Malcolm Harbour, who speaks on the Internal Market for the Conservatives in the European Parliament, has welcomed a proposal to allow small businesses to be made exempt from the EU Directive on annual reporting obligations. It would apply to companies with a turnover of less than one million euros and fewer than ten employees.
Mr Harbour (who I must say has a very efficient press officer!) comments:
"Small businesses repeatedly warn that they spend far too much of their time filling out unnecessary paperwork. Entrepreneurs should spend less time shuffling paper and more time building their businesses.
This proposal is welcome. It does not mean companies are not required to keep up-to-date books, but it does enable us to lift some of the more zealous requirements that are not so necessary for smaller businesses.
The European Commission always claims to 'think small first' and today it has delivered a concrete step towards recognising that not all legislation should apply to our small businesses.
We will seek to move this proposal through the parliament swiftly so that governments can decide how best to cut the burdens on businesses.
Small businesses will drive our economies out of the recession and we owe it to them to look again at how we can make their lives easier."
Malcolm Harbour MEP is President of the European Internet Foundation and the Conservatives' spokesman on consumer protection in the European Parliament. He has welcomed today a voluntary agreement from seventeen web firms (including Facebook, YouTube and MySpace) to better protect personal data and reduce cyber bullying and grooming.
Easily accessible 'report abuse' buttons will be made available, as will better privacy settings. Mr Harbour, who wants these developments continually reviewed, commented:
"Social networking has changed the lives of millions of people, but it has exposed minors to great potential hazards.
Regulators, internet firms and parents all have a role to play to protect children using these sites, and the code agreed today will make it more difficult for rogue users to track down and contact minors.
Social networking sites are still developing and we must ensure that the protections offered develop at the same pace."
Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden has spoken out on the situation in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are being told to surrender unconditionally by the Sri Lankan government. The European Parliament is also calling on the LTTE to lay down its arms.
Mr Van Orden comments:
"The British government in particular, as well as the EU and other friendly governments, must do all they can to assist the Sri Lankan authorities in humanitarian relief in the Northern areas that have now been liberated from the grip of the LTTE ("Tamil Tigers").
To prevent further carnage, for the sake of all the civilians now trapped by the fighting, and to improve the future prospects for
Sri Lanka, the remaining LTTE elements should now give up.
It is then vital that the Government moves quickly to reassure all its Tamil citizens that it will be vigorous and pro-active in addressing both their economic and political concerns. This is not only the right thing to do but will also help ensure that any residual support for armed insurgency and terrorism evaporates.
The development of the long-neglected areas in the North and East, which for many years have been under LTTE control, should be a top priority. This is where the international community should help. Government action to restore full media freedom, investigate allegations of human rights abuses, and sign up to the Ottawa Treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines, will all help reassure foreign donors and encourage international action to stifle any continued LTTE fund-raising."
"The British government's support package might have been sufficient several months ago but it now fails to hit the target and address the low demand for new vehicles.
We need measures that free up consumer credit, create incentives to replace old models and encourage businesses to buy new commercial vehicles.
We seem to have forgotten the thousands of car dealerships across the UK which are struggling and will be relatively unaided by the government's package. Rather than bailing out our car industry with yet more taxpayers' money, EU governments should be helping to make those vehicles already on the forecourts look more attractive to hesitant consumers."
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