MEP Life 11- Parliament, Police and Proroguing

BRUSSELS

Hello to you all, as you may have noticed, MEPs were back at work in Brussels, last week. The first week of the month is committee week, and I spent my formal working time considering plans and worries around 5G, budget provision for Erasmus and Creative Europe, and plans for Energy Transition with it the EU. How can I deny, though, that my heart was in Westminster …

BREXIT

One of our first actions on return was to meet up with other UK MEPs who are supportive of a People’s Vote and to sign a cross party Brussels Declaration which indicates we were not happy with the UK Government attempting to force through a no deal Brexit on 31st October. It was great to be acting with so many people from Labour, the Greens, Independent MEPs and Naomi Long from the Northern Ireland Alliance party. Despite our differences, we are all shocked and disgusted by the approach that PM Johnson and his cabinet have taken to the role of Parliament and the prospect of a no deal Brexit. I am hugely proud of the Remain Alliance and Jo Swinson for taking control of Westminster Business and finding a legal way to stop a No Deal Brexit.

MEP Life

With Westminster in mind, Caroline Voaden and I recorded an extra podcast this week, a special edition catching up on all the remarkable moves in Westminster, last week, to control business and forestall Johnsons’s foolish actions. You can listen to it here and catch up with the usual weekly podcast, here.

Euronews was also wrapped up in Brexit, and I also took part in a phone-in for Raw Politics where we discussed the potential for national embarrassment in the face of Brexit. I made the point that the only real embarrassment we face is that, when the referendum was initially put to the country, there was no explanation of WHAT Brexit was meant to entail.

Continuing on the same theme, on Friday, I was asked for an interview by SKY News and was delighted to have a chance to raise the specific hypocrisy of Johnson giving a speech in front of Police Cadets, while proposing a no deal Brexit which would trash more than 40 different cross border legal measures, like Europol and the European Arrest Warrant, on which UK forces of law and order, depend. We already have seen horrible cuts in Police budgets. What more will disappear if Brexit goes ahead is anyone’s guess. I hear from criminologists that we will have to fall back on legal agreements drawn up in the nineteen fifties.

The background to the interview was that I was expecting a gentle, pre-recorded interview. But no. I meet the Sky team, have an ear piece put in my ear and hear ‘Live in 5 minutes.’ Now, I know we are going to be talking about Westminster and Brexit so … I asked what the questions were going to be and was put through to the gallery to hear, ‘Live in 3 minutes’. Then ‘It’s Boris Johnsons’s week, OK? Live in 2 minutes.’ And so we tumbled into the interview.

It was pretty relaxed in the end, although (since this is MEP life) it would have been nice to see a screen to know when I was on camera, but in the context of Brexit, being given an opportunity to raise Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy is everything!

(All credit to Sky, they had no notice that I was going to raise the police cadet’s speech and they still managed to slip in a cut away.)

APPRENTICES

On a more positive note, in the Newsletter last week, I launched an Apprentice’s trip to Brussels in October. Whatever happens next, Europe will be our nearest neighbour and the subsidised trip is for apprentices 18-25 to come and visit Brussels, take a look at the Parliament, and speak to people who are shaping opportunities for apprentices, trainees and businesses across Europe. If you are an apprentice or are supporting apprentices or have an apprentice in your family, there is still time to apply for a place on the apprentices visit. The application form can be found, here. Deadline is 20.09.2019 at 6pm.

If you would like to sign up for next months newsletter, please click here.

By the time I write, next week, Parliament will be prorogued. Hold on to your Democracy, we are in for a bumpy ride!

This is a Climate Emergency, Dirty Air Knows no Borders!

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Following her speech in the European Parliament last month, Judith Bunting MEP highlights the case for calling a Climate Emergency.

“Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature deaths. We need to work smarter, we have the technology to do this and we should embrace that.”

The Government has passed a Net-Zero target for Carbon emissions by 2050 whilst also making chaotic decisions that will undermine this target. They have slashed subsidies for solar power, banned the cheapest form of renewable onshore wind energy generation and ended the ‘Green Deal’, which aimed to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes. As well as these cuts, there is a policy of pursuing fracking to access fossil fuels throughout Britain, including areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Weald Basin in the South Downs covering Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, to further compound their policy of supporting expanding the airport provision in one of busiest Airports in Europe, London Heathrow.

