Category Archives: News

Saint George’s Day must be a bank holiday

It is time now that we revisited the issue of having a Bank Holiday on the day our nation should be celebrating its patron, Saint George. Saint George and the Dragon is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

Saint George and his feast day began to gain more widespread fame among all Europeans, however, from the time of the Crusade the St. George’s flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet during the Crusades, and the English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege.

There are question marks over the future of the May Day Bank holiday, which comes in the middle of the school term and which is close to the Whitsun bank holiday at half term.

Of our four home nations, only England does not mark its own Saint day with a national public holiday, and consequently many of us find ourselves joining with the Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day instead. I believe it is time to end this anomaly and move the May Day Bank to April the 23rd, and declare this day, St George’s Day, an annual public holiday for the people of England.

An inspiration to a generation

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for the South-East and leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament today attended the funeral of Baroness Thatcher along with 2,300 guests at St Pauls Cathedral.

“Baroness Thatcher was an inspiration to a generation.  Her vision and leadership almost single-handedly transformed a dysfunctional economy”.

The late Prime Minister coffin was taken from the Palace of Westminster to the funeral at StPauls Cathedral.  The procession was accompanied by the sounds of applause by those lining the route.

“We owe her a huge debt of gratitude – even those who may not be clear-sighted enough to acknowledge it.”



Baroness Thatcher an inspirational leader

Richard Ashworth MEP  leader of the Conservative delegation in the European Parliament commenting on the passing of Baroness Thatcher said:

Baroness Thatcher  was an inspirational leader and a great Prime Minister who saved our country, who showed great courage and conviction throughout her career.  Baroness Thatcher transformed the United Kingdom from a country that was at the behest of the trade unions into a modern functional economy.

She was  a true patriot who stood up for the interests of this nation and was one of the best Prime Minister’s we have ever had.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan helped to transform the political map of Europe. Their strength in facing down the communists inspired millions of people from Central and Eastern Europe to believe that freedom could be achieved.

In the ECR group we sit beside a number of MEPs from behind the old Iron Curtain – a prospect that we could not have dreamt of thirty years ago. So many of our friends from countries like Poland and the Czech Republic tell us that they came into politics and fought for their freedom thanks to the action taken by Thatcher and Reagan.





Battle lines drawn to resist fresh EU budget cash grab

Conservative MEPs pledged to fiercely resist a bid by The European Commission to add an extra €11.2bn to the EU budget for 2013.

The CommissionNo to budget announced its demand for the Council to reimburse some of the money spent by the member states during 2012. The commission claims part of that money was in excess of the funding available from the 2012 budget and, unless it is reimbursed now, it will have to be carried over into the budget for 2013.

The move – which the Commission and some MEPs are calling the “big bang” – has the support of the European Parliament’s socialist president Martin Schulz.

Richard Ashworth, the leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs and a key UK negotiator on the Parliament’s Budget Committee, described the move as “confrontational and disruptive”.

He said: “President Schulz and the Commission have acknowledged the likely success of David Cameron’s deal on the long-term budget- They realise there is a broad acceptance in Parliament that the agreement to reduce the overall cost of the budget for the first time in history will stick.

“It is clear the Prime Minister will have his way and the budget will be reduced from 2014. So instead we are seeing an attempt by President Schulz and others to pick a different fight and flex their muscles over 2013 spending.

“It is confrontational and disruptive, but In a sense it is a last hurrah because they are trying to wring the last few millions they can from the budget granted by Labour and Tony Blair under Britain’s last presidency of the EU Council.

“Fortunately the budget negotiated by Mr Cameron will come into force from January 1st next year; but nevertheless we will fight this attempt to squeeze yet more taxpayers’ cash from the existing Blair budget.”

Conservatives in Europe tackle Cyber crime

Cyber crime has been described as a major threat to our national security with the National Audit Office estimating the cost to the UK economy as between £18bn and £27bn a year.

