Latest News

Braille-book-700x410.jpg

Britain must remain a signatory of the Marrakesh Treaty if it leaves the EU, Labour MEPs warned after the European Parliament today gave its assent to the treaty, which allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled.

Mary Honeyball MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on legal affairs, said:

“The Marrakesh Treaty enhances the rights of blind and visually impaired people by enabling them to have greater access to books and other copyrighted works, yet because of the legal uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is unclear if the UK will drop out of the treaty if it leaves the EU. The government may choose to water-down the treaty, and implement it with the condition of commercial availability checks, or even fail to implement it at all.

“It is therefore vital that the UK government confirms that it will indeed seek to remain a signatory, and enable print-disabled people in Britain to enjoy the benefits of the treaty – the full benefits, and not a weakened version.

“The Marrakesh Treaty will not only benefit European citizens who require such formats, but also many people in developing countries that are signatories. The so-called “book famine” of accessible books for visually impaired persons is even more serious in developing countries; currently only five per cent of books are available in accessible formats in richer countries, and this drops to less than 1% in poorer countries.

“People who are blind or visually impaired face major hurdles in accessing literature and all printed material. The Marrakesh Treaty makes it easier for people in Europe and around the world to access braille and large print books; it would be a travesty if people in Britain fail to benefit from it.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Labour MEPs: UK must retain EU-signed Treaty that enhances rights of blind and visually impaired people

Britain must remain a signatory of the Marrakesh Treaty if it leaves the EU, Labour MEPs warned after the European Parliament today gave its assent to the treaty, which allows...

Read more

Energy-efficiency-renewable-energy-700x410.jpg

The European Parliament voted today for EU countries to adopt higher targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy, targets that are more ambitious than those previously agreed by national governments.

MEPs backed a target of 35 per cent of the EU’s energy mix to come from renewables by 2030, higher than the Council’s goal of 27%, and on energy efficiency, MEPs also backed a target of 35% by 2030, higher again than the Council’s 27% figure.

However, due to opposition from right-wing political groups, including the Tories, the European Parliament did not back proposals in energy efficiency for even more ambitious targets of 40 per cent nor for the targets to be binding at national level.

The parliament, due to the conservatives and the liberals, also voted against the Just Transition Fund in the Governance of the Energy Union that would help workers and communities mitigate their transition to a low carbon sustainable economy.

Theresa Griffin MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on energy, said:

“Though it is disappointing that conservatives failed to back our proposals for a 40 per cent target for energy efficiency, and didn’t support our calls for the targets to be binding at national level, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we have voted for a much more ambitious target than was agreed by national governments.

”The renewables target will support the further development and integration of renewable energy into our energy mix, while the energy efficiency targets are crucial for growth, competitiveness and job creation, and will enable millions of people throughout Europe to be lifted out of energy poverty.

“We will keep pushing for higher targets and for EU countries to pursue policies to meet these ambitious new goals – the European Parliament has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure we move towards a cleaner, greener more sustainable energy future.

“By contrast, the actions of Tory MEPs today and the attitudes of many Brexit hardliners show that, if the UK leaves the Energy Union and does not match these targets, people in Britain will be at serious risk of higher energy prices and lower energy security.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Labour MEPs: EU countries must heed EP and back higher targets on energy efficiency and renewables

The European Parliament voted today for EU countries to adopt higher targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy, targets that are more ambitious than those previously agreed by national governments....

Read more

Surveillance-spying-700x410.jpg

The UK, post-Brexit, must not resile from stronger EU controls on the exporting to repressive regimes of cyber-technology that can be used to identify and then torture dissidents, Labour MEPs warned after the European Parliament voted today for tougher export measures.

The new EU export controls will cover “dual use” goods and technologies that have civilian and military use, which can be used by regimes that routinely violate human rights to spy on their own citizens. These include devices for intercepting mobile phones, hacking computers, circumventing passwords or identifying internet users, which are all widely used to suppress civilians, political opposition and activists around the world.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Britain has dramatically increased the value of weaponry and defence equipment it sells to the world’s most repressive regimes since the referendum. The UK government cleared export licences worth £2.9bn in the 12 months after June 2016 to 35 countries considered “not free” – a 28 per cent increase on the 12 months before the Brexit vote.

David Martin MEP, member of the European Parliament international trade committee and Labour’s spokesperson on the legislation, said:

“Today’s vote sends a very clear message: the EU is continuing to put human rights at the heart of its trade strategy, and will not blindly trade with the world’s worst regimes and enable them to harass, imprison, torture and kill innocent civilians; the message from our Tory government, however, appears to be the opposite: take the authoritarians’ shilling and look the other way.

“It is vital that, if Britain leaves the EU, the UK government not only continues to abide by the Wassenaar Arrangement that governs trade in goods with military and civilian applications, but upholds this reformed system of export control which now includes cyber-tech items which could potentially be sold to repressive regimes, and does not sink to the moral bottom, selling surveillance tools to anyone and everyone, regardless of how they’ll use it.”

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, member of the European Parliament international trade committee, added:

“From electronic equipment, lasers and navigation technology to nuclear power technology, robotics and software, goods and technologies that can be used in peaceful civilian circumstances can also be used for building weapons of mass destruction, terrorist attacks or facilitating human rights violations.

“During the “Arab Spring” and since, including the recent protests in Iran, governments have used new technology to clamp down on protesters – it is vital our trade laws keep pace with these new developments, and it is vital the UK does not subvert these strengthened controls after Brexit; but given this week’s revelations about the exponential increase in exports of guns, bombs and bullets to some of the world’s worst regimes, we’re not holding our breath.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

UK must not subvert stronger EU controls on export of surveillance tech to repressive regimes

The UK, post-Brexit, must not resile from stronger EU controls on the exporting to repressive regimes of cyber-technology that can be used to identify and then torture dissidents, Labour MEPs...

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.