Net migration figures make mockery of Cameron’s empty promises

The latest all time high net migration figures make a complete mockery of David Cameron’s empty promises to bring immigration down, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“These figures released by the Office for National Statistics show a borderless Britain and demonstrate the impotence of our government in the face of this constant tide of migration.

“As well as the abject failure to secure our borders from illegal immigrants who pour in every day, we are powerless to limit those legitimately coming from EU states while we remain tied to the EU.

“We now host eight million people born outside of the UK – 12.5% of the UK population and rising.

“Our public services cope with more than a million illegal migrants who have disappeared into the black economy. We have to provide schools and healthcare for hundreds of thousands of children of migrants born here and we are now the third most densely populated country in the EU after Malta and Belgium,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP’s EU budget spokesman.

“Unless the Prime Minister successfully renegotiates the principle of free movement the only way answer to this increasing problem is to leave the EU as soon as possible.

“Immigration is now the biggest issue concerning the British public and our traditional sympathies for refugees fleeing war torn countries are being blunted by ‘migration fatigue’.

“If EU rules didn’t mean we have to take millions of economic migrants we would be in a better position to offer more places to refugees from war torn regions. In my view this means that EU migration rules are making Britain a less generous country. That is something which we must reverse.”

Figures released by the ONS today show net migration to the UK reached 330,000 in the year to March.

Commission Question – North-East England – Management of Horizon 2020

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010274/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: North-East England – Management of Horizon 2020

Could the Commission please provide details of what agency in the North-East of England and Brussels oversees project funding under the Horizon 2020 thematic programme heading?

EN

E-010274/15

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Moedas (25.8.2015)

Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, funds research projects on the basis of competitive internationally peer-reviewed calls for proposals directly managed by the Commission. There is no agency in the North-East of England that oversees project funding under Horizon 2020.

Potential applicants from the North-East of England can obtain information on funding opportunities in Horizon 2020 through the Participant Portal1 or the National Contact Points (NCPs), whose contact details are available by country2.

The network of NCPs is the main structure to provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020. NCPs are national structures established and financed by governments of the 28 EU Member States and the states associated to the Framework Programme.

1  http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html

2 http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/support/national_contact_points.html

Commission Question – Horizon 2020 – Projects in North-East England

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010312/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Horizon 2020 – Projects in North-East England

Could the Commission please provide details of how much money has been set aside for projects in the North-East of England under the Horizon 2020 thematic programme?

EN

E-010312/15

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Moedas

(25.8.2015)

Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), is an excellence-based programme implemented primarily through transnational collaborative projects granted on the basis of competitive calls for proposals, as provided for in the Horizon 2020 work programmes and work plans1. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of the criteria ‘excellence’, ‘impact’ and ‘quality and efficiency of the implementation’. There is, thus, no part of the Horizon 2020 budget that is a priori set aside for any specific part of the European Union or the countries associated to Horizon 2020 or any part of these States.

Horizon 2020 funding has been granted to legal entities in the North-East of England on a competitive basis. According to the available information, the amount granted so far exceeds EUR 28 million.

1  For more information, see the Participant Portal

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html)

Commission Question – Austrian complaint about British state aid support for nuclear power

Question to the Commission for written answer E-011526/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Austrian complaint about British state aid support for nuclear power

Austria recently filed a complaint to the European Court of Justice that Britain had proposed GBP 17 billion in state funds to help build two new nuclear reactors, citing ‘illegitimate spending under EU rules’. What is the potential outcome if the ECJ rules in favour of Austria?

EN

E-011526/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Ms Vestager (26.8.2015)

Austria challenged the Commission decision regarding support to the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station adopted on 8 October 2014 by way of an annulment action to the General Court.

The Commission cannot speculate upon the outcome of the proceedings and on the General Court’s possible ruling on the pleas raised by Austria, although it believes that its decision was legal and the annulment action should therefore be rejected. Once a final judgement of the General Court is rendered, the Commission will analyse the judgment and act according to the findings of the court. Even in case of an annulment of the Commission’s decision, the course of further action would depend on the specific grounds for such an annulment as well as (insofar as recovery of the aid would be an issue) on whether the aid has or has not been granted by that time.

Commission Question – Taxation competences

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010269/2015

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Taxation competences

Could the Commission clarify which article(s) in the Treaties gives the Commission power to instruct the Member States on issues surrounding taxation? In light of the Commission’s release of a list of 30 territories considered to be ‘tax havens’ and its intention to crack down on tax avoidance, does the Commission have the competence to regulate tax across the EU and implement new taxation in any of the 28 Member States?

