Letter from Europe - Howitt

By Richard Howitt MEPAS you read this I, along with fellow Labour MEPs, will be meeting with Tony Blair to discuss plans for the UK Presidency of the European Union starting on July 1.

By Richard Howitt MEP

AS you read this I, along with fellow Labour MEPs, will be meeting with Tony Blair to discuss plans for the UK Presidency of the European Union starting on July 1. The Prime Minister will be in Brussels to lay out his priorities for the six month presidency for scrutiny by the whole Parliament.

Needless to say the upcoming presidency will be a challenge as tensions linger from the European Summit, but I believe we can see real progress on a number of fronts during the next six months. From the opening of membership negotiations with Turkey, to progress on climate change, and real action on the fight against global poverty, the prospects are bright.

As the dust settles on the recent heated exchanges, the EU's budget for the period up to 2013 must remain clearly in focus. Of primary importance are the small – often voluntary – organisations across Essex and Suffolk, many of which I have visited, which look to European cash for support. These community organisations need to be able to plan for the long term, with a clear idea of what they can expect from Europe.


You may also want to watch:


President Jacques Chirac has vilified Tony Blair for the breakdown of budget negotiations, but no amount of press-ganging can hide the reality. If the British rebate were not defended and necessary changes not made to the Common Agricultural Policy, then France's contribution to the EU would be just £67m while the UK's contribution would be £6bn!

And how can it make sense for the EU to set itself the target of becoming "the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world" while at the same time spending almost half the EU budget on agriculture, which employs less than 5% of the population? 

Most Read

 

HAVING recently visited the Make Poverty History campaign at the Fair Trade Centre in Bury St Edmunds, supported the launch of Colchester's campaign for fair-trade town status, and as I prepare to speak at Ipswich Amnesty tomorrow night, I must, in good conscience, back reform of agricultural supports, which see each cow in the EU living on $2 daily, while half the world's people live on less.

Euro MPs have a binding vote on future financing. I will be seeking the new budget to take note of the economic realities, and look to provide proportional support to help the high tech industries, communities and local businesses across Essex and Suffolk to develop, while finding the best deal for local farmers.

Richard Howitt is Labour Euro MP for the East of England. Email: richard.howitt@geo2.poptel.org.uk

 

 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter