Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Welsh Conservative Party Conference Speech, Swansea, 27.04.13

Prynhawn da, gynhadledd – Good afternoon Conference
 
Consistency, preparation, reputation.
 
Anyone working in business knows all three are essential for growth and success.
 
If management chop and change ideas or direction on a whim the rest of the company very often has no idea what the goal is. 
 
Different project areas going off in different directions may bring short term success.
 
But in the long term - without a coherent overall plan and proper communication - the company risks going off the rails.
 
The approach needed in politics is no different.
 
We know that in Wales our country is governed at many different levels.
 
By local and devolved government.
 
At Westminster, ensuring our continued, important role in the Union of the United Kingdom.
 
And in Brussels, where UK membership of the European Union gives us a voice to influence and access to a single market of 500 million-plus consumers.
 
We must learn lessons from the successes and failures of all levels of government affecting our country.
 
We must be consistent in our approach.
 
And avoid the temptation of changing course just because the political weather is rough.
 
Since being elected to the European Parliament four years ago - in that historic result which saw us beat Labour for the first time in almost a century - I have worked to get the best deal for Wales.
 
Working with colleagues from across the UK, and our friends from Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states, and elsewhere.
 
To create a more open Europe. 
 
A more flexible Europe. 
 
One free from bureaucracy which holds business back. 
 
A Europe which respects the rights of individual countries, but works together in common interest to get the best for all its citizens.
 
I know the only way to get the best deal for Wales and for the United Kingdom in the EU is for the United Kingdom and the EU to work together.
 
Working with our European partners in the national interest.
 
Not working against the EU and the national interest as UKIP does.
 
Working together to ensure Wales, the United Kingdom, and the EU can compete successfully on the global stage.
 
It is a vision our Prime Minister David Cameron shares.
 
And why he has taken a lead in arguing for Europe to change.
 
It's what sets us apart from Labour, the LibDems, and Plaid Cymru.
 
A positive approach to a new Europe.
 
Not the casual surrender of powers to Brussels.
 
It's why we must work together to expose the UKIP too.
 
Their approach is simple. 
 
Make people frightened of Europe and complain about the cost.
 
Nigel Farage thinks the solution to an unreformed Europe is to take his bat and ball away and play on his own.
 
That's not the way to sort out the problems of Europe.

 
You don't solve the Eurozone crisis;
 
Reform the Common Agriculture Policy; 
 
Protect the financial services sector which sustains so many jobs in the UK - as I have been doing;
 
Or give UK businesses more opportunities to trade with European partners through cheap sound bites and scare tactics.
 
The problems facing Europe today require serious solutions and serious politicians.
 
It's also why standing up for Wales does not mean standing opposed to Westminster, as Carwyn Jones seeks to do.
 
It has to be about - and always has been about - working together to find common purpose and achieve common goals.
 
But that's not Labour's way.
 
Theirs is to say one thing in Brussels. Another at Westminster and another in Cardiff. 
 
Take recent discussions over the EU budget.
 
It will run for the next seven years.
 
Many hundreds of billions of pounds are at stake.
 
It's still subject to tough negotiation between Europe's leaders, and in the European Parliament.
 
Last year David Cameron secured an historic achievement in delivering the first ever real terms cut in the EU budget.
 
It demonstrated strong leadership.
 
It showed how Conservatives are making a different in Europe. 
 
Just as we are at Westminster.
 
The three per cent cut in the EU's budget showed this Conservative-led Government delivering where it really matters.
 
Thanks to the pressure from the European Conservatives and Reformists the European Parliament budget vote was held in public with full transparency and not in secret as the Parliament’s Socialist President had argued.
 
But while David Cameron was making common cause with leaders of all political colours across Europe, Ed Miliband was opportunistically politicking at Westminster.
 
How can anyone take the Labour leader seriously when he was part of the last government which allowed spending at home to run out of control?
 
Which saw the national debt mushroom?
 
Which failed to stop spiralling European spending.
 
And who was part of the last Labour government which gave away half the UK's rebate in exchange for the promise of a referendum which never happens.
 
It is a rebate, we should not forget, which Margaret Thatcher fought so hard to secure in the first place.
 
Her legacy of great leadership at home and abroad inspired many of my fellow Conservatives from Central & Eastern Europe to fight for democracy and they joined me in paying tribute to her great work last week.
 
