e-news 13th February 2015

Welcome to the latest e-news. This has been a very busy fortnight once again. Read on to find out why…

Greens secure inquiry into tax avoidance
Tax avoidance and evasion have featured heavily in the news in the last week. The scandal of HSBC helping clients evade tax comes hot on the heels of the Lux Leaks scandal. Welcome news therefore that this week MEPs finally voted overwhelmingly in favour of creating a special committee to investigate tax avoidance in Europe. The committee is technically not as strong as the Greens had been pushing for but the mandate is the same and without the efforts of the Greens it is clear no such inquiry would be taking place. Molly will be part of the special committee. She says:

“I am relieved that after many months of obstruction there will now be an investigation into the serious issues that have been brought into the spotlight by Lux Leaks and indeed other recent tax avoidance scandals. We will work constructively within this special committee to ensure it properly investigates tax dumping and evasion in Europe.”
Full story

Knowing where your meat comes from
MEPs have adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to finally propose new legislation to ensure mandatory origin labelling for meat in processed foods, like frozen lasagnes or pies. The resolution was initiated by Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East. He said:

“The horsemeat scandal shone the spotlight on the lack of transparency in our food supply chain. A more transparent meat supply chain will benefit consumers and businesses alike by making it harder for less scrupulous operators to cut corners.”
Full story

‘Carbon bubble’ – time to divest from fossil fuels

The Green Party is fully supporting Global Divestment Day tomorrow and Molly has used this opportunity to highlight the so called ‘carbon bubble’. She says that the overvaluation of oil, gas and coal mining companies poses a growing risk to economies. She says:

“If we are serious about limiting global warming to below 2°C, fossil fuel reserves must be kept firmly in the ground, which would turn them into stranded financial assets. Public and private financial institutions continue to pour millions into fossil fuel companies, inflating their share prices, as if their fossil reserves will always sell on the market. This is a deluded assumption.”

Greens in Europe have produced a detailed study into the money trail behind the ‘carbon bubble’ and have found a number of sizeable pension funds in the UK are at risk. Greens are calling for ambitious climate and energy policies and a quick and decisive transition to a low-carbon economy as the way to mitigate the ‘carbon bubble’.
Full story

TTIP – the next round
As the next round of negotiations on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal begin in Brussels, a delegation of over 100 campaigners took part in an anti-TTIP demonstration and met England’s three Green MEPs. The delegation was made up of people from all parts of the UK, representing a variety of concerns about the potential adverse impacts of the trade deal and included several activists from campaign group Frack Free Somerset. Read a full account of the visit.

Molly had a highly successful article published in the Guardian about her visit to the European Parliament’s ‘restricted reading’ room to explore documents relating to TTIP, to which she has ‘privileged’ access as an MEP. In the article Molly says:

“I had to agree not to share any of the contents with those I represent. What I am able to reveal from my visit to the library is that I left without any sense of reassurance either that the process of negotiating this trade deal is democratic, or that the negotiators are operating on behalf of citizens.” See the full article

Air quality consultation
The UKs three Green MEPs have responded to a government consultation on proposals to improve local air quality management (LAQM) in England. In the response the MEPs draw attention to the fact that air pollution is an invisible public health crisis with annual nitrogen oxide and particulates estimated to be responsible for 55,000 deaths a year. The UK has one of the worst records of all EU Member States. Yet the UK Government continues to lobby at EU level to avoid possible infringement action from the Commission. The MEPs describe this approach as ‘shameful’ and say it demonstrates the Government is not serious about tackling this public health crisis.
See the full response

Thoughts about the European Parliament?
An interesting insight into public perceptions of the European Parliament and its functions has just been published. The field survey was conducted in 28 Member States, among almost 28,000 citizens. Some of the Main findings include:

  • EU membership was perceived as a good thing by an absolute majority of Europeans (54%), including those not in the Eurozone.
  • A majority felt that their country would do ‘worse’ without the EU.
  • Protecting human rights (60%) is far and away the number one value to be defended by the European Parliament. This is followed by gender equality (36%) and freedom of expression (34%)
  • Tackling poverty and social exclusion (54%) continues to grow in popularity and remains the number one priority policy for implementation by the European Parliament in 25 Member States.