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Labour MEPs have welcomed the announcement of tougher sanctions against Russia but called on the EU to go further.

The European Union will target state-owned Russian banks and their ability to finance Russia's economy, with European investors banned from buying new debt or shares of majority state-owned banks, which raised almost half of their €15.8 billion (£12.5bn) capital needs in EU markets last year.
 
Richard Howitt MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on foreign affairs, in response to the announcement made following the meeting of EU Ambassadors, said:
 
"This widening of sanctions is a clear step forward, moving on from visa and asset-freezing. We are pleased to see the EU taking heed of the European Parliament resolution calling for an arms and dual-use technology embargo and targeting key export markets such as the financial and defence markets.
 
"However these sanctions will leave the Russian economy's biggest sector, oil and gas - worth 68 per cent of export revenues – mostly untouched. The lack of sanctions on this largest sector is disappointing.
 
"These sanctions do show the EU is leading the way in making real efforts to resolve the Ukraine conflict, going further than previous US sanctions which targeted only two Russian Banks, rather than all Russian banks with more than 50% public ownership."
 
It is nearly two weeks since 298 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot out of the sky.
 
Richard Howitt MEP added:
 
"In the wake of this barbaric act, the European Union has shown its intent to flex its might and send a clear message to President Putin he must cease all support for the Russian-backed forces in Eastern Ukraine and halt the supply of arms across the border.
 
"The scale of the crisis we now face needs to be met with a bold and united, robust and coordinated response from the international community."

Widening of EU sanctions against Russia a welcome step forward, say Labour MEPs

Labour MEPs have welcomed the announcement of tougher sanctions against Russia but called on the EU to go further.

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Over the next five years, Labour MEPs will continue to work in the European Parliament for constituents, Britain and Europe, standing up to vested interests, protecting rights, tackling the scandal of youth unemployment and leading for Britain in Europe, writes Glenis Willmott MEP, the leader of Labour's MEPs.

After the European elections Labour are back with more MEPs and at the heart of the biggest cross-European political group of any British party. I have negotiated some key positions for many of Labour’s 20 MEPs, including an unprecedented two committee chairs of the influential civil liberties and international development committees.

Labour MEPs will continue our work standing up against vested interests in Europe, because in a globalised world you cannot regulate huge multinational industries at national level alone. In the last parliamentary term, Labour MEPs led on rules capping bankers' bonuses, protecting children from tobacco marketing, and obliging pharmaceuticals to be transparent about drug trials.

As Labour’s European health spokesperson I will continue my work on clinical trial transparency, as well as transparency in the food industry. I want to ensure consumers have the information they need to make healthy choices when buying food for themselves and their families. As well as supporting the traffic light labelling system, I am demanding clear calorie content labelling on alcohol as well as country of origin information on meat and meat in processed foods, following on from last year’s horsemeat scandal.

And in light of the PIP breast implant scandal we need tougher regulation of medical devices. I will continue to work on the European rules which are currently being redrawn - patient safety must be put first, ahead of the industry’s lobbying.

We also need to close loopholes in employment laws, which allow unscrupulous employers to exploit foreign workers and undercut local workers. At the same time we must deal with the abuse of zero-hours contracts, which has exploded since the banking crisis. Right now people need financial stability, not more uncertainty.

Finally, we desperately need to tackle youth unemployment. The figures are staggering: nearly a million young people are out of work in the UK, and well over half of all young people in Spain and Greece are unemployed. This is an appalling legacy to leave for the next generation. It's why I called for the European Youth Guarantee and why I will continue to criticise the British government for being the only EU government not to access this funding for much-needed schemes.

Looking ahead to next year, as Labour's Leader in Europe, I will be making the positive case for the UK within the EU. In recent years we have seen rising Euroscepticism in the UK, jeopardising the jobs, protections and clout our membership brings. I know we can challenge this by continuing to work hard on issues that really matter to people, and having a sensible debate about the benefits of the EU.

This article was first published on the European Movement blog.

Labour MEPs will continue to stand up to vested interests, strengthen employment rights and tackle youth unemployment

Over the next five years, Labour MEPs will continue to work in the European Parliament for constituents, Britain and Europe, standing up to vested interests, protecting rights, tackling the scandal...

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Labour MEPs call for new UK Commissioner to get strong portfolio to drive forward change

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