Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Voting Crime

Press Release John Bufton MEP for Wales


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Independent Drivers now laboured by un-necessary regulatory burdens because of EU hyper-regulation

John Bufton, UKIP MEP for Wales said today after a vote on the Bauer report:

“I’m really saddened that the Committee managed to get this piece of unnecessary regulation pushed through. The sort of bureaucracy being churned out by the EU is at the very least a gratuitous waste of time and money, and at worst a stranglehold on business and infringement of civil liberties.

“UKIP all voted to exclude independent drivers from this latest slice of EU over-governance. We are completely opposed to the uber-regulation coming out of Brussels and the barrage of laws made by a political class who know very little about earning a living in the real world.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that so many British MEPs voted in favour of these regulations, and would encourage those affected to challenge their local MEP on where they stood on this matter and who they believe they are actually representing – their constituents or the growing number of bureaucrats in Belgium.”

Notes to Editors:

Independent broadcast quality television and/or radio coverage of this story can be arranged free of charge via Quadrant. For TV interviews and other footage please contact Senior Producer Andrea Mott on 0032 (0) 496 381 402 or For radio coverage please contact Producer/Journalist Georg von Harrach on 0032 (0) 495 205 801 or

For further information, stills, or to arrange an interview with John Bufton MEP please contact:

Alexandra Phillips

Press Officer for John Bufton MEP

+44 7 888 66 7893

+4429 20 444 060“Hustles in Brussels

Cloaks and Daggers

Another month, another Parliament in Strasbourg and another mass migration from Belgium to Eastern France of MEPs, assistants, lawyers, journalists and trunks and trunks of paperwork.
On the agenda for June is the Working Time Directive, this time manifesting itself in the sector of self employed drivers. The controversial 48 hour working week posited by the Commission has been kept out of UK law for the last decade due to a veto in the area of social affairs and employment. Yet following the accession of a new Commissioner for Social Affairs last year, there is pressure, particularly from the member states who have adopted the EU’s stringent policy on working time, to force the UK to kowtow to Brussels.
Extending the working time directive to cover self employed people is nonsensical. The policy is sold on the premise of protecting employee’s rights and therefore has no place in a self-employed framework. Yet the Committee would have you believe it was a matter of safety, disregarding regulation 561 which already covers driving time and is applicable to both large companies, small businesses and the self employed. This is instead a matter of advancing this unpopular legislation sector by sector.

Everything directly related to the business would be considered part of Working Time, for example, paperwork, maintenance and general administration. In large firms people are employed to do this, therefore administration time has no impact on driving time. Self employed drivers however must do their own administration and would find under the directive’s conditions little time left to do the driving itself.
I raised this issue in Parliament and will most certainly be voting to maintain the directive as it currently stands, and continue to fight against the expansion of the Working Time Directive, which acts more as a stranglehold on independent firms and arguably the right for people to choose the hours that they wish to work.

Also on the agenda this month is a discussion about the Schengen Information System. The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 between five of the ten member states of the then European Community: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It allowed passport free travel between those countries involved and to date consists of 25 European countries, covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of more than one and a half square million miles. The UK as well as Ireland opted out of the agreement yet we do however participate in the Schengen Information System, which is a network of some half a million computers across the EU which share data on people, their movements and so forth in a bid to tackle the heightened possibility for crime that naturally come with border –free travel.

Currently Romania and Bulgaria are gearing up to ascend to the Schengen information system. Yet the question is whether adding more computers and more countries to the pack would jeopardise security further. Around a half of all computers at some point are victims of hacking. The booty for a computer criminal wishing to access such sensitive data is of course of immense value, and the more systems linked in, the greater the chance of access. Similarly, the passport free flow of people is not only convenient for businessmen and tourists traveling across the continent, but equally serves a growing population of traffickers and international crime lords. In order to combat this risk, the amount our everyday lives can be policed would most certainly have to deepen. Can we really be sure these countries are ready to adhere to the sort of technical standards demanded by such a sensitive system? Who will afford the development of their own networks? The current Schengen Information System relies heavily on the efficacy of each member state in monitoring and then sharing vital information. There is a great deal of trust involved, not only to do the job properly in each country, but to handle the data collected with respect and care.
Even though we never agreed to be part of Schengen, the necessity to cooperate with the information system due to visa free movement across the EU, means your data, as well as the data of people in 26 other countries, is accessible to people from Norway, to Greece and soon to Bulgaria and Romania.

Add to that a rather slimy rumour circulating the continental blogosphere about links between Jose Manuel Barroso, Commission President and EFG, Greece's No. 3 bank controlled by Greek billionaire Spiros Latsis on whose yacht Mr Barroso holidayed in recent times, a sin that saw even that nine-lived Mandelson lose his job, prior to another resurrection. This bank has been seemingly profiting from the Greek bail out
and Greece´s richest private banker, one Mr Latsis, who holds a 40 per cent stake in the Greece- Eurobank EFG Group.

