The UK government’s confirmation that British citizens may be hit by roaming and data charges when travelling in the EU after Brexit will mean holidaymakers once more being subjected to rip-off bills for using their phone abroad, Welsh Labour's MEP has warned.
Derek Vaughan MEP said:
“Bit by bit, day by day, the full horror of the looming disaster of a Tory Brexit drips out, and today brings us yet another assault on our consumer rights, with the UK government confirming roaming charges likely to be reintroduced in the event of no deal.
“Labour MEPs have been at the forefront of the drive to cut roaming charges, and it has been the European Parliament that has led to the capping of and ultimately the abolition of roaming costs. And we are currently working on legislation to enable consumers to stream their online subscribed content, like Netflix, while in another EU country, on their laptops and mobile phones, paying the same rate for this service as they would do at home.
“But in leaving the Digital Single Market, far from making peoples’ lives easier as the EU is doing, Theresa May risks driving up holiday bills for Welsh travellers, leaving our citizens poorer and less connected.”
“Labour MEPs have long campaigned for the end of exorbitant roaming charges, and it was great news when they were finally abolished across the EU. But now, thanks to Tory Brexit dogma, people going away on holiday from next April risk paying more to phone home, text their friends, surf the internet and upload pictures.
“If Theresa May and the Tories cannot deliver a deal we face the very real prospect of Welsh holidaymakers, business travellers and students once more being landed with exorbitant bills, and European visitors to the UK being similarly ripped off.
“With roaming costs, we’d send the telecoms companies £350 million a year - let’s let holidaymakers keep that money instead.”
The UK government’s confirmation that British citizens may be hit by roaming and data charges when travelling in the EU after Brexit will mean holidaymakers once more being subjected to...
Derek Vaughan MEP has criticised the UK Government’s lack of Brexit planning after three big employers this week said they are concerned about their future and the US proposal to put a 25% tariff on steel.
“This week has been alarming for Welsh workers, to say the least, with big manufacturers warning they may need to stop production or shut up shop.” he said.
“Airbus 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.
“To make things even worse, 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, 200 in Caerphilly.
“The Leave campaign lied to voters, telling them 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 at 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.”
For more information or to organise an interview with Mr Vaughan contact:
+32 475 749 134.
Derek Vaughan MEP has criticised the UK Government’s lack of Brexit planning after three big employers this week said they are concerned about their future and the US proposal to...
Theresa May’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, and risks a hardening of the border with Ireland.
Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan said:
“By ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU, the prime minister has 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.
“No to a UK-EU customs union means yes to a UK-Ireland customs border, and all the chaos and pain that would cause, and it also means the economic consequences of leaving the EU will be worse, leading to even more job losses and much lower GDP. With over 70% of Irish cargo currently passing through Wales a hard border would have a huge impact on Welsh ports.
“Theresa May has no mandate for such a reckless approach, either in parliament or in the country. In the referendum, people did not vote to lose their jobs and become worse off.
“That's why I believe there should be a public vote on the final deal."
Theresa May’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, and...
Labour MEP Derek Vaughan is calling on the UK government to commission and publish economic assessments of how Brexit will impact Wales.
Mr Vaughan said: “The Welsh government has done a huge amount of work on the consequences of Brexit.
“However, the UK government is taking decisions about Brexit without assessing its impact on Wales. We are pushing ministers to put consideration of Welsh people and businesses at the heart of its decisions.
“Following the chaos and confusion of the sectoral impact assessments that weren’t, the Brexit department or, if it is incapable of doing so, the Treasury, must commission analysis on the consequences for each UK region and nation – and publish it. People and businesses throughout Wales have a right to know what government decisions will mean for their jobs, their livelihoods, their futures.
“The bottom line is we need to know what will happen to Wales outside the EU. It is now more than one-and-a-half years since the referendum, and ten months since the triggering of Article 50 – the government cannot allow the chaos, uncertainty and confusion around Brexit to continue. People and businesses in every part of our country need to know that the government is making decisions on the future with them in mind.”
In a letter to Brexit secretary David Davis, Labour MEPs write:
“Government ministers are in the process of taking decisions that will have long lasting and far reaching effects for our country – it is only right that those decisions are taken with an awareness of their likely impact.
