Conservative MEPs reject calls for inflation-busting EU budget increase

Conservative MEPs have promised to continue calls for a disciplined  and restrained EU budget that provides real added value for taxpayers, despite a majority of MEPs voting today for excessive inflation-busting increases.

The parliament has voted for around €4 billion extra in payments and commitments compared to member states’ own estimates for 2016, however these demands are likely to be reduced when talks with EU governments are concluded.

Conservative MEPs voted against the increase and proposed an alternative motion that sets out a series of ideas for a modernised EU budget, focusing on the urgent priorities facing Europe, without constantly adding to the financial burden on member states.

The alternative budget motion would have seen money spent on measures targeted at increasing economic growth in Europe, providing jobs for hardworking people and responding to the migration crisis.

Budget Spokesman and South East MEP Richard Ashworth, who spear-headed efforts for an alternative budget  said : “With limited resources the EU budget needs to be more disciplined to focus on those areas where it can really add value.

“We do have major priorities that we should respond to such as the migration crisis or the difficult period in agriculture, but we need better reprioritisation to deliver them.

“This is not the right time for the European Parliament to go back to governments and ask for more money. Instead, we need to take some tough decisions about our priorities.”

Meanwhile the leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Ashley Fox, added: “Yet again it is British Conservatives who are leading demands for a budget that focuses on value for money for hardworking taxpayers.

“We will continue to reject these calls by MEPs for excessive and profligate budgetary increases.

“It is time for the European Parliament to take a reality check, and to develop  a budget that clearly focuses on jobs, growth and competitiveness, rather than a wish-list of costly pet projects.”

Updated EU rules on package holidays

LETTER TO THE EDITOR SENT TO LOCAL MEDIA IN SOUTH EAST ENGLAND

 

Many people will be considering buying package holidays online will  be interested to know that under new EU rules will now get the same protection as those buying from traditional travel agents under new EU-wide rules.  Consumers will benefit from these rules being updated for the digital age.  The changes update the current EU rules on package holidays, which date back to 1990.

Since then, the growth in internet sales has substantially changed how travellers plan and buy holidays, with more consumers opting for “click-through” deals offered by travel providers linking with other tourism operators.

The deal clarifies holidaymakers’ rights by enabling them to cancel a package deal contract if its price rises by more than 8%, and offers help if they encounter difficulties or transport home if a tour operator goes bust.

 

Online package organisers would have to obtain insolvency protection, so as to ensure that holidaymakers whose travel organiser goes bust while they are on a trip are refunded in full and repatriated.

 

If “unavoidable” and “unforeseen” events such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks make it impossible for traveller to return home on time, the organiser would also have to pay for a stay of a maximum of three nights while bringing them home.

 

We have had the ABTA system for many years which makes sure travellers are not stranded if a UK tour operator goes bankrupt. Other countries across Europe will now establish similar systems.

 

People ought to have fun and relax on holidays and these new rules provide reassurance for all holiday makers that they have basic rights if their travel operator fails.

 

If any of your readers would like to contact me about this change to buying holidays online email me at richard.ashworth@europarl.europa.eu

 

Yours Faithfully,

 

 

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England

 

 

 

Conservative MEPs back final deal to end mobile roaming charges

Conservative MEPs have voted to support an agreement that will end mobile phone roaming completely by July 2017.  The deal also introduces important consumer protection measures, to ensure users are informed of their roaming rights and consumption and are empowered to detect possible breaches of open internet rules.

As an interim measure roaming charges will be significantly cheaper by next summer, where operators will only be able to charge a small amount more than domestic costs.

As well as ending roaming charges, the deal also enshrines in law for the first time the principle of so-called “net neutrality”, best described as freedom of speech on the internet.

Thanks to the work of Conservatives in the European Parliament, national governments will be able to continue to maintain online parental controls, if brought under national law, giving governments until the end of 2016 to pass legislation enabling national status quos to continue.

Richard Ashworth, MEP for the South East of England, who supported the agreement, said:

“When we travel abroad and use our mobile phones it can often be very expensive. Abolishing mobile roaming fees will be welcomed by millions of people, as they will be able to use their apps, make calls and send a text just as if they were at home.

“As a result of the EU ending roaming fees it will mean British holiday makers will be able to make significant savings when they travel abroad, and will no longer have to worry about unexpected charges.

Richard Ashworth added “This is a deal which is fair to both consumers and mobile phone operators.  We have ensured safeguards in the agreement, which prevent excessive usage. This means phone operators are not forced to offer roaming services at a loss, and domestic customers do not end up subsidising those customers who travel.

“We have achieved a sensible timescale that gives mobile operators the time to sort out the marketplace in preparation for the abolition of roaming fees.

ECR supports reallocation of resources to tackle Europe’s refugee and asylum crisis

The European Parliament has today voted in favour of reallocating resources in the EU budget to help manage the refugee crisis.

European Conservatives and Reformists Group shadow rapporteur Richard Ashworth MEP supported the plan, but has made it clear that the swift adoption of the plans must not be at the expense of ensuring the funds are targeted to provide real value on the front line.

The reallocated €801 million includes around €100 million for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF), €300 million to reinforce the European Neighbourhood Instrument, €200 million for the EU Regional Trust Fund in Syria, €200 million to provide immediate help for the UNHCR and World Food Programme, as well as extra resources for 120 extra staff for agencies such as the FRONTEX border agency, the European Asylum Support Office, and EUROPOL.

The changes do not increase the overall payment appropriations of the EU, as money is taken from other budgetary headings and the so-called ‘Flexibility Instrument’.

Responding to the vote, Mr Ashworth said:

“It is clear that managing the refugee and migrant crisis is going to need resources both at the front line, and in improving standards in Syria’s Neighbourhood.

“I do worry that we have not had enough time to examine these measures and to ensure these extra funds will give the greatest value to European taxpayers. We will be following closely how the money is spent to ensure it focuses on the right priorities.

“We need to get the basics right in responding to this crisis and so ensuring funding is going towards processing, security, integration and basic humanitarian facilities, is a good place to start.”

Ashworth backs rapid response to Europe’s migration crisis

On Monday 12th October, Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East of England backed an amendment to the EU’s budget for 2015 that unlocks a further £593mn (€801.3mn) for measures to tackle the ongoing migration crisis in Europe.

The increase in the budget will be paid for by making cuts and savings to existing programmes totalling £348.5mn (€470.6mn) and by increasing the budget by £244.9mn (€330.7mn).

The money will be used to strengthen Europe’s borders and provide aid to those in camps in Lebannon, Turkey and Jordan.

Richard Ashworth MEP, spokesman on budgets for the Conservatives in the European Parliament said: “Regrettably, a number of countries have failed to live up to their promises to provide money to the United Nations for feeding and housing refugees in camps across the Middle East. The EU has stepped in to help to address the lack of funding.

“Dealing with the migration crisis at source and across Europe will help to alleviate problems in the UK. On top of that, these proposals come at a low cost so they represent good value for money.

“Ultimately, this package shows the value of the EU: Member States coming together, to solve a cross-border problem.”

ENDS