16th April 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate on the situation in Ukraine.
"We are hearing the 1914 language of self-righteous indignation to imply that one side is completely in the right and the other completely in the wrong.
"We might not like Mr Yanukovych (and there is much about him that I don't like, if it is true) but his removal as President did not fall into the categories in Article 108 of the Constitution and the procedure for impeachment in Article 111 did not seem to have been followed.
"The civil disturbances in Ukraine were orchestrated from the EU when Yanukovych rejected the EU trade agreement. This was just as much interference in Ukraine and with less justification as anything that Russia has done to Ukraine.
"The taped conversation of Janet Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt about who should lead Ukraine was evidence of blatent US interference.
"It is all very well to call the referendum held by the Government of the Crimean Autonomous Republic illegal, but no more than the removal of Mr Yanukovych.
"Crimea had traditionally been part of Russia since the 18th century (when the United States was founded) and was so until 1954, when it was handed over by Mr Krushchev, a Soviet leader of Ukrainian descent.
"The recent referendum was hurried and insufficiently debated but the result was hardly ambiguous.
"Large powers like Russia and the United States have what they see as legitimate spheres of interest. The United States was not going to allow Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. Russia was not prepared to accept with equanimity another member of the EU and possibly of NATO with its previous and traditional borders.
Mr Possult the German CSU MEP asked an incomprehensible question to which Andrew replied:
"I could not discover a question among Mr Possult's words. However, I have never defended everything that Mr Putin has said or done with regard to the Ukraine. What I have said is that there has been interference both by the West (the EU and the US) and by Russia in the affairs of Ukraine."
15th April 2014:This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate on product safety and consumer protection.
"The 2012 Report of RAPEX* reported that there had been a 26% increase in the number of alerts for dangerous products. This was not just the result of greater market surveillance, the Rapporteur said. The number of dangerous products was increasing. Do we know the countries of origin of these goods? There have been some coded hints this morning but only coded hints
"On 20th January this year, we learned from a debate on a proposed regulation for consumer protection that 58% of notifications for dangerous products related to goods from China and that in a further 16% of cases, it was not possible to identify the country of origin.
"Importation of cheap products from emergent economies does not only undermine our manufacturing bases and the jobs of our workers. It also has the potential for injuring our consumers.
"Freedom of movement of goods, not just within the EU but globally, is the root cause of dangerous goods being in our markets.
"The EU is not so much a European Union as it is becoming a Global Union."
* The Rapid Alert System fort non-food dangerous products.
15th April 2014:This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following one minute speech, under Rule 150, during a debate on Nature v. Nurture.
"The Nature-Nurture debate used to be the most important in Politics and was the key to a whole range of political views. The Nurture side had much to be said for it, such as perceived kindness and fairness and, of course, non-discrimination. The Nature side had only evidence to support it.
"However, now Nurture seems to have been declared the winner without a contest. Indeed, Nature has been airbrushed out of the picture, even as a contestant. All public policy, whether devised by Left, Right, Centrist or Populist Safety Valve is based on a false assumption.
"They assume equal potential ability which does no favours to those without it.
"They assume that Third World migrants can be substitute Europeans when they can only turn Europe into the Third World.
"They confuse social mobility with equality of opportunity and do not realise that the latter will eventually bring the former to a shuddering halt.
"They throw money at continents that cannot benefit from it because Europe takes their brightest and best."
15th April 2014: Yesterday evening at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on Animal Health.
"EU legislation, unlike trade, does not extend beyond its borders, so it might not answer all of the needs of animal health, originating in third countries. This regulation would replace complex, existing legislation and much of its substantive content would be beneficial.
"Healthy farm animals are recognised as a pre-requisite of human health.
"Whilst the Rapporteur acknowledges that this is not primarily an animal protection law, she quotes, with approval, the description in parallel regulation that animals were sentient beings and wrote that the legislation protecting live animals travelling should be amended to reflect distances travelled, rather than just borders crossed.
"Sentient beings can feel pain and suffer from discomfort and fear.
"Ritualistic slaughter of animals, without pre-stunning is, self-evidently, the cruel treatment of a sentient being. Food from such an animal will not of course be a hazard to human health but it is a wound to civilised sensibilities."
3rd April 2014: At the Mini-Plenary session yesterday afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on the EU's relations with Iran.
"I am not an admirer of the Iranian Islamic Republic but there are many repressive countries in the world and many of these are the West's allies.
"Iran has been involved in only one war in recent decades - with Iraq - and it is widely accepted that Iraq was the instigator of that conflict. I cannot judge whether Iran has only a civil nuclear programme but the claims about Iraq proved to be unfounded.
"There is a certain irony in the fact that many of Iran's critics - the United States and Israel among them - have been involved in several conflicts and have nuclear weapons.
"I am sceptical about the foreign policy priorities of the United States, though the present administration has shown more restraint than its Republican predecessor. I am no supporter of the External Action Service or of the position of the High Representative. However, if an agreement between the United States and Iran, encouraged by Baroness Ashton, prevents conflict and normalises relations, it must be applauded."
3rd April 2014: At the Mini-Plenary Session yesterday afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on a Common European Union Foreign and Security Policy.
