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."
11th March 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, to a debate held in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the Casini Report on relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments.
"It might be tempting for those, like me, who are anything but enthusiastic about the EU to abstain from these votes or absent oneself from a debate such as this.
"However, I am a pragmatist and I understand my mandate well enough to know that my 2009 voters would prefer to see a less-integrated EU than a more integrated one.
"They would prefer to have more powers retained by member states than fewer powers retained - more subsidiarity rather than less subsidiarity.
"They would prefer the role and status of national parliaments not to be eclipsed by the European Parliament.
"They would prefer to see less centralised economic governance than more.
"They would prefer a pragmatic and incremental approach rather than an absolutist zero-sum approach.