Money issues and The Eurozone
Travelling out to Brussels on a UK bank holiday always seems a bit rough, especially given the longer journey with the holiday timetable – but I was not prepared to miss another round of negotiations meetings this Monday and Tuesday on Economic Governance.
The complex package of six pieces legislation is now in its final weeks of negotiation between the European Parliament, European Commission and National Governments. It has taken nearly all my time over the past few months. The crisis in the Eurozone has resulted in those countries governments deciding that they must
more shared decision making over budget making to prevent national debts and deficits. However the UK and 9 EU member countries are not in the Eurozone, and the UK has a specific carve out under the European Treaty recognising that it does not intend to join the Euro. This needs to be recognised in the legal text.
I’m the only one of the 6 lead MEPs on this legislation whose currency is not the Euro and my colleagues have been very patient when every few hours I pipe up pointing out the differences and asking for language to be clarified for non Euro countries. We will probably vote on the final text before the end of June.
This week I met with the celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when he brought his “Fish Fight” Campaign to Brussels. He has successfully helped to raise awareness of the outrageous result of the current European fishery policy whereby at least a million tonnes of perfectly health fish are chucked dead into our seas each year. I am pretty convinced that this summer’s review of the policy will not only mean all fish caught must now be landed but also recommend an end to Brussels based quotas and a return of responsibility to local decision makers.
I had already written to Hugo to ask him to raise public awareness for the sustainability benefits of different fishing methods. In Lowestoft, Suffolk for example we don’t have massive trawlers with nets but small boats who use lines to catch their cod. This means the fishermen can target their species and no fish are discarded. I would like to see any new local system of managing fish stocks to take account of the fishing method as well as the amount of fish caught, and support our small local boats.
I may not be very popular with Spanish Property dealers at the moment after a letter I arranged for me and my other East Anglian Conservative MEPs to sign appeared in local papers and the Daily Mail. The fact is that as MEPs we frequently have constituents coming to us with issues they have had regarding owning property overseas and a disproportionate number of these complaints related to Spanish issues. Recently I was contacted by a constituent whose house in Empuriabrava is one of 5,000 facing demolition. In the European Parliament I have signed a Written Declaration asking the Spanish Government to respect the rights of property owners. Unlike some of my MEP colleagues I do not advise constituents never to buy a property in certain EU countries just to think very, very carefully. Research well and use the best possible legal advice.
I am taking today off – or at least I’m at home. It is Ascension day and a Brussels bank holiday. Tomorrow I will be visiting various researchers, scientists and academics in Cambridge with my colleague Malcolm Harbour MEP