May 2012

EU budget proposals

Dear Editor,

The European Commission's recent proposal for the EU's budget in 2013 is out of touch and unacceptable. London taxpayers cannot afford to help finance a 6.8% increase on the 2012 level of spending.

The vast majority (94%) of EU budget spending is in fact on the ground in the 27 member countries, not on administrative costs in Brussels. The national governments need to engage with Euro-MPs in a serious effort to cut spending, not least on the Common Agricultural Policy.

MEP victory on mobile roaming costs

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed a deal secured by Members of the European Parliament, due to be voted through tomorrow, which continues the process started in 2007 of pushing down mobile phone costs for consumers travelling abroad, but also for the first time cuts data costs too.

The new EU price cap for calls will mean that from July 1st the price when abroad will be capped at 24p per minute. This cap will be gradually reduced so that by 2014 a call will cost a maximum of 16p a minute.  

But for the first time, there will also be a cap on data prices, thus making mobile email and internet use cheaper. This capped price will be 59 pence a MB from this July, falling to 18 pence/MB by 2014.

EU states must support end to 'travelling circus'

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has joined a majority of MEPs in again demanding a single workplace for Euro-MPs instead of the absurd trek between Brussels and Strasbourg that they are currently condemned to because of decisions by the 27 EU governments.

MEPs made the call during a vote on the EU's spending in 2010. A single seat for the European Parliament in Brussels would save around £145 million (€180 million) a year on the EU budget. 

Member States must come clean on use of EU taxpayers' money

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed a Brussels commitment, secured through strong pressure from Liberal Democrat MEPs, for stricter monitoring of the way the 27 national governments spend EU taxpayers' money.

The Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) group in the European Parliament have long been demanding that Member States produce annual statements of their EU budget spending. Today the European Commission made a commitment to ensure that these reports would not only be submitted but made public.

The Court of Auditors, the EU auditor, has issued a negative report for seventeen years in a row due to the unacceptably high error rate, in national accounts, of EU money received and spent.

Sarah Ludford commented:

Sarah's bulletin: 11th May

Dear friends,

London elections

London small businesses need help and support

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has met with the London team of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and signed up as an ‘Entrepreneur Champion’ to support their campaign to stimulate small business growth.

The FSB Real-Life Entrepreneurs campaign aims to persuade the government to take action such as boosting banking competition and increasing access to finance, tackling late payment, easing regulation and simplifying the tax system.      

Sarah Ludford commented:

International action needed on homophobic bullying and discrimination

On International Day against Homophobia, Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has given her support to young LGBT people suffering from bullying or discrimination at school.

Sarah has taken part in a video message from European leaders to gay and lesbian youngsters, telling them how they are working to ‘make things better.’ She commented:

Sarah's bulletin: 18th May

Dear friends,

Economic and financial woes
All eyes have been on Greece and the question of whether they will honour the bailout terms or default and exit the euro. The failure of the parties to form a government means a new election is scheduled for June 17th. But as German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble says:  "There is no easy path for Greece whatever the result."

Euro-MPs call for better protection for weaker consumers

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed a European Parliament call for better protection for consumers deemed 'vulnerable' because of factors such as age, health, learning disability or lack of internet access.

Given the range of situations in which a consumer can be at a disadvantage, there is no EU legislation to cover all eventualities. Ideas put forward by MEPs include incentives for businesses to adopt voluntary initiatives for improved consumer rights, examination of the impact of aggressive advertising on children, better consumer information and education campaigns, and encouragement for accessible formats for those with impaired eyesight.

Sarah Ludford commented:

EU financial transaction tax would undermine London jobs

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has criticised European financial transaction tax proposals which have been voted on in the European Parliament today. She voted against the plan.

An EU-wide financial transaction tax was proposed by the European Commission last September and will also be discussed by EU leaders at an informal summit this week. The UK will have a veto.