“As regionally-elected representatives, we believe that it is imperative that an assessment is made of how the different possible paths open to the UK in the upcoming negotiations will affect families, businesses and communities in the British nations and regions - in particular the impact on jobs and the economy.
“Last year an impression was created that sectoral impact assessments of Brexit had been carried out by the Department for Exiting the EU. Based on reports by those who have seen the papers made available to parliament and subsequent clarifications, it would appear that this work has not been undertaken in sufficient detail. It was also recently revealed that the Treasury is refusing to publish documents relating to how a series of possible Brexit outcomes, including no deal, will impact the economy.
“We are therefore writing to you to request that the government produces a thorough impact assessment of the decisions that will need to be taken on Brexit, and crucially that these studies include an assessment of the impacts of Brexit on each nation and region of the UK. After the fiasco of the inadequate sectoral impact assessments, we insist on the need for full and comprehensive regional impact assessments – our constituents need to know the government is considering the impact of Brexit on their local area, and taking this into account in its negotiations.
“If the government is to be confident that it is taking the right decisions in implementing the outcome of the EU referendum, it must have an awareness of the likely impact of those decisions on all the nations and regions of the UK.
“What work has been undertaken across government on the regional economic impact of Brexit? And when will it be published? To date, we are not aware of any work of this nature having been undertaken by your department or the Treasury. If such work has been completed, we would invite you to share this work with the public to assist with the transparency of decision making. If no such work has been undertaken, we would ask you to commission and publish it as a matter of urgency.”
Labour MEP Derek Vaughan is calling on the UK government to commission and publish economic assessments of how Brexit will impact Wales. Mr Vaughan said: “The Welsh government has done...
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of progressing Brexit negotiations to phase two.
Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan said he accepts progress made but there is still a lot of work to be done.
"This preliminary deal leaves many details and questions unresolved, for example on how citizens' rights are to be enforced, whether their rights are protected if they move to another member state after the withdrawal date or their ability to work cross-border in the EU.
"It is also unclear how the UK with resolve the issue of a border with Northern Ireland. At present the UK has committed to an open border but also says the UK is leaving the EU's single market and customs union. These two positions appear to be in contradiction.
" David Davis has again proved himself a liability. Just days after the PM reached a stage one agreement with the EU he very nearly undermined negotiations by claiming that the UK Government may not even stand by the deal. This has not gone down well in the EU and therefore the European Parliament is demanding a quick withdrawal agreement that puts the UK's commitments on a legal basis.
"It has always been clear that the UK could not maintain all the benefits of EU membership after leaving the EU. Sadly the leave campaign made false promises and lied to voters. That's why I believe that there should be a public vote on the final deal."
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of progressing Brexit negotiations to phase two. Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan said he accepts progress made but there is still a lot of...
Welsh MEP says devastating impact of Brexit on poorer people gives cause for a public vote on the final deal
Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan’s message comes as think tank ‘The Resolution Foundation’ warns inflation and Brexit could see the poorest families £300 worse off in 2018.
“It is now clearer than ever that voters were fed lies by the Leave campaign. Brexit isn’t solving any of our problems, its exacerbating them,” said Mr Vaughan
“The pound is falling leading to higher prices in the shops, and we will lose vital EU funding for Wales which helps thousands of people into training and jobs.
“As our economy falters and public finances worsen, the Chancellor has admitted a Brexit 'no deal' will mean less money for NHS and social care, and now we hear our poorest families will be worse off financially.
“It is especially hard to stomach this news when the Tories have frozen pensions and we hear the PM is spending £250m on preparations for a possible ‘no deal’ EU result.
“Voters were promised there would be an easy deal, with all the benefits of EU membership, without any of the responsibilities. It’s clear to everyone now that this was never going to be the case. We need a public vote on any deal that is reached, a vote with all the facts on the table.”
Welsh MEP says devastating impact of Brexit on poorer people gives cause for a public vote on the final deal Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan’s message comes as think tank...
Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales
The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as parks, squares and public buildings across Europe. The agreement, dubbed WiFi4EU, will bring high-quality internet to 6000-8000 communities across Europe.
Labour MEP for Wales Derek Vaughan said he was pleased to see the Parliament vote in favour of the initiative, but is worried that Brexit will mean Wales misses out.
