South East MEP signs up for British farmers

Richard Ashworth MEP for South East England was among Conservative MEPs who this week put their names to a charter pledging support for British farming.

Richard signed a five-point pledge committing support for UK agriculture and backing British growers in producing healthy, sustainable food.

The pledge called for fair contracts, sustainable growth, balanced trade deals with other countries, a central place for science in agricultural decision-making, and a simpler, more-equitable Common Agricultural Policy.

Richard  signed up to the pledge at an event organised in the European Parliament in Strasbourg by the four farming unions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Richard was thanked for his support by the President of the National Farmers’ Union Meurig Raymond.

Richard Ashworth MEP said:  “Farming is central to the economy, health and wellbeing of the whole country and if we fail to support farmers we fail to support ourselves.  The pledge sets out a clear vision of a fair deal for farming that should reassure consumers while securing a viable future for agriculture.

“I was delighted to be asked to lend my support and I shall continue to ensure that the voices of British farmers are heard here in Strasbourg and in Brussels.”

EU budget: total  rethink needed to avert crisis

A top-to-bottom overhaul of the European Union budget was demanded by Conservative MEPs today as the European Parliament in Strasbourg debated a looming black hole in spending plans.

Budget spokesman Richard Ashworth said a complete rethink of spending patterns was needed to head off a worsening payments crisis caused by a yawning gap between the EU’s commitments and its anticipated funds.

“Current spending plans are unsustainable,” he said.  “The solution is not continually to seek an increased budget. Instead we must work within fiscal limits and set the correct priorities within them.

“That means conducting  a radical review of the whole budgeting process.”

MEPs were debating EU Commission figures showing that member states submitted claims in 2013 which were €10bn above those from 2012.

Mr Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said he fully backed recent cuts to the EU budget – but he also supported increased spending on initiatives to combat youth unemployment, stimulate economic growth and boost research, development and innovation.

He stressed that the only way to achieve both those things was for traditional spending to be cut to allow greater focus on the areas that mattered.

“Unless there is a significant reduction in other traditional spending patterns, an ever-deepening payments crisis is inevitable. We must prioritise spending strictly in line with value for money,” he said