The following has been sent to local media on Friday 13 May 2016
Police and security cooperation across the EU will be strengthened after MEPs voted in favour of an expanded role for Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.
Countries across the EU will be able to respond more quickly to developing threats through new platforms for enhanced operational cooperation and information exchange between national police forces. Europol will be better equipped to deal with transnational terrorist threats thanks to enhanced capabilities for the new ‘Internet Referral Unit’; this has proven particularly effective in working with EU states to help take down terrorist propaganda and recruitment material.
These new rules also increase the oversight powers for national parliaments over Europol, whilst also enhancing data protection supervision.
Following the vote Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said: “Terrorism and organised crime doesn’t stop at borders so why should the way we tackle it? Our continued membership of the EU ensures that British police and intelligence agencies are best equipped to protect us. Cooperation and intelligence sharing with our neighbours through Europol, an EU agency, safeguards Britain and is firmly in our national interest.”
Richard Ashworth, Conservative Agriculture spokesman and MEP for South East England, has called upon the Commission for mandatory country of origin labelling to be extended to some dairy and meat products.
Currently there are EU mandatory country of origin labelling requirements in place for fresh beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat as well as a variety of other foodstuffs. These rules mean that the products covered must clearly and consistently note the country of where the food was produced on its packaging. However currently there are no compulsory country of origin labelling requirements for other meats or any milk and dairy products.
The European Parliament has backed a resolution calling upon the European Commission to bring forward plans for information on where raw materials are sourced to be made mandatory on milk and lightly processed dairy and meat products such as cheese, cream, bacon and sausages.
This would rebuild consumer trust following recent food scandals, enable shoppers to make informed choices when buying food and assist local producers. Mr Ashworth said there was a demand from both consumers and producers for more information on packaging. This means that the benefits would outweigh any limited extra costs that might be incurred.
Mr Ashworth said during the debate: “Consumers are giving a very clear message. They want to know where their food comes from and country of origin labelling doesn’t only benefit consumers, it can be an opportunity for food producers as well.”
“In the case of processed meat and dairy products, for example yoghurts and sausages, there already is a very high level of voluntary declaration and this is a cost that consumers are prepared to pay. So in the interest of fairness and consistency, I urge the Commission to bring forward proposals for mandatory country of origin labelling for all lightly processed products.”