Blog

  • By Carlesmari via Wikimedia Commons

    Only 12.8% of UK laws come from what we agree in Europe

    The House of Commons Library has just updated its report on the percentage of law affecting the UK that’s agreed at European level. By looking at all Acts of Parliament and implementing measures passed in the last 20 years, they have come to the conclusion that an average of 1.4% of Acts and 12.9% of […]

  • Syriza

    The plight of Greece: beware facile comparisons

    Greece’s patience with austerity has snapped is the verdict of the Guardian. But has patience with Greece from its creditors also snapped? There is much sympathy for the plight of ordinary Greek citizens after one of the biggest drops in the standard of living in modern times, mass unemployment and cuts to even basic public […]

  • Image copyright Caitlin Childs - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdcoregirl/3135135560/

    Angling for bass protection

    When we talk about the impact of fisheries policy in Europe, it’s natural for us to automatically think of the influence it has on smaller scale fishing in our coastal towns, or the huge trawlers that head out into the deep sea. It’s important to remember, though, that fisheries policy also has a great impact […]

  • Photo from Wikimedia Commons

    A trillion euros of free money – but for whom?

    The European Central Bank today announced a €1 trillion quantitative easing programme. Quantitative easing — printing money to stimulate the economy — is conducted by means of the central bank purchasing assets. This raises the price of assets. Now, assets tend to be owned disproportionately by the well-off. So, in general, boosting the supply of […]

  • Tax calculator

    More on small businesses and VAT

    New Europe-wide rules for VAT came into force this month, having been debated and agreed by EU countries back in 2008. Among other things, the rules introduce a requirement for EU businesses selling digital services to charge VAT to online customers in other European countries at the rate that applies in the buyer’s country, rather […]

  • Photo via Number 10

    An opportunity for meaningful reform

    I’ve just published an article in Progress on why the vacuum created by Cameron’s dilemma over his party’s EU policy is an opportunity for us to achieve real, meaningful policy reform in Europe: The truth is that European reform is an ongoing process about policy, not a one-off symbolic event. The whole point of the […]

  • Crops

    Vote first, ask questions later

    A strange thing happened last week in the European Parliament. UKIP MEPs refused to support a move to return EU decision-making powers to individual countries. The issue in question was the cultivation of genetically-modified organisms. Years ago, EU countries agreed to take decisions jointly on whether to allow genetically-modified crops to be grown in Europe. […]

  • Courtesy of Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons

    Revenge of the directory scams

    From correspondence I’ve had with constituents recently, it seems that an old scam has resurfaced. It was previously known as the European City Guide, but seems to have recently reinvented itself as the “United Kingdom Industry Commerce Directory”. Under various names, this shady organisation sends an official-looking form to small businesses, voluntary organisations and even […]

  • Courtesy of European Parliament

    Je suis Charlie

    There are at least three ways in which horrific events such as yesterday’s can affect even those of us who weren’t directly involved. The first is the simplest: we are shocked by the recognition of what it was, a horrific moral outrage. The cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians is always deplorable, but how much more […]

  • Tax calculator

    Small businesses and VAT

    From 2015, EU countries have agreed a change to VAT rules in the single market. Until now, companies who sell across borders have usually been able to charge (and pay) VAT at the rate of their home country. This has allowed large multinational corporations to base themselves in countries with the lowest rates of VAT […]

  • Photo by Joi Ito via Flickr

    Voting on Palestine

    Parliaments across Europe, including the House of Commons, have been debating whether to recognise Palestine officially as a state. The European Parliament had a similar debate last month, led by my Labour colleague Richard Howitt, and this week will take a final vote on the matter. A message from Parliament in support of recognising Palestinian […]