Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Explanation of Votes, Strasbourg, 19.04.12

Risk sharing instruments for Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability
We are all aware that the current financial crisis has had an adverse impact on the macroeconomic stability of many Member States and so has made it difficult to access finance. Whilst I understand that this lack of readily available finance is making it difficult for many projects under the Cohesion Policy to continue, it can be argued that having this additional instrument alone, as proposed in the report, may not be entirely effective in addressing this difficulty.
Although this instrument does address the immediate problem of funds available for investment, it does not tackle the underlying issue of why some projects are not as successful as they should be. The issue of how the project has been implemented has been entirely overlooked and solely addressing the financial issues that Member States face will not guarantee the success of the projects.
A clear vision, a clear programme for implementation with specific measurable outcomes, which generate economic returns for the Member States in question, need to be ensured, as well as full accountability and transparency on risk sharing. Without these assurances, I cannot support the report.

EU-USA agreement on the use and transfer of PNR to the US Department of Homeland Security
The sharing of passenger name record data has become a controversial issue; however I have decided to support this report since I feel the recommendations made are necessary and entirely proportionate. The agreement between the EU and the US on the transfer of the passenger name records has undergone significant improvements, particularly in relation to increasing protection and the retention period of passenger data, which has been one of the main concerns for my constituents in Wales.
It is also worth noting that this sharing of data has already proven to be instrumental in providing vital information on a number of criminal activities, including illegal drug trafficking and assisting in capturing those responsible for the atrocious 7/7 London bombings in my own Member State. As long as there are adequate safeguards on protecting personal information, it is a justified and worthwhile agreement that should be supported by all. 

Common consolidated corporate tax base
I firmly believe that tax policy is a matter for Member States and should not be regulated for at an EU level.
Yet this proposal from the Commission, in its original form, took an approach that would have been optional for companies and perhaps might have made it easier for companies to operate across the single market and could have been adjusted by the Council to ensure that it did not step on their sovereign rights.
However, the Parliament has gone from this optional mechanism to the extreme of arguing for a mandatory tax that would end up covering all Member States and all companies except for SMEs.
This report is a prime example of why I am glad that this Parliament does not have co-decision powers over taxation and that rightly, any new proposals require a unanimous decision by Council in order to be enacted. Taxation is a fundamental power of each sovereign Member State and should remain so.

Taxation of energy products and electricity
I have voted against the report on taxation of energy products and electricity as I do not support a number of proposals that it makes. This includes the introduction of proportionality, the removal of exemptions for certain sectors that Member States could introduce at their discretion including agricultural fuels – known in the UK as red diesel, and that calculations should be based on energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Taxation needs to remain an issue solely for Member States.
At a time when businesses and farmers across the EU are struggling to make ends meet, I think it is wholly unjustifiable to put additional new requirements on them to meet emission targets. The proposals in the report would require the measures to be implemented too quickly and would be heavily burdensome for my businesses and farmers in Wales.
Whilst I support the EU’s endeavours to reduce emissions, I do not believe taxation of energy products and electricity is the right way to achieve this. It would perhaps be more prudent to encourage businesses to invest in modernising technology so that it is more effective and energy efficient.

Call for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion
For the avoidance of any doubt, I fully support the motion title that we need to find pan European, and indeed global, ways of combating tax fraud and tax evasion. However, beyond the title, this report has addressed many issues which I believe are not helpful, including:
-         Preventing Member States from engaging in bilateral negotiations with non-EU countries on taxation matters which presumably is addressing the recent UK-Swiss agreement on accounts.
-         It suggests that tax competition is to be avoided as it stifles economic recovery – something I fundamentally disagree with as tax competition, I believe, is a tool we should use to improve our competitiveness.
-         And it suggests the clamping down on tax havens but redefines them as opposed to using the globally accepted OECD definition.
I therefore could not support this report despite being committed to tackling tax evasion and tax fraud globally.
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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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