Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

KAY SWINBURNE: Delivering for Wales in Europe, Welsh Conservative Party Conference, Cardiff, 05.03.11

Addressing the Spring Forum at the Welsh Conference, Kay Swinburne MEP, Welsh Conservative Member of the European Parliament and ECR Group Coordinator for Economic and Monetary Affairs, said:
Good morning Conference - Bore Da, Gynhadledd
Fel ASE Ceidwadol dros Gymru, mae’n fraint eich croesawu chi i gyd o ledled y Deyrnas Unedig i brifddinas Cymru.
As the Conservative MEP for Wales I am delighted to welcome you all from across the UK to our Welsh capital.
Dyw hi ddim yn teimlo’n hir iawn ers i fi fod yn sefyll ar y llwyfan hwn yn annerch y gynhadledd yn dilyn ein llwyddiant yn yr etholiadau Ewropeaidd, etholiad lle daeth y Ceidwadwyr Cymreig yn gyntaf yng Nghymru am y tro cyntaf o fewn cof.
It does not seem very long ago that I stood on this stage addressing conference following our success in the European Elections, an election where the Welsh Conservatives topped the polls in Wales for the first time in living memory.
The months following my election have flown by and the learning curve has been particularly steep as our political Party and Group in Europe have tasked me with leading the legislative work on economic issues.
At a critical time in the direct aftermath of the worst financial crisis this is a huge challenge and one which I hope my background in finance is helping me to meet.
Love it or loathe it, the EU is currently extremely busy on future legislation which will affect us here in Wales and the UK. However, the only way to ensure that the Directives and Regulations are delivered to the relevant Government for implementation in a suitable form is to engage in the process throughout. This is what we within the ECR are striving to do, and despite the media silence on many of these critically important matters it is what we are succeeding in doing across the different policy areas. Whether it is on financial derivatives, fish discards or on cross-border healthcare directives, or negotiating the size of the EU budget itself - the UK Conservative MEPs are seeking to deliver for you, our constituents.
However, it is our economy, here in the UK that I wish to talk about at conference today, hopefully demonstrating the folly of the Welsh First Minister who last week described the 2% drop in Welsh GDP announced by the EU's statistical office as a legacy of the 1980s.
I fail to see how this period in our country's history has anything to do with GDP figures 3 decades later.
For comparison, a similar population in previously Communist Slovenia managed, between 1998 and 2008 to improve their GDP from just under 70% of the EU average to greater than 90% of the EU average. Whilst during the same period Wales has remained below 75% of the average. This, despite Wales being in receipt of some 3 billion pounds of additional EU money in the last 10 years. This simply cannot be right.
Wales, more than most regions of the UK has a huge vested interest in the EU budget. The current budget has 2 items which account for some 40% and 46% of the overall EU budget, namely, CAP, the common agricultural policy and the convergence and competitiveness funds.
Wales is in receipt of large amounts of EU convergence funds, as, to our shame, we have qualified for a second round of top level funding, as well as a smaller amount of competitiveness funding and of course our rural communities are very much reliant on an effective CAP which recognises the unique aspects of farming in Wales.
Whilst within various parts of the EU, China and India to name but a few, there is a lot of enthusiasm and energy going into forward looking projects and funding strategies - the buzz words being research and development, innovation and competition in a global market - it seems that in Wales the focus is backward looking, particularly when it comes to the need and use of EU funds.
All the Welsh Assembly Government can do is focus on those funds it receives for being one of the worst performing regions of the EU - Carwyn Jones welcomed economic statistics that showed how badly Wales was doing as it gave them more scope to argue for more EU money.

