7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons intended to make the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the European Economic and Social Committee . . . however the debate didn't take place.
Andrew would have said:
"A body that claims to represent economic and occupational interests in an assembly could have all sorts of interesting labels attached to it. Syndicalist would be one of the more politically acceptable ones. Another might create the danger of shock and awe. F-words are always to be avoided in polite company.
"However, leaving the ad hominem abuse aside for the moment, does it perform a useful function? Does it provide value for money?
"It is essentially an intermediary between the institutions of the EU and interests that were already organised and articulate. There is always a danger that intermediaries will not pass on advice, claims and requests, accurately.
"There is also a danger that pleas from interests that were not approved of might be qualified or changed."
7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons had intended to make the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the Committee of the Regions . . . however the debate was not allowed to take place.
Andrew would have said:
"We are used to power - or competences as you would call them - being transferred to the European Union.
"In some cases, the power at EU level is really wanted for exercise there. In others, there is a suspicion that the motivation is not so much to empower the EU as to weaken the nation state.
"The principles of subsidiarity and proximity are often seen as Pro-Nation State principles and sometimes rightly so. However, they can also be used to weaken the nation state from below by encouraging the retention or return of powers to a sub-national level.
"Encouragement of regional devolution that might so easily lead to independence could be seen as an attack on the Nation State from a different direction."
7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate, held in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) about whether the Co-ordinators* were right or wrong to disallow two debates that had been tentatively placed on the agenda. The disallowed debates would have been on proposals from Philip Claeys (Vlaams Belang) and Marine le Pen (FN) for the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee to be abolished.
"The President seemed to say that the debates could not take place because the abolition of these institutions would require treaty change. However, we had a debate on the Rangel Report which asked us to consider whether we wanted to have a Presidential system involving direct election of the President of the Commission (and treaty change) or a Prime Ministerial system that would not require treaty change.
Mr Duff, an English Liberal Democrat, said that it would be inappropriate to have a debate in AFCO on these matters and said that any such debate should take place in a convention. He began by seeming to suggest that only debates about proposals involving treaty changes in a federal direction would be justified."
"Is Mr Duff suggesting that debates could be held if they led in a federal direction but not if they led in an anti-federal direction?"
Mr Duff said that he was only teasing when he said that. However, it is not always possible to detect subtle ironies in Mr Duff's deliveries.
Indeed the meeting had a very poor attendance, because most members thought that campaigning for the forthcoming elections was more important than doing what they were paid for.
* The Co-ordinators are the leaders of the different political groups. However, it appears that at this Co-ordinators' meeting there were no representatives from the Socialists and Democrats, the European Conservatives and Reformists, Confederation of European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and the Greens. A representative for the EFD was present for only the first few minutes. It seems that the meeting comprised mainly PPE (European People's Party); ALDE (Liberals) and Europe for Freedom and Democracy (for a little while). It is not really acceptable to take such an important decision to be taken at such a depleted co-ordinators' meeting.
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."