Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Strasbourg Plenary Session Summary, 22.11.13


In what was a very busy plenary session in Strasbourg this week, Members of the European Parliament agreed a number of key files which lay out the funding and the framework for actions in areas such as agriculture, research and development and cohesion policy in the forthcoming years.


  • MEP's voted to approve the European Union's long-term budget for 2014-2020


The negotiations to finalise this budget have been long and complex but Conservatives have continued to support the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister at the European Council, which represents the first cut in the EU budget since multiannual budgeting was introduced in 1993.


The deal struck with the Council on the MFF sets the Commitment appropriation ceiling at €960bn/£812bn or 1% GNI (a €15bn/£13bn cut from the current level and an €85bn/£72bn cut from the Commission proposal), this is a 3.4% cut on the current framework.


The payment appropriation (actual cash) ceiling is set at €908bn/£768bn or 0.95% GNI (a €17.176bn/£14.56bn cut from the current level and €79.2bn/£67bn cut from the Commission proposal), this is a 3.7% cut on the current framework.  This is the lowest ever % since multiannual budgets were introduced in 1993 and the first time that the EU budget has been cut. 


It also keeps the UK rebate in its current form, ensures no new own resources (such as the FTT) for the duration of the new MFF and prioritises funds in areas such as research and development.


  • MEP's vote in favour of the Common Agricultural Policy reform


The deal approved by the European Parliament this week contained five legislative acts; four regulations which outline EU agricultural policy (including the regulations on direct payments and rural development), as well as a transitional regulation which sets out rules to allow the CAP to continue to function in 2014.


Unfortunately the agreement reached on the CAP represents a real missed opportunity for deeper reform. Whilst the political group which I belong to, the ECR, was able to secure some important wins, such as more proportionate sanctions for minor infringements in the Horizontal Regulation and the prevention of possible double funding in the Rural Development Regulation, I remain very disappointed with the agreement reached on the Direct Payments and the Single CMO regulations.


These regulations move the CAP in completely the wrong direction, favouring interventionist policies when we should be trying to establish a more market facing approach and failing to put in place the measures needed to address the key challenge of food security. Farmers deserve a policy that supports competitive and efficient farming and I am disappointed that the reform does not go further towards delivering this.


  • Parliament gives its backing to new Horizon 2020 research programme


Horizon 2020 is the EU's brand new €70.2 billion framework programme for research and innovation which was approved by MEP's at Thursday's voting session.


Horizon 2020 will structure its support for research and innovation around 3 pillars:

- Excellence in Science

- Industrial leadership

- Societal challenges


It will also introduce a single set of simplified rules that will cover all aspects of Horizon 2020 and should remove some of the bureaucracy and administrative burdens that researchers and businesses applying for EU research programmes have encountered in the past.



  • EU's Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 agreed


Structural funding from the European Union is vitally important for improving economic competitiveness in Wales, in particular for the area of West Wales and the Valleys, which will once again qualify for convergence funding for 2014-2020.


At the vote on Wednesday Members of the European Parliament approved a legislative package that lays out the common rules for the key EU structural and investment funds throughout the next programme. This includes funds such as the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, both of which finance the structural funding we receive in Wales.


I spoke in the debate on this Cohesion Policy package held in advance of the vote and I referred then to the welcome focus within this package on the need for better spending. I really hope that this is something that we will also see reflected back home in Wales, so that we can guarantee these funds are used effectively and ensure that maximum economic growth is generated as a result.


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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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