The South East’s Voice in Europe – January 2016

10251899_1116716961675222_8428987565632528391_nReport from Anneliese Dodds MEP 

Working for the South East

It’s important to me that I get out across our region to speak with as many people as possible and make sure my constituents know what I’m doing as your Labour MEP- fighting for the best deal for the South East.

Launching our campaign to keep the UK in the EU

I was delighted to be joined by Angela Eagle MP, the Shadow First Secretary of State and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in Culham to launch the Labour In for Britain campaign in the South East region.

Culham has benefited from millions of pounds of European funding over the years to support its fusion energy centre- the only place in the world where nuclear fusion has ever been achieved, as part of an EU research project. Following our campaign launch, Angela and I visited a company called ‘Reaction Engines’ which is building another revolutionary technology in Culham. Reaction Engines are trying to engineer special ‘rocket-jet engines’ for planes. These would enable people to travel around the world in a fraction of the time it currently takes.  We were pleased to see how many women, apprentices and trainees were involved in this exciting project.

Fighting for action on Kent transport disruption

Although media attention has largely moved on, disruptions in Calais continue to cause significant problems for ferry and tunnel crossings to Kent from northern France (not to mention the continuing death toll of refugees trying to get through the channel tunnel). After a visit to the Calais refugee camp and Eurotunnel terminus last year, I’ve been working with stakeholders to try and improve the safety and security situation. This remains a major worry in the run-up to better weather and, potentially, renewed industrial action by French ferry workers. In particular, along with Labour’s Lucy Anderson MEP, I have been pushing the EU’s Transport Commissioner on what can be done at EU level, given that Dover to Calais is classified by the EU as a ‘strategic transport route’

Rochester students visit the European Parliament

In December, I welcomed students from the Thomas Aveling School in Kent to the European Parliament. The students quizzed me about how I became an MEP, my day to day work in Brussels and on British newspapers! They also found out a bit about how European politics works and some current hot political topics. R

The South East’s Voice in Europe

My work as an MEP in the European Parliament is often very varied; from meetings with European Commissioners to votes in the whole Parliament on new EU wide legislation, and from asking questions on behalf of my constituents to calling for action on tax injustice in the committees of which I am a member.

Tax report passes with an overwhelming majority

For the past year – ever since the ‘Lux Leaks’ scandal broke – I have been drafting a series of recommendations for cracking down on the appalling practices of tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. My report, which includes bold and ambitious measures to increase transparency, to protect whistleblowers and to prevent the use of tax havens, was put to a vote of the whole Parliament in December. The report was passed by an overwhelming majority, showing that most MEPs have heard the concerns of their citizens and are determined to take action. Sadly, not all MEPs though: the Tories and UKIP both voted against the report, showing themselves once again to be on the side of vested interests instead of the people they are supposed to represent. The spotlight now moves to the civil servants in the European Commission, who are drafting new European legislation to put the recommendations into practice

South East Euro Champions visit to Brussels

Across the South East, constituency Labour Parties have been asked to appoint ‘Euro Champions’, or ‘Referendum Officers’; members who will be contact points for the Labour In campaign. I was delighted to arrange a trip for a group of 20 of these Euro Champions, from right across the South East, to Brussels earlier this month. As well as learning about how the European Parliament works, the group attended a meeting of the Socialists and Democrats, which brings together all the Labour Party and affiliated MEPs from across Europe. The Euro Champions also visited the Parliamentarium museum, met other Labour MEPs and went on a tour of Brussels. If your CLP hasn’t yet appointed a Euro Champion, ask to get involved and join us. We’ll keep you fully updated ahead of the referendum, and support you to effectively campaign locally.

Update on the refugee crisis

The Valetta summit in Malta last month was an opportunity for the EU and its member states to build on existing agreements to relocate some refugees (agreements which, sadly, the UK has generally opted out of), by improving coordination with countries like Turkey and Lebanon which are struggling with huge refugee numbers. The EU’s deal with Turkey, in particular, should help slow the movement of people to Europe and greatly improve conditions for the two million Syrian refugees who are currently housed in Turkish camps. Nonetheless, while we need to work with Turkey to help deal with the refugee crisis, it is important that we do not shy away from criticising abuses of human rights and restrictions on freedom of the press in Turkey.

Helping Constituents

Unlike UKIP MEPs, I am working hard across our whole region and in the European Parliament on the issues constituents tell me matter most to them. Last year, I responded to almost 50,000 constituents’ letters and emails on a wide range of casework and policy issues, with 88% rating these replies as very good or excellent.