Liberal Democrats gear up for Euro campaign

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Liberal Democrats in Tameside have picked Euro-MP Chris Davies to lead their campaign to hold on to their European parliament seat.

The list was chosen by party members in a postal ballot. Chris will be joined by businesswoman Helen Foster-Grime, economics professor Jo Crotty and community activist Qassim Afzal on his team of candidates for the eight places up for grabs in Brussels.

In 2009 the North West of England constituency returned 3 Conservative MEPs, 2 Labour and one each of the Lib Dems, UKIP and the BNP.

Chris Davies has represented Tameside in Brussels since 1999. He is the environment spokesman for the 85 Liberal Democrat MEPs from across the EU. He claims credit for introducing a billion euro funding mechanism that is supporting research into new renewable energy technologies.

Chris said “I’ve been proud to have represented the people of the North West in the EU for 13 years and I want to use this experience to drive forward environmental improvements and promote EU reform.

“Firms across Tameside depend on the EU for access to markets and thousands of jobs here depend on us staying as members. If UKIP got their way and we pulled out, any benefit we got by reducing our membership fee would be wiped out and more by the jobs we would lose to countries like China.”

Often outspoken, the MEP has campaigned for a change in the law to allow patients suffering intolerably to seek medical help to die. His call for drugs to be decriminalised and for their supply to be taken out of the hands of criminals will also be an issue for opponents of the Lib Dem team.

MEP crowned UK ultra distance running champion

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Tameside Euro-MP Chris Davies has been crowned UK over-50 ultra-distance running champion for 2012.

The national ‘Runfurther’ championships take account of the best four results in a series of up to 12 off-road races over distances of between 31 and 61 miles.

Davies (58) took a commanding lead after winning outright a 56 mile Peak District race in September, and securing one of the best ever times for his age in a 50 mile Yorkshire race last month.

He finished the season in fifth position overall and first in the over-50 category.

The Liberal Democrat MEP, who is a member of Saddleworth Runners and has been competing since he was 14, describes himself as “just a good club runner”.

Chris Davies said:

“I’ve never had the speed of the great runners but I seem to be able to just keep going when others start to fade.  It’s what every Liberal Democrat has to do to survive in politics!

“So far my old knees haven’t let me down.  Maybe that’s because these days I do most of my training in a gym, either in the basement of the European Parliament or in Greenfield, the village where I live.”

Davies presses for more EU rules to save money

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies is calling for an EU law to be toughened up to help cut energy use and save money. 

He  told the European Parliament’s environment committee today that the EU’s 2009 Eco-Design Directive was forcing manufacturers to introduce more efficient electrical devices.

The law sets new standards for a growing range of products, and bans the sale of equipment that does not comply.

Chris said: “EU rules come in for plenty of criticism but this one is driving forward industrial innovation, promoting more efficient design and saving people money.”

The improvements being promoted by the law are expected to reduce EU electricity use by as much as is generated by more than 60 coal power stations.

EU cuts mobile charges again

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Using your mobile phone abroad will be cheaper from this summer after MEPs voted to cut roaming charges again.  The new limits set in the European Parliament mean phone calls will cost no more than 28p per minute, while the cap on SMS charges is down to 8p per message.

For the first time, there will also be a cap on the amount charged for using data services abroad. MEPs managed to negotiate a much lower price ceiling than originally proposed, limiting the cost of using one megabyte of data to
67p, falling to 18p by July 2014.

Tameside Euro MP Chris Davies voted for the new package of cost cutting measures.

He said, “Everyone relies on being able to use their phones whether they are at home or away on business trips or on holiday.

“With the price of everything else increasing it is good that MEPs have taken action to keep the cost of keeping in touch down within the borders of the EU.

“With the proliferation of iPads and with people needing to access the internet wherever they go, the new limits on data charges will bring relief from shocking bills for millions of holidaymakers and travellers.

“If mobile providers were prepared to be responsible there would be no need for this legislation but as long as big companies want to rip off consumers the EU will step in.”

Davies says ‘No’ to new internet law

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Tameside Euro-MP Chris Davies is joining his European Liberal colleagues to defeat legislation that could reduce internet freedom. The Lib Dem group in the European Parliament holds the swing 84 votes to ensure that ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) will not make it through the Brussels based assembly.

The law was intended to prevent illegal downloading and copying of films and music but concerns were expressed by free speech campaigners that ACTA could have been used by Government’s to crack down on everyday internet use.

European internet users have been lobbying MEPs against the proposed new law that could have affected the way Tameside people surf the web.

Said Davies, “I have had thousands of emails from all over the North West about ACTA and its potential impact on ordinary internet users.

“Piracy of copyrighted work is wrong but there are better ways of fighting it than making criminals out of everyone who goes online.

“I’m pleased that my political colleagues agree with my constituents that ACTA could have restricted freedom and should be thrown out.”

Save the bee, says Tameside MEP

“Gardeners could be using pesticides on this year’s flowers that mean that next year there won’t be any flowers at all.”

Garden and farm pesticides accused of leading to the death of bees should be banned, says our local Lib Dem MEP.

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies is calling for the European Commission to take urgent action to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides after new scientific reports confirmed links between their use and the decline in bee numbers.

Pesticides containing neonicotinoids are widely available in garden centres and do not carry warning labels about their potential effect on bee numbers.

Environmental campaigners are calling for direct action against garden centres that continue to sell the products.

They want shoppers to cause confusion by taking boxes of neonicotinoid pesticides to the till in Garden Centres and then refusing to pay for them.

But Davies says the whole of Europe should follow the example of France and Germany where restrictions on the chemicals have been introduced.

