Martin Callanan MEP

5 Jul 2011 16:34:42

Is the European Parliament more sensible about climate change than the House of Commons?

By Tim Montgomerie
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I ask the question because MEPs have just rejected increasing the EU's emission reduction targets unilaterally from 20% by 2020 to an eyewatering 30% by 2020 (the reduction is from 1990 levels). Votes from Tory MEPs made the difference.

The British Government - like the governments of France and Germany - had supported the commitment to deeper cuts but MEPs from the EPP and our own ECR had opposed unilateral action on the basis that the EU acting alone would mean we would continue to export industrial capacity to developing countries which weren't willing to sign up to such controls.

Callanan Martin June 2011 2 Martin Callanan MEP, leader of Conservative MEPs told ConservativeHome:

"Conservative MEPs voted for a 30% EU target, "provided that conditions are right". We remain opposed to a unilateral EU increase, without other industrial nations, because of the effect on competiveness of UK and EU companies."

That "conditions are right" clause is crucial. Unless China, India and other competitor economies are willing to sign up to verifiable cuts in their own carbon footprints the realists - including our own MEPs and many from, for example, Poland - are not going to handicap European manufacturers.

ConHome's surveys of Tory candidates show that our MPs are probably as sceptical about going alone on climate change as our MEPs but whipped by the Coalition they are under more pressure not to say so.

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By way of footnote, over at LibDemVoice Chris Davies MEP is complaining that Tory MEPs weren't willing to back the Huhne/Coalition line that unilateral 30% cuts were essential. Mr Davies should reflect on his own support for the end of Britain's EU rebate and for new EU taxes before he complains about anyone else's failure to support Coalition policy.

29 Jun 2011 16:44:06

Martin Callanan suggests David Cameron might need Margaret Thatcher's handbag for the EU budget negotiations

By Jonathan Isaby
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9pm update:

The BBC confirms that the European Commission wants its budget increased by nealry 5% for the next seven year period. It quotes a British Government spokesman as saying: "A 4.9% increase would not be acceptable to us... We will work very closely with other EU governments to drive the hardest possible bargain."

9.45pm update:

A statement from a Downing Street spokesman just released reads:

"The EU budget increase that the Commission has proposed today is unrealistic. Britain and the EU's other largest payers made clear in December that the EU budget should be frozen, and we will stick to that.  The EU has to take the same tough measures as national Governments are taking across Europe to tackle public deficits. That means a restrained EU budget focused on the things that will get our economy growing."

"Britain will also oppose new EU taxes which will introduce additional burdens for business and damage EU competitiveness. And we will continue to protect the rebate – without it, the UK’s net contribution as a percentage of national income would be the largest across the EU, twice as large as France’s and Italy’s, and almost 1½ times bigger than Germany’s."

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CALLANAN MARTINToday's Daily Mail reported European Commission plans for an inflation-busting 12% increase in the EU Budget, whilst the Independent reported that it wants to introduce a new EU-wide tax.

Martin Callanan, the eurosceptic leader of the Conservative MEPs, has reacted angrily to those suggestions, along with rumoured efforts to completely abolish the British rebate.

Agreeing the European-wide "Multiannual Financial Framework" for 2014-2020 is set to dominate discussions at a European level during the second half of the year and today Callanan proposed three red lines over which he believes the UK should not step in the negotiations - and where he believes the UK Government should threaten to use its veto:

  1. any reductions to the UK rebate;
  2. any new taxes levied at a supranational level;
  3. any increase in spending.

He explained:

"Just as national governments and households are having to prioritise their spending, so should the EU. This kind of opportunity to adjust the priorities of the EU budget comes only every seven years so we must not pass it up. The budget should provide value for money by investing in infrastructure and research, not by funding cultural programmes and tobacco farms.

"Unfortunately the prevalent mood in Brussels is towards a budgetary reform that would see more British taxpayers' money spent by Brussels, with Eurocrats deciding our levels of taxation in the future. This is completely unacceptable and the British government should not hesitate to use its veto powers if necessary.

"The current EU budget has been proven to be riddled with errors and spent on many wasteful projects. Instead of more EU spending we need smarter and better controlled EU spending so that the EU does less and provides better value for money.

"While Mr Cameron can rely on Conservative MEPs for support, regrettably the wider European Parliament has very different ideas for how this budget should look. The European Parliament sees 'more Europe' as the solution to any problem, and it also sees more EU spending as a panacea.

"These negotiations are bound to be tough for the Prime Minister. He may need to borrow Baroness Thatcher's handbag* for them."

* If David Cameron is after a Thatcher handbag, this one was alas sold at auction this week.

