European Parliament approves measures to tackle growing threat from terrorism

The following was sent to the local media in the South East of England on Thursday 26 November 2015.

Sir, Your readers might be interested to know that in response to the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris and the increasing number of EU citizens becoming radicalised by Islamic extremists, Conservatives in the European Parliament voted to enhance cross border co-operation and information sharing, in the fight against radicalisation and violent extremism.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has voted for strategies on the prevention of radicalisation in prison, including the option for segregation in prisons; and educational and community initiatives which engage with civil society, communities and religious leaders.

The recommendations focus on the need for better cooperation between law enforcement authorities in Member States and how EUROPOL, CEPOL, and EUROJUST can play a more substantial role in preventing and detecting radicalisation.

The report also stresses that internet companies must take responsibility for ensuring that they take substantial steps towards stopping radicalisation online, through their cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

The radicalisation of young people is a real threat, not just facing the UK or France, but to all of Europe. It is essential that we develop at European-wide strategy, which allows better cooperation between law enforcement authorities in Member States and those at a European level.

With more and more people travelling to Syria to be trained and to fight for ISIS, and then attempting to return to the EU to carry out terrorist attacks, there is a real need for information sharing and preventative measures.

I support the European Parliament’s calls for important passenger flight information sharing agreement to be adopted in order to help prevent and prosecute terrorism.

Ashworth praises Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s vision to regenerate local area

South East region MEP Richard Ashworth visited sites that will soon become Ebbsfleet Garden City. He praised the government’s plan and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s vision to regenerate the local area.

In Budget 2014, the Government announced plans to create a new garden city at Ebbsfleet, Kent, capable of providing up to 15,000 new homes, and establish an urban development corporation to drive forward delivery. The Government has pledged to invest £200m in infrastructure.

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) is the body tasked with coordinating investment and driving forward the development of the Ebbsfleet Garden City and was set up in March 2015. The area around Ebbsfleet, Northfleet and Swanscombe has the potential to create a vibrant and cohesive place for people to live and work.

Mr Ashworth’s visit to the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation included a tour of key sites which will be central to the regeneration of the area. Mr Ashworth’s jam-packed programme included visits to Ebbsfleet Station, Northfleet Harbour, The Observatory, Castle Hill and Eastgate.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Ashworth said:

‘Being from Kent myself, I was delighted to visit the sites of Ebbsfleet Garden City and discuss the regeneration project with Robin Cooper and his team. It is always great to see plans that will bring growth and jobs to this wonderful County.

The Government’s planned £200million investment in infrastructure will help develop Ebbsfleet into an economic hub in Kent generate jobs for local people and foster further investment in the wider community.’

Mr Robin Cooper, CEO of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation added:

‘Having the support of MEP Richard Ashworth will help the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation raise the profile of The Garden City in Europe. We want to attract interest and investment into the Garden City. Richard ‘s support can help us make the most of the excellent international transport link from Ebbsfleet International to Lille in just over an hour, Paris in under 2 hours and Brussels in a little over 2 hours.

Ebbsfleet Garden City has a unique position in North Kent. We are pleased to welcome MEP Richard Ashworth to share the progress we are making. Ebbsfleet Garden City’s direct high speed railway to Europe and London, can bring international attention and investment to the local area.’

More fundamental solutions needed to address the refugee crisis

Lines sent to national and international media following Malta Conference on the refugee crisis 12/11/2015

Increased aid to help solve the refugee crisis does not tackle the fundamental problem of mass population movements from southern Europe to northern Europe.

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England reacting to the agreement by heads of state at the Malta Conference to provide over £1 billion in aid to tackle the refugee crisis said:

 

“It’s now time that we accept we face a crisis not seen in recent times, with potentially millions of refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa into Europe. The agreement by the Prime Minister at the Malta Conference to bolster the EU Africa Trust Fund is one step to alleviate the refugee crisis.   We need however a more fundamental solution that will see these population movements from south to north stop, with solutions that will see these people remain in their own  countries and not risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean sea.”

EU spending error rate remains stable but reform is needed

For the 21st year the EU Court of Auditors has given the EU’s accounts only a qualified statement of assurance, with the rate of error slightly down on last year’s report.
Conservative budgetary control spokesman in the European Parliament, Richard Ashworth MEP, said that after twenty years of inertia in tackling the problem, wholesale reform of the management of EU spending is long overdue.

Despite giving a clear opinion on the reliability of the accounts themselves, the auditors’ report found that the error level for the 2014 accounts was 4.4 percent, slightly down on last year’s 4.5 percent.

It noted that the level of error had been reduced due to corrective measures taken by both the European Commission and EU Member States, but it particularly identified higher error rates with so-called cost reimbursement schemes (5.5 percent), which see the EU reimbursing costs on the basis of declarations made by beneficiaries, rather than so-called entitlement programmes where payments are made on meeting conditions rather than reimbursing costs.

The European Court of Auditors checks whether the EU and the Member States have spent European money in line with a number of different European laws. Whilst the EU is often criticised for failing to spend its money correctly it is largely the Member States who fail to spend the money correctly and this is due to the complexity of European rules. In order to overcome this, Europe must reduce complexity of its rules.

Speaking after the President of the Court of Auditors presented his report to the parliament’s Budgetary Control committee, Richard Ashworth said: “The error rate is clearly unacceptably high and by 2014 there was clearly a sense of inertia in both EU governments and the European Commission to bring it down.

“The new European Commissioner is determined to bring this error rate down so that we can end this, incorrect, perception that the EU does not have its accounts ‘signed off’, which damages the EU’s credibility so badly.

“The Commissioner also recognises that to bring the error rate down we need to change how we work: we need to cut red tape and make it simpler for local governments, small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers to claim money that they need by legislating appropriately; or, we need to just cut this spending all together.

“The EU will shortly begin a review of its seven year budget framework for which the overriding priority must be delivering value for money by spending money in areas where the evidence tells us to spend it.

“The Court of Auditors can help us in that regard by delivering more performance reports and not just focus on compliance.”