Tuesday, 17 November 2009

It's good to talk...

We wait with baited breath to hear whether Wales should have a Referendum and when that might be. Well,I say baited breath but we all know the findings of Sir Emyr's report will surely say "yes". And this is something I wholly applaud. It's most important that democracy is exhibited by actively asking the voterate what's important to them, and consulting them on key decisions. But how a referendum is orchestrated and how the campaigns are funded are also important factors. If campaigns are weighted or biased and twist and distort the facts,or the "No" campaign receives more prominence than the "Yes" campaign - the public are not actually free in the decision making process. Similarly the way that the question is worded carries significant weight. I will be following zealously every step in the campaign to see whether Wales can tread where Europe dare not venture : The Referendum.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Coming to a screen near you...

It's been a long time since I have been able to frequent the cinema but a new silverscreen advert kicking about at the moment might make the journey all the more worthwhile.

If you are popping down to the flicks in the near future it may be worthwhile making sure you're in on time to catch all the trailers. Why? Because this little piece of cinematic history may well be broadcast .

It's amazing that lobbyists such as the TPA are having to go to such extraordinary lengths to get the truth disseminated when we are supposed to have such a broadreaching media gifted with free speech. I hope that the advert awakens people to the financial implications of our membership and opens up to them the facts that are oft so keenly hidden from public scrutiny.

Also helping our case this week may be Herman Van Rompuy. He's now the frontrunner in the EU Presidential candidacy race, and is supposedly a hot pick with Sarko and Merkel. Why then would he help out us Eurosceptics?
Well according to The Telegraph
, Van Rompuy would like to see symbols of EU identity and membership plastered around the member states, including the Euro flag replacing current national symbols on licence plates and identity cards (oh yes, them!) and more EU paraphernalia such as flags and a National Anthem disseminated across the continent. Why would this please us? Well my feeling is this would be such an abhorrent development to the average Brit it would expose the EU and the Lisbon Treaty for what it is and send reverberations of discontent throughout the country. Discontent that I am still sure would be magnified were the plain and simple facts about EU membership given to the British public.

And if that wasn't enough, Herman is also keen on direct EU taxes! Bring on the Flem and we'll give you the bile!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Dow Corning

I was invited to visit the Dow Corning site in Barry on 13th November, the leading global supplier of silicone, to meet Peter Cartwright, the Executive Director of Environment, Health and Safety for the group internationally, and Dave Ott, the Barry site manager.

It’s the company’s largest and most technologically advanced site in Europe, employing around 600 people locally.

You may wonder what business I would have with a silicone supplier? Firstly the importance of silicone production should not be underestimated. They are used to manufacture basic everyday products in numerous fields from household goods, sealants, glues, medical products and sustainable technologies such as solar technology.

The site has grown rapidly over the last quarter of a century and has become a well known feature on the Bristol channel.

Like other heavy industries the cost of energy in the UK is creating challenges for the company. The process relies on steam power, which in itself is best forged by burning fuels rather than via the generation of electricity, then converted to heat. Thus energy sources which may appear more environmentally sustainable are not necessarily liable for use or the most efficient ways to support high productivity. The site uses natural gas, which they generate using their own on site power station. The natural gas burned must be imported and thus brings with it the tax of carbon credits. Energy and production costs far outweigh labour costs, but the impact of high energy prices in the UK drives many companies to move to industrial nations with more lenient restrictions and lower costs. We have already sent the effect the inability to broker affordable energy deals can have on industry in the UK through the closure of Anglesey Aluminium to the tune of some 540 jobs. The supply of energy and relative cost is the biggest obstacle for long term durability.

I asked them what they thought would be the best possible solution to the energy problem. They seem to be heavily embroiled in significant R&D investigating just this, alongside finding ways to channel efficiency, reduce by-products and commit as much waste as possible to recycling. It seemed to me that they were in support of Nuclear Power, something, I too, applaud.

Chemical engineering sites are large consumers of energy. However, for every tonne of carbon emissions, an equivalent two to four tonnes is saved by the function of the various products they manufacture. Ironically one of the highest consumers of energy through production is the manufacture of solar panels.

We discussed various alternatives for reducing costs, saving energy and maintaining a solid and loyal workforce and good community links in the area. We talked about the concept of anaerobic digestion as a manner of making biogas to burn, an idea WAG occasionally mull over. The UK is fast running out of natural gas. A lot of gas used here is shipped from overseas. The problem is these tankers can easily be diverted to the highest bidder and as supplies continue to tumble, the cost of guaranteeing an energy source is climbing steeply. It is not unknown for a tanker destined for your site to be diverted to a late bidder elsewhere in the world.

