By Matthew Barrett
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Today in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted proposals to increase the EU budget, introduce a financial transaction tax, abolish national rebates, impose direct EU taxes and end the returning of unspent EU money to national governments.
The European Parliament set out its priorities for the next seven-year budget plan, known as the "multi annual financial framework" (MFF). Although the EU works on annual budgets, the budgets are set within the longer-term MFF. Current debates concern the next MFF, which will be in operation 2014-2020.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, of which the Conservative Party is the largest party, voted against the proposals. There were, in total, 468 votes in favour and 134 against. Labour and UKIP also voted against the proposals, with the Lib Dems a mixture of for and abstaining. Edward McMillan-Scott, who was elected as a Conservative in 2009 before defecting to the Lib Dems, voted for the proposals.
The ECR put down an amendment to the proposals, which said:
Is therefore of the firm opinion that freezing the next MFF at the 2013 level, as demanded by some Member States, is a viable option; welcomes the letter from the five Heads of Government – those of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland – and shares the opinion that commitment appropriations over the next multiannual financial framework should not exceed the 2013 level, with a growth rate below the rate of inflation
This amendment was defeated by 540 votes to 104, with Labour MEPs voting for the amendment, UKIP against, and the Lib Dems divided between abstaining and voting against it. Edward McMillan-Scott voted against the amendment.
Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament and an MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, has commented as a hunger strike by three members of the Tibetan Youth Congress ends today. It has taken place outside the Chinese Embassy in Brussels. Mr McMillan-Scott visited them on Wednesday. He comments: "I am relieved that this hunger strike after eleven days is ending before any further suffering or even deaths are laid at the door of the Beijing regime. This courageous protest shows the depth of despair among Tibetans inside and outside that tragic and beautiful country".
Brussels. Mr McMillan-Scott visited them on Wednesday.
"I am relieved that this hunger strike after eleven days is ending before any further suffering or even deaths are laid at the door of the Beijing regime. This courageous protest shows the depth of despair among Tibetans inside and outside that tragic and beautiful country".
Update: Here is a video of Mr McMillan-Scott meeting the hunger strikers:
Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, has indicated his deep displeasure with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, on the fiftieth anniversary of China's occupation of Tibet. In October the Foreign Secretary presented a written ministerial statement outlining the Government's position:
"The Dalai Lama has made clear that he is not seeking separation or independence. He has said repeatedly that he is seeking a resolution to the situation of Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution, a point he made explicitly in an interview with the Financial Times on 24 May during his visit to the United Kingdom. He said: he was “not seeking separation, not seeking independence, but within the framework of the Chinese constitution, meaningful realistic autonomy [for Tibetans]”. He has maintained a clear opposition to violence.
We have made clear to the Chinese Government, and publicly, that we do not support Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. Our interest is in long-term stability, which can only be achieved through respect for human rights and greater autonomy for the Tibetans."
Mr McMillan-Scott, who has a longstanding interest in Tibet, comments:
“The world must not forget this tragic, beautiful and occupied country. The way that Beijing has treated Tibet since its occupation in 1959 rightly remains an international scandal.
Tibet deserves independence from China as it is culturally, ethnically and geographically distinct. I look forward to the EU taking a tougher line on the so-called 'talks' on Tibet’s future between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s representative.
Instead of giving the EU a lead, given Britain's earlier role in Tibet, David Miliband's treacherous statement last November fatally undermines the position of most Tibetans, who are desperate for freedom.
At a stroke he condemned a nation. It is lamentable that the British government should mark the 50th anniversary of international abandonment of this unique and spiritual people by effectively conceding to Beijing. This is a new low point in British foreign policy.”
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