Therefore leaving yourself vulnerable to a cyber attack can jeopardize your business, your wealth and your personal safety.

Conservatives in the European Parliament have been working on a revision of arrangements to fight cyber crime and cyber terrorism which has resulted in the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) now being given more resources to combat cyber crime.   ENISA will play a key role in liaising with security organisations in member states and in collecting and disseminating security data.

The global nature of cybercrime means no country can afford to go it alone. ENISA with new resources will provide Europe with much-needed tools to tackle this growing and very dangerous threat.

Cybercrime has a vast reach, from large-scale attacks against cyber networks and databases to identity theft, distribution of child pornography, counterfeiting pharmaceuticals and the sale of pirate products and drugs.  It encompasses the hacking of online financial services, the proliferation of terrorism and attacks against technology hubs such as power plants, electrical grids, and government complexes.

Globally, around a million people have fallen victim to it each day at a cost of around €290 billion each year.

Cyber criminals are not selective: They could target children sitting on their computers at home, or adult consumers every time they log on for online banking services or to do the weekly shopping.

The UK Government has been placing more resources in this area, and it is positive that the EU is directing resources in the same way.

(sent as a local letter to the regional media in February 2013)

EU budget deal a move towards future orientated investment

Ashworth in the European Parliement


The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, attacked the deal reached on the next long-term EU budget by EU leaders

While no one would suggest that the deal represents perfection, I would criticise Mr Schulz’s somewhat misleading analysis of the agreement.

Firstly, we must remember that member states are operating in the most restrictive economic and fiscal environment in history. They are making budget cuts across the board, mostly at the request of the European Union itself.

Secondly, a closer examination of the deal reveals that there has been some shift towards future-orientated investment with an extra 37 per cent (or €34bn) for education, research and innovation, shifting money away from the direct subsidies given to farmers.

If Mr Schulz is serious about more money being spent in growth enhancing areas of the budget then he must have the courage to confront MEP’s themselves, who have frequently rejected any idea that funds should be moved from historic areas of expenditure to those which enhance Europe’s future competitiveness.

Sadly, Mr Schulz is instead proposing that MEPs should be allowed to vote on budget in a secret ballot safe from the legitimate scrutiny of either their domestic political leaders or their respective electorates. It is a confrontational and unnecessary attempt to create a rift between the Parliament and national governments when the sensible approach would be to seek accord.

Indeed, it is ironic that President Schulz, who criticised the European Council for an alleged lack of transparency in negotiating the budget agreement behind closed doors; is now the person calling for a secret ballot in parliament.

While the agreed budget is by no means ideal, we should agree to what is a pragmatic solution secured in difficult times.

Any move by MEPs to reject the budget would lead to a crisis and a serious blow to Europe’s image in the eyes of its citizens and voters.

A smaller EU budget is better – now it must be spent better too


Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs has cautiously welcomed news of a deal at the Brussels summit on the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework.

He said: “We welcome a smaller EU budget over all and we should compliment Mr Van Rompuy for bringing some of the parties to this agreement such a long distance in negotiation.

“However, the EU’s greatest problem right now is the desperate need for jobs and growth. We therefore think it is regrettable that the largest burden of cuts should be borne by the section of the budget which support Jobs, growth and competitiveness.

“At a time when Europe needs to be addressing these issues it is a missed opportunity that the Council has not reviewed traditional areas of spending such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the spending of EU structural funds in prosperous Member States.

“These proposals now have to be put to the European Parliament for its approval at its plenary session in March. We note that the Council’s position is a long way removed from that of many MEPs and probably the parliament as a whole. There is still a lot of hard bargaining to come.

“Therefore in coming months we will be doing everything in our power to push for an agreement which not only reduces the size of the budget but also directs funding to the areas where it is needed.”

European Parliament debates

If you want to read what Richard has said in the European Parliament please click on the link below and read the different speeches that Richard has made in the past.