A recent question posed by the Western Mail - "Would qualifying for more EU funds be a national disgrace?" is simply answered by Yes!
Wales has been let down by an Assembly Government who have failed to use the funds effectively, failed to raise our economy to that of the average of an enlarged EU, and failed the people of Wales. They should be ashamed.
In an age of ballooning public deficits, where the previous government maxed out the national credit card, WAG cannot expect to continue spreading a tale of industrial degeneration and urban poverty from the 80s and expect handouts that can then be squandered on non wealth creating projects - beneficial social projects perhaps, but certainly not regenerating our Welsh economy.
The Financial Crisis committee in the Parliament has been looking at the measures required within the EU to stimulate future growth. These have featured access to venture capital, flexible use of cohesion funding for infrastructure, leveraging the EIB´s expertise in financing large projects and taking measures to help different region´s competitiveness.
Wales currently has all of these remedies at hand. We have through Finance Wales got access to venture capital funds for our business community - though try finding Welsh companies who are recipients of their investment funds. Our Welsh businesses constantly complain about being excluded from the Convergence funding pot and more dishearteningly the WAG has failed to utilise the EIB activities to fund infrastructure projects within Wales.
Given the precarious state of the Welsh economy, I sincerely hope that when the EU budget is renegotiated over the coming years that those projects which are valuable do not end up without funding - however there are many other, positively focussed parts of the EU's strategy for growth that are not hand outs, but specifically aimed at new industries, research and innovation - yet the WAG has proven itself woefully inadequate in assisting our innovative companies in securing these funds.
The 7th Framework for Research and Technological Development is one of these programmes. You may wonder about the 6 earlier programmes - In the 6th Framework Wales managed to get just 2.6% of all of the money allocated in the UK some 26 million euros out of the 1.35 billion euros the UK received as a whole.
Framework 7 is aimed at places like Wales. Large companies can access up to 50% of the money used for a research project from the EU this number rises to 75% for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. Given that 98% of the businesses in Wales are classed as SMEs this could be a huge bonus, allowing them to invest in new technology and develop new products as well as fostering partnerships across the EU allowing expansion into new markets.
Wales's two hundred thousand Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises contribute over 40 billion pounds in turnover to the Welsh economy, and employing over 600 thousand people throughout Wales.
Yet where is the help for them?
The one thing that unites MEPs across all of the European Political parties is helping SMEs - it is a piece of EU jargon that is actually working its way from sound bite to action in the form of the small business act.
Whereas the EU is focussed on cutting red tape and supporting SMEs, the WAG is clearly lagging.
Under a recent review of public procurement rules, the Commission proposed reforms so that smaller businesses can access more contracts. The WAG needs to immediately reform its procurement procedures in order to ensure access to it’s £4.6bn procurement budget for Welsh SMEs and help foster economic vitality directly in these difficult economic times.
The Conservatives in the European Parliament have made it their priority to stop damaging legislation and promote positive measures to help the SMEs that are the backbone of the Welsh economy. They provide jobs and training to generations of Welsh families – they need our support.
I can only hope that companies, large and small in Wales will continue to engage with the EU and work to ensure that EU funds are used responsibly to innovate and develop new ways to allow Wales to compete at the forefront of the EU´s attempts to stimulate growth.
Wales has a wealth of talented businessmen and women whose ideas need to be harnessed and encouraged without burdening them with regulation. SMEs hold the key to economic regeneration in Wales, the UK and the EU as a whole and I will continue to work with my Conservative colleagues to ensure that the Commission fully understands what they require.
Wales can have a strong future and I truly believe only the Welsh Conservatives can deliver these ambitions!
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Kay was delighted to help launch a European Parliamentary Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care this week. This Interest Group is led by Health First Europe and with Kay’s support as one of the Co-Chairs will aim to facilitate greater focus on improving patient access to innovation in health and social care and to address key policy objectives around research, health promotion and public health at EU level.

Ensuring that public health is a Parliamentary priority in the next term, the Interest Group will focus its activities on prioritising innovation on the EU health and social care agenda, raising awareness of patient-centric solutions for sustainable, accessible and resilient health systems, and seeking broad support from MEPs for implementing innovative solutions for patients and healthcare professionals.

The Interest Group was launched on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of Health First Europe, bringing together officials from the European Institutions and health stakeholders to celebrate the past work of the association on a variety of key health issues.  The first meeting of the Interest Group will take place in 2015.


Kay was really pleased to welcome representatives from Swansea Conservative Future to the European Parliament, so that they could hear more about her work as an MEP and view this month’s mini-plenary session first-hand!


Kay was delighted to welcome a group of 12 constituents from Porthcawl to the European Parliament to discuss how European Union funding can be better used going forwards
to help grow businesses in Wales.


