Honeyball’s weekly round-up

Labour Party

Tougher consumer rights, introduced on 13 June, will give more protection to customers making purchases online. The new rules, which come from a European Union directive made in 2011, will also put an end to exorbitant credit card fees set by retailers for those making purchases online. And it will give consumers a 14 day cooling off period after they’ve made a purchase in which they can change their mind. The job for the Commission will be to ensure the new rules are properly enforced.

Consumer groups such as BEUC, the European consumers’ organisation, are hopeful this will spell an end to “many everyday consumer headaches to do with dodgy online business practices,” said BEUC’s Director General Monique Goyens.

The Commission is well aware that it will have to ensure the legislation is properly enforced, as Neven Mimica the Commissioner for consumer affairs said that “enforcement action would be a priority”. You can read more here (N.B. You must register for free to read the article in full.)

Alan Johnson was interviewed for the latest edition of New Statesman. During the interview he talks about Theresa May’s disloyalty, calling some of her most recent actions ‘despicable.’

He also offers views on men who wear cufflinks but not double cuffs: “Never trust them”, he says. Sage advice, perhaps!

But it’s his views on disadvantaged young people that are most striking. He suggests that it’s unlikely that anyone can ‘come in like I did’. Meaning it is unlikely that anyone from a similar background to his own would ever get elected to Parliament today. What a terrible concern to think that Parliament may continue to be dominated by and be the preserve of white, middle class, men.

Johnson was interviewed by the Statesman as his memoirs are published to critical acclaim (he has already won the Orwell Book prize for political writing and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prize.) You can read his interview in the latest issue, more details here.

As the debate over Jean-Claude Juncker continues the Telegraph’s James Kirkup observed a ‘despondent Cameron’ last week. Kirkup said of Cameron: “David Cameron sounded like a man expecting defeat over the fight to stop Jean Claude Juncker becoming head of the European Commission. ‘I will go on thinking its wrong right up until the end,’ he said. Mr Cameron’s despondency follows signs of a change of heart in Berlin. Angela Merkel, previously lukewarm about Mr Juncker, is now said to be fully supportive.

“Failing to block Mr Juncker would be a disappointment for Mr Cameron, as his gloomy demeanour today demonstrated: the PM has staked a lot of capital on blocking the man he regards as a champion of old-school federalism.”

As I’ve stated previously Cameron’s negotiating efforts over the issue of the Commission President have been less than satisfactory. He has comprehensively failed in his attempts to stop Juncker and has let us down over this.


Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Parity in the content and quality of sex education across Europe continues to vary widely. And as Dave Keating reveals in the latest issue of European Voice, it doesn’t just vary from country to country but also can vary widely within them.

I was surprised to read that there remains such a great divide between those countries which do educate their young people and those who still don’t.

The report found, unsurprisingly, that Nordic and Benelux countries have the highest levels of education while eastern and southern countries (with the exception of Spain and Portugal where there has been vast improvement) hardly touch on the subject.

The responsible teaching of sex education is so important because, as the report finds, there is a direct correlation between the education and rates of HIV infection. You can read more on the report and the full article in the latest issue of European Voice here.

Meanwhile back in the UK it’s another week and yet more confusion of the coalition governments position on Europe.

In two separate interviews today, Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, contradicted themselves once again- it did at least provide an indication of how deep the fracture is running.

First the Work and Pensions Secretary said: ‘that a significant EU treaty change should trigger a referendum’. At the same time Nick Clegg said that a single change, even if significant, did not require voters to be consulted.

German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on tomorrow (Monday) to ‘thrash out a plan to save the euro ahead of the EU summit on Thursday,’

As the fracture continues to gather pace so Duncan Smith continue to make ridiculous and sweeping statements which only serve to reveal a greater lack of understanding than we could ever have given him or his party credit for.

He even suggested that if the summit leads to a treaty renegotiation, the prime minister should use it to demand repatriation of powers to Britain from Brussels… and we know that’s almost impossible to achieve.

You can read the full story in the Guardian online here.