Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Explanation of Votes, Brussels, 29.03.12

European Refugee Fund 2008 to 2013
Both asylum and immigration are issues that are unique to each Member State and so I fundamentally oppose any move towards creating any form of Common European Asylum System. A one size-fits-all measure, as suggested in the report on a European Refugee Fund, is not the answer since it cannot possibly take into account the speficities that each Member States faces with asylum and immigration.
I would like to highlight that some Member States, my own in particular – already have a number of measures to assist asylum seekers and those fleeing from persecution.
It is quite right that we do as much as we can to help those who legitimately seek refuge in Europe from persecution, however it may be wise for the EU as a whole and the individual Member States, where appropriate, to also enhance cooperation and communication with those countries of origination, and to also look at ways of improving the resettlement of individuals in the long-term so that satisfactory safeguards for their future can be assured.

Estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2013 – Section I – Parliament (Derek Vaughan)
I welcome the fact that the report on the revenue and expenditure for 2013, authored by my Welsh colleague Derek Vaughan, suggests a more modest increase of 1.9% to the 2013 budget. Nevertheless, I would still maintain that there should be no increase in the budget, particularly due to the increased pressure and stress that national budgets are currently facing.
Within the report there are however, many positive examples of how the parliament can reduce it's expenditure for 2013.
In particular, I supported the proposal, that the European Parliament should have a single seat. This would make substantial savings, as illustrated in a number of publically available reports, and would further help to avoid the wasteful duplication of office space and the unnecessary journey to Strasbourg every month. It is high time that we demonstrate that we truly understand the necessity of making cost savings especially when Member States are having to significantly tighten their belts.

Situation in Belarus
I find the situation in Belarus of great concern. Over the past 15 years we have watched from the EU as the situation for people's personal rights as well as their living standard have gradually deteriorated
Given that the Lukashenka government has returned to a system of repression and control, I welcome this latest round of EU sanctions and join the international condemnation of the Lukashenka regime. I hope that the EU is now working on a more long term plan for helping the people of Belarus reform their country and over time enable them to rejoin the rest of Europe in a world of democracy and freedom.

Serbia has made significant progress over the past year and there are a lot of positive items in this report.
I am happy to support the continued progress that the country is making and hope that the Government of Serbia will continue to do the hard work of reforming their judicial system and civil administration as well as ensuring their continued fight against corruption and organised crime.
It is attention to these fundamental issues that will really benefit the lives of Serbian citizens, whether or not they ultimately decide to join the EU.

Kosovo still has many internal issues to face before it can really be seen as on the path to joining the EU. Its troubled history means it has a long way to go in order to meet the many criteria of EU accession.
The continued problems over the return of internally displaced people as well as the treatment of Roma and minority groups more generally should be addressed as a matter of priority.
Basic freedoms are still not the norm in Kosovo and the international community still has a large part to play in helping her establish the basic pillars of independent statehood.

Enlargement report for Turkey
Although I welcome the moderate progress that has been made by Turkey since accession negotiations opened in 2005, further work and reform still does need to be carried out, as highlighted by the resolution. This is particularly pertinent in the reformation of its judiciary, ensuring there is a free press, freedom of expression for its citizens, and importantly the protection of minorities.
Turkey is likely to be a vital ally to the EU, in terms of security and ensuring prosperity in the longer term, it is therefore imperative that the EU continue to support measures to ensure lasting peace and stability. Turkey is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, given that its economy has tripled in size over the past decade. With 80% of Foreign Direct Investment in Turkey coming from the EU and it being one of the largest trading partners for the EU, we should not underestimate its economic importance and value

Enlargement report for Montenegro
Montenegro has made significant progress in making a number of reforms, in particular to its national parliament, improving its electoral framework and working towards an independent judiciary, which is why I welcome the Council’s decision to begin accession negotiations. Moreover, I welcome the adoption of anti-corruption legislation by the country and sincerely hope that these moves will encourage other accession countries to follow its example.
Further progress still needs to be made, notably in combating organised crime, however we are confident that these demands will be met. In this light, accession for Montenegro to the EU will be a positive development for the country should they choose to do so.

European Investment Bank – annual report 2010
Over the past few years the role of the EIB has extended beyond simply providing loans and assistance to countries, businesses and projects within the EU. As the EIB begins to use more risk based instruments and more complex types of leverage, we need to be very careful that the scrutiny of the EIB keeps pace with this change.
While projects like JERMIE in my own constituency in Wales have been very effective in adding value to the initial capital provided by the EIB thereby making money go further, we must remember that more complex financial instruments can bring with them new risks.
As the financial crisis has shown us, transparency is crucial to understanding the systemic importance and interconnectedness of financial products and institutions, yet I am concerned that there may not be sufficient financial supervision taking place over the operations and balance sheet of the EIB itself.
As we give the bank more responsibilities in particular to develop capital market infrastructure project bonds worth potentially trillions of euros we must be absolutely sure it is properly supervised and accountable to its shareholders the 27 Member States. While democratic scrutiny from this house is also necessary, it is not sufficient to continue with business as usual when potentially billions of euros may be at stake.

EU citizenship report 2010
Whilst I fully agree with the EU's principle of free movement of EU citizens across the EU, I have voted against the this report as it proposes a number of measures which I oppose, including the harmonisation of national social security schemes and the convergence of tax rules. Although I could support some of the other proposals put forward, I reject many others.
In particular the report criticises the citizenship test that is currently used in the UK to grant citizenship, I reject that criticism and would argue that the test utilised is proportionate and fair especially given the subsequent social benefits that are enjoyed by all UK citizens. The report claims that such issues are obstacles to EU citizen's rights however given the very large inward mobility of EU citizens to the UK, particularly amongst younger EU citizens, it would seem to suggest that existing processes are not a barrier to the free movement of individuals into the UK.
The EU should be a welcoming place for all European citizens, and I would suggest that the UK is the destination of choice for many because of such a welcome.
We should be congratulated not criticised for this.
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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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