I was delighted to meet with members of British Council Wales to discuss the ways in which they promote Wales on an international stage.  We covered a wide range of issues including the Erasmus Plus programme, how efforts may be coordinated to showcase Wales globally and how to actively involve and educate Welsh schools as to what goes on in the European Parliament.

23/09/2014 Today Kay will be meeting with NFU Cymru President Stephen James and NFU Cymru Director John Mercer. Kay will have the opportunity to discuss the key current issues facing farmers, mainly being: The new CAP rules set to be implemented in just over three months and the new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development who will be questioned on Thursday 2nd October on what he intends to achieve if his position is confirmed.

Welsh Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne met local fishermen to discuss support for those unable to put to sea because of the severe winter storms.

Dr Swinburne was in Tenby for a meeting with the New Under Ten Fishermen's Association, which represents those operating in boats under 10m in length.

Inshore fleets in Wales have been particularly badly affected this winter as storms have prevented them from going to sea.

Fishermen have faced the choice of risking their lives at sea or not having enough money to pay their bills and feed their families. It was only by mid-February that fishermen were able to return to the sea after almost two months of inactivity.

Following pressure from Conservatives in the European Parliament, the European Commission revealed that support can be provided via EU schemes such as the European Fisheries Fund... (Read more under 'Articles')


Conservatives rallied sufficient support during a full plenary session in Brussels to overturn an earlier decision by the Environment Committee under which the EU would have attempted to force non-European airlines to pay a carbon levy every time they flew in or out of the EU. This would have provoked retaliation which could have severely damaged the UK's aerospace sector.


During the vote Plaid MEP Jill Evans joined Green colleagues in rejecting proposals to continue exempting non-European airlines from its Emissions Trading Scheme... (Read more under 'Articles')


Dr Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP for Wales, has today become a Freeman of the City of London.

Dr Swinburne collected her Freedom of the City in a ceremony that took place today at London's Guildhall, in recognition of her work throughout this mandate as a Member of the European Parliament, particularly during her period as Co-ordinator on Economic and Monetary Affairs for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

The granting of the Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest traditional ceremonies still in existence today...(Read more under 'Articles')


Dr Kay Swinburne MEP was delighted to welcome the Gwent Magistrates to the European Parliament in Brussels this week. The group, led by Revis Williams, enjoyed an informative talk about the workings and the history of the European institutions, followed by a visit of the main Parliament buildings.


The group also listened to the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee, and watched a televised briefing by UK Government Minister of State for Europe, David Lidington MP.


Speaking of the Gwent Magistrates' visit to the European Parliament, Dr Swinburne remarked:


"The opportunity to welcome Welsh constituents to the European Parliament, whether it be in Brussels or Strasbourg, is always an occasion which I look forward to. It was a pleasure to meet the Gwent Magistrates this week, and I look forward to hearing from them in the near future."


The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Royal Air Force is reforming an auxiliary squadron in Wales, 57 years after its disbandment. The announcement follows a series of proposals outlined in the independent review of the UK's reserve forces, part of the overall strategic defence and security review in 2010.


The newly reformed squadron’s commanding officer, Wing Commander Phil Sagar, said:


“As reserves play a bigger part in the UK’s military strategy, the reforming of 614 Squadron will provide an exciting and challenging opportunity for people in Wales to be part of the future of their Royal Air Force."


Efforts to re-launch 614 Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force is now nearing completion, with an emphasis to start recruiting personnel to man the squadron in the near future.


Upon learning of the announcement, Dr Swinburne MEP commented:


"I am delighted to hear of the Ministry of Defence's decision to reform 614 Squadron in Wales, especially considering the UK's reserve forces play such a crucial role in the nation's defence capabilities.


"The opportunities to develop skills in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron are endless, and provide for an excellent opportunity for those who are interested to train with likeminded driven, and professional individuals.


"I wish Wing Commander Sagar the best in the recruitment process for the squadron, and look forward to hearing of its successes in the weeks and months to come."


If you are interested in joining the reserve forces, find out how you can get involved at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defence/about/recruitment#join-the-reserves

Conservatives in the European Parliament have contacted the European Commission seeking information about EU funds for those facing financial losses because of the storms.


