Myth-busting United Kingdom Trade with the World

Myth-busting United Kingdom Trade with the World
(Source: UK Office of National Statistics – Pink Book 2014)

Myth busting United Kingdom Trade with the World

1. ‘Our most important markets are China and the US – not the EU’
Not true. The EU is the world’s biggest single market, and it’s far and away our biggest trading partner, amounting to 44.6% our exports and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services. The EU is particularly important to smaller firms with over 60% of their exports going to the EU.
2. ‘The EU needs us as a trading partner’
This implies that the EU is more dependent on us than we are on them. UK exports to other EU countries amount to 14% of our GDP; conversely, trade with the UK for other EU countries equals around 3% of EU GDP. The rest of the EU is far more important as a trade partner for us than we are for them – which suggests the opposite balance of power in negotiations post-‘Brexit’.
3. ‘If we quit the EU, we could go global’
Not quite. The Leave campaign claims that we could get better trade deals if we negotiated them separately as Britain. Firstly, we will have to negotiate new trade deals with countries across the world, to replace the ones we currently have via the EU (more than 50 countries). Secondly, chances are small that we’d be able to secure a better deal than we already have, negotiating with China, Japan, the US and others just as Britain alone. We are an important market for those countries, but nowhere near as significant as the EU as a whole – the world’s largest single market.
Even President Obama has said that the ‘UK is going to be at the back of queue’ for a free trade deal with the United States – only

Passenger Name Records: a Tool to Fight Terrorism across Europe

Passenger Name Records a tool to fight terrorism across Europe (2)

A more interconnected world is a better world and global travel brings with it countless possibilities. Yet, this greater freedom also provides opportunities for those who wish to do us harm. The European Union provides a framework for Member States to coordinate their actions in the fight against terrorism and organised crime; successful examples include the European Arrest Warrant which allows for extradition of suspects across the EU, whilst the European Criminal Records Information System permits judges and policemen to access criminal records across the Union. To further protect citizens from potential attacks, the European Parliament has voted for the Passenger Name Records (PNR) report, steered through the Parliament by a British Conservative MEP.

Five South East SMEs gain EU funding for innovative products

Five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the South East have been awarded funding from the EU’s Horizon2020 investment scheme. Each of these small businesses will receive €50,000 (around £40,000) to finance feasibility studies for new innovative products which have the potential to revolutionise their respective sectors.

The following projects have been financed across the South East:
• Cranleigh (Surrey) – using a new bio-mechanical process to convert straw waste into three high value products including bleached paper pulp.
• Abingdon (Oxfordshire) – a new portable home device which uses information from the Cloud for the treatment of moderate to severe depression.
• Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) – a portable solar array which can be deployed quickly from a small transportable container in order to generate power from renewable energy.
• Tadley (Hampshire) – a labour-efficient, organic herbicide-free and micronutrient infused seed tape and delivery mechanism.
• Walton-on-Thames (Surrey) – a total cyber protection service to small businesses operating critical infrastructure as well as to residential customers.

The South East received the second highest amount of funding under this latest round, only coming behind London. Overall UK SMEs were the most successful in Europe with 36 beneficiaries accepted for funding receiving a total of €1.8 million.

Commenting on the announcement, Conservative MEP for South-East England, Richard Ashworth said: “this is a clear example of why remaining within the EU benefits businesses in the South East. The EU recognises the importance of providing stable sources of investment to enable small businesses to grow successfully.”

“SMEs are the life-blood of our economy and provide 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. The EU SME Instrument enhances research and development, which, in turn, benefits the British people. Clearly, membership of the EU is good for the science and research which stimulates growth and drives our economy.”

Response to the Treasury report

In response to the HM Treasury analysis: the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives click here to read the report Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP said:

“The Out campaign’s response, far from producing a document that says, ‘Well, here’s our projection for the future, here are the numbers we’re working on’ have come back with their stock, standard response – the same response they give to anybody or anything which is said – that it is scaremongering and interference”.

“That’s not good enough. The British people want a better answer than that.”

European Parliament recognises need for better regulation from the EU


Parliamentarians from across Europe have voted in favour of British-backed proposals calling on the EU to avoid unnecessary regulation in the Single Market.

The Report approved by the European Parliament explicitly states that new European legislation for the Single Market should only be introduced if it increases competitiveness, stimulates innovation and helps to creates jobs. It also emphasises that rules should only be created at the European level when it is more helpful than creating 28 different sets of rules.

Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, welcomed approval of the Report stating: “This vote is evidence of how the EU recognises that creating more and unnecessary legislation is not the right approach.”

“The purpose of the Single Market is to help businesses trade and gain access to the 500 million consumers within it. It is not meant to increase costs, it is meant to reduce costs. I welcome the core of this report which states that the EU should only legislate when there are clear and tangible benefits to businesses, consumers and citizens.”