And so I proposed during question hour a very reasonable question, that of whether this friendship could cause a conflict of interest. But just like a year 7 pupil trying to chastise the Headmaster, I was strictly informed that my question's insinuation was out of order and didn't warrant any sort of reply. A very cunning, and simple way to avoid sharing the true facts, one might assume.

Monday, 7 June 2010

- Politically speaking... with John Bufton, MEP

- Politically speaking... with John Bufton, MEP

A Tough Crowd, but they seem pleased enough

I've linked through to an article< I did for Wales Home, a popular largely political website where I will now have a monthly column.

Similarly I write regularly in the County Times, (see the post above) the Mid Wales Journal, Wrexham Evening leader, Abergavenny Chronicle and Cambrian news. Rather than rehash those columns, I will simply refer to them using the blog. Apologies for not updating sooner, but as you can tell I have been kept busy scribing for other publications|!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Friends in London, enemies in Brussels?

It seems we are still in the post election honeymoon period, with right and left wing newspapers desperate for ructions in the corridors of power at Westminster. But dig as they may, the Number Ten Press machine has so far successfully managed to hold the majority of criticisms at bay. But as soon as a sneeze goes unblessed a troupe of eager lobby reporters will splatter the pages with rumours and suggestions.

But perhaps they are barking up the wrong tree. A more fractious relationship is likely to be found in Brussels, where two sets of MEPs inhabit very different political groups in the European Parliament. Friends in Westminster but enemies in Europe makes little sense.

The Eurozone financial crisis is already causing ructions between Europhiles and Europhobes and rich and the poor member states, and could also see a face off between the Tories and the Lib Dems. Germany, always the stalwart of cooperation in Europe, are becoming increasingly vocal about bail outs and dependence on German prosperity. They do, afterall, have to host Eurovision next year!

The Greek bail out saw the invocation of Article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty, which cites natural disasters and exceptional circumstances as justifications for bailing out an ailing member state. Greek fiscal flippancy rather stretches the interpretation and application of this legislation, and would likely require a switch from unanimous to qualified majority voting over future bail-outs. This would amount to a stitch up for countries without the Euro, outnumbered by Eurozone states 16 to 11. The question is whether this would demand re-ratification of the constitutional treaty, something the Commission would hope to waiver at all costs, and the event of which would place the pen firmly in the hand of William Hague. It would bring the main bone of contention for the Westminster coalition to the fore: our relationship with the EU. Cameron’s pledge to offer referenda on certain European legislation could well be put to the test.

Europe’s President, Herman Van Rompuy, has come out with rather spectacular comments about the nature of single currency, suggesting European citizens were ill informed that sharing a single currency was more than just making life easier when doing business or travelling abroad. In his own words he stated that “Being in the euro zone means, monetarily speaking, being part of one ‘Euroland’.” I hate to say we told you so, but we did.

But it’s not just the single currency that drags a country’s politics down into a common quagmire of Uber-governance. The £470billion in taxpayer-funded loans or guarantees is yet to quell the financial haemorrhaging of certain Eurozone countries and is having a knock on effect on Britain, shaving some £33billion pounds off the face value of British companies as the markets continue to bet against the Euro and our main trading partners. The old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket is startling apparent.

On top of this Britain is likely to face a new wave of EU migration as plans to pass visa free movement of Bosnians and Albanians are awaiting clearance from the European Parliament. Just as the new Government draws up plans on immigration, job creation and so forth, the likelihood of unpredicatable numbers of jobless eastern Europeans coming our way underpins the fragility of UK sovereignty in the face of an increasingly federalist EU.

However, there is also some more positive news emanating from Brussels this week. First of all, a victory on the situation of electronic identity tagging for sheep, the costly and complicated scheme forced upon farmers at a time when agriculture is suffering under the weight of recession. I campaigned long and hard to block the legislation, and then mitigate its affects after it was steam-rolled through. There will be a three year amnesty on cross compliance penalties to allow farmers to adjust to the new system. A small, but very important, victory for Wales.

And on the same note another success came in the news that proposals I fought on removing legislation allowing independent car repairers access to technical information have been scrapped. This means car manufacturers cannot use warranties to bind you to dealerships. Small independent garages must by law have access to all the data and parts they need to repair your vehicle. Without this important exemption in competition regulation for the motor industry, you would find yourself bound to taking your car to costly dealerships for repair where manufacturers could charge whatever they want for maintaining your vehicle.

Protecting UK interests in Europe is rather like practising your serve at the tennis club. Increasing numbers of shots are fired at a faster and faster pace, and all we can do is just keep slogging them out of court.