Latest News

glenis-willmott-mep.jpg

A Labour MEP has led a vote in the European Parliament calling for action to reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe.

The resolution, adopted today by the environment and public health committee, calls for the European Commission to begin work on a new alcohol strategy to replace the previous one, which ended in 2012, and to propose legislation on labelling the number of calories in an alcoholic drink, as alcohol was previously excluded from EU rules on food information

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s European spokesperson on health, and author of the resolution, said:

"The last EU Alcohol Strategy had some success but now we urgently need a new strategy to build on that.

"Europe is still the heaviest drinking region in the world, with alcohol the third biggest cause of preventable death and disease, and alcohol-related harm costing the EU economy €155.8 billion (£113bn) a year.

"Alcohol is linked to more than 60 chronic illnesses including cancer, liver disease and heart disease. Alcohol-related harm also has a high social cost through increases in workplace absenteeism, family breakdown and violence.

"Many people don’t realise how many calories are in alcohol and Labour MEPs have always argued for clear, honest labelling.

"Consumers have a right to know a glass of wine has the same number of calories as a slice of cake. This isn't about telling people what to do, but giving them the information they need to make informed, healthier choices."

MEPs are also asking national governments to consider introducing minimum unit pricing, a policy already adopted in Scotland, and for EU-wide labels warning people of the dangers of drink-driving and drinking while pregnant.

Glenis Willmott MEP added:

"The environment and public health committee has made it clear we want the Commission to make tackling alcohol-related harm a priority.

"We’ve sent a strong message to the Commission today and I hope they’ll listen and finally come forward with a new strategy to set out how this will be done."

Labour MEPs call for EU action on alcohol-related harm

A Labour MEP has led a vote in the European Parliament calling for action to reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe.

Read more

US-EU-flags-TTIP-700x410.jpg

While EU trade chiefs acknowledged negotiations for the massive EU-US trade deal would take longer than anticipated, Labour MEPs have put their plan into motion to ensure no deal will be concluded unless public concerns are properly addressed, writes Jude Kirton-Darling MEP.

TTIP, as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is know, would be the largest ever bilateral trade deal. It could affect not only traditional international trade instruments, such as tariffs and quotas, but also domestic rules and regulations.

While aligning some technical procedures on both sides of the Atlantic could lower the cost of exporting to the US and therefore create new opportunities for businesses across the UK to grow and hire, the British public has, by and large, made it very clear our public services, our social model and our democratic principles are not up for trade.

Labour MEPs have heard this message loud and clear.

The European Parliament is due to adopt a motion in May in which it will lay out what it does, and crucially doesn’t want, to see, in TTIP. This motion can have a tremendous impact on the negotiations. Any trade deal has to be ratified by the European Parliament.

The European Commission, which is conducting the negotiations on behalf of the 28 EU countries, simply cannot ignore the European Parliament’s conditions. In addition, while Conservatives and Liberals together make up the largest force in the European Parliament, they are nonetheless short of an absolute majority.

So no trade deal can be ratified without the support of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) parliamentary group, to which Labour MEPs belong.

Against this backdrop, Labour MEPs have developed a strategy to ensure EU institutions take up British citizens’ concerns. We have drafted strong amendments to reflect all the messages we received from constituents and initiated the first steps to gather the broadest possible support for these amendments, starting with MEPs from our own parliamentary group.

Last Wednesday was the deadline to table amendments to the draft motion on TTIP in the international trade committee (INTA). Close to 900 amendments were tabled, 40 of which were at the initiative of Labour MEPs.

We got support from every single socialist member of INTA to fully exclude all public services, including the NHS, from all chapters of any agreement with the US regardless of how they are funded or operated. Our amendment to oppose unambiguously any secret tribunal for investors, even a reformed one, was co-signed by 66 S&D MEPs from 12 different countries.

Our other amendments, all of them supported by influential MEPs from other EU countries, cover a whole range of issues, from defending the highest standards of food safety, to ensuring the US complies with our labour rights.

We are now entering the second phase of our strategy. Whilst having a united message from the S&D Group is a great first step, the best way to steer the TTIP negotiations in the right direction is to broaden support for our amendments across political groups. We must now try to build a common platform together with European Conservatives, Greens and Liberals, so the European Parliament as a whole sends a strong message to the European Commission.

In this second phase, citizens’ pressure will be the key. By an ominous calendar coincidence, MEPs will be voting on these amendments while UK citizens go to the polls on the 7th of May.This should not, however, deflect us from our objectives: we have five weeks to get rid of the Tories and Lib Dems in London, and five weeks to convince them to side with the people in Brussels.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP is a member of the European Parliament international trade committee.

This blog originally appeared on LabourList.

Labour MEPs are steering TTIP in the right direction

While EU trade chiefs acknowledged negotiations for the massive EU-US trade deal would take longer than anticipated, Labour MEPs have put their plan into motion to ensure no deal will...

Read more

Tax-avoidance-700x410.jpg

Conservative and UKIP MEPs yesterday voted against proposals in the European Parliament aimed at making the tax system fairer, and at cracking down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

The European Parliament's Annual Tax Report put forward concrete proposals to tackle immoral tax practices - including measures to make companies report where they make their profits and where they pay their taxes, and an agreed Europe-wide definition of tax havens that would see them named and shamed.

The report was passed by a cross-party selection of MEPs by 444 votes to 110, with 41 abstensions.

Anneliese Dodds MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, and Socialists & Democrats Group co-rapporteur of the parliament’s legislative initiative report on tax avoidance, said:

"Yet again, the Tories and UKIP have shown whose side they are really on. They talk the talk about cracking down on tax fiddling, but when the time comes for action they vote in favour of more secrecy and more inequality.

"The proposals in the Annual Tax Report are about making society fairer, and giving small businesses a chance, about stopping the situation where a family-run business in the UK dutifully pays the right rate of corporation tax, while a large multinational corporation negotiates a sweetheart deal to reduce its tax rate to almost zero.

"It's clear from today's vote that the Tories and UKIP are once again on the side of vested interests against the interests of working people."

Tory and UKIP MEPs vote against EU proposals to crack down on tax dodging

Conservative and UKIP MEPs yesterday voted against proposals in the European Parliament aimed at making the tax system fairer, and at cracking down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance....

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.