e-news 27th November 2014

Wow! It’s been a busy fortnight as this edition of e-news documents. Molly has spent this last week in Strasbourg, where the Parliament meets every 4 weeks in plenary sessions. These sittings represent the culmination of the legislative work done in committees and political groups and involve voting on amendments and legislative resolutions.

Pushing for an inquiry into ‘LuxLeaks’
Molly has taken a lead within the Green Group in campaigning to get enough signatures to force an inquiry into the so called ‘LuxLeaks’ tax avoidance scandal. To force an inquiry requires 188 MEPs to sign a petition. In particular, the Greens are targeting the Socialists and Democrats – which include 20 Labour MEPs. Molly says:

“This is an ideal opportunity for Labour MEPs to support a crackdown on tax evasion. We want Junker to Act Or Go. Will Labour MEPs and their Socialist and Democratic colleagues in the European Parliament support us in taking on powerful vested interests?”

Is your bank guilty of the Seven Deadly Sins?
On the day Pope Francis spoke to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Molly launched a Green website called the Seven Deadly Sins of Banking [update: the site was closed after two years].
Like the pontiff, she also had an opportunity to speak to the whole parliament, though only for 90 seconds! During her short speech she said:

“The two most important causes of the financial crisis have still not been addressed: first, we need a clear-cut separation of retail from casino banking activities; secondly, we need to reduce the size of individual banks so that no single financial corporation can threaten the global financial system.”

The new website has been very positively received and Molly urges everyone to use it to assess the performance of their own bank or building society.
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Banking ruling
Molly has welcomed the fact that the UK government has dropped its case against the European Court of Justice over bankers’ bonuses. Greens were the driving force behind a proposal to cap bankers’ bonuses at a fixed rate of 100% of salary. But this was challenged by George Osborne through Europe’s highest court. He argued that the EU had gone beyond its remit, breaching a series of legal principles, and sought to overturn the ruling. Molly says:

“Osborne’s attempts to appease his chums in the City has failed. The cap on bankers bonuses has been completely vindicated and this is an important first step to end the pernicious banking culture where excessive risk taking is rewarded while the cost of failure is borne by the taxpayer.”
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In the bag: Greens succeed in cutting plastic waste
New EU rules to reduce plastic bag use have been agreed, thanks to leadership by the Greens. The new legislation will cut the number of bags Europeans use each year by more than three quarters in just over a decade. It is the first time binding measures to reduce waste at EU level have been agreed. The new legislation received unanimous European Council backing, despite attempts by the UK government to scupper the deal. Molly says:

“While the UK government and UKIP seem determined to outcompete each other on opposition to any EU initiative, Greens are getting on with the task of working to build a Europe for the common good. By working constructively and building consensus Greens have managed, yet again, to push through another important piece of environmental legislation”.

Molly believes the new legislation is particularly good news for the South West:

“Plastic waste respects no borders. The terrible damage that it inflicts, particularly on marine animals and birds is well documented. As an area surrounded by sea, this is particularly positive news for our valuable marine habitats in the South West.”
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EU governments continue to push TTIP despite strong public opposition
EU trade and foreign ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to the controversial EU-US TTIP agreement, in spite of mounting opposition. Molly says:
“Continuing to push this toxic deal shows that EU governments are keeping their heads in the sand. The Council’s PR drive for TTIP is based on misleading information. The bandied-about claims about job creation have been discredited, with a recent study suggesting that TTIP may even lead to serious job losses in the EU.”

A petition to suspend the TTIP negotiations is set to exceed the required one million signatures. Greens are continuing to fight against the negotiations which they believe threaten to weaken EU standards on the environment and workers’ rights and undermine democracy.

Christmas Without Cruelty
Molly was special guest at the popular annual Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter. The event, coordinated by Animal Aid South West, offers hundreds of different products from a wide range of traders or charities, all working to reduce violence to people, animals and the planet. Molly says:

“I have always been passionate about the important role small businesses and enterprises can play both in promoting ethical standards and helping create local jobs and a resilient localised economy. I also know that the South West is a region with a fantastic number of charities that are working to improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. I had a fascinating day and learnt a lot from chatting to stallholders and members of the public.”
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Green Ribbon Awards
Molly was one of three MEPs nominated for a ‘Green Ribbon’ European Parliamentarian of the Year award. She was nominated for her ‘impressive performance as a newly elected MEP’. While she did not ultimately win the award, she says she was humbled to have been nominated. She says:

“I don’t feel I’ve really had much chance to achieve a great deal as an MEP yet, but with particular responsibility for tax as part of my role in the Economics Committee, I hope to have some major achievements in that important area over the next five years.”  
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In the media

Molly is being filmed tomorrow (Friday) for BBC Politics Europe when she will appear alongside Conservative MEP Julie Girling to discuss issues that are currently hot topics in Europe. Likely issues are: Juncker’s €315bn investment plan and the censure vote of the Commission. The programme will also look at Denmark’s environmentalism. The programme will be broadcast at the following times on the BBC Parliament channel: Friday 18:45; Saturday 23:00; Sunday 05:30