4th October 2011: This week Andrew Brons is in Brussels for meetings of his committees. Yesterday afternoon he spoke during a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) discussing the oversight of European Union security and intelligence agencies. He said: "My default position is that I am not easily persuaded of the need for any European Union institutions at all - still less of the need for EU security bodies. However, given that they exist, there must be democratic oversight of them. In the context of EU security bodies, the European Parliament would seem to be the appropriate body to oversee them. However, the oversight of national security bodies should remain the responsibility of national Parliaments. (There must be no European Union mission creep). The question of access, by MEPs to classified material, has been raised. I should have thought that oversight would involve scrutiny of procedures rather than of substantive security information - of methods used and not of particular targets of surveillance or of material collected. It would appear from the report that the carefully selected MEPs with such access to classified material would be chosen by the leaders of the political groups and (by implication) from the political groups, which means that we members of the non-attached* would not be eligible. We are, by implication, not to be trusted. Earlier, in this meeting, in response to a point made by Philip Claeys (above-centre), our President said that the Non-Inscrit* were not second class members of the Parliament. I agree with him; second class is a status to which we can only aspire!" * The Non-Attached or Non-Inscrit are those MEPs who are not members of the recognised political groups which must comprise no fewer than twenty-five members to be recognised.
29th September 2011: Yesterday evening Andrew Brons contributed to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on a proposed amendment to the regulation regarding public access to EU documents (transparency) The MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber said: "It is all very well to allow people generally, 'the public' to take the initiative to look for documents. In practice, it will only be informed people: pressure groups; academics; and journalists who will avail themselves of this right. Even these might not know that there was a document to look for. "In the Short Justification of the Rapporteur's (Former Finnish Prime Minister, Anneli Jäätteenmäki) Draft Opinion, she said, 'the rapporteur stresses that transparency is not only a matter of passive reactions by EU institutions but how it also requires a proactive approach'. Does this mean that the European Parliament should take the initiative to bring documents to the attention of interested parties?" Mrs. Jäätteenmäki replied that it would be a good idea to have a register (of documents) but that (the European Parliament) was not ready for that yet.
29th September 2011: A Preparatory Meeting* of the EU-Croatia Delegation was held yesterday evening at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. At the meeting Andrew Brons asked the Croatian Ambassador to the European Union, Mr. Branko Baricevic, about the planned referendum on accession to the EU. Mr. Baricevic said that he expected the referendum to be held either at the end of January or the beginning of February, although he could not be certain about the date. Andrew asked what guarantees there were to ensure that the referendum was conducted freely and fairly. Would there be umbrella bodies on either side with limits on expenditure? Mr. Baricevic said that there would be neither. Andrew then asked him if it would be fair to describe the referendum as 'unconstrained'. Mr. Baricevic said that the referendum would be conducted according to ordinary Croatian law on referendums and that there would not be any special legislation. Andrew was asked by a Croatian lady MP if he would withdraw his intention to go to Croatia during the referendum campaign. Andrew replied that he would go to Croatia if he were to be invited. * Preparation meeting for the 14th EU-Croatia Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting in Brussels in October
29th September 2011: This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. He told MEPs: "There are two problems with the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: 1. that it provides the European Union with a responsibility that member states could much more appropriately fulfil themselves; and 2. that it recognises that Globalisation wreaks havoc with people's livelihoods but the EU does nothing to address the cause of the problem, which is Globalisation itself. Globalisation moves manufacturing from high labour-cost countries to low labour-cost countries and floods the West with goods from those countries, destroying our manufacturing bases and taking the jobs of our workers. It would be very difficult to compete with low wage economies without reducing our wage rates to the levels in those countries. We might hope to use technology in an attempt to compete but our technology is often exported to countries that compete with us or it is bought and copied infringing the Western manufacturer's patent rights. The countries of Europe must, individually or collectively (I would prefer individually) protect their industries and peoples from ruin and impoverishment."