Latest News

Debit-and-credit-card-fees.jpg

Labour MEPs hailed the positive impact of the EU on bringing down the cost of business after the government launched a consultation on new EU rules to cap credit and debit card fees.

The new EU regulations allow Member States to set caps below 0.30% for credit card transactions, and 0.20% for debit cards. The UK government is proposing implementing the 0.30% cap on domestic credit card fees, and an average 0.20% cap on domestic debit card transactions.

In March, MEPs voted overwhelmingly for the legislation, which comes into force across the EU on December 9.

Anneliese Dodds MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, said:

"The capping of fees is great news, and has been brought about by action at European level, and is a great demonstration of what we can achieve when all 28 EU countries work together

"There were more than 10 billion credit and debit transactions in Britain in 2013, and these new rules are set to benefit British business by £480 million a year. Those savings will go directly to shopkeepers and retailers, who in turn can pass them on to consumers.

"Only by us working with our colleagues in Europe, not sitting on the sidelines shouting, can we best advance the interests of British consumers and businesses."

Labour MEPs: New caps on credit and debit card fees show positive impact EU is having on UK business

Labour MEPs hailed the positive impact of the EU on bringing down the cost of business after the government launched a consultation on new EU rules to cap credit and...

Read more

Barack-Obama.jpg

Not even Obama is safe from the spiteful wrath of the increasingly desperate eurosceptics, writes Glenis Willmott MEP.

The question is leadingThe franchise is too greatThe timing is wrongUnpurdah is unfairThe Yes campaign has more moneyThe Yanks will influence the result (and should, like all foreigners, mind their own business)… The list of whines from Outers grows daily, the latest wail in response to President Obama’s comments about why Britain should stay in the EU if it wants to maintain its standing in world affairs.

Despite having campaigned for years for a referendum on the European Union, eurosceptics are falling over themselves to moan about the forthcoming vote, getting their excuses in early and seeking to de-legitimise the result. Unedifying but unsurprising given recent polls, which show Yes around 60 per cent and No below 30.

The response of UKIP and the Tory Right to Obama’s remarks is entirely predictable, focused more on attacking him personally, ascribing ill intent and saying he shouldn’t even be commenting than engaging with what he’s actually said, namely that the EU “made the world safer and more prosperous” and that our membership gives the US “much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union”.

Obama’s comments confirm that membership of the European Union is vital for Britain’s influence on the world stage and shows how our partnership with the United States and power in the world are enhanced by being in the EU. No wonder the europhobes are reluctant to stick to the facts and are so keen to silence his views.

As Referendum Day nears, expect more of the same from the sceptics, especially if the polls remain as they are. If a person, business or other organisation speaks out to make the overwhelming case for Britain being part of (and improving) the EU they will face the inevitable accusations of being in it for themselves, in the pocket of the EU, on the “gravy train” and “anti-British“.

Prepare for the conspiracy theories. Prepare for a long, long campaign.

Glenis Willmott MEP is Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament.

This blog originally appeared on LabourList.

Eurosceptics can't face down the facts so they just rant and rage

Not even Obama is safe from the spiteful wrath of the increasingly desperate eurosceptics, writes Glenis Willmott MEP.

Read more

EU-Greece-flags-700x410.jpg

It's good news that a deal has been reached between Greece and its creditors. But the details of this deal are not good, writes Glenis Willmott MEP.

Whatever some people might have been telling you, it's a good thing that a deal was done between Greece and its creditors earlier this week, but that doesn't mean it is a good deal.

Greece clings on, having been taken to the brink by both the country's international creditors and its government, whose decision to hold a referendum on and subsequent rejection of a previous (better) deal triggered two weeks of turmoil that left the country staring into the abyss.

The accelerated austerity policies demanded by the creditors will not only lead to more short-term misery, but in the long-run may end up being self-defeating - just as previous deals have been.

There's no point the Troika issuing a set of unrealistic demands, failing to learn the lessons of recent eurozone history. Such demands risk leaving Greece marooned amidst the circles of Hell, stuck in a nightmare of contraction, recession, bailout, contraction, recession, bailout, every few years, pulled one way by the creditors, the other by market and social reality, leading to the point at which default and departure seem preferable.

These demands, from predominantly right-wing EU leaders (and the World Bank and IMF), are but the latest manifestation of the post-crash failure of Europe’s centre-left. We have right-wing EU prime ministers, right-wing eurozone finance ministers, and hawkish global institutions calling the shots, while social democrat leaders like Francois Hollande find their voices drowned out by the likes of Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble.

That said, if Greece is to avoid perpetual bailout, the sword of Grexit forever hanging over its head, the government of Alexis Tsipras must take the lead and embrace reform, modernising the economy and changing the way it does business, something governments of left and right have failed to do.

As well as difficult reforms, the EU must offer the quid pro quo of positive Europe-wide action to help Greece, most obviously that means taking a realistic look at the prospects of repayment of Greece's debts. But there are other steps, such as tackling tax avoidance. In addition to strong domestic action on tax avoidance by the Greek government, EU action on tax dodging will enable them to broaden their tax base by making it easier to pursue tax dodgers across borders, stopping rich Greeks hoarding cash across Europe and evading their responsibilities.

What has gone before has not worked. And it is not just in Greece that prolonged austerity hasn't been working - across Europe a generation of young people are without jobs, without hope, without a future. France: 24 per cent. Slovakia: 26 per cent. Portugal: 33 per cent. Cyprus: 34 per cent. Italy: 42 per cent. Spain: 49 per cent. Greece: 50 per cent. Youth unemployment figures that should shame the right-wing austerians.

A less favourable deal - with even higher tax rises and deeper spending cuts - a loss of trust between Greece and the EU, and a prolonged period of pain: banks shut; capital controls; businesses going bust; 25 per cent unemployment; 50 per cent youth unemployment; a debt-to-GDP ratio of 180 per cent; an economy losing one per cent of GDP a week... this is the result of the creditors’ belligerence and Tsipras’s brinkmanship, and it’s wreaking a devastating toll.

And as always, it’s the ordinary people who suffer most. People out of work. People not being paid. People queuing for food, people queuing for money. Greece's downward spiral has been devastating to watch, and until a workable solution is implemented, they will continue to suffer.

Glenis Willmott MEP is Labour's Leader in the European Parliament.

This blog originally appeared in the New Statesman.

We're still some distance from a lasting deal over Greece

It's good news that a deal has been reached between Greece and its creditors. But the details of this deal are not good, writes Glenis Willmott MEP.

Read more

More Stories >

As with most websites, we will place cookies on your computer to help make your visit to this site better.

Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.