Promoted by Mark Ward-Jones on behalf of the Torfaen Constituency Labour Party at 27 Brunel Road, Fairwater, Cwmbran, Torfaen NP44 4QT.
DEREK VAUGHAN MEP
Member of the European Parliament for Wales
Newsletter January 2016.
A Happy New Year to all of the readers of this e-news bulletin.
2016 promises to be a year full of both risks and opportunities.
I am confident that Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Labour team will renew our mandate in the Assembly elections in May, as well as clearly stating our case to remain in Europe as we approach the forthcoming referendum.
The risks are equally real. David Cameron’s Conservatives taking power in Cardiff Bay and reversing our defence of lower tuition fees, or the potential loss of the£838 million we receive from the EU and around 200,000 jobs that rely on our membership are real possibilities. These dangers are why we will need each and every one of us out on the doorstep, for both the Assembly and EU referendum campaigns over the next few months.
The announcement of 750 job losses at Tata Steel plants in Wales has been a devastating blow.
I have previously met with steelworkers on this issue, as well as going to their site in Port Talbot only the week before last to talk to the Unions and managers there. Furthermore, I have also raised these matters with the European Commission. The overwhelming impression I got from these meetings is that the Tories have not done anywhere near enough. Too often they seem to have put not offending the Chinese above the needs of the Welsh and UK steel industries. They have delayed a review into anti-dumping regulations. They have failed to be the voice of UK steel at an international level. Other countries in Europe, such as Italy have made great efforts to preserve their steel industry while the Tories keep telling us that governments cannot intervene.
Many Government projects such as the Hinkley Point C reactor and the Arriva trains renewal do not have any UK steel in their plans and there is not even going to be any UK steel used in our new warships even though domestic producers are capable of manufacturing some of the most technologically advanced steel in the world. This is an oversight which borders on an outright betrayal of our steel industry.
For those workers for whom it is already too late, I and other Labour MEPs have called on the Tories to apply to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund which provides localised investment to help laid off workers find new jobs and better skills in situations such as this. Once again the Tories’ crocodile tears for British industry have not been matched by action as they have refuse to be proactive, either to save our steel, or to help those who’ve already lost their job.
This contrasts with Labour members of the European Parliament, who are always looking at ways to help tackle unemployment in our communities. Along with my colleagues, I voted to push for raising skill levels as a way to help lower youth unemployment. It should be obvious that if young people don’t have the right skills that they won’t get a job. So if we want to get people into work, we need to help them get these skills. This needs to be done strategically and we must ensure that we are giving young people the chance to get skills that match what our country needs both now and in the future. This will give everyone the chance to contribute and the chance to succeed.
I have also led calls for the Tories to apply to the EU Solidarity Fund, so that extra resources can be made available to help those areas ravaged by the flood waters. David Cameron has 12 weeks to apply, so the clock is already ticking and time is running out for the Tories to take this action that will help communities. Regions across the UK need help to recover, and the Tories are showing they did not learn any lessons from the last flooding of the Somerset levels. If the Tories had not become fanatical about their austerity agenda and invested more in our flood defences then further damage could have been averted. Then perhaps we would not be counting the cost now.
Improving safety at home and abroad
In better news, I was happy to help measures pass the European Parliament to raise safety standards for boilers, gas cookers and ovens. People, at home and abroad, should be able to have absolute confidence that the boiler heating their home, or the cooker they make food with is not a silent killer. This kind of pan-European regulation also affords holiday makers abroad greater protection as well. It was therefore shocking and disappointing to see UKIP playing politics on this issue by voting against these standards.
Referendum campaign update
The EU referendum is now expected to take place in June of this year.
Before Christmas, Welsh Labour launched its official IN Campaign which will be led by Lord Peter Hain.
In the coming weeks further information will be distributed and there will be events and meetings held across Wales to allow members to find out more on how they can participate in the fight to keep the UK in the EU. CLPs and the Trade Unions will also be offered speakers so that members can talk about the importance of EU membership and how we will campaign to retain it.
This concludes my newsletter for this month. As always, if you have any queries please feel free to get in touch.
Member of the European Parliamentary