Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

EU directive could force Wales to waste millions on 'bureaucracy' 03.10.09

By Martin Shipton
Source: Wales Online

FINANCE WALES would be forced to waste millions of pounds on unnecessary bureaucracy if a draft European Directive goes ahead in its current form, according to Welsh Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne.

As things stand, the Assembly Government''s investment arm is covered by the proposal to increase the regulation of hedge funds and venture capital.

Dr Swinburne, a former highflying banker who in June was elected to represent Wales in the European Parliament, said she had taken the issue up with EU officials and was pressing for changes to be made.

According to the EU, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive will "introduce a harmonised, comprehensive and effective regulatory and supervisory framework" for the organisations affected. The entire sector - including hedge funds, private equity funds, commodity funds, real estate funds and infrastructure funds - is relatively large within the EU, managing assets worth around two trillion at the end of 2008.

The stated objectives of the AIFM Directive are to: Ensure that all AIFM are subject to appropriate authorisation and registration requirements; provide a framework for the enhanced monitoring of macroprudential risks, e.g. through sharing of relevant data among supervisors; improve risk management and organisational safeguards to mitigate micro-prudential risks; enhance investor protection; improve public accountability for AIFM holding controlling stakes in companies, and, develop the single market for AIFM.

But Dr Swinburne said: "An unintended consequence of the directive as it stands will be to introduce a huge amount of bureaucracy for Finance Wales. There would be the need to employ a whole team of compliance executives, as well as the need to contribute to a protection fund which could amount to 5% of its assets. With investment funds totalling around pounds 270m, that would be an enormous burden, and would cut down on the amount available to invest in new and expanding businesses."

Dr Swinburne said Finance Wales would be covered by the proposed directive because it accepts investment from a number of sources - the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank and, for example, Barclays Bank.

She said: "The fact is that Finance Wales is already sufficiently regulated by the Financial Services Authority. It does not need a further tier of bureaucracy. A lot of the drive for this directive comes from a dislike of hedge funds in some quarters, but the fact is it was not hedge funds that were responsible for the global financial crisis but commercial banks that engaged in imprudent lending.

"As it stands it would also be damaging for Britain because a lot of alternative investment comes from US sources, and they are not at all happy about the level of regulation that is being proposed."

Dr Swinburne said she was one of only a small number of MEPs who had worked in the financial sector.

"Together with a number of colleagues I have been looking at this proposed directive very carefully," she said.

"I have already made strong representations to the Commission and the Council of Ministers and I am hopeful that the directive in its final form will be more sensible.

"Because this is a proposal that has to be approved by all three arms of the EU, I also have the option to propose amendments to the European Parliament.

"As it stands the directive would cause serious damage not simply to Finance Wales but to other sectors like sustainable equity funds in Germany and the Lithuanian mortgage market."

The EU institutions want the directive to be passed by 2011.

An Assembly Government spokesman said: "Finance Wales is considering what, if any, implications this proposal may have on their activities."
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Welsh Conservatives

The European Commission has today designated European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to the well-known Pembrokeshire Early Potato from West Wales.
The Pembrokeshire Early Potato was one of only three quality farm products whose applications for PGI status were approved today.
The EU PGI schemes protect product names against misuse and under these schemes more than 1200 products are already protected.
Commenting on this announcement from the European Commission today Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – who is from West Wales - said:
"I am delighted to see that this application to have "Pembrokeshire Earlies" added to the register of PGI products has been approved by the European Commission today."

"Achieving this prestigious status is a clear acknowledgment of the high-quality and distinctive produce we continue to deliver in Wales. Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes thoroughly deserve their place alongside the well-known food and drink products from right across the EU which already feature on the PGI register."


Kay was delighted to host an event to celebrate Higher Education, Science and Innovation in Wales last night in the European Parliament.  The event builds on the British Council’s “Strategic Analysis of the Welsh Higher Education Sector, Distinctive Assets”.  A number of experts spoke to share their views of Welsh HE at the event and how it can develop in the future.

In advance of the 'Fox-Hafner Report' vote on the single seat for the European Parliament, Kay and the other UK Conservative MEPs feel it is right to draw attention to the fact that the seven-year cost of the dual-seat arrangement comes to £928,000,000. Since her election to the European Parliament in 2009, Kay has strongly supported bringing the monthly Parliamentary meetings in Strasbourg to an end and therefore saving taxpayers a considerable sum of money.


Kay was delighted to meet Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the EU's Sakharov Human Rights Prize at the European Parliament today.

Following Malala’s speech to the European Parliament, Kay said, “What an inspirational speech Malala gave to the Members of the European Parliament today. As a mother of young children myself, I hope that they can also aspire to achieve like her. Malala is an exceptional young lady who has overcome adversity by tremendous force of character and a passionate belief in the right of everybody to enjoy and benefit from education.”   


Kay was very pleased to meet with members of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Group at the European Parliament in Brussels, one of four groups set up in key Welsh research strengths to engage with EU research funds. The delegation visiting Brussels included representatives from Cardiff University, Bangor University, Swansea University and Trinity St.Davids University.

In advance of tomorrow's European Council meeting of leaders, Dr Swinburne has echoed the recommendations made in a recent report published by a number of business leaders, which highlights the importance of removing barriers to business competitiveness in Europe and getting rid of burdensome legislation by cutting EU red tape.

Last year Dr Swinburne encouraged businesses in Wales to highlight to the European Commission which over-burdensome regulations they would like to see slashed, by writing to small businesses all over Wales and asking them to tell her their red-tape problems.

Electronic cigarettes no longer face being taken off the shelves by the EU after Conservative MEPs were successful today in amending EU legislation on tobacco labelling.

Conservative MEP's led the amendment to defeat proposals that would have classified e-cigarettes as medicinal products, meaning they would have to undergo an overly burdensome and costly authorisation procedure, which would go beyond the procedures for traditional tobacco products... (Read more under 'Articles')



Welsh Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne has been sitting down with leaders in Europe's biotech field to choose the top five candidates to compete in this year's EuropaBio Most Innovative EU Biotech SME Award.

As a member of this year's judging committee, Kay is once again supporting the EuropaBio award, which has attracted applications from all three sectors of biotechnology - healthcare, industrial and agricultural, from across the EU... (Read more under 'Articles')


WELSH Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne today hailed a vote in the European Parliament as a "wake-up call" in the battle to save Europe's endangered languages.

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg backed a report which calls on governments across the EU to develop action plans to encourage continued linguistic diversity.

The report, written by Corsican MEP François Alfonsi, also says governments should be "more attentive" to threats which may lead to languages becoming extinct.

Dr Swinburne, who was a shadow rapporteur for the report, has argued that Welsh can be seen as a positive example of language revitalisation which communities across the EU should follow... (Read more under 'Articles')

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