Europe does work for the East

By Richard Howitt FORGET the ranting of Eurosceptics, my work as your member of the European Parliament has this month seen very good EU funding news for local groups, and new proposals vital for the protections of jobs, the environment and business success.

By Richard Howitt

FORGET the ranting of Eurosceptics, my work as your member of the European Parliament has this month seen very good EU funding news for local groups, and new proposals vital for the protections of jobs, the environment and business success.

I had the pleasure of joining up with the Essex Learning and Skills Council to launch a new round of European cash, which will see a share of £3.5 million going to support community and volunteer groups all over north Essex. I would heartily encourage colleges and community groups to dip into this cash pot; details of how to do so are available from the Essex LSC.

I was in Bury St Edmunds to cut the cake for the fifth birthday celebrations of the West Suffolk Disability Resource Centre, and was delighted to meet and chat with some of the staff and 500 visitors who use this facility every month. The centre acts as a lifeline for local people with disabilities who are living and working independently, aided by the Papworth Trust, which I am pleased to say, is supported by European funding.


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Earlier in Brussels, I met with members of the Women's Institute branches from Bury St Edmunds and Leiston, who presented me with a petition calling for tougher EU laws on making sure chemicals are properly tested and safe.

To show how important this law is, one Women's Institute member had a blood test done and was found to have twenty-two chemicals in her blood including DDT and other pesticides! The Parliament will this month be debating and voting on this vital health issue and I will be pressing forward these Suffolk concerns to be addressed.

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Also having met with workers from Felixstowe and Harwich Docks, to hear their concerns about the return of a proposed new EU law on ports that would threaten jobs and safety in Felixstowe and Harwich, I am working to make sure that this deeply flawed law is axed and that dockworkers' safety and futures are secured.

With Christmas, also comes the end of the UK's successful Presidency of the EU. During our time at the helm of Europe, the Presidency has kept me busy meeting with British Ministers and supporting them in their work of chairing EU meetings. The Presidency also saw the Prime Minister addressing the Parliament twice.

We have used this opportunity to set the agenda to make the EU more competitive and prosperous, and while the UK's Presidency ends on December 31 these British priorities will continue and will shape Europe for decades to come.

Richard Howitt if Labour MEP for the East of England.

rhowitt@europarl.eu.int

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