2013 budgetary procedure: work of the Conciliation Committee (debate)
Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 – Own resource based on the value added tax (debate)
Tuesday, 23 October 2012

General budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013 – all sections (debate)
Monday, 22 October 2012

Agricultural product quality schemes (debate)
Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Financial aid in the field of the trans-European transport and energy networks (debate)
Wednesday, 4 July 2012

2013 budget – mandate for trilogue (debate)
Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Preparation for the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) – Multiannual financial framework and own resources (debate)
ednesday, 13 June 2012

Delimitation of Less-Favoured Areas in the context of the reform of the CAP (debate)
Thursday, 19 April 2012

Draft amending budget no 1/2012: financing of ITER (debate)
Thursday, 19 April 2012

Estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2013 – Section I – Parliament (debate)
Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ashworth on EU budget “UK will not give into threats”

News Desk

Richard Ashworth the leader of the UK Conservatives in the European Parliament underlined the need for cool heads during the protracted EU budget talks.

“The UK veto may be a thorn in the side of some in Brussels, but it is a legal reality and it is there for a reason. They cannot just wish it away, it would require treaty change.”

A recent summit failed to reach agreement on the EU budget but Prime Minister David Cameron is still optimistic an “EU budget deal is still within grasp”.

A deal is still possible according to the Prime Minister who told Reuters that “a deal to secure a long-term budget deal could be agreed if cuts are made to spending “by cutting billions of euros”.

“We do believe a deal is still do-able. It is in our interests to get a deal. But that deal can not come at any cost.”

The long-term budget, covering about €1,000bn spending over seven years, requires unanimity by all member states to be passed.

The Daily Teleraph in a report said that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy last week tabled a draft budget that included €80bn in cuts from that proposed by the Commission but the UK is still pressing for further cuts, particularly to the salaries and benefits of EU civil servants.

Budget talks will resume in Brussels on Monday where Britain will try to push down ever-rising EU administrative costs, an estimated 70 per cent of which go on pay and perks.
According to official figures seen by The Daily Telegraph, some 18% of EU officials earn £100,000 per year compared to 0.5 per cent of British civil servants while around 1,000 EU officials earn more than the Prime Minister.

Ashworth call’s for an end to car rental charges rip off’s

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for the South East has called on car rental firms operating throughout the European Union  to stop “ripping off” customers with unfair and in some cases illegal charges when hiring cars.

Increasingly my constituents across the South-East of England who are travelling to other EU member states and hiring cars during holidays are being charged unfairly for the use of hire cars.

In one situation I was informed of a constituent who hired a car in Spain, and discovered that he was charged 256 EURO’s for a car shelf replacement in the vehicle, even though the vehicle did not have a car shelf.  In another case a constituent placed the keys of the hire car through a letter box and not a person at the desk as it was late at night, and the hire firm claimed the keys were lost and charged my constituent 300 EURO’s for a replacement key.

In many cases I believe that consumers feel vehicle hire companies have unfairly charged their credit cards when these were provided to the company as a guarantee to cover expenses in case anything would happen during the hire period. These charges are very often made without being accompanied by any kind of explanation and set up a disappointing surprise for the consumers. A negative conclusion of this practice is that these  charges are perceived  by consumers as non reasonable and non acceptable.

The general advice is when you are going to hire a car within the European Union, is to make sure you know how much you will be liable for in the event of accident inspect the vehicle carefully (with a car rental company employee present) when collecting and returning it.  Request a written statement that the car was returned in good working order before you leave.

I support a coherent legal EU-wide framework that governs car hire agreements and believe the  issue of vehicle hire is appropriate for EU action; and it is within the EU’s scope to act.   As the vehicle hire sector is mainly a cross-border market, this matter should be solved at EU level.  By harmonising Member States’ laws, regulations and administrative provisions on vehicle hire contracts, a common high level of consumer protection can therefore be better achieved at Community level than by the different Member States themselves

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for the South EastPlease send me your experiences to my email at