Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Explanation of Votes, Strasbourg Plenary Session, 03.07.13

Registration documents for vehicles


Our roads in the UK are among some of the safest in Europe; however I do believe that it is important that we continually strive to improve our road safety both in the UK and across the whole of the EU.


I am pleased to support this proposal to amend the requirements outlined in the existing legislative framework which governs registration document for vehicles.


In this case however I hope that by returning this to committee the resulting agreements in trilogue will be able to strengthen the enforcement of the rules for roadside inspection and roadworthiness testing, and ensure that in particular these regimes are upheld in cases where the technical condition of a vehicle poses a risk to road safety.

Technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating in the Union


I am concerned about the proposal of these new measures on the technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles in the form of a regulation and not a directive.


Once again what works in one Member State may not always work in another. In the UK our roads are already among some of the safest in Europe and whilst I repeat that ensuring the highest standards of road safety possible across the EU must be a priority, we must also ensure that the legislation provides the flexibility necessary for Member States to implement these regimes according to their own requirements.


This current version fails this test of subsidiarity and so I hope the text when returned from the Committee and Council discussions reflects these concerns.

Periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers


Ensuring that the vehicles on our roads are as safe as possible and improving EU road safety is of course something that is of grave importance.


However I have concerns relating to the proposal to set such common EU wide minimum standards for vehicle checks in the form of a regulation and not a directive.


I do welcome the fact that some of the areas of concern within the proposal for periodic roadworthiness tests have been addressed, including the recognition of the fact that historical cars should be exempt from the legislation.


However I remain concerned about the proposal to include light trailers (under 3.5 tonnes) within the scope of this regulation. These proposals for the testing of light trailers would in particular result in unnecessary burden and costs for the caravan owners within Wales and those farmers who transport a small number of animals locally. And more generally smaller micro business operators who use trailers to transport goods around Wales. I hope that all smaller trailers (under 3.5 tonnes) can be excluded from the scope when this text is returned to plenary.

Priority substances in the field of water policy


As one of the many MEPs in the chamber with a scientific background, I am hugely concerned about the quality of the scientific analysis in many of the Commission’s proposals.


Good legislation should be based upon solid evidence and data and not rely purely on political negotiation over months and months in order to get it right.


I’m glad that the ENVI committee has managed to negotiate a positive outcome on this important report on water policy but I would really rather that a file as complicated and scientifically technical as this had started from a more solid scientific and evidence base. Lessons need to be learned.



Blue Growth


Inherent to Europe's marine life is diversity. What policy works for the beautiful coasts of West Wales that I call home may be completely different to that which works off the North Wales coast, let alone off Scotland, Spain or Cyprus. This diversity benefits the whole country and beyond, but requires specialist knowledge to understand and manage.


By its nature, the diversity we are keen to preserve, requires subsidiarity.


This report however, goes far beyond the concept of cross border cooperation and coordination that could be of benefit, and I worry that it could end up doing more harm than good by forcing a one size fits all approach when subsidiarity to include regional flexibility where appropriate, has to be the rule.


As previous speakers have also highlighted European diversity extends to our seas and so flexibility not prescription in any Blue Growth strategy is important.


Contribution of Cooperatives to overcoming the crisis


In the past the state hasn’t done a great job of picking winners and losers in the economy. This goes for business models as well as specific companies.


Dictating company structure and rigid methods of corporate governance could mean we end up in an even worse situation, should that business model prove to have weaknesses in times of stress.


In the banking sector there are still those in Plaid Cymru who claim that the UK Cooperative Bank has a solid funding base – something that its customers and the Bank of England would disagree with as it is subject to the latest funding crisis in the UK banking sector - forcing it's move from a co-operative to a publicly listed entity to recapitalise.


Lessons need to be learned from this example. There is no silver bullet for overcoming the current financial crisis. But I believe that we should be supporting a free market economy that can adapt to changing circumstances. It is precisely those sectors of the economy which have more diversity that are going to weather the crisis best. Some business models work better than others in different circumstances – we cannot know what challenges we will face in the coming years and should allow companies to work out what is best for them, and their customers.


Innovating for sustainable growth: A bioeconomy for Europe


'Innovating for sustainable growth, a bioeconomy for Europe' is a laudable objective especially as it is estimated that 22 million people in the EU are employed in the bioeconomy. As well as current jobs this is an area of huge potential for growth as this report recognises.


Science, research and innovation in areas that we are already world leaders are going to be crucial in the coming years. Yet we should not just be thinking of how to attract companies and encourage start-ups in these areas, we should also be looking at what might be seen as historic EU weaknesses and try to provide certainty that we really are overcoming them. Our attitudes to GM and stem cell research will be key to future success.


Sadly the scientific world is often held back by populist media scares which lead to badly thought out legislation. In new areas of research we need to be very sure that we are being responsible, where appropriate explaining the positives to our constituents so they are aware of the benefits that this bioscientific investment can have.


Bioscience is a passion of mine, and I would hope that we can ensure that any future legislation and funding of research and technology are designed to keep those 22 million jobs in the EU and expand upon them as far as possible.

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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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