TrafficJudith continues, “Unfortunately Dirty Air knows no borders, the problems in the South East will affect the nearby areas of the country and impact the health of the world. We can do better than this and the South East deserves better.”

Judith Bunting calls for a stop to meaningless targets on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and a reversal of the cuts to incentivise a change of approach for each and every citizen. Instead we should adopt meaningful policies, which can make a difference to climate change from day one.

Air pollution from carsThe Liberal Democrats demand better and have set out a way of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We are fighting for a net-zero EU by 2050 across the 28 member states of the European Union. Dealing with carbon emissions will not only deal with the climate emergency but cut air-pollution, reduce fuel poverty and create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector. These targets can be positive for our health, our economy and the planet.

Dirty Air Knows No Borders

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Giving my maiden speech in plenary at the European Parliament, I addressed the Clean Air debate. Air pollution directly causes both chronic and serious diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature death. Poor air quality has more than ten times the health impact of road traffic accidents. In this age of innovation and advanced technology this is simply unacceptable. I demand better, and we must do better.
 
The EU has a solid framework in place which includes Ambient Air Quality Directives, with low emission zones and incentives for cleaner transportation starting to be implemented across cities and regions in Europe with encouraging results. To combat dirty air, we need ambition, we need to work together. 

We need to work with member states to enforce Ultralow Emissions Zones in our small towns, our market towns, as well as in our cities. Every small town has a road or junction where locals know that the air pollution is out of control. There is a clear case, to charge dirty drivers on health grounds and we can. There is a need for targeted clean air zones in our towns across the UK.
 
As a British Liberal Democrat, I was elected to keep Britain in the European Union – and one of my main reasons for wanting to be here is to help protect our shared environment.
 
Dirty air knows no borders. 
 
What are your thoughts on clean air and ULEZ? Do you live in an area where air pollution is excessive? Please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

A week of firsts- MEP life- Week 4

My second week in Strasbourg started with a meeting looking at renewable energy with Jerzy Buzek, MEP, Chair of the European Energy Forum, and Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. It was good to discuss with them the latest long term plans for sustainable change across the EU.

The Women for Europe group met with us on Wednesday, which was a pleasure. It was great to finally meet everyone, including the Commissioners for Transport and Justice and also Margarate Vesteger, recently appointed Renew Europe Vice President of the Parliament.

Later in the week the Liberal Democrat delegation had the opportunity to meet with the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier. It was a positive meeting which provided us with some keen insights into what may happen next for Brexit. As Liberal Democrats, we are not here to play, and for the good of everyone in the UK, we must stop Brexit.

Coming up I will be looking at UK apprenticeships in more detail, and sharing how apprentices can benefit from our membership of the EU. Please do get in touch if you have a story to share. 

The big news of the week was that we voted to elect the first female president of the European Commission. Voting itself was a highly democratic process and, before the vote, we had the opportunity to meet with Mrs von der Leyen. What I took away from these meetings is that she is listening. Her commitments on climate change, fighting tax evasion, social justice and an extension to Article 50 are all promising. Hearing her promise to put forward a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days of office as well as looking to hold Amazon accountable is also encouraging.

Making my maiden speech in plenary, I joined the debate on clean air. As part of Europe we have the opportunity to protect our shared environment. Dirty air knows no borders, and poor air quality has more than ten-times the impact of road traffic accidents. We have the technology, we need to use it. I call for the enforced targeting of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) to be extended to smaller towns and cities.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at info@judithbunting.co.uk. We would love to hear from you!

In the spirit of transparency, I am making it easy to see what I am up to as a one of your MEPs. As well as this weekly blog: I have video updates on Twitter and Facebook, a newsletter which you can sign up to here and our MEP Life podcast

 

If you like what you see, hear or read – please let us know!

Election of the first female European Commission President.

The election of the first female European Commission President is good news for Europe and the UK.

