Letter – We must fix our broken foreign aid system so we can make a real difference for those in genuine need

Dear Editor,

 

I read with interest last week’s letter from the region’s Labour MEPs about the Ebola crisis in Africa.

The UK has one of the largest aid budgets in the world.  We need to make sure the money we are giving away goes to the right people so that it can make a genuine difference.

Millions of people around the world live in poverty and are at threat from disease and countless other crises.  Even here in the UK, millions of our pensioners face the daily choice between heating and eating.  Meanwhile, in the last ten years the UK has donated money to a list of countries that includes world powers such as India, Russia and Argentina.

The crisis facing Africa today is a great tragedy and I hope we can start to get a hold of the spread of this awful disease before it spreads any further.  We could do a lot more to tackle this crisis and countless other issues if we fixed our broken and unfit for purpose foreign aid budget.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East region

 

EU Anti-Fraud Chief admits fraud is on the rise in the EU budget

A UK Independence MEP caused a stir in the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee recently after he obtained a startling admission from the head of the European Union’s anti-fraud body – that fraud within the EU budget is rising.

Giovanni Kessler, the Director General of OLAF, was appearing before the European Parliament Committee speaking to a report which showed that they issued a record number of recommendations for legal action and prosecution against fraudsters last year.

UKIP’s North East MEP Jonathan Arnott asked “Mr. Kessler, you tell us that reports of potential fraud are at their highest level and that it is set to rise still further in 2014.  You also tell us that you are issuing more recommendations because you are finding more evidence of actual fraud.  Now it seems to me that that increase must be the result of one of two things.  Either it is that the actual level of fraud is increasing year upon year, or it is that the success rate in detecting that fraud is getting better year on year…I know I’m asking you to speculate here, but which of those is the most accurate?”

In his response, Mr. Kessler said “Mr. Arnott put me a simple question…let me give you a simple answer.  It is a bit of a mix of both.  We had more incoming information and more recommendations.”

Jonathan Arnott said “Taxpayers would be alarmed to learn that OLAF is detecting hundreds of cases of fraud each year, with no-one knowing the full extent of the problem.  Worse still, although they’re catching more it seems that fraud is on the rise.  Even a single case of fraud would still be too much, because it’s our taxes that are being wasted when it happens.”

For the full question and answer, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3cxuZl1ofU

Letter – Time for tougher prison sentences for animal abuse

Dear Editor,

 

I recently read with disgust the recent reports about local thugs in Seaham who tortured a stolen pet rabbit to death. This is completely unacceptable in our society and I was appalled to learn that they only received community sentences. Crimes like this deserve jail; these thugs got away virtually scot-free with a community sentence.

It is time we started to take animal abuse seriously; even in the most serious of abuse cases the maximum sentence is far too low with the maximum sentence being less than a year. It is high time the government increased the highest possible sentence, to ensure a much tougher punishment for those carrying out these disgusting crimes.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East region

 

Commission Question – Could the Commission provide details of the criteria it uses to evaluate the success (or otherwise) of EU-funded projects?

Question to the Commission for written answer

Could the Commission provide details of the criteria it uses to evaluate the success (or otherwise) of EU-funded projects?

 

 

Answer given by President Barroso on behalf of the Commission (12.9.2014)

 

 

The 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is now in place. The legal bases of the new generation of EU spending programmes under this MFF have been adopted by the co-legislators and are based upon a comprehensive performance framework. This includes general and specific objectives, quantitative and qualitative indicators measuring their achievement together with coherent arrangements for monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the programmes’ performance.

The monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework for the spending programmes under the 2014-2020 MFF has been summarised in a Staff Working Document – SWD(2014)200final – accompanying this year’s Article 318 Evaluation Report adopted on 26 June. The Staff Working Document was formally transmitted to the European Parliament and is available online at:

http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/evaluation/docs/swd1_2013_en.pdf

At project level, the description of the projects supported by the EU is accompanied by a description of their expected results, which reflect the general and specific objectives of the programme in question and make it possible to determine whether the project was implemented as planned and whether the EU intervention served its intended purpose.

 

 

 

Commission Question- It has been reported in the press that the Commission paid the United Nations EUR 140 million. Could the Commission confirm or deny this claim?

Question to the Commission for written answer E-006231/2014

It has been reported in the press that the Commission paid the United Nations EUR 140 million1.  Could the Commission confirm or deny this claim?

1  See ‘Revealed: EU hands out multi-millions to the BBC and green lobby’, www.breitbart.com, 8 July 2014.

 

 

Answer given by Mr Dominik on behalf of the Commission (5.9.2014)

 

 

The Commission would like to remind the Honourable Member that, in line with the Financial Regulation1 and its Rules of Application2, the above information, including the purpose of the grant and the programme, is freely available on the Financial Transparency Website (FTS)3.

A search on the text string “united nations” returned, for financial year 2013, 20 distinct recipient entities, appearing in 121 entries in a total of 119 individual commitment positions.

In 84 instances, there was only one recipient for the commitment position, with a total committed (not paid) amount of EUR 129 million.

In 29 instances, there were multiple recipients for the commitment position. The total amount either committed or paid during financial year 2013 to recipients containing the text string “united nations” was equal to EUR 5 million.

In the remaining 8 instances, there were multiple recipients for each commitment position and the specific amount committed or paid was not available in FTS. The total amount for all recipients, including those not containing the text string “united nations”, was equal to EUR 19 million.

 

Similar information is available in FTS as from financial year 2007. Please note that the names recorded and published in FTS are those originating from official documents submitted by the recipient. This formal name may differ from the one known to the general public.