Ashworth votes for reauthorisation of glyphosate

The European Parliament has voted to support the re-approval of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weed killer and a key tool for European farmers.

Parliamentarians in Strasbourg rejected a motion to support a ban on glyphosate, however the text adopted calls for a seven year authorisation as opposed to the 15 years being proposed by the European Commission. The text contains a number of references to glyphosate being a suspected endocrine disrupter, without scientific basis. It also includes prescriptive measures on the use and application of glyphosate, such as banning non-professional use.

The EU’s independent advisory body the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently concluded that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risk to human health when used appropriately. In coming to that conclusion EFSA reviewed findings by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which has expressed concern about the substance.

The existing approval for glyphosate expires at the end of June, the Commission’s Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals (SCoPAFF) will meet in the coming weeks to agree the conditions of a re-authorisation

Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, welcomed the re-authorisation, but also issued caution over the adopted text stating: “I am glad that my colleagues in the European Parliament have seen common sense and voted with me to support the reauthorisation of glyphosate. It is essential that farmers in the South East have access to all the tools available and that European policy is based on proven science.”

“However the shortening of the extension sets a worrying precedent for questioning the work of EFSA. I am concerned with the report’s references to glyphosate as being a suspected endocrine disrupter as there is no scientific basis for these assertions. Furthermore prescriptive measures on the use and application of glyphosate, such as banning non-professional use are not the right approach. Whilst the outcome is not perfect, overall it is a good result for British farming.”

EU must do more to help farmers in the South East


Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England and Agriculture spokesperson, has called for greater action to help farmers in the South East during a debate regarding the ongoing farming crisis held in the European Parliament.

In an exchange of views with EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, Mr Ashworth called for the creation of a more competitive and resilient agricultural industry to address the crisis affecting farmers across Europe. Whilst EU efforts to help alleviate sharp falls in farm incomes have been welcome, these alone will not maintain farmers’ economic viability. Conservative MEPs have championed simplification and greater market-orientation of the Common Agricultural Policy to this end.

Richard Ashworth MEP said during the debate: ” What the Commission can, and must, do is find ways to help the industry become more productive, more competitive and more sustainable. Agriculture needs research and development investment, innovation and simplification. Above all, agriculture needs regulation based on common sense and proven science, not on emotion.

“The Commissioner and farmers understand this well. It is unfortunate that too many members of this house do not.”


European Parliament supports greater role for national parliaments

The European Parliament has voted in favour of British led proposals calling for an increased role for national parliaments in EU law making.


The Report which has been drafted by Conservative Legal Affairs spokesman, Sajjad Karim MEP, calls for the EU to engage more with national parliaments throughout the legislative process. It also advocates introducing extra checks to ensure that the EU only legislates on issues when it can deliver better outcomes than Member States acting individually.


Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, welcomed the result of the vote stating: “National parliaments offer extensive expertise and knowledge therefore the Commission should collaborate more closely with them.”


“It is vital that there is a thorough assessment of whether action at EU level is more appropriate than national or regional initiatives. This important proposal is evidence of the UK once again using its influence within Europe to deliver real reform.”

Glyphosate European Parliament debate

Richard Ashworth (ECR). Mr President, this House has a duty to ensure that public food is safe and that the environment is responsibly managed, and we must take those responsibilities very seriously indeed. But on the other hand, we must also ensure that decisions we make are strictly proportionate to risk, not to hazard, and we must be aware of the consequences of those decisions.


In the case of glyphosate – a product which is endorsed by the Food Standards Agency as safe and for which there is no immediate substitute – for the industry to achieve the same effects, it would have to revert to more traditional mechanical operations. I could not disagree more with some of the comments which were made earlier about mechanical operations. We would have to revert to greater use of other agrochemicals and, in consequence, we would add considerably to the costs of an industry that is already under great difficulty. This House must be guided by the facts and common sense, not emotion. I urge the Commission to renew approval.

EU students boost jobs and growth in the South East

EU students at universities in the South East of England generate £420m for the region’s economy and directly support 4,021 jobs, according to new analysis from Universities UK.

The study analysed the economic impact of EU students across all regions and nations of the UK. Currently, there are around 125,000 students from other EU countries studying at UK universities, representing 5% of the total UK student population. The top 5 EU countries sending students to the UK are: Germany (13,675 students), France (11,955), Ireland (10,905), Italy (10,525) and Greece (10,130).


Across the UK, EU students at UK universities generate a total of £3.7bn for the UK economy and support over 34,000 jobs.


Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, welcomed the findings stating: “These figures are an important reminder of the positive impact EU students have on our economy in the South East. Not only do EU students make valuable cultural contributions to local communities, they also spend money and create jobs across our region.”


“Leaving the EU would make it harder for European students and researchers to come to the UK and thus restrict our own prosperity unnecessarily. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot as European academics will choose to go elsewhere, strengthening our competitors and weakening the South East’s universities and economy as a whole.”