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.
11th 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 equality between men and women in 2012.
"The Explanatory Memorandum, from Mrs Zuber, starts by referring to the effects of the austerity measures in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. There is evidence that women are suffering disproportionately from the austerity measures. However, all workers - including men - are suffering from these measures.
"The urgent need is to end the austerity programmes and membership of the Eurozone that they sustain.
"When those countries benefit from an export-led expansion, following exit from the Eurozone, there will be prosperity to be divided fairly between men and women, which must happen. To seek to divide austerity fairly, is to exonerate the architects of austerity measures from their responsibility and distract attention from the cause of people's suffering."