Author Archive for Linda Teague

On National Day we celebrate Gibraltar’s spirit

Conservative MEP Julie Girling is sending the people of Gibraltar a message of congratulation and support for National Day this weekend.

The celebrations on September 10 will commemorate Gibraltar’s first referendum of 1967 in which Gibraltarians were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty or remain under British sovereignty.

Mrs Girling, who represents the South West and Gibraltar in the European Parliament, said: “I want to wish Gibraltar and her people a proud and joyous National Day. It will be a celebration of the people’s spirit.

“Fifty years have now passed since that momentous and historic decision. It was a powerful act of national self-determination and it is the unshakeable foundation on which Gibraltar has built its modern identity.

“If anything the will of Gibraltarians to keep British sovereignty has only become stronger. Of course there are problems ahead, not least from Britain’s departure from the European Union, but I firmly believe the spirit and will of Gibraltar’s people will win through.”


MEPs back Girling plan for tackling aviation carbon emissions

International commercial flights should be granted a further exemption from the EU’s carbon emissions controls, but only until 2021, MEPs agreed today.

A report by Conservative Environment Spokesman Julie Girling MEP proposes that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) be allowed more time to establish a global carbon offsetting scheme, which would freeze emissions at 2020 levels. The current exemption expires in March 2018.

She also calls for much greater transparency and information sharing from the ICAO to enable the EU to decide how its existing aviation emissions trading scheme (ETS), which covers flights within the European Economic Area, will link into the proposed new global initiative.

Mrs Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, said: ” It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme. However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation will deliver its objectives.

“Aviation contributes 1.3per cent of global CO2 emissions and that will increase significantly over the coming decades unless effective action is taken. The EU is already leading the way on tackling this issue and we must not let the pace slacken.

“As the rapporteur for EU ETS phase 4, I am well aware of the need for the aviation sector to do its fair share for emissions reduction.”

Her recommendations were approved today by members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee and are expected to be considered by all MEPs in September.


Girling helps deliver simpler energy labels on household products

MEP Julie Girling is backing new labelling rules to help customers choose low-energy “white goods” such as cookers and fridges.

The new rules making energy-labelling much more simple and clear were voted through by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (Tuesday).

The existing system includes the rankings A+, A++ and A+++ – so a product with an A rating may be one of the most inefficient and expensive to run. The new labels will give ratings from A to G.

The legislation also introduces a publicly-available product database to help people make choices based on more than just purchase cost. It is anticipated that these new calculations can be factored into price-comparison websites and apps.

Mrs Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, said: “The current system is pretty opaque. It confuses shoppers, while manufacturers who take care to produce efficient devices don’t get the clear recognition they deserve.

“The new regime will make it far easier for consumers to make cleaner, greener, cheaper choices. At present it is easy to think you are doing well by buying a cheap fridge, but then to find the saving quickly disappears in extra energy costs.”


ETS Rapporteur Girling welcomes Strasbourg debate on Trump and Paris

Julie Girling MEP has welcomed news that the European Parliament will next week debate climate change and President Trump’s decision to ditch the landmark Paris agreement

As the Parliament’s rapporteur on phase IV of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the aviation ETS proposal, she insisted that the EU must step up to challenge the United States if the new president sought to dodge its responsibilities.

Mrs Girling, who is Environment Co-ordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the Parliament, said: “When other so-called world leaders quit the stage, it is time for EU countries to maintain and enhance our leadership role.

“Climate change is a truly global issue and I am disappointed the USA has decided to abdicate its duty to the rest of the world.

“However with the EU setting the pace and working with partners around the world such as China, who stay at the table willingly and remain ready to lead, we can still achieve a great deal.

“On a personal level, I am happy that as ETS rapporteur I shall now be at the centre of the debate here in the EU over the key instrument delivering carbon reductions.

“Since I took the role last week I have met the key players in the EU institutions and we remain determined to establish an ambitious timetable.

“We will hold a trilogue on the 27th June where we will discuss the key political issues. I look forward to taking forward this ambitious EU initiative on climate policy.”


Let’s end this unfair tax on e-books

Campaigning MEP Julie Girling is backing moves to cut VAT on e-books.

She will support a vote in the European Parliament tomorrow (Thurs) calling for the discrepancy to be ended which obliges governments to slap hefty VAT charges on e-books and other digital publishing while the tax is waived for printed books and newspapers.

In Britain, for example, newspapers and printed books are VAT-free, but EU rules mean that readers choosing e-books are obliged to pay and extra 20 per cent in VAT.

The vote, which is expected to be passed with a hefty majority, is officially non-binding but will have to be considered by the European Commission as it makes amendments to its regulations on VAT for digital services.

Mrs Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, said: “What we have now is plainly unfair and must be holding back the digital sector. There is no logical reason whatsoever why the tax system should favour one form of reading over another.

“It is high time e-books and digital publishing were allowed to compete fairly with print on a level playing field. That will be good for readers and good for publishing.”

“Ban” on replacement diets could cost lives

The fight against obesity and diabetes could be severely hampered by an effective ban on use of total replacement diets for severe cases, a campaigning MEP warned today.

Julie Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West, spoke out at a high level conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, which she co-chaired.

Consumers and suppliers fear that planned EU legislation on the contents of very low calorie replacement diets could make them uneconomic to produce and market.