Voting itself was a highly democratic process, and we had the opportunity of meeting Mrs von der Leyen to discuss various points of note with her. What I took away from these meetings is that she is listening. Her commitments on climate change, fighting tax evasion, social justice and an extension to Article 50 are all promising. Hearing her promise to put forward a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days of office as well as looking to hold Amazon accountable is very encouraging.
Everyone understands, now, that leaving the European Union would be a disaster for British families, jobs and education. I was pleased to hear her commitment to grant a further extension to the Brexit deadline, to give Britain space to think and our next Prime Minister time to do the sensible thing to call a referendum on the final deal. We need to be central to the European Project, not outside of it.

 

Busy in Brussels and Berkshire -MEP Life – week 3

European Parliament

At the start of the week I travelled back to Brussels for the start of our legislative and committee work. For me, that means a focus on education and culture, specifically life-long learning, STEAM subjects, and the Creative Europe funding scheme, which is important for all of our creative industries here in the UK.

I got to discuss the Erasmus+ extension, which is looking to include apprenticeships. I think these changes are a great idea, so watch this space!
 
As a group of MEPs, the Liberal Democrats co-signed a letter to the Japanese Ambassador to the European Union, this week, calling for a halt to commercial whaling. There is no need for commercial whaling, it is a cruel trade that provides nothing that the world really needs.


In our Renew Europe Group meeting this week we discussed human rights, EU Global strategy, and the crisis in the Persian Gulf. On Wednesday, I attended our group meeting with the Commission Presidential Candidate, Ursula von der Leyen. She confirmed to our Renew Europe group that she hopes the UK will remain in Europe. Because the allocation of the EU top jobs depends on the votes won from across Europe, Ursula is a Conservative choice for the role. She is a progressive conservative and I think we will be willing to support her. 

Later in the week it was great to meet former MEP Felix Schwalba-Holt with Yorkshire for Europe.  Back in the UK I was on the panel for ITV’s ‘Last Word’, where we discussed life as an MEP, the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, the future Prime Minister and of course Brexit. Afterwards I stopped to chat to the wonderful Steven Bray and the SODEM group outside of Westminster. Their tireless campaigning is incredible, do go and say hello if you get the chance.

As seems to now be my working pattern, I attended regional events over the weekend. First I attended Newbury College where I had the pleasure of meeting the Principal and his team, where we discussed apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. I was then honoured to join the Twinning events and ceremony between Newbury, Berkshire and Carcaixent, Spain. Twinning is a shared European project and a fantastic exchange of culture and people. Such opportunities are invaluable and they transcend politics. I love this movement that has kept doors open to our neighbours across #Europe.
If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at info@judithbunting.co.uk. We would love to hear from you!

In the spirit of transparency, I am making it easy to see what I am up to as an MEP. As well as this  weekly blog: I am releasing video updates which you can find by following me on Twitter and Facebook. We are busy preparing a new newsletter which you can sign up to here. We have also launched a new podcast called MEP Life.

If you like what you see, hear or read – please let us know!

info@judithbunting.co.uk

The European Parliament is open for business! -MEP Life week 2

Judith Bunting MEP

This week has been momentous, with my time having been spent in Strasbourg for the opening of the European Parliament, voting for the president, finalising our committees, and continuing to find my feet as an MEP.


Monday was a day of travelling and emails as I made my way from the UK over to Strasbourg to finally take up my elected role as an MEP.

The opening of the European Parliament took place on Tuesday, and was an historic and emotional experience. Our group of 16 Liberal Democrat MEPs donned bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts to draw attention to the serious point that Brexit is not inevitable.

My personal goal as a Pro-European, British MEP is to be visible, accountable and show what really goes on in the European Parliament. 

We sixteen Liberal Democrats were elected to stop Brexit. We are committed to achieving this. I am pleased to say that our bright message was heard across Europe and was received well by our fellow Europeans in Parliament. As a group we will continue to fight for Britain to play a leading role in the EU. I will do my best to represent you in this while I am a MEP.

Our first official task as MEPs was to vote for the next president of the European Parliament. I supported the newly elected president, David Sassoli, an Italian politician who has been very active in his support for young people and who is committed to tackling climate change. Later in the week Mr Sassoli addressed the European Parliament and stated; “Only when we are united can we counterbalance the most powerful global players.”

