e-news 21st March 2016

Just ahead of sending this enews we learned of the tragic events in Brussels, in which terrorists targetted the city’s airport and metro system. Molly issued the following statement:

“There have been a number of attacks in central Brussels and at Brussels airport which we assume are of terrorist origin. Information is understandably sketchy at present and speculation unhelpful.

“I would like to reassure people that my whole team are safe following these explosions. We are extremely sad that there has been loss of life and our deep sympathies go to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or been injured.

“We are doing our best to carry on with work as normal and not let the terrorists distract us from the important work we have been elected to do on behalf of British people.”

Molly launches SW #GreenerIn campaign
Molly launched the regional ‘Greens for a Better Europe’ campaign in Bristol last Friday, attended by Green Party members and others who see the importance to the environment of the UK remaining in the EU. Molly says:

“Greens want Britain to remain a part of the EU because we believe that we need to work together on shared solutions to the collective challenges we face. Climate change, the pollution of our oceans, terrorism and the refugee crisis show no respect for borders and require collaborative and cooperative solutions.

“I see on a daily basis in my role as an MEP the important role the EU has played in creating cultural connections and this in turn has helped keep the peace in Europe for over 50 years. With the many cross-border challenges we face, now is the time to build solidarity with our European neighbours, not cast ourselves adrift”.

Also speaking at the launch event were Tony Dyer, Bristol Green Party’s Mayoral Candidate, Mike Childs, Head of Policy, Research and Science at Friends of the Earth UK, and Oliver Dowding, Green Party agriculture speaker.
Full story
South West GreenerIN website

A white elephant which cannot stand on its feet
Molly has continued speaking out against building new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point. Following news of the resignation of EDF’s finance director and that the project could only proceed with a new round of French government cash, Molly wrote to the Competition Commissioner asking for an investigation into whether a rescue plan would be in breach of European state aid rules. She said:

“The numbers for the Hinkley deal have never been made to stack up. This white elephant, that threatens the very viability of EDF, cannot stand on its feet commercially. We have now a political battle where the stakes for both the UK and France are just too high to admit failure. But we cannot let this override EU rules on state aid or fair competition. It is time for Hinkley to fall and implement Plan B – the more competitive option of renewable energy.”

More information here and here. Molly also wrote an article for Left Foot Forward, exploring Labour’s apparent U-turn on Hinkley.

Tory changes to energy policy unfair competition
In a further challenge through the competition commissioner, Molly is using the conclusions of a new report she commissioned on changes to energy policy as evidence that the Tory government is breaching EU rules on a fair and competitive market. The report finds ‘valid concerns about the approach and intent of recent policy changes as well as effects on the competitive operation of the electricity market in the UK’ and says there are ‘clear breaches of regulations, both at a UK and EU level’. Molly says:

“This report provides clear evidence of the devastating impact that ideologically driven policy changes have had on the renewables sector. Ultimately we hope the Competition Commission will force the government to change policy so that the energy market operates fairly and in accordance with EU rules. We are finding huge support from the renewables sector which has been so badly hit by destructive government policy.”

Press officer, Andrew Bell, recently attended a RegenSW renewables energy fair in Exeter to publicise both the report and the challenge. He says:

“It was clear just how grateful and relieved many people were to have someone on their side taking action to try and empower and repower an embattled renewables energy sector.”

VAT is a feminist issue
On International Women’s Day, Molly launched a campaign at EU level for a Europe-wide VAT exemption on sanitary products. Molly wrote a well-received and well-read article for Huffington Post arguing that cashing in on women’s menstrual cycles is just one way in which tax systems around the world discriminate against women. She also explains that there is a new window of opportunity to axe VAT on sanitary products due to a forthcoming review of the VAT Directive. She says:

“As I will be working on the VAT review as part of my role on the Economics Committee, there is a real chance to build renewed momentum behind a Europe-wide VAT exemption for tampons, towels and mooncups.”

IKEA assemble tax dodge scam
A new report commissioned by the Greens in the European Parliament has revealed that furniture multinational IKEA has dodged €1 billion in taxes over the last 6 years using onshore European tax havens. Molly says:

“Just like its flat-pack furniture, assembling a tax dodge is simple if you know the right tricks. And it’s easy to tuck away out of site where tax administrations will barely notice it.

“There is an urgent need to change the regulatory framework which facilitates corporate tax avoidance in Europe. We badly need public country-by-country reporting rules for all sectors to provide transparency and ensure the tax strategies of corporations can be properly scrutinised. We also need a minimum corporate tax rate to end the race to the bottom of tax dumping in Europe.”
Full story

Local food producers showcase in Brussels
Molly hosted a special reception in Brussels last week with four South West food producers who shared their products and passion for their work. The reception was attended by over 80 people and other MEPs and was filmed by BBC West.

The four producers were chosen after a competition last autumn to identify some of the region’s favourite food products. The selection was based on how successfully the producers support the local economy, help maintain rural skills, minimise their impact on the environment and improve conditions for wildlife. The final four chosen were Brinkworth Dairy, a fifth generation cheese maker from North Wiltshire, Quoins Organic Vineyard, a family run vineyard on the edge of the Cotswolds producing organic wines, Stroud Brewery, which brews an exciting range of mainly organic beers and ales and Day’s Cottage which produces ciders, perry´s and fruit juices from their ancient orchards in Gloucestershire. Molly said:

“This event confirmed to me that the South West is home to some of the best foods in the world. The passion these producers have towards their work and their commitment to sustainability and creating local employment opportunities shone through as they each told their story. It is clear such dedication results in high quality products and we were privileged to sample some of the best of the South West.”
Full story with photos