Key Achievements of the Conservatives in the European Parliament since 2004

Referendum Campaign

We have actively campaigned at every opportunity for a referendum on the Reform Treaty. We have called on Gordon Brown to keep his promise in press and broadcast interviews nationally and locally and in letters to editors. As a delegation we signed a huge publicity board calling for a referendum and our giant referendum wall at the Conservative Party Conference last year was signed by 400 people in the first 24 hours.

Strasbourg

We have campaigned tirelessly for a one-seat European Parliament. We take every opportunity here to stress the need for reform and an end to the two-seat farce. Conservatives repeatedly urged Labour Ministers, including the Prime Minister, to try to resolve this situation during the British Presidency in 2005, but they repeatedly refused even to raise the issue.

Roaming Charges

Members played a key role in brokering the roaming deal with formal caps for mobile phone charges agreed by the European Parliament in May 2007. The agreement saw prices for making calls while abroad capped at 33 pence per minute in the first year, 21 pence in the second and 29 pence in the third. Price caps for receiving calls were set at 16 pence in the first year, 15 pence in the second and 13 pence in the third. Conservative MEPs also succeeded in getting text price warnings for consumers.

The EU Budget

For many years, Conservative MEPs have consistently been at the forefront of calls for reform of the EU Budget, and in particular the fight against fraud, waste and maladministration. Unlike all other UK parties, Conservative MEPs have voted against approving the EU accounts every year since 1998, in line with a specific manifesto commitment to refuse to sign off the accounts “until confidence in the EU accounting system is restored”.

Services Directive

Conservative MEPs championed the Services in the Internal Market Directive, one of the most significant pieces of legislation to have been considered by the European Parliament since the 2004 European Elections. The Directive liberalises the services sector in the EU, could add £20 billion to the bloc’s GDP and create up to 600,000 new jobs across Europe.

REACH

Members were at the heart of negotiations on new EU chemical legislation REACH, which came into force in June. The landmark legislation replaces various pieces of European legislation with a single system and includes a number of chemicals that have not undergone any safety assessment before. Labour tried to water down requirements to phase out more dangerous chemicals where safer alternatives are known, but a strong Conservative voice helped secure mandatory substitution. A balance was found to provide businesses with legal certainty, confidentiality and protection of intellectual property, to minimise the need for animals testing and to lead the world in a regulatory regime for the registration, evaluation and authorisation of all chemicals, while having a lighter touch regime for small firms.

Cat and Dog Fur

The delegation actively supported an eight-year campaign for an EU-wide ban on cat and dog fur imports, which received unanimous approval from the European Parliament in June. Our MEPs met with Chinese officials, charities and celebrities in their attempts to secure the ban predicted to save the lives of more than two million cats and dogs each year in China.

Imperial Measures

The threat to our pounds and ounces was called off following intense lobbying by Conservative MEPs. Conservatives managed to persuade the Commission that traditional imperial measurements are good for business, particularly for companies wishing to export to the United States.

Crown on the British Pint

The Crown on the British pint was rescued thanks to the persistence of Conservative MEPs. Labour banned the Crown symbol following an excessively pernickety interpretation of the Measuring Instruments Directive, but Conservative MEPs intervened with a Commission clarification that a Crown stamp could be affixed to glasses as long as it is not confused with the CE marking.

Equitable Life

We have continually held the Government to account over the Equitable Life scandal, criticising Labour’s slow response and calling on Gordon Brown to commit to compensation for the thousands of policyholders. At our behest, the European Parliament also voted to establish a Committee of Enquiry into the Equitable Life scandal - the first since the 1997 Parliamentary Investigation into the BSE outbreak.

Gibraltar

Conservative MEPs have been at the forefront of defending the sovereignty of Gibraltar in the face of Labour attempts to undermine it. The delegation defended the interests of Gibraltar over aviation security. Conservative MEPs won an important victory for Gibraltar defeating Spanish attempts, supported by Labour MEPs, to exclude Gibraltar from this piece of EU legislation, which would have resulted in increased disruption for travellers entering and leaving Gibraltar by air.

Zimbabwe

Conservative MEPs lead the Parliament’s opposition to the Mugabe regime and prompted a tough resolution on Zimbabwe adopted by the European Parliament last spring. That action followed the brutal suppression of public meetings in Zimbabwe and the arrest and brutal treatment of many opposition leaders and activists. Members also held the EU to account over inviting the Zimbabwe dictator to the EU-Africa Summit late last year. Such is the strength of our opposition, a number of our Members have been banned from entering Zimbabwe.

Brazilian Beef

Members have led calls for Brazilian beef imports to be banned over traceability and quality assurance concerns. Finally, following years of campaigning, the European Commission late last year significantly tightened restrictions on imports, limiting the number of farms and firms cleared for export to the EU. We will continue to actively monitor the situation and keep up our call for a ban if these proposals are not effective.

Red Ensign

In 2005, Conservative MEPs led the campaign to halt a second attempt by the European Commission to scrap the Red Ensign from British ships, having successfully safeguarded British shipping from having to fly the EU flag in 2004.

Saved the Shetland Box

Conservatives successfully prevented a mainly Spanish-led attempt to open up the Shetland Box to general fishing. The Shetland Box is one of Europe’s most important spawning and nursery grounds and is of key importance to the long-term sustainability of the UK whitefish sector.

Organ Pipes

In July 2006, Members finally won a long-running battle to prevent Whitehall officials from banning the use of lead in organ pipes through over-implementing an EU directive that sensibly introduced tightly-controlled rules on the use of lead. Lead used in organ pipes, however, does not pose a significant health risk and such a ban – which did not feature in the original EU directive itself – would have put pipe organ builders and repairers out of business.

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