There were many voting sessions to elect the President of Parliament, 14 Vice Presidents and the Quaestors – sometimes described as the trades union leaders of MEPs. At almost 10pm on the second day of voting, we even voted on which method to use, with the quick and efficient electronic voting devices winning – thank goodness! With so many new MEPs we were given a trial run to ensure that everyone was happy with how to use them. This involved us voting yes, no or abstain on our favourite musicians. I am pretty sure that the Beatles won. I will get a photo to show you the voting device soon.

Judith Bunting MEPOur committee positions were officially confirmed this week, and I am delighted that I represent the UK on the Education and Culture committee (CULT) and on the committee for Industry, Research and Energy(IRE). With my team I have also made a start on the applications for three pilot projects, putting together ideas around increasing interest in science among teenage girls and promoting lifelong learning. Both of these areas are close to my heart.

Back in the UK we had a number of team meetings in our new office space in Reading. The week was once again rounded off with visits to local Liberal Democrat teams, including a second party in Wokingham constituency where we celebrated their fantastic council gains and I talked with them about my role as a MEP.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at; SocialMedia@JudithBunting.co.uk 

You can keep updated with my activities by signing up to receive my new MEP newsletter here.

Sentiment, stunts and a serious point made in Strasbourg

The European Parliament in Strasbourg re-opened today. It was a truly emotional and historic occasion. The European elections were not supposed to happen, and we now have 16 Liberal Democrat MEPS taking their seats.

At the opening session, all 16 of us took the opportunity to make our political point, wearing bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts as we walked into the huge, impressive Plenary Chamber. This is serious. Now we have your attention –  we have got to #StopBrexit. We should not plough on with a bad idea simply to try and save the Conservative party. Brexit is not good for Britain, not good for jobs, not good for our children, and not good for our future.

In the Chamber, we stood for the EU’s anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which was accompanied by a saxophone quartet. This was a wonderful moment, and it is worth considering the lyrics of this piece:

Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides. 
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.

Britain belongs in a cooperative union with our nearest neighbours. For the sake of peace, security, trade, jobs and a positive future for our children. If you agree, however you have voted in the past, you are welcome to join our campaign to keep Britain in Europe.

South East MEPs Committee Roles announced

In the South East, your local Liberal Democrat MEPs are part of the following European Parliamentary committees:

Catherine Bearder, Leader of the Liberal Democrats European Parliamentary Party:

  • Constitutional Affairs Committee
  • Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee
  • Culture and Education Committee

 Judith Bunting:

  • Culture and Education Committee
  • Industry, Research and Energy Committee

 Antony Hook:

  • Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee
  • Legal Affairs Committee

The Liberal Democrat delegation as a whole is doing well in terms of securing top jobs: Chris Davies, North West MEP, has been elected as Chair of Fisheries Committee, and Lucy Nethsingha, East of England MEP, has been elected Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee. The Lib Dems have also secured the 1st Vice-president of the Human Rights Sub-Committee for Irina Von Wiese.

On the appointment of committees, Leader of the Liberal Democrats European Parliamentary Party, Catherine Bearder, said:

 “As one of the largest countries, Britain should be leading in Europe, not leaving. Liberal Democrat success in the European elections is now translating into power and influence for Britain in Europe.”

 

 Judith Bunting, MEP for the South East region, said:

 “The benefit of having leading positions is that we have a strong position in so many important areas. I look forward to reporting on the benefits that the EU can offer students and apprentices in the U.K. As one of the U.K. voices on the science, industry and energy committee, I will make the most of our industrial expertise and the fantastic reputation enjoyed by British scientific research and renewable energies.”

 

 Antony Hook, MEP for the South East region, said:

 “We live in a global world within which we must reach beyond our borders to work with our friends and neighbours on issues such as civil rights.  As a barrister of 16 years I look forward to bringing my experience, prosecuting serious criminals and defending vulnerable individuals against the state, to enhance and improve cooperation between European police and judicial services.”

You can keep to date with my activities as an MEP by reading my weekly MEP Life blog post and listening to our podcast as well as following me on social media