Statement sent to media in South East England 21 March 2016:
Today’s atrocities in Brussels are a direct attack on the values, freedom and democracy of all western societies. Our immediate thoughts must be with the families who have lost loved ones and with the many innocent victims whose lives have been so damaged by this vicious attack. It is important that western governments stand shoulder to shoulder to confront this evil, that intelligence agencies work closely together to counter this threat and that we all realise that an attack in any European city is an attack on us all.
On Tuesday 15th March, Richard Ashworth voted to nominate several members to the European Court of Auditors.
In a statement following the vote the MEP for the South East said: “With this vote we in the European Parliament have agreed to appoint several highly capable candidates to be watchdogs for EU spending.”
“The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is an example of where the UK has achieved reform goals in Europe. It is critical that the EU’s budget is properly audited by the ECA and therefore that its senior staff are up to the job.”
Richard Ashworth, MEP for South East England, has welcomed proposals from the European Commission to help support farmers through the current agricultural crisis including a new monitoring service for livestock and financial instruments for future investments.
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan announced a series of proposals designed to reassure farmers and restore confidence in agricultural markets this week using instruments within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It follows the September €500million solidarity package, of which the UK was one of the largest recipients, to help farmers facing this crisis.
Notable measures within the package include: the establishment of a Meat Market Observatory, greater engagement with the European Investment Bank to develop financial instruments to help farmers invest for the future, temporary acceptance of national state aid, and renewed efforts to lift the Russian ban on pigmeat.
Mr Ashworth commented: “This package demonstrates that EU policy makers recognise the significant difficulties currently facing British farmers and the wider agricultural community.”
“Conservatives have been calling for the establishment of a Meat Market Observatory, similar to that of the Milk Market Observatory, for some time. This will help beef and pig farmers to access valuable market data as well as improve market transparency. In such volatile market conditions, it is vital that our farmers have the best information available to them for the sustainability of the livestock sector.”
“These measures should feed into a comprehensive mid-term review of the CAP, which should have simplification and market orientation at its core. I believe the package will have a positive short-term impact on European agricultural markets, but more needs to be done to ensure the industry becomes resilient in the face of volatility and future market conditions.”
Richard Ashworth, MEP for South East England, has welcomed a deal struck by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and other EU leaders to allow Member States the ability to reduce the rate of VAT applied to sanitary products to zero.
The ‘tampon tax’ issue was raised in March last year by Conservative MEPs who questioned why the EU Commission had not zero-rated the products.
Following the European Council summit in Brussels Mr Ashworth said: “The unanimous agreement by European leaders to allow for the scrapping of the so called ‘tampon tax’ is a victory for common sense in the EU. Sanitary products for women are clearly essential items, not a luxury, and should not be liable for VAT.”
“This agreement is a sign of the influence the UK has with its seat at the top table in Europe. The UK has led calls for a reform of existing VAT rules and it has been able to deliver change which will bring real benefit to British consumers. I will be supporting the proposal when it comes before the European Parliament in the near future. “
Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England and lead member of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee underlined that “it was contingent on Turkey meeting specific requirements laid down by the EU” before a package worth upto 3 billion Euro’s could be used.
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Richard Ashworth, MEP for South East England, has welcomed a legal opinion from the European Court of Justice stating that businesses which offer free wi-fi should not be liable if users of the service illegally access copyrighted material on their network.
The opinion follows a case in Germany where a shop owner has refused to pay a penalty fee applied by Sony Music to the business after a customer used the free wi-fi to facilitate illegal music downloads and therefore breach copyright laws. While the opinion is not legally binding, it offers an insight into the final verdict which is expected in the next few months.
In response Mr Ashworth commented: “This opinion sends the right signal that the EU is on the side of businesses who provide free wi-fi hotspots used by thousands of people every day. It is of course crucial to strike the right balance between protecting copyright holders and those who provide free wireless internet. However penalising shops, cafes and hotels that offer open wi-fi to their customers would be the wrong approach to dealing with this issue.”
“Increasing the availability of and access to the internet for people across Europe is crucial for the success of our economy. We live in an internet age and doing all we can to boost access to wi-fi hotspots for British people is vital. I hope that the ECJ will follow the direction given within this opinion and subsequently this encourages more businesses to establish access to free wi-fi for their customers.”
On 7th March, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), an agency of the European Union, launched the Priority Medicines scheme (PRIME).
PRIME aims to enhance support for the development of new medicines which may offer a major advantage over existing treatments, or benefit patients with no existing treatment options. Through PRIME, the EMA will streamline evaluation so medicines can reach patients earlier.
MEP for South East England, Richard Ashworth, said: “The launch of the Priority Medicines scheme (PRIME) by the European Union is a welcome step towards finding a cure for thousands of UK patients suffering from untreatable conditions.”
“Those enduring the hardship of a rare cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, could see earlier access to new treatments thanks to the ‘accelerated assessment’ for medicines under PRIME.”