The MEP has cross-party backing for a study into the consequences of a ban to be carried out, and is insisting that the Commissioner concerned must respond to the issue in the European Parliament.

Davies said: “Bees are not only a much-loved part of garden life but vitally important to farmers.

“Gardeners could be using pesticides on this year’s flowers that mean that next year there won’t be any flowers at all.”

Latest research appears to confirm that neonicotinoid pesticides weaken the resistance of bees, leaving them vulnerable to other threats that they would normally survive.

UKIP challenged over “dodgy” maths

“Only in the crazy world of UKIP does the average taxpayer earn well over £1 million per year.”

Latest Treasury figures have revealed claims made by UKIP about the costs of EU membership to be a “complete fabrication”, Tameside’s Lib Dem Euro-MP says.

MEP Chris Davies has accused UKIP of making up figures that suggest that EU costs are 50 times higher than that paid by the UK Treasury. He has challenged UKIP’s Tameside MEP Paul Nuttall to explain his “dodgy maths” in public.

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Chris said: “UKIP must explain why its sums don’t add up.  There is a debate to be had about getting value for money from the EU, but there cannot be serious discussion with people who make up the figures as they go along.”

A draft Treasury letter that is due to be sent to every taxpayer shows how the money raised through taxes is spent.  It reveals that the UK’s net contribution to the EU costs a taxpayer earning the average £26,000 per year just £51, or less than £1 per week.  The figure compares to interest payments on the national debt that cost the same person £548 per year, and a welfare bill that requires average taxes of £3,537.

Administration costs for the UK government alone, at £172 per person, are three times higher than the entire contribution to the EU.

UKIP have claimed that our EU cost is £2,516 per year for the average taxpayer, but calculations made by Davies have shown that this is the amount that would be paid by someone earning £1,291,710 in salary.

Said Davies, “Only in the crazy world of UKIP does the average taxpayer earn well over £1 million per year.

“UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall has already had to apologise for one invented press story this year.  Will he now accept my challenge to explain why the Treasury has got it wrong or will he also apologise for his latest false claims?”

Tameside Euro-MP wins massive victory

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

A Tameside MEP yesterday won a key vote in the European Parliament that will help shape Britain’s economic future

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies secured cross party support for controversial plans to develop a low carbon economy.

By a margin of 3-1, MEPs backed the ‘Davies report’ intended to combat climate change and promote industrial investment.

It endorses plans by the European Commission to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 80% over the next four decades, with milestones to be reached along the way.

The Commission’s ‘Roadmap’ has the support of the British Government and that of 25 other nations. Although formal acceptance has been blocked by Poland, the vote by MEPs means that the Commission can now introduce specific proposals that must each be judged on their merits.

Davies admitted that securing cross-party agreement had required tough negotiations and difficult compromises. He acknowledged that the wrong decisions could put future jobs at risk.

He said: “But get it right and we will promote investment, technological innovation and new employment. It will be a cleaner, safer, more secure world.

“Europe cannot solve the world’s problems by itself but changes are happening fast and are inevitable. The more we do now the cheaper it will be in the future.

“Either we take a lead in promoting a low carbon economy or we will get left behind as the Asian economies exploit the opportunities and take a technological lead.”

Chris Davies received warm congratulations for his work from Europe’s Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.

EU rule breakers left with egg on their faces over battery hens

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Tameside Lib Dem Euro-MP Chris Davies has received a personal assurance from the European Commission that countries which do not comply with new welfare rules for laying hens will be closely investigated and, if appropriate, taken to court.

Under intense political pressure from Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, the Commission confirmed its commitment to put in place infringement procedures as of January 2012.

Davies met with EU Commissioner Dalli to push for swift actions against any country ignoring the new EU ban on battery cages.

Davies said, “It is great news that the Commission refuses to postpone the legal deadline for a ban of battery  cages for chicken and will hold to account countries who try and cheat.

“The Commission must also support those countries such as the UK who are using every means at their disposal to try and ban illegally produced eggs from entering their markets.

“Egg farmers in Britain and other countries that have met the new standards must not face competition from those with less concern for animal welfare.

“Until a full ban on illegal eggs and egg products is put in place, consumers can take care to only buy products labelled free range or organic with regard to their egg content.”

According to EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli, inspection teams will start their investigations in targeted EU countries as of January 2012 to collect evidence of non-compliance to back up the prosecution when it goes to court.

Davies pointed out that the Commissioner will be limited in what he can do. Davies said, “When I met him, John Dalli pointed out that he has no police force and no army.  He only has court processes and sometimes these take time!”

In the UK, Defra has revealed that 30 UK farms still use battery cages for up to 500,000 laying hens. However, the Government announced that it expected full compliance with the new hen welfare law by February and would prosecute any farmers using battery cages after this date.

Nuttall insults war dead

UKIP chairman Paul Nuttall has been accused of insulting the memory of those who fought for freedom in two world wars by describing the EU symbol as “a flag of occupation.”

Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP who represents the same North West region in the European Parliament, claimed that the words amounted to xenophobia and were unacceptable.

Davies said, “This is grossly insulting to the memory of all those who died in the two world wars of the 20th century.

“Whatever people may think of the European Union as an organisation, no-one can deny that it was created by people determined to ensure such tragic and unnecessary conflicts could never happen again.

“Like every part of government the European Union is imperfect, but it is a voluntary partnership between 27 countries committed to the principles of democracy, freedom and justice.  It exists to ensure that conflicts between nations that in the past led to the bloody deaths of millions can instead be resolved by peaceful means.

“In his desire for publicity Paul Nuttall should try and be mature enough never to pander to xenophobia of the most vile kind.”