19th March 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on "What future for Europol?"
"Europol, like many EU agencies, started in a modest way, with minimal powers but its range of powers and responsibilities have grown and will grow, gradually but steadily.
"We were initially told that it had neither powers of investigation nor arrest. Information could be given only when (and I quote), 'strictly necessary for preventing and combating crime'.
"It now seems that Europol has an 800 strong European Gendarmarie Force. What will be its role? Or is this an invention of your detractors?
"It now seems that Europol will have access to all information held by police forces, including that on victims, witnesses and others, not convicted or even suspected of offences".
"Europol co-operates with third countries. Presumably that involves passing information that it has received from member states to those third countries. We are assured that data protection principles will be observed but the member states will have lost control of that data and will not be able to ensure that data protection is observed.
"There is no doubt that as crimes become more international, so must investigations, arrests and preventative measures. However, theEU is not (yet at least) synonymous with international. Criminals do not restrict their activities to an EU Single Criminal Market. They go back and forth inside and outside the EU.
"In my view, international co-operation must be on an ad hoc basis, depending on the countries in which the activities being followed are conducted.
"What can Europol do that Interpol cannot do?
"Is Europol not duplicating Interpol functions with an eventual aim of having supervisory powers over national and regional police forces and even replacing them - yet another manifestation of ever closer union - not so much a policing objective as a federalist objective?"
Responses from Mr Rob Wainwright, head of Europol:
He said that it was not accurate to describe his organisation as a European Gendarmarie Force.
Andrew told him after the meeting that the term had originated with the Daily Mail. Andrew said that he would write to the writer of the article to clarify the issue.
Mr Wainwright said that he agreed that crime was a global issue and that Interpol played an important role.
* This was a major LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) hearing but UKIP's full member of the committee and its spokesman on Home Affairs was absent again. He hardly ever attends.
19th March 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) following presentations by Professor Weiler (of the European University Institute) and Mr Janis Emmanouilidis (of the European Policy Centre).
"Professor Weiler said that in all democracies voters had two choices to make: who will govern us; and how we shall be governed.
"Voters might want a third choice but to make it their first choice and instead of the other two. Voters might want to decide whether they want to be governed at all by the institutions on offer.
"The wish to make that choice might explain why turn-out has fallen despite the power of the EU as a whole and the power of the European Parliament having increased. Low turn-out could be read as a vote against being governed more and more by the EU - whether by the Parliament or by other institutions.
"We have been told that the 2014 European elections will provide the voters with a choice between alternative candidates for the Presidency of the Commission. This is undoubtedly a clever idea, originating from Professor Maduro, and based on the existence of permitted and approved-of European Political Parties.
"However, there are two problems:
"One is that there is no European electorate with a collective voting identity - no demos. There is a European cultural and over-lapping ancestral identity but that is not the same thing.
"The second problem is that the preparatory work has not been done and I would say the same thing, even if I were an enthusiast for the Project. I asked a group of retired professional people on a non-political occasion what they knew about European Political Parties. They knew nothing. I asked them what they knew about voters having the choice between different candidates for the Presidency of the Commission in the May elections. They looked at me even more blankly.
"They did know what the Commission was and who was its current President. There are many people in the UK who would not know that.
"My daughter reports that more than just one or two people, who when told that her father was a Member of the European Parliament have asked: 'What is that?'
"To sum up: will it be possible to translate the votes in the European elections into votes for one candidate for the Presidency who is considered to have received a plurality, if not a majority, of the vote? Voters for national parties will have to be discounted.
"Yes, but it will have been a vote that the voters will not know they have exercised. It will be a vote as though it was being cast in the dark, without knowing the wording on the ballot paper.
"Indeed, it will be like voting in the European Parliament when all of the votes have been changed in the middle of the night. In President Schulz's words when the Vice President, Mr Papastamkos collapsed, 'people will not know what they are voting for'."
18th March 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the vote that would follow on a new regulation for the registration and funding of European Political Parties.
"It is still undeniable that freedom of assembly, i.e. the registration and funding of political parties, will be dependent on their political programmes being approved of or disapproved of by the Political Class. It makes no difference whether the decision is taken by politicians directly or by an official or agency taking decisions on the basis of criteria laid down by the Political Class.
"Some of the so-called European values are indeed self-evidently right such as freedom of expression or freedom of association but these are routinely disregarded, not least in this regulation. Others, like non-discrimination, at least in its interpretation and scope, might be much more subjective.
"We have already seen how this procedure of registration and de-registration will be implemented. It can be seen from the first attempt to deregister groupings. That attempt was made without any reference to the grounds on which de-registration should take place. That is like calling for somebody to be arrested without specifying the charge."
18th March 2013: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) following a presentation from David Liddington, Minister of State for Europe in the British Government.
"As is well known, most of the modifications of the UK's relationship with the EU that you seek would require treaty changes and treaty changes can take place only by unanimous vote of all twenty-eight members. Have you any reason to believe that all of the other twenty-seven members are likely to give that consent?
"The answer is that this is just a wheeze to prevent the Establishment Safety Valve Party from taking your votes.
"However, don't worry, its role is just to occupy a space temporarily. It will disappear just as soon as it is no longer needed."