Colchester debate leads the way

By Richard Howitt I AM glad to have been invited this week to take part in a debate on the future of Europe by Colchester sixth form college, in the lead up to Europe Day, which is May 9.

By Richard Howitt

I AM glad to have been invited this week to take part in a debate on the future of Europe by Colchester sixth form college, in the lead up to Europe Day, which is May 9.

These Colchester sixth form students have taken a keen interest in Europe, and only a couple of months ago I was delighted to meet up with them in Brussels, where they were seeing for themselves the parliament building, and watching the parliament in action. The Colchester debate is likely to be a lively affair, and I am always happy to discuss what how the UK can lead in Europe.

It is not only young people who seem eager to openly discuss and debate what relationship we want to have with our European partners, whether it's pounding the footpaths as part of the local election campaign or recently a very lively meeting I had with over 70 students at the University of the Third Age in Maldon. These are all people who have retired but are now spending their time learning about the EU as part of a study group - just going to show that learning is indeed a lifelong experience, a lesson that closed minded Eurosceptics could well take note of!


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This week has also seen the spectre of bird 'flu threaten our region, and as reported by the East Anglian Daily Times earlier this week, I have been leading a campaign to make sure that decision arbitrarily taken by Japan and Hong Kong to impose a ban on our local poultry, without any just cause is overturned by the EU pressing on Britain's behalf.

This ban is threatening the livelihoods of the many local poultry producers despite the fact that local chicken, ducks, turkeys are on the menu and are totally safe to eat. I have also been working hard, and have secured confirmation the local farmers directly affected by bird 'flu can have 50% of their compensation, paid from EU cash.

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Work in the parliament has also seen a number of achievements, most importantly for everyone who takes their mobile phones abroad is the news that the EU is taking the phone networks to task for ripping off customers whenever they use their phones abroad to either make or receive calls. The EU law, which should come into effect by next summer, will see roaming charges slashed by up to 95%!

As someone who is forced by my work to take my mobile phone abroad every week, I warmly welcome these changes, and I am sure that all of you planning to jet off for some summer sun, will welcome the thought of not coming home to a whopping phone bill!

RICHARD Howitt is the Labour Euro MP for the East of England. He can be contacted by e-mail at: rhowitt@europarl.eu.in

Richard Howitt is Labour Euro MP for the East of England and can be contacted at richard.howitt@geo2.poptel.org.uk

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