“All Welsh people should have access to good-quality WiFi connections, no matter where they live or how much they earn.
“This project would allow local communities to set up in state-of-the-art infrastructure in train stations, parks, libraries, hospitals or any other public spaces and would benefit both residents of and visitors to local communities across Wales.
“Wales would benefit hugely from this initiative, but Brexit may render us ineligible.
“This is just one example of what we stand to lose due to Brexit. Farmers stand to lose millions in CAP funds, universities stand to lose millions in research funding, Wales will lose EU funding for infrastructure, not to mention EU protections for workers’ rights and women’s rights.
“That’s why the Tory Government has been stalling on providing details about the negotiations and exactly what they expect from any deal with the EU post Brexit. They know any deal will be worse than what we have now.”
The first call for projects is expected to be launched towards the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as...
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because leaving the European Union, a huge hi-tech market place of 500 million people, now means that without Government intervention British manufacturing may suffer greatly without access to the Single Market and the customs union.
News that Nissan is investing in its plant in Sunderland is excellent. Seven thousand jobs are at that plant and a further 30,000 jobs in the local supply chain. However, Nissan has been clear that they will stay if the Government will guarantee tariff free access to the Single Market or compensate them if tariffs are imposed. The Government says that may be able to get this access for specific industries, but the President of the Commission has said that he will not let the UK treat the Single Market like a “buffet”, suggesting there will not be opt-ins for individual industries. The upshot of this is that the Government may end up being in a position of paying Nissan’s tariffs for it. Which means that money that could be spent on teaching our kids, treating our elderly and defending our country will go to Nissan’s HQ in Tokyo. It also raises the question about whether this approach is sustainable, realistically the Government will not be able to do this for every business. We know that companies do not think that is a risk worth taken after the reduction of the number of engines made in the Ford plant in Bridgend down to 125,000 from 250,000 previously, showing that they are reducing their reliance on the UK. We need to make sure Airbus remain committed, not just for the next few years but for decades to come, with their factory in Broughton.
The most likely outcome of a chaotic Brexit where we do not get the deal we need is steady decline. The big companies based here will slowly reduce their plants and reliance on a UK base will transfer to EU countries where they can boost their profit margins. The Government will try and stave this off with sweetheart deals that will be very expensive to the taxpayer, this will ensure that a few companies stay, but these will become more and more difficult to hold on to and the EU may begin to feel that our state help is undercutting EU industry and begin to raise tariffs.
By staying in the Single Market and creating a proactive industrial strategy we would avoid this problem and be able to build a manufacturing base in the UK that not only survives but thrives.
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because...
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues to pay into the EU budget and while Wales still receives EU funding it is important that there are people in the Parliament who can go in to bat for Wales, even as we negotiate the process of leaving.
So, it was a pleasure to vote for a proposal that will allow young people to access a transcontinental railcard free of charge. This will provide an opportunity for young people, whatever their background, to travel across the continent. This is a simple proposal with a small cost that will help young people all over Europe travel and expand their horizons.
All over Europe there is so much to see and do, from the streets of Lisbon to the islands of Stockholm, and people often say they wished that they’d travelled more in their lives. This is the European Union offering something tangible to every single young person. Given the timescales it is unlikely we will see the benefit, but you must vote for a proposal on its merits rather than out of spite.
This pass will be on top of the other benefits that the EU has provided to young people, through the Erasmus+ scheme which allows students to easily arrange exchanges and presents other funding opportunities.
Universities also gained massively from the EU, with every University in Wales being involved either in an EU funded project or having had EU funding invested in their infrastructure. For instance, the backing the EU has given to the Menai Science Park linked to Bangor University. The EU has also invested in the young people of Wales who do not go to Universities, EU funding underwriting 100,000 apprenticeships.
We would do well to remember that while we voted to leave as a whole. Young people, our future, voted to remain. The Government needs to make good on its promise to underwrite the funding they benefit from. But, that pledge also raises questions. Where is the money going to come from? Will the Assembly have to cover this funding, and if so will it have to get a corresponding increase in its budget? How is the actual process going to work? I would add these questions to the 170 questions that Labour have submitted to the Brexit Secretary David Davies. It seems unlikely that the Government will be able to answer any of them, any time soon.
