News » Oct 19th - 22nd 2009 - Strasbourg Commentary Plenary
Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Oct 19th - 22nd
Things are not quiet in the EU but they are marking time somewhat waiting for the final ratification of Lisbon, which, sadly seems to be inevitable. So a few main points this week. (But please sign the on-line petition to Vaclac Klaus, can't do any harm) Tuesday, Barroso was asked if German Government support for Opel was against EU legislation. In answer he said he had told Nellie Kraus, competition commissioner, to write for "clarification". I waved my hand with blue card to try to ask if the same conditions would apply to Vauxhall. Got told that the blue card ( a new innovation to allow MEPs to question the speaker) did not apply to Barroso!. Quote from press; Nigel FARAGE (EFD, UK) welcomed "a chance to hold the executive to account" and asked whether Tony Blair's position as a favourite for the Council Presidency of the Council was in exchange for his "surrender" on the British rebate. Mr Barroso denied that there was any such "secret deal".
In our EFD meeting it turns out that Vaclav Klaus was demanding an opt-out like ours (On the Human Rights) before signing the Lisbon treaty. He wants a legally binding protocol which would alter the treaty and cause a re-ratification all round. Chances...? We were addressed by Peter Mach of the Czech Republic, a fairly young man who is president of a new party there, Citizens rights (if I have that right). He is opposed to the treaty and if successful would like to join EFD. He only started in February and his party got 1.5% in their first go at the recent Czech national elections. Thurs. Nothing will stop this EU lot. They are already planning the first steps for after the treaty ratification so today we voted on the "Constitutional aspects of the creation of a European external service". That's the EU foreign Office to you and me. One of the paragraphs says that they must not duplicate roles, -to save money you know -, which means the complete sidelining of our own Foreign Office and its embassies. They whole thing was adopted by 424 - 94 votes. Its rapporteur was Elmer Brok who, in the run up, spoke not of European Countries, or member States, but of European Territories. Sound familiar? So where is our Foreign Office in all this, fighting for its life? Well, for the last two years it has quietly been selling off land around its embassies abroad.
Today also saw the vote on next year's EU budget. Nearly 1000 amendments collapsed into about 200 by blocking great numbers together. Won't bore you with details but just give the outcome,- massive approval of a budget which the Commission set at 4% above last year's and to which the Parliament added another 5% . So, in the middle of a severe recession they are to burden the taxpayer with a 10% hike in the annual fee. Which means that our leaflets telling Brits that they contribute £40,000,000 per day to the EU is now out of date; should read, £45,000,000 per day.
Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg Oct 22nd 2009