EN

E-010269/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Moscovici (19.8.2015)

Article 115 TFEU allows for EU action in taxation where they directly affect the establishment or functioning of Internal Market. The fight against tax evasion and avoidance is a clear example of an area which affects the Internal Market. The cross-border nature of these problems makes it very difficult for Member States to effectively tackle them alone. It is also important that Member States coordinate their tax systems, so that each can apply their own national tax policy without being undermined by another Member State’s approach.

Member States fully acknowledge the need for EU measures to help tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance. For example, the European Council in December 2014 asked for stronger EU transparency requirements for tax rulings, to which the Commission responded with a proposal in March 2015.

The pan-EU list published on 17 June 2015 responds to Member States’ calls in ECOFIN (in May 2013 and June 2015) for measures to ensure that third countries meet appropriate standards of tax good governance. It is part of the work to build a common external response to corporate tax avoidance, in order to protect the Single Market from profit shifting towards third countries. The pan-EU list is a consolidation of Member States’ own national lists, which they provided to the Commission. The publication of this information was discussed and agreed with Member States in the Platform for Tax Good Governance in 2014. 

Commission Question – Arash Derambarsh’s anti-food-waste campaign

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010268/2015

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Arash Derambarsh’s anti-food-waste campaign

A recent French law was introduced to allow discarded food from supermarkets to be given to those unable to afford to look after themselves. Have any discussions taken place regarding an EU-wide law and, if so, what stage have they reached?

EN

E-010268/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Andriukaitis (27.8.2015)

The Commission welcomes initiatives taken by Member States and stakeholders to fight against food waste and facilitate the redistribution of safe, edible food for human consumption.

The Commission is working actively with Member States and stakeholders to remove barriers – be they regulatory or operational – which might hinder food donation and to support effective exchange of good practices at EU level.  In this regard, the Commission would kindly refer the Honourable Member to its answers to questions E-010421/2014 and E-009571/20141 as well as to its dedicated food waste website2.

With respect to the legislative proposal introduced by the French government to prevent retailers from destroying unsold, edible food, the Commission refers the Honourable Member to its replies to E-009483/2015, E-009024/2015, E-009003/2015, E-008887/2015 and E-008448/20153.

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

2  http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste/index_en.htm

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

My Column – Dear Mr. President

The European Union has just released a video comparing the European Union to the federalised structure of the United States. Given President Obama’s recent suggestion that Britain must stay in the European Union, I’ve written an open letter wondering what it would be like if America had to be part of an EU-like structure…

Dear President Obama,

I see you’ve told the United Kingdom that you should stay in the European Union. Politics is all about trying to understand other people’s point of view, so I’m going to try to make it easy for you to understand mine. Put yourself in our shoes, and let’s imagine together what it would be like if America had a fully-fledged equivalent to the European Union.

You could forget the US Constitution. The Republicans claim you forget it anyway, but the pan-American Union would be able to pass laws to override America’s. Your Supreme Court would be allowed to keep the name but would no longer be in any way supreme; new pan-American courts would be able to overrule it – and they would, on a regular basis.

You’re debating at the moment how best to police the border with Mexico. If you had a Union like ours, the answer would be very simple. To get into the United States and have the right to live or work there, all you’d have to do would be to show a Mexican passport. Or a Venezuelan, Argentinian or Canadian passport. Even if they had criminal records, it would be very difficult – bordering on impossible – to say no. To give some idea of the scale we’re talking about, we had more immigration in the year 2010 alone than in all of the years from 1066 to 1950 put together. Imagine the social welfare bill that you’ll create: lots of American workers will lose their jobs because they’ll be undercut by the huge oversupply of migrant labour. The only upside is that it would annoy Donald Trump. A lot.

Actually that’s pretty much the same excuse the British Labour Party gave to voters. Lord Mandleson described it as sending out ‘search parties’ for new immigrants, and one of Tony Blair’s (George Bush’s mate, remember?) advisers said they were doing it to ‘rub the Right’s noses in diversity’. Guess what? Labour have lost the next two elections.

Because you’re a relatively prosperous nation, you’d have to pay in more than you get out. It’d be costing you about $1,750 per year for every family of 4 in the USA. Well, that’s what we’re paying in Europe. As you’re relatively economically prosperous you’d probably have to pay more actually. Then you’d get roughly half of that money handed back to you in ‘grants’. They’d tell you that they were giving you money, expect you to be grateful, and you’d have to take every opportunity to thank them for their overwhelming generosity.