 

 

1  Article 35 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012.)

2  Article 21 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 (OJ L 362, 31.12.2012.)

3  http://ec.europa.eu/budget/fts/index_en.htm

Commission Question- Can the Commission please provide a breakdown by UK region of total funding received from the EU in the latest financial year for which breakdown figures are available? For the same year, could the Commission please provide a hypothecated breakdown of the total contributions made to the EU budget and institutions by UK region (e.g. foreign aid)?

Question to the Commission for written answer

Can the Commission please provide a breakdown by UK region of total funding received from the EU in the latest financial year for which breakdown figures are available?

For the same year, could the Commission please provide a hypothecated breakdown of the total contributions made to the EU budget and institutions by UK region (e.g. foreign aid)?

 

Answer given by Dominik on behalf of the Commission (17.9.2014)

 

 

The Honourable Member can find information in Annex to this reply on payments made from the different segments of the Community budget in 2013 broken down, to the extent possible, by autonomous UK regions and localities.

 

A breakdown of total contributions made to the EU budget by UK regions is not available. Own resources are collected from Member States, not regions.

 

Commission Question – Carbon emissions – Brussels-Strasbourg travel, it has been reported that the carbon emissions generated by Parliament’s journey from Brussels to Strasbourg represent 20 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. What is the Commission’s estimate of the total carbon emissions generated on an annual basis by Brussels-Strasbourg travel?

Question to the Commission for written answer

Carbon emissions – Brussels-Strasbourg travel.  It has been reported that the carbon emissions generated by Parliament’s journey from Brussels to Strasbourg represent 20 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide1.

What is the Commission’s estimate of the total carbon emissions generated on an annual basis by Brussels-Strasbourg travel?

1  ‘Europe’s GBP 150m ‘travelling circus’ should be scrapped, EU vice-president says’, Daily Telegraph, 10 February 2011.

 

Answer given by Ms Hedegaard on behalf of the Commission (19.9.2014):

 

 

The Commission does not hold such data.

 

The Commission would also refer the Honourable Member to its answer to the written question E-0947/20101.

 

1  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html

 

Commission Question- Can the Commission please provide details of the Investor-State Dispute Mechanisms included in the proposed TTIP agreement with the USA?

Question to the Commission for written answer

Can the Commission please provide details of the Investor-State Dispute Mechanisms included in the proposed TTIP agreement with the USA?

Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission (28.8.2014)

 

A public consultation was launched on investment protection and investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP). This consultation was closed on 13 July 2014 and the Commission will first evaluate the results of this consultation before any negotiations with the US on ISDS in TTIP. No concrete text proposals on ISDS have been exchanged between the negotiating teams.

 

However, the EU has already developed a practice in ISDS. ISDS is a mean of enforcing the limited investment protection standards included in an international agreement. These protect against discrimination, expropriation without compensation and unfair or inequitable treatment. These do not permit an investor to sue simply because a measure is disliked. The Commission’s approach to ISDS in general is based on the principles of a modern state-of-the art Investor-to-State dispute settlement as described in the Commission’s Communication1. It would include in particular the following elements: full transparency of documents and hearings based on UN-agreed transparency rules2; rules on ethics and possible conflicts of interest of ISDS arbitrators (i.e. a binding Code of Conduct for the arbitrators and use of a roster for the choice of the arbitrators), rules to ensure the coherence of ISDS case-law and rules which will avoid parallel proceedings and frivolous claims.

 

1  COM(2010)343 final “Towards a comprehensive European international investment policy”,7.7.2010

 

2  http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/arbitration/rules-on-transparency/Rules-on-Transparency-E.pdf

 

Commission Question – Can the Commission confirm that under the planned TTIP multinational companies will have the right to take legal action against national governments?

Question to the Commission for written answer:

Can the Commission confirm that under the planned TTIP multinational companies will have the right to take legal action against national governments?

Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission  (15.9.2014)

 

 

Investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is a means of enforcing the limited number of investment protection standards that protect against discrimination, expropriation without compensation and unfair or inequitable treatment (i.e. denial of justice or of due process, coercion, manifest arbitrariness).

The negotiating directives adopted unanimously by the Council state that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should include provisions on investment protection accompanied with ISDS rules, provided that certain conditions are met. If agreed, the relevant TTIP provisions would replace, at EU-level, the nine investment agreements in force between the US and some EU Member States, all of which contain ISDS.

No concrete text proposals on ISDS have been exchanged so far between the parties negotiating the TTIP. The Commission will first evaluate the results of the recently concluded public consultation on investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP, before any negotiations on these in the TTIP takes place.

It should be noted that companies can already take legal actions against governments before international tribunals, such as the European Court of Human Rights. Investors can do this on the basis of a system of ISDS. There are some 1,400 investment agreements including investor-to-state dispute settlement with third countries concluded by EU Member States in force and more than 3,000 such agreements globally containing ISDS.

 

 

 

 

Letter – It is time to re-examine how we deal with international aid

Dear Editor,

 

Since 2010 our government has drastically cut services in all aspects of UK public life – whilst simultaneously paying hundreds of millions of pounds of international aid to India.  I would like to congratulate the people of India for the fantastic achievement of putting a satellite into orbit around Mars.  Of course I believe we should help out those in need.  But I can’t approve of paying hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign aid to a country that has such a space programme.  It’s not just an isolated case either; in recent years taxpayers’ money has gone to powers like Russia and Argentina.

Our aid budget needs to be spent where it will have the most impact, where people are most vulnerable.  We can’t justify giving money to these powers whilst people die from Ebola in Africa, and for that matter, whilst pensioners in Hartlepool face the choice of either being cold or hungry.  Let’s get hold of this bloated, ineffective aid budget and do our bit to make peoples lives better, at home as well as abroad.

 

Jonathan Arnott

UKIP MEP – North East