European Movement in London

Labour Party

Last week I spoke to the London Branch of the European Movement about my work as a London MEP. Many thanks to Petros Fassoulas pictured standing. Petros is a passionate advocate of the European cause. I am grateful to him  and John Preston (far right in picture below) for organising the meeting. Petros has arranged a schedule of meetings with several of my fellow London MEPs speaking. I would recommend joining these events for anybody interested in European politics, you will be sure of a warm welcome from my experience.

I spoke about my work on women and culture – familar subjects for readers of this blog. However, the European budget was the subject which attracted most interest. I was pleased to meet Liberal Democrat Dinti Batstone who talked about the need to increase women’s representation. Pictured in orange is Eva Eberhardt an EU gender expert who was keen for a more positive campaigning role on European issues.

Many of those present were keen to see  a referendum on Europe as they were confident that any referendum could be won. They also considered this would once and for all close down debate on Britain’s role in Europe. It was very enjoyable to be cross examined on European politics by such a well informed audience, my thanks for the invitation.

This is an appropriate post to mention in passing that the Labour Movement for Europe will be having their AGM on Monday 13th December at 6pm in Committee Room 5 of the House of Lords.

Goodbye to Glenys Kinnock

Labour Party

Glenys Kinnock

Though it’s great news for Glenys Kinnock and I wish her all the best with her new portfolio,  I have to admit I’m not leaping up and down with joy at the prospect of losing her as Minister for Europe.  Although in post for only four months, Glenys did make an impact, and from the point of view of Labour MEPs, Glenys was a breath of fresh air after other holders of the post who knew little about the subject.  For once we had a Minister for Europe who not only understood the brief, but was totally committed to it.  As a former MEP who had worked tirelessly in the European Parliament, Glenys was a Minister of Europe to die for.  It’s a huge shame she has, indeed done that, metaphorically speaking, and it’s our loss.  I do, of course, wish Glenys all the very best in her new role as Minister for Africa and Asia.  International development is Glenys’s passion and in that sense it is the job for her.Bryant  

I would at the same time welcome the new Europe Minister Chris Bryant who himself has excellent European credentials.  A former Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe and BBC executive in Brussels, he is no newcomer to the European scene.  Chris will, I know, be a good Minister and we will all work closely with him.

Live blog from Labour Movement for Europe Fringe meeting

Labour Party

lme 001Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century along with the battle against global poverty.  So it was with a mix of interest in the subject and sadness about the results of the European Elections last June that I went to the Labour Movement for Europe (LME) fringe meeting at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton this lunchtime.

Chaired by former MEP Richard Corbett, one of the select band who have kept the LME going over the years, we discussed the Copenhagen targets on climate change, including the contribution made by Gordon Brown. Glenys Kinnock spoke first, and was as passionate and lucid as ever; she is an excellent Minister for Europe respected by all of us.

It is regrettable that President Obama has shown very little commitment to climate change and  no firm commitment on levels of finance.  On the other hand the European Union has promised a  20 per cent cut in greenhouse emmisiions by 2020, and the  EU will up this if the Copenhagen discussions come up with higher targets.  The money for this must be new money – Gordon Brown in very clear on this.  Europe must also act together.

Glenis lme2 001Willmott was the second speaker with Richard Howitt with his purple tie taking the fouth slot.  Where else would you fiind a platform of two Richards and two Gleni(y)ses?  Is this a metaphor for Europe hedging its bets or maybe an example of European consensus?

Glenis told us how Labour has taken the lead on climate change  and has worked to persuade the other parties to come on board.  The Heads of EU Governents eventually agreed their targets, including 20 per cent of EU energy coming from renewable sources.  This was no thanks to the Tories who would almost certainly not have pursued the climate change agenda.  The Tories have, as we all know, left the mainstream EPP to join a bizarre group of right-wing misfits, including climate change deniers from the Czech Republic.  Tory MEPs do not support measures to deal with climate change when voting in the European Parliament.

And finally, Richard Howitt.  All of us were with Richard when he siad just how much he misses Richard Corbett in the European Parliament.  Along with Glenis Willmott, Richard paid tribute to Linda MacAvan who led for the Socialist Group on the climate change negotiations, making a real impact on our behalf in working to introduce the EU targets.  As the Labour MEP for the East of England, Richard explained how European money had hepled Lowestoft with its water shortage problems, showing how Europe has a concrete effect at local level.

As EPLP Spokesperson on Foreilme2 003gn Affairs, Richard explained how Foreign Affairs is becoming more and more about climate change.  Conflict now is as much about water as oil or security issues.  The European Global Climate Change Alliance working with developing countries shows the way things are moving.   The EU has come into its own over climate change.  Global problems require international solutions.