Whilst we’re on the subject of money, I know Americans are very keen on their petrol (you call it ‘gas’ but it’s clearly a liquid to us) prices. Motorists at the pump are paying about $2.60 per gallon today in America. You’ll have to introduce a new fuel tax of at least $1.55 per gallon. Then, on top of the whole price of the fuel, you’ll have to add an extra sales tax (we call it VAT, and your bureaucrats are going to just love it, but more of that later) of at least 15%. By the time you’re done, I’d say that American motorists would have to pay at least an extra $2 a gallon. I don’t think your motorists would like that, but you might try to confuse them: you won’t be measuring fuel in gallons any more, you’ll be measuring it in litres. There’s no choice about it, you’re also going to have to convert to the metric system of measurements. So that it doesn’t confuse people in Paraguay.

In America, the highest Sales Tax is in California at 7.5% but five states have no Sales Tax at all. You’ll have to raise that to a minimum of 15% in Value Added Tax. But you know how a Sales Tax works, right? At the point of sale to the consumer, you charge the tax. VAT is a little more…complicated. At every stage of the manufacturing process, when you go from manufacturer to wholesaler, wholesaler to retailer, you charge VAT. Every time it’s sold on, businesses can reclaim the VAT they’ve paid and charge it to the next business in the chain. It can be paid and reclaimed five or more times until finally the customer pays their tax. Think that’s a recipe for fraud? It is. Think it adds massive red tape and makes your businesses uncompetitive? It does.

You know that trade deal, TTIP, that you’re currently negotiating with Europe? The one that’s causing all the stir about secret courts and opening the British NHS up to competition? Well, you can forget negotiating that trade deal on your own. You’d have a pan-American trade chief to negotiate your trade deals for you. Not in America’s interests? Sorry, but it’s that deal or no deal.

New pan-American laws would override your own. Forget whether they’re actually needed in America or not. And all US businesses would have to abide by those laws, whether they traded outside the European Union or not. You’d get a new ‘Parliament’, but it would have very few actual powers. For arcane reasons no-one would quite be able to understand, once a month every month – regular as clockwork – it would pack its bags and move itself backwards and forwards between Chile and Brazil. The real power would lie with unelected bureaucrats. Despite America being a world power, you’d have one Commissioner just like any of the tiny countries in the continent of America.

You’d get a new anthem, a new flag to fly over your government buildings, and your soldiers would be allowed to fight and die under that flag. Foreign-flagged vessels would be welcome to fish your waters and you’d have an agricultural policy that would be the same for America as the more rural nations.

Have you given any thought to replacing the dollar with a new currency? It might be called something like the panamericano. In Europe, the new currency doesn’t feature greats like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. It has pictures of a series of European bridges. Not real bridges, you’ll understand: that might favour one country over another. Just pictures of things that look like they might be real bridges. It’s all fake, which actually is a great metaphor for our European Union.

If you decided to join the new currency you’d share the same fiscal policy with the whole of South America. I know that Argentina’s currency peg with the dollar didn’t work out too well, but never mind: if you actually shared notes and coins too they’d pretty much be trapped into it, right? On the other hand you could, like the UK, decide not to join. Then whenever one of those countries that did join gets into trouble because it joined, your taxpayers get the privilege of writing a large cheque to bail them out.

You know how America has a vote at the World Trade Organisation and some influence in world affairs? You’d lose that. If you’re anything like us, you’d be hugely unsuccessful. Our record in the Council of Ministers is ‘played 55, lost 55’ – that’s worse even than your Chicago Bears did last season. We opposed 55 measures and were outvoted on every single one. So in theory you’d have a reasonable amount of influence but in practice you’d have next to none.

You can read the rest of this article at my Huffington Post blog here.

My Column – The Mirage of EU Rights

Barely a debate on the European Union goes by without the ‘in’ side of the debate pointing to rights which they say were introduced by the European Union: equal pay, anti-discrimination, a 48-hour working week, maternity leave and holiday pay. The pat Eurosceptic answer is to point out that we could easily have introduced any of these things for ourselves outside the European Union. It doesn’t count as a benefit of EU membership if we could have done the same for ourselves.

Until recently I hadn’t really thought much wider than the above, but, in a sudden realisation sitting on an overcrowded carriage in a train home from London, it occurred to me that we can do much better than this. The pro-EU argument here isn’t just weak, it’s a house of cards which falls down the moment it’s actually subjected to proper scrutiny.

