Conservatives in Europe tackle Cyber crime

Cyber crime has been described as a major threat to our national security with the National Audit Office estimating the cost to the UK economy as between £18bn and £27bn a year.

Therefore leaving yourself vulnerable to a cyber attack can jeopardize your business, your wealth and your personal safety.

Conservatives in the European Parliament have been working on a revision of arrangements to fight cyber crime and cyber terrorism which has resulted in the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) now being given more resources to combat cyber crime.   ENISA will play a key role in liaising with security organisations in member states and in collecting and disseminating security data.

The global nature of cybercrime means no country can afford to go it alone. ENISA with new resources will provide Europe with much-needed tools to tackle this growing and very dangerous threat.

Cybercrime has a vast reach, from large-scale attacks against cyber networks and databases to identity theft, distribution of child pornography, counterfeiting pharmaceuticals and the sale of pirate products and drugs.  It encompasses the hacking of online financial services, the proliferation of terrorism and attacks against technology hubs such as power plants, electrical grids, and government complexes.

Globally, around a million people have fallen victim to it each day at a cost of around €290 billion each year.

Cyber criminals are not selective: They could target children sitting on their computers at home, or adult consumers every time they log on for online banking services or to do the weekly shopping.

The UK Government has been placing more resources in this area, and it is positive that the EU is directing resources in the same way.

(sent as a local letter to the regional media in February 2013)

EU budget deal a move towards future orientated investment

Ashworth in the European Parliement


The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, attacked the deal reached on the next long-term EU budget by EU leaders

While no one would suggest that the deal represents perfection, I would criticise Mr Schulz’s somewhat misleading analysis of the agreement.

Firstly, we must remember that member states are operating in the most restrictive economic and fiscal environment in history. They are making budget cuts across the board, mostly at the request of the European Union itself.

Secondly, a closer examination of the deal reveals that there has been some shift towards future-orientated investment with an extra 37 per cent (or €34bn) for education, research and innovation, shifting money away from the direct subsidies given to farmers.

If Mr Schulz is serious about more money being spent in growth enhancing areas of the budget then he must have the courage to confront MEP’s themselves, who have frequently rejected any idea that funds should be moved from historic areas of expenditure to those which enhance Europe’s future competitiveness.

Sadly, Mr Schulz is instead proposing that MEPs should be allowed to vote on budget in a secret ballot safe from the legitimate scrutiny of either their domestic political leaders or their respective electorates. It is a confrontational and unnecessary attempt to create a rift between the Parliament and national governments when the sensible approach would be to seek accord.

Indeed, it is ironic that President Schulz, who criticised the European Council for an alleged lack of transparency in negotiating the budget agreement behind closed doors; is now the person calling for a secret ballot in parliament.

While the agreed budget is by no means ideal, we should agree to what is a pragmatic solution secured in difficult times.

Any move by MEPs to reject the budget would lead to a crisis and a serious blow to Europe’s image in the eyes of its citizens and voters.

A smaller EU budget is better – now it must be spent better too


Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs has cautiously welcomed news of a deal at the Brussels summit on the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework.

He said: “We welcome a smaller EU budget over all and we should compliment Mr Van Rompuy for bringing some of the parties to this agreement such a long distance in negotiation.

“However, the EU’s greatest problem right now is the desperate need for jobs and growth. We therefore think it is regrettable that the largest burden of cuts should be borne by the section of the budget which support Jobs, growth and competitiveness.

“At a time when Europe needs to be addressing these issues it is a missed opportunity that the Council has not reviewed traditional areas of spending such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the spending of EU structural funds in prosperous Member States.

“These proposals now have to be put to the European Parliament for its approval at its plenary session in March. We note that the Council’s position is a long way removed from that of many MEPs and probably the parliament as a whole. There is still a lot of hard bargaining to come.

“Therefore in coming months we will be doing everything in our power to push for an agreement which not only reduces the size of the budget but also directs funding to the areas where it is needed.”