14 Jun 2011 15:00:02

Martin Callanan MEP: LibDem and Labour MEPs vote for more EU taxes

Martin Callanan is Leader of the Conservative MEPs

Callanan Martin June 2011 After 12 years in the European Parliament I thought I'd seen it all: the vitriol spouted at anyone opposed to an ever-expanding EU, the attempts to smear anyone who thinks the EU should not interfere in every area of our lives, and the sneering at nations such as the UK whose governments and parliaments want to remain the primary decision-making arenas. But, this week, even I was astonished by the invective directed at "Her Majesty's Government" by the leader of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt. Mr Verhofstadt is a well-known EU federalist and a former Prime Minister of Belgium . And clearly, he is no fan of "Her Majesty's Government".

Let me give you some context first. The EU budget operates within a seven-year framework known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the current MFF expires in 2013. As you may recall from the time we negotiated the current MFF - at the end of 2005 - the discussions usually descend into an almighty row between national governments with different priorities. In order to reach a deal last time, our Labour Government gave away £7 billion of the UK rebate with absolutely nothing in return. It's this disgrace that has contributed towards the UK 's rapid increase in contribution to the EU in recent times.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: LibDem and Labour MEPs vote for more EU taxes" »

18 May 2011 11:23:26

Martin Callanan MEP: This really isn’t a good time to be a federalist in the European Union

Martin Callanan is Leader of the Conservative MEPs. CALLANAN MARTIN

This really isn’t a good time to be a federalist in the European Union.

Ask a typical Euro-enthusiast what the main achievements of the EU are, they will tell you: the single market, the Euro, and the border-free Schengen zone.  The first of these – the single market – is undergoing a rebirth at the moment, with strong political will from national leaders (led by David Cameron) and the European Commission. However, the other two are in turmoil.

This column is primarily intended to give you an update on events in the European Parliament. However, what strikes me nowadays is the complete lack of serious debate or even corridor chat about the immediate Euro crisis. There seems to be an inevitability of further bailouts, forcing countries that have already received significant loans to bailout others.  Finance Ministers meeting in Brussels this week are discussing the details of the Portuguese bailout, and it looks like the UK is going to make a further contribution through the EFSM – something that I have argued against here.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: This really isn’t a good time to be a federalist in the European Union" »

14 Apr 2011 08:55:18

Martin Callanan MEP starts a monthly report from the Conservative group in the European Parliament

As Tim promised a few weeks ago, I intend to provide ConHome readers with a regular update on the activities of your Conservative MEPs and some of the highlights of the parliament's activities over recent weeks.

Portugal
The Portuguese crisis and the EU's response to it have dominated the agenda in recent weeks. The Eurozone crisis no longer feels like a crisis in the corridors of the European Parliament: it has become business as usual it seems.

As I set out in another article on this site I believe that there is neither enthusiasm nor need for the UK to participate in the bailout and, even if there were, the legal grounds for it are highly dubious.

Single Market
MEPs-BEST

Just before the March European Council meeting David Cameron and Baroness Warsi visited our delegation in Brussels for a long exchange of views before the summit and he took time to meet with all of the UK Conservative staff. We all found the meeting to be very productive and the visit put a spring in the step of all our staff.

At the Council itself our PM secured some very welcome language in the official communiqué of the meeting which committed the European Commission to an agenda of revitalising the single market, of reducing red tape and exploring ways of exempting micro enterprises from some EU legislation altogether.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP starts a monthly report from the Conservative group in the European Parliament" »

1 Mar 2011 10:17:04

Tory MEPs blame Labour for opening the floodgates which led to today's ECJ insurance sex discrimination ruling

By Jonathan Isaby

As anticipated by me last night and Alex Deane this morning, the European Court of Justice has indeed now ruled that insurance companies charging different premiums for men and women are in contravention of Article 8 of the EU Treaty - meaning that younger women will no longer be able to get cheaper car insurance on the basis that they are far less likely to be involved in an accident.

Conservaitve MEPs have just issued the following reactions:

CALLANAN MARTIN Martin Callanan, the leader of the Tory MEPs said:

"The last Labour government is to blame for this. The EU's top adviser based her advice on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Lisbon Treaty which Labour signed us up to. They have opened the floodgates to nonsense court rulings like this one and yet again we are paying dearly for the utter mess they bequeathed to us.

"Had Labour given us the referendum on the Treaty that they promised, women might not be facing devastating hikes in already sky-high motoring bills."

Picture 6 Meanwhile, Sajjad Karim, the Conservative legal affairs spokesman in Brussels, added:

"This ruling is utter madness. It is a setback for common sense. It is a statistical reality that young men have more accidents than women so it should be reflected in their premiums.

