Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Explanation of Votes, Strasbourg, 15.02.12

Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States
The EU should not have responsibility over setting an EU strategy on jobs or for developing an EU-level strategy for employment. I fundamentally believe that Member States are better placed to make decisions on employment and develop their own employment strategy. A one-size-fits-all model really cannot be applied as the employment situation in each Member State, and indeed within Member states as in the case of Wales within the UK, is affected by different factors. A tailored and targeted approach must be adopted to ensure that we tackle local priorities for employment and find specific measures that improve future employment opportunities, especially for our young people. Care needs to be taken with this EU wide strategy.
Food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union
Although this proposal allows the continuation of a scheme which provides food for deprived individuals in some EU Member States, I do not agree that €500 million should be allocated for this scheme from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget. This essentially is a social policy which therefore should not be part of the CAP. Indeed I question whether it should even be funded by the EU budget. Social policy and its implementation should be a Member State competence and so this initiative should be funded by national social and welfare programmes. CAP payments should support agriculture and rural development, structural funds should improve competitiveness. If this is to be funded from the limited EU budget then, it should only be sourced from within the existing European Social Fund which is for social purposes. I am pleased to hear the Commission say today that they recognised this fact.

Radio spectrum policy
The EU radio spectrum policy makes sensible proposals in line with the digital switchover and will help Member States in driving innovation through the release of funds, whilst safeguarding services at a local level. Without doubt, the radio spectrum could be used more efficiently as we complete the transition to digital. We need to ensure that band width previously required is now released for this spectrum to be allocated for use elsewhere.
Measures which facilitate access to broadband in rural areas is to be welcomed. I know this recommendation and subsequent action will be particularly beneficial to my constituents in Wales as there is a severe lack of broadband coverage in some of our more remote areas, a situation which needs to be urgently remedied.
Contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector
The report on contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector addresses the issue of the lack of bargaining power that farmers have when they negotiate the price of their milk with retailers. Farmers in Wales should have greater bargaining power and control over the price they receive for their milk. This has become ever more important as the number of dairy farmers in Wales has halved over the past decade from 4000 to 2000 farms. It is right that contracts should continue to remain voluntary at national level and the Welsh Government could intervene in this way should it be deemed necessary. However, I would be opposed to introducing a mandatory EU-wide contract as this would only increase the bureaucratic burden for Member States and farmers alike.
For those Member States that choose to impose contracts, it is sensible to require certain conditions to be met in the contract relating to the price to be paid and the duration. This will be particularly important for farmers in giving them a better sense of certainty and stability in the current economic climate. An increase of only a few pence per litre in the average price for milk would significantly change the economic position of the dairy sector in Wales and secure its future.

Employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth survey 2012
I agree with the premise of this report that all Member states should be looking at ways to foster growth in order to get out of the crisis. Ideally, the Annual Growth Survey would work in parallel with the Economic Governance package and the EU could add value by coordinating what is being done at the Member state level. However, the Parliament in this report has decided to focus on broad sweeping EU schemes and taxation - including the ludicrous Financial Transaction Tax. Worse, it tries to come up with an EU approach to unemployment as though it can be solved by some EU silver bullet. The reasons behind unemployment and the measures Member States may use to tackle it are culturally and market specific. Other groups may be happy to agree to an "EU policy" but the challenge will be for them to come to an agreement as to the content of such policies given the many divergent views.
Contribution to the Annual Growth Survey 2012
In the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, we spent a long time discussing this report and there is much in there on growth and innovation that I to support. However, I cannot accept the central conclusion of this report namely that we need to change the EU treaty in order to give the Parliament co-decision rights over the Annual Growth Survey.
I am not convinced this is something we should legislate for - it is fundamentally a matter for member states and not a policy area where the Parliament would add value.
I find it concerning that yet again the European Parliament is naval gazing over its institutions and the interaction between them instead of seeking proportionate responses to the current crisis.
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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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