I’ll start with equal pay for men and women. The Labour Party had held a policy of equal pay since 1959, but in 1970 the Labour government finally got around to passing the Equal Pay Act, which guaranteed men and women equal pay for the same jobs. Britain didn’t even join the European Union (then EEC) until 1973, and it was the Conservatives – not Labour – who took us in. The double entendre ‘took us in’ is entirely intentional. Directive 76/207/EEC was passed three years later (the clue is in the ’76’) – fully six years after the Equal Pay Act had been signed into law in the United Kingdom. It’s a common theme that apologists for the European Union claim credit for things which were not done by the European Union.

What of race discrimination? The Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1976 made discrimination illegal. Whilst the 1976 Act technically took place after we had joined the EEC, in context it is quite clear that this legislation was passed as part of an ongoing move towards equality in the United Kingdom. The relevant European Union directive, 2000/43/EC, would be passed only decades later.

The rest of these claims concern employment rights in one form or another. The best claim for the European Union having influenced any of these issues is holiday pay. In the UK legislation in this regard dates back all the way to the 19th century and the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. That 19th-century British Act arguably provides more guarantees of holidays in law than the 21st century system in the USA. After the Holidays With Pay Act 1938, the direction of travel with paid holidays was already clear. Yet we still, within the European Union, have fewer paid holidays than countries like Afghanistan. Even where the pro-EU case is at its strongest, it’s not actually that strong at all.

In one sense though, that’s beside the point. When the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, the United Kingdom vetoed the Social Chapter which reinforced the British refusal to sign up in 1989. Being members of the European Union did not force us to introduce any of these measures. It was a political decision taken by Tony Blair in 1997 to sign the UK up, which led to them becoming part of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997. In short the European Union didn’t give those rights, the British government did by making a decision to sign up to the Social Chapter. We could have been members of the European Union without any of this legislation.

You can read the rest of this article at my Huffington Post blog here.

Unemployment ‘back over 100,000’ in the North East

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East of England, has reacted to today’s disappointing news that unemployment has risen to 8.1%.  The figures show an increase of 7,000 to 103,000 – leaving the region still having the highest unemployment in the country.

Jonathan Arnott said “The North East has consistently had the country’s highest levels of unemployment since 2007 and in that time, under both Labour and the Conservatives, the gap between us and the rest of the country has grown.  The lack of investment in our transport infrastructure is a massive blow to business, and Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ falls massively below what we need to solve the problem.

”This puts the Tories’ plan for a £9/hour minimum wage into stark contrast: rather than doing what is needed to help struggling families (a substantial rise in the tax threshold) they’re expecting business to shoulder the cost whilst making cuts elsewhere to take money away from people.

“The Conservatives’ strategy will hit this region harder than any other; they have no credible plan to improve the situation but they are taking a huge risk of making it worse.  We need proper investment in this region, now.”

Commission Question – Cross-border traffic offences

Question to the Commission for written answer P-007565/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Cross-border traffic offences

I have recently been contacted by a constituent who, whilst driving in Germany, allegedly drove in excess of the speed limit and received a ticket through the post in England. My constituent wishes to contest this, but is unable to ascertain the legal situation in Germany or the potential consequences if convicted by a German court.

In light of the recent European Parliament vote in February 2015, such cases are likely to become more frequent. What safeguards are available to prevent those with a valid legal defence from being convicted because they cannot travel abroad to court and lack the appropriate local legal representation?

EN

P-007565/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Ms Jourová (14.7.2015)

It is of utmost importance that Member States ensure a high level of road safety for their citizens, and recovering financial penalties for offences committed plays a role in this. Directive 2015/413 on facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences1 and the Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties2 are designed to enable Member States to share information with each other to identify possible offenders and recover financial penalties in a cross-border context.

At the same time, the Charter of Fundamental Rights provides guarantees to every citizen to her/his rights to an effective remedy and to a fair trial. The above mentioned Framework decision also contains certain safeguards when applied, for example the execution of a decision on a financial penalty might be refused if the person concerned by that penalty did not have an opportunity to have his/her case tried by a court having jurisdiction in particular in criminal matters or did not appear personally or enjoys immunity under the law of the executing state. 

Detailed information about the different Member States’ court systems and available rights in judicial proceedings can be found at the European e-Justice portal3.

1  Directive 2015/413 of  the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 on facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences  (OJ L 68, of 1.03.2015 p.9)

2  Council Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA of 24 February 2005 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties (OJ L 76, 22.3.2005, p. 16)

3  https://e-justice.europa.eu/