In a month’s time, voters will go to the polls in the European elections to elect MEPs for the next five years.
Over the past five years, Labour MEPs have put jobs, growth and economic stability at the heart of our work in the European Union. We believe Britain is better off in Europe and over the last five years we have delivered reforms to make the EU work better for Britain.
Labour MEPs have fought for economic reforms so Europe works better. We want Europe’s banks to be safer and more accountable to their customers and we want bankers who value long-term stability over short-term risk. That is why Labour MEPs stood up to the banking sector, backing new laws to curb bankers’ bonuses, and supporting restrictions to the casino culture in the finance sector.
We battled against unfettered credit default swaps and unstable speculation in commodities such as food, and we increased transparency for equity and derivatives trading. Labour MEPs moved to protect investors against losing everything by backing a new deposit guarantee to provide compensation for depositors if their bank goes bust. And Labour MEPs secured a £6.5bn fund to guarantee work for young people in these tough economic times.
Labour MEPs have backed reforms to the EU to ensure it is focused on the core priorities of economic stability and job creation. Labour’s MEPs have backed reforms to the EU to ensure it is more streamlined and effective. This includes our long-standing commitment to abolishing the second seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg: the 818km round trip creates 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each session and costs the taxpayer £150m a year.
Labour MEPs also back reform of the European Commission to help it operate more effectively, calling for a European Commissioner for Growth. Labour MEPs believe further reform of the EU budget is necessary, and are also calling for decision making in the EU to be more accountable.
Labour MEPs have fought for greater rights for British consumers, making sure what you buy is genuine, legal, safe and high quality, with more information, easier rights of redress, and a crackdown on fake goods and online con artists. That is why Labour MEPs led on introducing clear food labelling – including labelling which country meat comes from – and voted for strict new laws to punish people selling horsemeat as beef, for more unannounced inspections of food manufacturers, and tougher penalties for rule-breakers.
Some unscrupulous companies have been caught out charging credit card fees ten times the amount an actual transaction costs, hiding the costs in confusing bills and terms and conditions – that is why Labour MEPs voted to make unfair charges illegal. Consumers will now be protected against sky-high credit card transaction fees. Labour MEPs have also opposed unfair roaming charges and forced phone companies to reduce them.
Jobs and investment
The EU single market is the biggest in the world, opening up a 500 million-strong consumer market to UK businesses – almost half of the UK’s trade and foreign investment comes from the EU, providing around 4.2 million jobs. Labour MEPs have led reforms to keep British business at the heart of this market and ensure it works. Labour’s MEPs argued hard for the swift release of EU funds to help young people into work – about £6.5bn will be spent across Europe to tackle youth unemployment.
Labour MEPs support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of the local economy, and where new jobs and growth will come from – the new EU budget provides about £340 million in extra support for small businesses. Labour MEPs also backed new rules for an EU-wide patent system which will allow individuals and companies to apply for a single patent valid throughout the European Union.
Rights at work
Labour MEPs support a Europe where every worker is protected in law, rights such as paid leave, maternity rights and equal rights for agency workers. We 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 race to the bottom on low wages and slave-labour conditions.
Labour MEPs will continue to campaign against attacks on the protections for working people guaranteed at EU level. We will oppose unfair zero-hour contracts and stamp down on abuse by predatory bosses who use these contracts to exploit their workers and avoid paying fair wages. We will also tackle employers who exploit workers from other countries to undercut wages.
For more on Labour MEPs’ record in Europe, see here.