Inshore fleets, including those in Wales and southern England, have been particularly badly affected this winter as storms have prevented them from going to sea.


According to Dr Swinburne fishermen have faced the choice of risking their lives at sea or not having enough money to pay their bills and feed their families. Fishermen were finally able to return to the sea only last weekend after almost two months of inactivity.


Following pressure from Conservative MEPs, the European Commission has revealed that support can be provided via EU schemes such as the European Fisheries Fund...(Read more under 'Articles')



In advance of tomorrow's European Parliament vote on the Tobacco Products Directive UK Conservative MEPs gather to show that they are 'still fuming' about EU proposals to over-regulate e-cigarettes. Many of the companies currently supplying Welsh constituents with these less harmful alternatives to tobacco products are small Welsh businesses. As the proposal currently stands it would be draconian and likely to result in the e-cigarette business being moved to the pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies themselves. Another unintended consequence would also be that the sponsorship of the Merthyr stadium by Welsh Company, E-ciggs would also be unlikely to be allowed if these measures are adopted unchanged.


Dr Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP for Wales, will join representatives of UK thalidomide survivors today to meet with Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, in Strasbourg.

These representatives have campaigned tirelessly for proper compensation for thalidomide survivors, from the German manufacturer of the drug, Grunenthal.

Speaking in advance of today's meeting Dr Swinburne MEP said:

"I am very pleased to have the opportunity to join the representatives at this crucial meeting today."

"Proper compensation from Grunenthal for thalidomide survivors is long over-due, but these representatives have refused to give up, campaigning continually for justice."

"I have already written to Commissioner Borg stating my support for their campaign and I really hope that together we will be able to secure the help of the Commissioner, in brokering a meeting between the representatives of UK thalidomide survivors, the German Government and Grunenthal."


Wales has already benefitted from £57 million pounds of UK Government investment in the Superfast Cymru project, but today's news that local projects in Wales will receive an additional £12 million of funding, focusing in particular on rural areas, will come as a welcome boost to businesses and families, who are yet to reap the benefits of superfast broadband.

Commenting on the news Dr Swinburne MEP said:

"This is great news for Wales. We are already seeing the value that investment in superfast broadband can bring, but it is vital we ensure that no community in Wales is left behind and this kind of extra funding can help us to achieve this goal and deliver a real boost to our rural economies."

"Superfast broadband can also unlock direct access to EU markets for our Welsh businesses, providing real opportunities for growth and for export."

"This extra funding is a clear signal of the UK Government's commitment to investing in broadband infrastructure for people in Wales and I look forward to seeing this funding aiding the delivery of the new technology to the doorsteps of as many homes and businesses in Wales as soon as possible."


Dr Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP for Wales, has today met with European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, László Andor, who is currently making a visit to Cardiff. At an event in Ty Hywel, to welcome the Commissioner, she had the opportunity to discuss with him her thoughts on how Wales can ensure it generates the absolute maximum benefit from its new allocation of European Union funding for 2014 – 2020.

During his visit, Commissioner Andor will also be visiting the sites of three European Social Fund projects in Wales, to see how our communities have already been aided by EU funding.


The plans outlined by the Welsh Government on how Common Agricultural Policy funds will be distributed have confirmed that they will transfer 15% of the CAP Single Farm Payment from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 (Rural Development Programme).

15% is the maximum amount allowed, when it comes to transferring funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 and it is a bigger chunk of the budget than is planned in England, where the Government will only initially move 12% of the funds available and then gradually increase the amount to 15%. This initial reduction is designed to provide some comfort to farmers who are worried that this transfer of funds could leave them disadvantaged.


Commenting on this decision by the Welsh Government to opt for the maximum 15% transfer Dr Swinburne, Conservative MEP for Wales said:


“I am disappointed to see that the Welsh Government have not chosen to offer our farmers the same sliding scale that farmers in England are going to receive. Conservative MEP's fought hard for the flexibility and it is a shame that the Welsh Government are not using it to help Welsh farmers".


“In failing to opt for the 12% transfer rate, the Welsh Government has missed a vital opportunity to address some of the understandable concerns our farmers have and to offer Welsh farmers a helping hand in what is a hugely competitive European agricultural market.”

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