What is at stake is the future direction of Europe
On the 22nd of May electors will vote in the European elections. With over 50 per cent of UK legislation emanating from the European Union, these elections are very important for businesses and individuals in the UK.
In the weeks running up to these important elections, Endeavour Public Affairs will be publishing a series of exclusive articles from the leaders of the UK groups setting out their vision for the future of the EU and what specific policies they and their colleagues are fighting for in the European elections. The final article is from Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour Party MEP for the East Midlands and Leader of the UK Labour Party group of MEPs in the European Parliament.
To follow Glenis Willmott on Twitter – @GlenisWillmott
Tomorrow, voters go to the polls in the European elections. What is at stake is the future direction of Europe, the kind of Europe we would like to see, and our role in it.
Over the last five years, Labour MEPs have worked to ensure British people benefit from Europe, and with British families facing pressure on their living standards, we need a European Union that boosts jobs and supports economic growth right across the country.
We have fought hard to regulate the finance sector, tackling the dangerous risk-taking culture and big bonuses that contributed to the financial crisis. We have built alliances to make the EU work better for British people, championing new initiatives to reduce youth unemployment, securing new funding to help young unemployed people find a job or training.
We have challenged rip-off credit card charges, and blocked those who seek to weaken the European safeguards that protect working people and consumers, and we have cracked down on the underhand marketing of cigarettes to children and stood up to the food industry to demand more openness about where our food has come from.
Labour MEPs are proud of these and many other successes, but we want to go further. Europe needs to change if it is to win back the confidence of the British public, better reflecting the issues that matter to hardworking people up and down the country – and if there are proposals for a further transfer of power from the UK to Brussels, we have pledged to give people a say over our membership of the EU.
On trade, we are proud of helping the EU boost our economy through the European single market and new international trade agreements, but we must remain vigilant to ensure the Government does not use these deals as a tool to undermine our public services, including the NHS.
Labour has called for an EU Commissioner for Growth to be appointed and given the clear responsibility for championing policies that promote economic growth across every part of the Commission’s work and be held accountable for this work by the Parliament and Council of Ministers.
Developing a deeper Digital Single Market, too, could help to increase GDP across the European Union by up to four per cent by 2020, potentially generating up to four million jobs inside the European Union.
Given the growth in the British online hi-tech sector a growing digital single market offers real potential for British business, particularly SMEs. We will work with business organisations to champion expansion of the Single Market.
Labour MEPs will also fight to protect and strengthen employment rights. We helped introduce sensible measures at an EU level that protect the rights of British workers. These are measures to which we are committed and which we will fight to protect. We want a Europe where every worker is protected in law, wherever they are from, wherever they work.
Labour MEPs understand a modern economy must be anchored on rights for workers to fair treatment. Britain cannot compete with the rest of the world in a global race to the bottom on low wages and slave-labour conditions, and that is why Labour MEPs will continue our campaign against calls to roll back protections for working people guaranteed at EU level.
We oppose unfair zero-hour contracts. There is no place in our economy for abuse by predatory bosses who use these contracts to exploit their workers and avoid paying fair wages, and employers who exploit workers from other countries to undercut wages. The posted workers directive needs to be reformed and loopholes in the agency workers directive need to be closed.
And on the environment, Labour MEPs will continue to support the move towards a low carbon economy and the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This is a vital new industry for our economy and Labour MEPs will work hard to ensure Britain benefits from research and the development of good quality green jobs.
Labour MEPs are proud of the work we do at home in our constituencies, backing local projects to support jobs and investment, helping local businesses to make the most of the European single market, and supporting constituents who have had problems dealing with another EU country.
In the European Parliament, it is Labour MEPs who put jobs, growth, and economic stability at the heart of our work, delivering reforms to make the EU work better for Britain, working hard to tackle the cost of living crisis – unlike the isolated Tories and absent UKIP, both of whose ideological, blind opposition to Europe prevents them acting in the national interest.
Published: Wednesday 21 May 2014
© Copyright of Endeavour Public Affairs 2014
Photograph: © Copyright of Glenis Willmott MEP
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone.