programmes taken away would mean for them.
Dear members and friends, The Tories have bowed to all EU demands. • The UK will continue to pay into the EU budget.• The UK will continue to accept all...
Welcome to my latest enewsletter.
The political agenda continues to be dominated by Brexit. The EU is now extremely frustrated that a UK government fighting against itself is still unable to say what it wants out of negotiations.
In March the EU will agree its position ahead of discussions on the framework for future relations. It is likely the EU will say due to the UK’s red lines the only option available is a Canada-type agreement.
The other big development has been the leaking of the Government’s analysis of the economic impact of Brexit. It has confirmed what we already knew, that any option outside the EU will make us worse off. It is therefore not surprising that opinion polls are shifting towards having a vote on the final deal. We also know a big majority of Labour members and supporters agree with this.
The European Investment Bank
With my Labour colleagues, I voted in favour of the annual report on the financial activities of the European Investment Bank. The report calls for urgent clarification on the impact of Brexit on the EIB, in particular the UK's contributions and future economic participation. The report also says the EIB is right to condition investment in UK projects on assurances that investment eligibility criteria, notably on environmental standards, will be met for the full duration of such investments.
Combatting social inequality
Also, social inequality is on the rise in Europe and around the globe. While wages of ordinary people have stagnated, an ever greater share of wealth is flowing to the richest few. Part of this is a result of policies that allow the rich to avoid taxes while driving down wages and cutting public services. Together with my socialist and democrats colleagues, we called for a topical debate to look at new ideas on how to reverse this trend.
Member of the European Parliament
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