"Once again we have seen how an activist European Court can over-interpret the Treaty. The EU's rules on sex discrimination specifically permit discrimination in insurance if there is data to back it up. Unelected judges have overruled the will of democratically elected MEPs and governments; is it any wonder people are do disenchanted with the EU?

"Boy racers will now have even more money to buy unsafe fast cars, whilst safer drivers will be hit hard in their insurance premiums. This is a victory for boy-racers and a major blow for both democracy and careful women drivers."

15 Dec 2008 16:18:51

Philip Bushill-Matthews backs opt-out for EU Working Time Directive

Philip_bushillmatthewsMartin Callanan, MEP for the North East, has written elsewhere on ConservativeHome about the Working Time Directive today. His colleague Philip Bushill-Matthews, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, has issued a press release.

Labour MEPs oppose the UK's opt-out from the Directive. On Wednesday MEPs will vote on whether to scrap the opt-out. Doing so would require at least 393 MEPs to vote for its abolition. Mr Bushill-Matthews comments in advance of a debate this evening:

"Britain needs the opt-out more than ever.

We will be working up to the last minute to win support for workers' rights to choose their hours, rather than having them dictated by socialists who claim to represent them.

Labour MEPs must now back British businesses and workers, who are struggling to make ends meet. Many people choose to work longer hours to provide a better life for themselves and their families, and politicians should be helping them rather than getting in the way.

Gordon Brown must read his MEPs the riot act this week - before it is too late."

It may seem counter-intuitive or even slippery for Mr Bushill-Matthews to couch his position as one supportive of workers' rights. But whilst the work/life balance matters hugely, he is right that restrictions imposed from above (and elsewhere, as it's an EU Directive) are not helpful. This is all the more important in the current economic climate.

Tom Greeves

2 Dec 2008 10:17:58

Conservative MEPS pleased with deal on car emissions

Martin_callananConservatives in the European Parliament have indicated their pleasure with a deal MEPs struck with the Council of Ministers on CO2 emissions from cars.

Legislation that will go before the European Parliament this month will now require carmakers to reduce emissions to 130g per KM between 2012 and 2015. The original proposal was that it should be by 2012. There will also be a long-term target of 95g by 2020.

There will be a clause for "niche manufacturers" like Jaguar-Land Rover, who will have to reduce their emissions by more than an average manufacturer, "but not by the crippling levels that would have been foreseen", according to the press release from Martin Callanan. There will be an exemption for LTI, who make the London black taxi cab.

Mr Callanan further commented:

"The deal we have struck represents the best of both worlds. We have shown that we can encourage car manufacturers to go green by including incentives for investment in clean technology, but without driving them out of business.

We have recognised that manufacturers cannot develop new cars and technologies overnight, particularly given the huge trials they face during the downturn.

It was particularly important that we put in place special conditions for Jaguar-Land Rover and Black cabs. These companies will still have to do more than most, but because of their niche model ranges, this law would have caused them severe problems.

We will now ask all sides to agree to this deal."

7 Nov 2007 07:09:00

Martin Callanan MEP: A strange tale of booze, fags and subsidies

Martin_callanan Martin Callanan, Conservative MEP for the North East, describes the ongoing stupidity of some of the EU's agricultural subsidies.

Conservatives tend to be free marketeers - or at least British Conservatives do. We champion competition and argue the case for reform, especially in the European Union. But when it comes to agriculture, our party has frequently sacrificed its history of economic liberalism at the altar of the Common Agricultural Policy, which consumes 43% of the entire EU budget.

Conservatives have never been entirely comfortable with the CAP. However, for many years we feared that criticising the CAP would undermine the party's significant support base among farmers and in rural communities. This fear has now largely dissipated, partly because we overestimated farmers' affection for the CAP - if not for the EU - but also because the inherent efficiency and enterprise of British agriculture has shown unequivocally that the CAP is a failed policy.

Apart from the sheer waste of these handouts, the hypocrisy is staggering. For example, tobacco subsidies in the EU amount to £200 million a year. Southern European farmers get paid to produce tobacco, which is of such poor quality that very little is bought by European tobacco companies who prefer the superior American variety. This surplus tobacco is then dumped on poor third world countries where smoking is aggressively marketed and health services lack resources to treat smoking-related illnesses. Meanwhile, the EU is paying PR companies millions more to run sophisticated viral advertising campaigns as part of a zealous anti-smoking crusade. I might also mention that the European Parliament has just rescinded a total smoking ban on its premises.

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