Labour on the other hand doesn't stand up for the national interest.
 
They roll over in Europe's interest.
 
Are we really supposed to believe Ed Miliband had a sudden change of heart and supports a budget cut when the government he was part of surrendered the national interest for 13 years?
 
While the Labour leader at Westminster supports an EU budget cut, the Labour leader in Wales opposes it.
 
Carwyn Jones, begging bowl in hand to Europe, wanting more.
 
He leads a Welsh Government which has wasted the opportunities provided by 14 years worth of European funding.
 
Yet still doesn't think that's enough.
 
Billions spent yet large parts of Wales remain amongst the poorest in Europe.
 
Any fool can spend money. 
 
It takes real leadership and vision to make a difference.
 
Labour's inconsistency doesn't stop in Cardiff or at Westminster.
 
Their MEPs are still arguing against a budget cut.
 
And like Labour in Wales want more.
 
While it is a Conservative-led government at Westminster which is clearing up the financial mess left by Labour at the last General Election.
 
Conservatives in Wales;
 
The Conservative-led UK government;
 
And Conservatives in Europe have taken a lead in bringing the EU budgets under control.
 
Arguing at a time when national governments across the EU are cutting domestic spending the EU should not be spending more.
 
What Europe needs is to spend its money better.
 
No more vanity projects like bridges to nowhere in Denmark.
 
No more airports in Spain without any aeroplanes.
 
No more paying fishermen to throw their catches back overboard.
 

What Europe needs.
 
What Wales needs.
 
What the United Kingdom needs.
 
Is a fresh focus on competitiveness.
 
Helping businesses to grow.
 
Increasing consumer choice.
 
Creating wealth and new opportunities.
 
Take the new Horizon 2020 programme.
 
A scheme which seeks to build on successful innovation achieved through previous European schemes.
 
There are opportunities here to refocus spending on research and development that link together universities and businesses.
 
Inspiring new projects.
 
Developing new skills.
 
And opening up new opportunities for people and businesses to fulfil their potential.
 
Glyndwr University in Wrexham and Swansea University here in South West Wales have both worked with the EU to get real, merit based funding.
 
In Swansea it has enabled the university to expand into a new campus using £60 million from the European Investment Bank.
 
Creating a world leading science research centre.
 
The Optic initiative in North Wales - where we met last year - is putting Glyndwr amongst the world leaders in the development of lenses for state of the art telescopes and other cutting edge optic technology.
 
Neither of these projects have anything to do with handouts.
 
Instead they are flourishing because of funding that is expected to pay back dividends in the future.
 
In jobs. 
 
In skills. 
 
And in the creation of new businesses that will oversee the regeneration of entire communities.
 
Getting back on the path to economic growth in the coming years will be all about innovation. 
 
Centuries ago Wales led the world in economic and industrial growth and ideas.
 
With new ideas and innovative projects today there is no reason why we cannot do so again.
 
But in the increasingly competitive global economy we must recognise we cannot do it alone.
 
Wales is a nation of three million people.
 
The EU is a union of 500 million-plus.
 
With 27, soon to be 28 member states.
 
Our strengths lie in working with others.
 
At home with the rest of the United Kingdom.
 
And abroad through our connections with the rest of the world.
 
It's why in Europe we must work to remove these barriers to competitiveness.
 
Not roll over and allow them to build up.
 

Last year, I thought the Welsh Government was finally starting to get it. 
 
By following the UK Government's lead in setting up enterprise zones I thought this would be the start of a new business friendly approach in Wales.
 
How wrong I was.
 
The foot dragging of Labour ministers in Cardiff has allowed other regions to steal a march on Wales at a time when you cannot afford to be slow to react.
 
Welsh ministers even seem to be actively discouraging companies from coming to Wales.
 
Take the enterprise zone in Cardiff as a prime example.
 
You can't try to persuade financial services companies to set up in Wales on the one hand, while arguing for a Robin Hood Tax on all financial transactions which would penalise them on the other.
 
For all his faults - and we all know there were many - even Gordon Brown knew an FTT was insanity on anything other than a global level. 
 
It's this single policy - supported by Labour in Wales - which will deter financial services companies from investing in Wales.
 