Couple this with extensive measures regarding climate change, environmental protection, competition laws, working rights, costs, liability and you begin to see the thorny regulatory landscape in which heavy industry resides. Harmonisation was a word used by the site manager, an American Dave Ott, to suggest what was needed to make the legislative minefield a far kinder habitat. As a global company, Dow Corning is at the mercy of various legislative giants. The Barry site alone must function within the remit of WAG, Westminster and of course Europe. REACH compliance, (Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) is also costly and the economic environment remains difficult for these big spenders. REACH will cost Dow Corning something in the region of $100 million over ten years To help lighten the burden the industry would welcome legislative changes, such as phased payment of fees to the European Chemicals Agency and low interest loans or tax credits to cover compliance costs. However the company also admits that internationally there perhaps has not been enough regulation until now. The key for the future is synthesising regulations to make the most cost effective and workable system for companies such as Dow Corning. In fact, the company are setting up a plant in China based on the site in Barry. The Chinese Government have welcomed the development and the high standard of regulations to which Dow Corning are adherent and are looking into adopting similar provisions for their domestic sites.

The European Silicon industry has established a regulatory consortium, CES, The Centre European des Silicones, which is also a sector group of the European Chemical Industry. The group have been lobbying to protect big industries in the wake of necessary legislation on climate change and development in the face of ever increasing productivity. Whilst environmental provisions are of course costly to implement, the company predicts the net outcome will eventually tip in their favour. By employing stringent energy saving measures, costs are eventually cut and efficiency increased, offering long term financial benefits.

So I am sure you can see a bit better why Politicians work alongside these big employers and producers. Not only do they employ large swathes of the local workforce and must be protected for this reason, they are the future of technological development and key features in our communities.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, being driven around the site and seeing in action the ingenious interlinked resourceful technologies employed to drive energy efficiency. Dow Corning revealed to me they would be meeting with other global manufacturers over the coming months from diverse sectors to discuss finding a likely recipient of their by-product, a dusty compound of waste silicon metal, perhaps in car manufacturing, cement mixing or even making household products. Already they exchange products and by products with the site next door, establishing an honourable recycling chain with a separate producer. This sort of symbiosis is a key feature of future success, with cooperation being the cornerstone of long term sustainability across the whole network of industry. What they want now is the legislative side to do the same.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

BEWARE! The Reform Agenda for Global Europe

I did my bit in Brussels yesterday on the latest controversy sweeping through the committees. A leaked document from the European Commission on the future of the EU budget spells out sinister intentions to siphon off cash for ambitious policy making on migration, climate change and foreign policy etc. Affording themselves extra flexibility, as they put it, or less accountability, as it will come to mean, our grotesquely huge contributions will go towards building a superstate while the pitiful rebate we do receive will eventually be phased out.

The agenda quite clearly makes things much worse for the UK. The Commission hopes to curtail agricultural payments and funding to regions with a low GDP. Now they're planning to go even more Robin Hood and take more money from "the rich" to give to "the poor". No wonder so many states are queuing to get in!Roll up! Roll up! The EU want to buy more friends and more power.

At the moment Wales gets around 2.7 million euros from 2007-2013 b, 11.8% of what the UK receives in convergence funding. The entitlement to cash comes because the west Wales valleys have a GDP below 75% of the EU average. Cornwall and North Yorks also cash thrown their way, for example. Well this will no doubt stop after the regional allocation of monies is stopped. Wales will be lumped in with the rest of the UK and Britain, who, as one of the largest contributors, will have to pay even more to get even less back.

And the increased money being poured into Brussels will only go to fund the development of this grotesque political beast.

The development of some 200 regions in 16 of the member states will be sacrificed like lambs to the slaughter at the altar of a United States of Europe. It's not that we think they should necessarily get the funding, we want out completely in order to handle our own money thank you very much!But in many of these communities, in which one third of the EU's population live, programmes and projects that have sprung up as a result of funding will now see the plug pulled financially. What will happen to the people involved? How would they like to hear that the fact that they have huge unemployment, poverty, failing industries and poor economies is of little concern to Brussels who are simply intent on taking money to pump in to political domination.

The point is nobody, not even the committees involved who are set to lose a huge chunk of their disposable income, have been consulted or even informed on the tyrannical decision to let the big boys play with the cash.

I'm just wondering whether the French will kick off if they lose their agricultural subsidies?