"The EEAS seeks to develop a common policy and only then persuade or cajole member states to adhere to it.
"I am in favour of joint action but only when it is necessary and it must be based on prior agreement on objectives and a genuine commonality of interest and not a shared desire for aggressive adventurism.
"Paragraph 25 states that there is a strong link between development and conflict prevention. European states should therefore stop fomenting conflict in other countries. That can cause devastating recession and dire poverty.
"The greatest reason for stagnation in the poorest of countries is a dearth of talent. This is made worse by Northern countries looting what talent they have - generation after generation. We must reverse the brain drain and encourage their brightest and best to re-invest their abilities in the countries of their birth or descent."
13th March 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on the activities of the Troika** with regard to problematic Eurozone countries.
"Mr Cercas's report explains succinctly the formula being applied to the countries* investigated: wage freezes and cuts, as well as cuts in welfare spending, part-time and temporary work and involuntary emigration
"It then leaps to three laudable objectives: increased employment, reduction of those in poverty; and a reduction in school drop-out figures.
"It, quite rightly, calls for an end to austerity. You do not make people richer or reduce their indebtedness, by making them poorer
"However, its other recommendations lack substance or definition and amount to a prayer for things to improve.
"It shies away from the root cause: the fact that the Euro's value is too high for their economies. Only a withdrawal from the Eurozone and a reintroduction of their national currencies, which will fall in value, will allow them to enjoy export-led expansions.
"The austerity programmes were designed to save the Eurozone. They were not designed to help the four countries* concerned."
* Mr Cercas's report restricted its investigation to four countries that had been on the receiving end of austerity programmes: Greece; Ireland; Portugal; and Cyprus.
** The Troika is the name given to the European Central Bank, the Commission and the International Monetary Fund when they act collectively.
12th March 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on the Russian invasion of (a small part of) Ukraine.
"The present crisis in Ukraine did not start with the Russian invasion. It started with the EU's reaction to Ukraine's rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade deal. This reaction took the form of the EU's friends in that country exploiting Ukrainian Nationalists to provide paramilitary assistance on the streets of Kiev.
"I am no supporter of Mr Yanukovych - of his political or personal background or of his tactics against demonstrators.
"However, the Ukrainian Parliament does not have the power simply to remove the President (under Article 108* of the Ukrainian Constitution) and it does not appear that the impeachment procedures (under Article 111**) were followed.
"The EU is determined to ensnare Ukraine by bribery and intimidation.
"I do not view the presence of Russian troops in the Crimea with equanimity. I would like them to withdraw. However, Russia is reacting to extreme acts of provocation, not only from the EU but also from the United States. (We know this from the leaked conversations between the US ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and a senior employee of the State Department, Victoria Nuland)***."
* Article 108 mentions only four circumstances in which a term of office of the President can be terminated early:
2. inability to exercise presidential authority for reasons of ill health;
3. removal from office by impeachment;
** Article 111 states that the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) shall appoint an ad hoc investigating commission comprising a special prosecutor and special investigators to conduct an investigation. The findings and conclusions would then be considered at a (subsequent) meeting of the Verkhovna Rada. It appears that the Parliament removed President Yanukovych in one afternoon's sitting without the niceties of an investigation.
*** This refers to a bugged telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State and the US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Mr Geoffrey Pyatt. They appear to be discussing who should be ministers in the next government of Ukraine.
12th March 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, to a debate on the preparations for the European Council meeting to be held on 20th-21st March 2014 meeting.
"To find out what a meeting is about, it is sometimes necessary to put different sources together as though they were pieces in an intricate jigsaw.
"The agenda of the forthcoming meeting refers to the European Semester, which includes inspection by the Commission of reform programmes - including reforms of the labour market.
"The agenda also mentions Industrial Competitiveness and the importance of a strong and competitive industrial base as a driver for economic growth and jobs.
"If we refer to a meeting of Ecofin* held on 16th February 2012 about the European Semester of that year, on page 8 of its conclusions, we find that, 'reforms need to focus on labour markets, in particular wage setting mechanisms to ensure efficient adjustment of labour costs'.
"What does all this mean? It means that a relatively high wage economy or group of economies, embracing the ideology of Globalism and the process of Globalisation, must drive down wages to compete with the emergent economies."
* ECOFIN is a version of the Council of the European Union comprising economics and finance ministers. The Council of the European Union must not be confused with the European Council (the meeting about which we were debating).
11th March 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on the EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank on loans for investment projects outside the EU.
"I am not an EU enthusiast at all but I can see even less justification for the EU to facilitate investments beyond its borders. In the case of countries in Eastern Europe, it can be seen as a bribe to lure them into becoming candidate countries and eventually surrendering their sovereignty.
"North African countries are not, of course, eligible to be members - at least under current rules but their receipt of investment is a sign that the EU is not so much a European Union as a Global Union in waiting.
"There will undoubtedly be people in the still crisis-ridden member states who will wonder why all such available money is not invested in them. The answer might be that investment will be much less effective when expansion is constrained by a currency that is overvalued for their economies.
"Withdrawal from the Eurozone will be a prerequisite for effective investment."