Tragic events are a wake-up call

AS Christmas draws near we are all saddened and deeply concerned about the frightful series of murders that has taken place so close to home. They are a call to action for politicians at all levels.

AS Christmas draws near we are all saddened and deeply concerned about the frightful series of murders that has taken place so close to home. They are a call to action for politicians at all levels.

We should ask ourselves how a Suffolk town such as Ipswich has been allowed to become afflicted by gun crime, by so many strangers in our midst, by a widespread drug culture, and now by such dreadful violence. The growing problems have long been evident and it is a little late to lay bouquets and wring hands now.

I share the daily concerns of you all. I have also had some busy days in Brussels. We were delighted to welcome the Tory leader, David Cameron, sporting his signature green tie, as he came to show support for the formation of a new political group by the Tories in the next Parliament in 2009.

In the meantime, his Movement for European Reform will be a rallying point and vehicle for our reform agenda. Mr Cameron confirmed the Conservative Party's eurosceptic position. He reiterated the call for national referendums on any further transfer of power to Brussels.


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He strongly endorsed the opposition, which I have led, to EU meddling in defence, recognising that “Mr Blair gave away a lot at St Malo in 1998 and got nothing in return.” He agreed that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disaster and that recovery of powers over the so-called Social Chapter would be a priority for an incoming Conservative Government.

At the same time he called for a positive approach to competition policy, to reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, and to the relief of poverty in the developing world.

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As we prepare for guests and family over the holidays, we will come into contact with innumerable household chemical products. David Cameron's aim has been to help protect the environment and human health through the control of chemicals, which is why Tories in the European Parliament have voted in favour of much of the so-called REACH proposals. Hopefully we have achieved a balance which will lead towards the use of even safer products by next Christmas, without adversely affecting small businesses.

Amidst the season's frenzy, perhaps you will relax with some Christmas television or buy Christmas presents online. In spite of Conservative efforts, the European Parliament passed new TV Without Frontiers rules restricting TV and internet advertising and product placement. I am afraid that this legislation is a classic example of unnecessary EU interference. European programmes will be penalised with rules galore and plummeting revenues, while shows from elsewhere will still be produced and aired, exempt from such regulation - another own-goal.

As we look forward to Christmas, our thoughts turn to the Holy Land, where conflict continues all around. My farewell to the departing Israeli Ambassador in Brussels was an opportunity to continue our search for peace and freedom and to explore ways in which the deteriorating Dead Sea might be rescued, with wider benefit for people in the region.

I wish you all a very safe and happy Christmas and a successful New Year.

Geoffrey Van Orden is the Conservative MEP focusing on Essex and Suffolk. He can be contacted at: 88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 1RF or email: gvanorden@europarl.eu.int

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