When I addressed Plenary on the 11th November in Brussels on the matter, I was in fact down to talk about unlimited EU migration (you have to submit what you will say before hand in completely undemocratic fashion). Gossip before the session was that the leaked doc would be brought up by a few MEPs, but by the looks of things, the issue was buried as those who did want to talk on the matter strangely didn't get called to speak. So I flipped my question at the last minute, took to the floor and brought up the matter of this toxic paper. As far as I'm concerned everyone in the EU, be they citizens or politicians, have a right to know about plans to spend their money being cooked up behind closed doors along the corridors of power.

The leaked document entitled "A reform Agenda for a Global Europe - Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe" proposes “a major refocusing of EU spending priorities, with more emphasis on ... a Global Europe…with less emphasis on agriculture and transfers towards well-off regions”.

The proposals, which suggest reducing funding to the richest states and removing focus from agricultural development, are at odds with the original aims of a European Union, which represented a trading alliance between Europe's biggest economies. The moves are likely to upset a number of member states across the EU.

And of course, the UK, one of Europe's biggest net contributors, will most likely have to give up more of the rebate and sacrifice remunerations currently received. It's for this reason, we, more than anybody else, should get out quick and stop the Eurocrats from sticking their hands further into our coffers.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

All the small things...

...Quickly add up! The Telegraph and The Express both report on the EU's flagrant wastes of taxpayers' money. The annual report on the EU’s accounts from the independent European Court of Auditors has sparked outrage and deservedly so. The watchdog passed the accounts for only the second time in the last 15 years stating that “Errors are a consequence of too complex rules and regulations. Simplification, therefore, remains a priority.”

The £12o billion pound annual budget was found to be riddled with frauds, mistakes and huge wastes.

The budget afforded projects such as a donkey that tours schools “creating a reflection of all European identities”.

Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe have also produced a report on 50 of the worst examples of EU waste.

British taxpayers contributed about £6.1billion this year.

The Express lists some of the most ludicrous examples of EU Waste. Here are some of my favourites:

£6million on a ‘year of intercultural dialogue’, including driving a donkey through Holland for children to pet. Nick-named Donkeypedia, a donkey was taken around the Netherlands to 'meet' primary schoolchildren, even 'blogging' on its way."
  • £340,000 on encouraging children to draw portraits of each other ‘in the name of European citizenship’.
  • £168,725 on an EU puppet theatre network in the Baltic states.
  • £145,422 on Irish Bar and Beach Club in Gibraltar.
  • £68,000 for Malmo in Sweden to create a virtual computer version of itself.
  • £2,215 for Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche’s hunting retreat in Bavaria, Germany.
  • £170 for a Swedish farmer to grow cannabis plants.
EU Puppet Theatre aptly describes our sad situation. The more you learn the more apparent the need to leave this wasteful, gratuitous organisation.

To see Open Europes 50 Ways To Lose Your Money, visit their website www.openeurope.org.uk
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Race for Pole Position

The Formula One Season came to an end a couple of weeks ago. Now the teams have returned to their garages and are working hard behind closed doors to try to gain an advantage over their opponents, defend their secrets and develop their strategies for the future. Which bums are in which seats is a highly contentious topic, as is what the various budgets should be and whether new teams should be allowed to join next year. It's much the same as what's going on in Europe. Temporary close of play came after the Treaty was ratified, but unlike the Formula One this was a far cry from a British success story.

The Formula One season is due to kick off again in March, and coincidentally, this could be the dawn of a new season in British and European Politics. If we get an early General Election, of which there has been much talk, who gets in and to what extent is of great interest to the teams themselves and to the overall Governing Body, in this case, Brussels. A poll in The Times suggests the number expecting a Tory overall majority has slipped from 57 to 50 per cent in the past month, the lowest level since the question was first asked in April. By contrast, the number expecting a hung Parliament with no overall majority has risen from 17 to 26 per cent. 65 per cent still expect the Tories to be the largest party, against 27 per cent for Labour. The Tories have suffered slightly from last week’s shift by Mr Cameron on Europe after the final ratification of the Lisbon treaty. Support for other parties has risen by two points to 14 per cent, with the UK Independence Party up from 2.3 to 4.3 per cent. Apart from the two months around June’s Euro elections, this is the highest level since 2005.

What the Times doesn't go on to say is how a hung parliament might be formed, who with and what this would mean for Europe.

Miliband jetted off to Berlin last night. He is clearly trying to get a foot in the door, no matter his protestations to the contrary. The irony is not so much that this slippery character looks set to jump ship before the Labour Party Boat sinks, but the fact that all the great and good of the EU used the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to discuss who should be their leader. On the same day that the world looks back at the final remnants of the Soviet Bloc being torn down and utters Cameron's shallow promise of "Never Again" the EU Communists are planning the next wave of passive global conquest.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Avoiding talking about the obvious...

It's been ratified, signed sealed and delivered and now the debate has turned into what could be done about it and what should be done about it. Should we just let bygones be bygones and brush it under the carpet? Should we try to unpick it bit by bit? Should we just have a Referendum on leaving altogether? The sad thing is while all this hot air continues to muffle the real debate, nothing will actually be done. Just to silence everyone wouldn't it be easier to just ask, once and for all, what the British people think? Just do it? It's the only way anyone of any opinion could even start to settle the debate. It's become a case of he says she says they think they disgagree but all of the debate is utterly futile if all we get are various meaningless polls, commissioned by people who know exactly what result they want when the questions are drawn up.
Sometimes the most obvious,most democratic of choices are distorted and twisted and misrepresented and overcomplicated and concealed by a small minority who believe they have the right to decide on behalf of everyone or have decided the general public are not educated enough or capable of making the right decision.
I accepted an invitation to appear on Dragon's Eye on BBC Wales last night. The hot topic was of course the Lisbon Treaty.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Child's Pay

News that we pay £24m to foreign children in benefits has not been widely reported, despite the shocking truth of the story.

Due to EU law, the children of migrant workers are entitled to the same minimum benefits as UK kids, or top-ups if their country's benefits system falls short of ours.
This mean kids in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania etc are receiving benefits from our country simply because one of their parents works here. They can receive the same amount as those in the UK, £20 a week, if their own country does not have a child benefits system, or top ups where there is one.

Figures from the Treasury show some 38,000 children in Poland receive benefits, or some 20%. That's one in five Polish kids. We are also paying for the support of 1,200 families in France, which if you ask me is sheer madness in a country that should well afford their own welfare state.

Perhaps Mr Johnson would like to apologise for this too?
(I don't often link to The Guardian but I thought it was quite novel to do so on this matter...)

As far as I can see we may as well just write a checque to Poland, although that wouldn't go down too well. Strange that the annual checque to the EU is somehow supported then, when this is the sort of lunacy that we pay for.

One might hope that they would apply a similar system in Abu Dhabi or Dubai and pay our expats to send money home here. I'd imagine they could afford it.
We can't.

If you think watching thousands and thousands of interest roll over as our national debt continues to increase is entertaining then knock yourself out at
Add that to the fact that:

The European Union costs us £65 billion gross every year, or about £1,000 each every year for every man, woman and child in the UK. And it increases every year.

Hustles in Cardiff

It was great being back in Wales before training across Europe to Brussels again this morning. It is essential for MEPs to keep their finger on the pulse of their constituency and here in Wales the Assembly Government similarly see the need to try to keep their fingers on the pulse of the EU.
So yesterday a day of meetings with the other 3 Wales MEPs culminated in a sit-down with Rhodri and Ieuan.
You may hope that behind closed doors we all get down and dirty with arguments and accusations but actually we simply get on. Certainly the finger pointing, strong words and harsh criticisms are what makes news, and the majority of mudslinging is done in, and for, the public eye.
But behind closed doors there's a bit of an unprecedented detente between the four Wales MEPs; largely focused around the one issue we all agree on, Structural Funds.

As I've said before Wales could be set to lose all European Funding post 2013, especially if new member states come in, and at the cost too of the Climate Change Budget (which the smaller member countries are already sking to be torn up and rewritten to a much larger tune). What we are hoping to secure is a continuation of EU funding, whether that be dressed up in carbon reduction or another EU formatted scheme, or whether it is transitional funding designed to gently curve the reduction of EU income plateauing out to retain some sort of EU income. Unfortunately what Westminster are pushing for is to scrap regionalization of funding and make it National. European Commission seem to agree. This would without doubt mean Wales would be bumped off the EU's list, despite suffering concentrated economic and social problems which currently make us a viable recipient of financial support. On this, we all agree.

As we sit on different committees and have fingers in different pies we are able to unify on this matter and tackle the problem from different angles. In many respects our varying interests and different political background make this Allied front all the more strong.

Funny then that this is something The Tories time and again don't get. As the Euroschism deepens in the party and Cameron backpeddles on his referendum promise, the green light has been given for UKIP's General Election Campaign. If you want that referendum, we are the only party to turn to.