Unlike the Welsh Government’s business unfriendly attitude and obsession with central control, the work George Osborne is doing is attracting businesses into the UK by lowering corporation tax, cutting red tape and relaxing planning laws.
 
It's also why our Conservative approach of rebalancing the economy; 
 
Shifting the focus away from debt, away from over-reliance on the public sector, and towards a private sector-led recovery;
 
Is right for Wales and right for the United Kingdom as a whole.
 

In the Assembly Conservatives will continue to call for Labour to change direction.
 
At Westminster it is the Conservative Party which is leading that change.
 
And it is clear to us all that in Europe the EU must change too.
 
Despite what Labour says, it is not just David Cameron or the Conservative Party arguing for change.
 
The Prime Minister has promised to renegotiate our relationship with the EU and a referendum on our future in it, if we win the next General Election.
 
In Germany, there are calls for a change to EU treaties before it allows the creation of a European Mechanism or fund for resolving banks directly.
 
Poland has announced it will have a referendum before joining the Euro.
 
Even Bulgaria has just taken away its timetable for joining it!
 
Yet EU membership is still a huge incentive for countries in Eastern Europe still facing internal problems with ethnic disputes, corruption and unreformed, centralised economies.
 
The latest peace accord signed in Brussels only last week between Serbia and Kosovo is a prime example of that incentive working well in the toughest of circumstances.
 
But they do not want to sign up to a Europe of rigid, unresponsive economic policies, bloated systems.
 
Or a budget only concerned with propping up ageing industries or one which offers nothing but handouts.
 
They fought to leave that behind in the 1990s with the old Yugoslavia. 
 
Instead they see the benefits that should be possible from a vibrant single market of 512 million people to interact with economically.
 

There is no alternative to reforming the EU in the coming years.
 
The status quo is no longer acceptable.
 
Reforming flagship schemes like the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Research funding, Cohesion funding - as well as the whole institutional structure of the EU - are essential to make Europe more democratically accountable.
 
This reform will benefit not just Wales and the UK.
 
It will benefit the whole of the EU.
 
But the only way to achieve this is if we work out precisely what we want from Europe from our own perspective.
 
Welsh and British businesses need to tell the UK Government what they want.
 
And what they think Europe is doing which damages business and undermines growth and opportunity.
 
Only then will we be able to explain in tangible terms what the benefits of the proposed reforms will be to other EU members.
 
David Cameron's work building relationships across Europe may not always be easy but we have a lot of potential allies out there. 
 
Many EU countries are much happier with the new Cameron-Merkel alliance than they were with the Merkel-Sarkozy axis.
 
At a time of economic uncertainty what the markets need is stability.
 
They get that from David Cameron and Angela Merkel working together.
 
Imagine what they'd make of an Anglo-French Socialist entente fraternelle between Ed Miliband and Francois Hollande!
 
President Hollande's approval ratings dropped to 27 per cent within 10 months of being elected.
 
Imagine what would happen under a Prime Minister Miliband!
 
If you thought it'd be bad for his own approval ratings.
 
Just think what it would mean for the national reputation and the cost of servicing our debt.
 
And just think what it would mean for the future of Europe.
 
We continue to suffer from the mess Labour is making in Wales.
 
We're clearing up the mess Labour made in 13 years at Westminster.
 
And we're working to reform a European Union which Labour left unreformed.
 
By doing so, Conservatives are working together for the national interest.
 
In Wales - where Andrew and his team in the Assembly are showing week in week out that there is another way to the Labour way.
 
At Westminster - where David Jones and Stephen Crabb and our MPs are providing a strong Welsh voice at the heart of government.
 
And in Europe, where I continue to work with Conservative colleagues to get the best deal for Wales and for the UK.
 
The next 12 months - between now and the next European elections - really matter.
 
They will set the context for the years ahead.
 
One in which Conservatives can continue to shape the future of our country - by winning the next General Election;
 
And in which Conservatives can shape the future of Europe.
 
 
Diolch am wrando!
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Welsh Conservatives
04/12/2013

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."

 
26/11/2013

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.
20/11/2013


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.

20/11/2013


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.”   

12/11/2013



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.

23/10/2013
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.
08/10/2013


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')

 


18/09/2013


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')

11/09/2013


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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© Copyright Kay Swinburne 2013 | All rights reserved. | Photographs of the Parliament supplied by Adam Issacs.
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