Mrs Girling said: “These very low-calorie diets provide a total replacement for people’s nutritional intake – and they work well in helping very obese people lose weight and avoid diabetes.

“But after 30 years of safe use in Europe they could now disappear. That is a grave concern to people who have effectively had their lives and limbs saved by these products.”

The conference heard from patients who benefited from the diets and from expert clinicians, dieticians and industry representatives.

Mrs Girling concluded: “I think the conference has sent out a strong message that this legislation is ill-considered and could have deeply damaging consequences if it is not reconsidered. It is not putting it too strongly to say this will cost lives.”


The toll of obesity:

MEPs vote to tackle environmental impact of palm oil production

Julie Girling MEP has backed plans to encourage the sustainable production of palm oil to tackle deforestation and climate change passed by the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Palm oil is a widely used agricultural commodity which can be found in everyday food items such as peanut butter and chocolate, in addition to its industrial and biofuel uses. The expansion of palm oil production has been widely criticised for its role in deforestation and destroying of peat habitat in some producing countries.

Mrs Girling, MEP for the South West and Gibraltar and Conservative environment spokesman, said: “This report takes an important step forward by focusing on how we can move towards 100 per cent sustainable palm oil. That will allow growers to earn an income while minimising the impact of production on our environment and the habitats of critically endangered species.

“I am delighted that this report calls for a single certification scheme at the EU level which consumers and businesses can easily recognise. This was a personal priority of mine, and I believe such a scheme will allow consumers to be confident that a product is made with sustainable palm oil.”

The report lays down criteria which could serve as the basis for such a robust certification scheme at EU level, and calls for this to be supplemented by voluntary partnership agreements with producing countries and awareness-raising campaigns to make sure consumers are fully informed before purchasing items.

Mrs Girling added: “Rather than continuing to demonise palm oil, I believe this report strikes the right balance by focusing on the positive contribution of certification schemes, and how these might be improved.”

Car emission measures a step forward

Today the European Parliament voted on two key files for air quality – on the new Type Approval rules for motor vehicles and on the recommendations from the Special Committee of Enquiry into the emissions scandal.

In the aftermath of the dieselgate revelations, the European Commission made new legislative proposals to ensure car manufacturers comply with all EU safety, environmental and production requirements.

This major overhaul of the so-called “EU type approval framework” updates rules that are more than a decade old, which should address the shortcomings in the current legislation and ensure better enforcement across the single market.

Speaking from Strasbourg today, Julie Girling MEP said, “Today’s vote is a step in the right direction. Manufacturers and regulators knew for some time before the VW story broke about some of the discrepancies between approval and testing.

“Compliance and enforcement are key to the good functioning of the single market. Working together with colleagues from across the European Parliament, I supported calls for better EU oversight via an EU agency on market surveillance and I am disappointed that this didn’t get the required support.

“With the UK vote to leave the EU it is imperative that we have a forum within which the UK has a voice and can contribute to a strong single market. Poor air quality costs the UK economy billions per year.

“Good environmental standards and a strong economy are not mutually exclusive and we must continue to work together with our European neighbours to tackle this key issue.”

EU’s tough talk on Gibraltar requires determined diplomacy

Julie Girling MEP has responded to a clause in the EU 27’s draft negotiating position on Brexit which suggests Spain will have a veto on future trade deals involving Gibraltar.

The Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar said: “Nobody should be surprised that the EU is talking tough on Gibraltar. I’ve been warning that this would be the case right the way through the Brexit debate.

“We are seeing the EU working in the interests of its members…and Spain now trumps the UK. We will not defeat this threat simply by sabre rattling. Negotiation is diplomacy…and we must recognise that reality.

“Spain will be hoping that we are prepared to make a deal with them over access to fishing grounds. We should start telling them how tough we will be in this area if they try to be tough over Gibraltar.

“The sovereignty of Gibraltar is not open to negotiation”

Article 50 is being triggered, now the hard work starts

A South West MEP has warned there would be no ‘plain sailing’ towards a UK exit from the EU, as Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggers Article 50.

Conservative Julie Girling said many challenges lay ahead, adding it would be ‘business as usual’ for MEPs as Brexit negotiations get underway.

“This is what we have been building up to since June 23 and I think for both sides it will probably be a relief once the face to face talks start,” said Mrs Girling.

“At last the phoney war is over. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and start negotiating and MEPS have an important role to play. We have detailed knowledge of Brussels’ inner-workings and have personal relationships with key people.”

She urged: “We must focus our energy where it will get the best results – but the negotiations will be both protracted and intricate.”

She said she was disappointed that Westminster had not asserted its right to have a final vote after the negotiation before the deal was put before the European Parliament.

“This makes it critical that MEPs are involved and are part of getting the right deal in the first place.”

Mrs Girling said while negotiations were ongoing it would remain ‘business as usual’ for MEPs: “We still need to do our jobs, and do them properly. It is upon us to try and maximise potentially helpful legislation and minimise any damaging legislation that might harm us in the mean time.”

She added: “As negotiations get underway, I am going to do all I can to provide a bridge between our Government and key figures in Brussels and the European Parliament in particular.

“There are so many unknowns, and we must not underestimate the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead. I don’t believe in misleading people into thinking that this is going to be plain sailing.”