With the pound collapsing and household items missing from shop shelves the only thing that is clear is that this is a shambolic Brexit, and young people along with everyone else are paying the price.
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues...
“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean?
As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely to see the unravelling of one of the biggest lies of the Leave campaign: that the UK could retain every benefit of the Single Market whilst at the same time not fulfilling its four key freedoms of movement in goods, services, capital and people.
Much discussion has been had in Wales over recent days around how the UK should continue its relationship with the Single Market.
Taking into account what happened in the weeks leading up to the referendum and the messages given to politicians when we spoke to voters on the doorstep, there are no easy answers. Clearly, immigration and the wish of people to “take back control”, were two of the key factors that delivered the vote to leave the EU. Equally, unrealistic expectations were fed by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and others who claimed we could have our cake and eat it when it came to exactly what the end game of Brexit will look like.
There are three main Single Market options on the table and it is worth exploring each one in turn.
Firstly; ”full membership” of this single market, which no country outside of the EU has, is what we have now with tariff free trade, an active role in its decision making processes and an acceptance of the free movement of people to go with it. No other country in Europe has managed the task of securing full membership whilst simultaneously creating its own pick and mix menu of key commitments. Cherry picking parts of the existing deal and undermining the fundamental principles of the EU in the process is unlikely to go down well in the European Parliament nor with the other 27 Member States who have to agree with this deal.
Leading EU figures have already been crystal clear. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission confirmed this when he said: "There is a clear interlink as we made clear at the very beginning between the access to the internal market and the basic principles of the internal market - namely the free movement of workers and we are sticking to that position. So I cannot see any possibility of compromising on that very issue.”
Secondly, there is what is termed as “full access” to the Single Market which could also be described as the Norway or Switzerland option whereby we could trade freely in goods (though not services) but remain unable to restrict EU migration into the UK. The drawback, of course, is that we would be paying into the system and living by rules set by other countries and yet, not have any say on what those rules are or how the Market will operate.
Similarly, negotiating an exit deal that leaves us with something almost identical to what we had before, is not going to be popular with the 52% of the electorate who voted to leave.
This is the difficult and unedifying dead end that the UK Government finds itself in the position of having to resolve.
Finally there is simply “access” to the Single Market and this is the basic “take it or leave it” option. Essentially, having access to the marketplace in the same way that every other country around the world does, leaving us open to the imposition of tariffs on our goods as well as other restrictions and regulatory burdens to which we would not be able to influence at all. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or World Trade organisation (WTO) deal would exclude services which make up 80% of our economy and probably agriculture and fisheries, putting these sectors in peril.
Politics is not just about catch phrases or sound bites, it is about finding a way to get the best for the people you serve.
I would prefer the UK to have full membership of the EU as any other deal will be a worse option but this clearly would require a second referendum.
Full access is not perfect but given the terms upon which the public made their decision, it is the most realistically achievable deal.
Any agreement will stand or fall on its approach on EU migration which, let’s not forget is a two way street with almost as many UK citizens now residing in other Member States as EU citizens living here. An attack on the free movement of people would also jeopardise the rights of those from the UK who have chosen to study, work or live elsewhere in the EU, again, a vital question which the UK Government has continued to avoid answering. It is also the case that migrants from the EU to the UK pay one third more in tax than they take out in benefits and enable us to sustain key public services, including the NHS, and many sectors of our economy. The problems with the UK economy and feelings of disenchantment felt by voters is not because of immigration, it is down to austerity policy which led to insecure jobs, a lack of housing and poor services.
The pressure is on and the clock is ticking.
Now is the time for politicians of all parties to be honest with voters. They must admit we can maintain the benefits of being part of a huge single market but that entails paying into the EU budget and accepting the rules including free movement. Or we can leave the single market and damage our economy and peoples living standards.
A second class Brexit deal, and perhaps, the prospect of no real deal at all, will cause great damage to the Welsh economy and our way of life. A false step at this stage has the potential to wreak havoc on our manufacturing industries (especially steel, agriculture and automotive), discourage inward investment, damage our tax base and, with that, our ability to invest in our public services.
The UK Government and all politicians must quit the rhetoric and be honest with voters about the options.
“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean? As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely...