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We must do more to help missing children

One million children go missing every year in Europe. We have a moral duty to do everything we can to tackle this frightening statistic.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights states that it is a right of every child to be protected from harm. A statement that I am sure everyone will agree with.

I recently signed AMBER Alert EU’s petition to support their call to improve the protection of endangered missing children. We are calling for child alert systems to be set up in all EU countries to help share vital information with the public as quickly as possible.

At an EU level, I also support the increased collaboration with authorities to help track down missing children who may have crossed borders. We can achieve more when we work together and I hope that we can continue to campaign for further action.

In the East Midlands 22,328 were reported missing in 2012-2013, it is estimated that two thirds of these were children. The UK currently has a child alert system which is supported by local Police Services throughout the East Midlands.

The child alert system is supported by Missing People UK and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. You can sign up at www.childrescuealert.org.uk to receive alerts.

I hope that the authorities, child protection agencies, charities, politicians and the public can work together across the EU to ensure that every child is protected.

To achieve reform, Cameron must demonstrate statesmanship on Greece, build bridges and forge alliances

cameron merkelDavid Cameron is today outlining his demands for EU reform at a summit of Europe’s leaders – though it’s the plight and possible exit of another country that will be front and centre of everyone else’s minds.

Greece is in a dire situation. The seesaw of never-ending austerity and bailouts have not worked. Greek debt remains unsustainably high – 180 per cent of GDP – and unemployment, though coming down, is still 25% overall and 50% for youth. This crisis will dominate the summit.

The prime minister must recognise that fact, reflect on it and speak a language his fellow heads of government understand, lest they regard him as the blinkered bystander who’ll talk only about what he wants to, ignoring the Aegean elephant in the room.

What’s happening to Greece matters. It matters not just to Greeks, and not just the eurozone, but to the whole EU, including Britain. One million Britons a year visit Greece. UK banking is heavily exposed to the eurozone – £7 billion to Greece alone. It’s not just good politics for Mr Cameron to work with EU leaders to find a solution, it’s in our national interest.

Only by demonstrating his statesmanship on Greece, building bridges and forging alliances, will he be heard on reform.

If he plays it the right way, at the summit and on his tours of Europe’s capitals, he will find allies in the quest to make the EU better, but if he plays to the Eurosceptic gallery in the press and his party, ramping up the rhetoric and threatening vetoes, his demands risk being ignored.

The referendum is coming. It will be a defining moment for our country, for our economy, how we see ourselves and our place in the world. It is vital for Britain we get this right, working for a reformed EU, and vital the UK not just stays in, but leads.

Local MEP to nominate Raif Badawi for Sakharov Prize

Raif Badawi

This Friday marks International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and an East Midlands MEP has announced that she will be nominating imprisoned Saudi Arabian blogger and torture victim Raif Badawi for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize. The annual prize has been awarded since 1988 to individuals and organisations that make an outstanding contribution to defending human rights and freedom of speech.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:

“Raif is currently facing a dire situation and has suffered human rights abuses simply for expressing his views and supporting free speech. Labour MEPs have condemned Raif’s treatment and have frequently called on Commissioner Mogherini, who is responsible for Foreign Affairs, to take appropriate action at a EU level.”

“I have decided to nominate Raif not only because of the horrendous abuse that he has suffered, but also due to the fact that his case has helped highlight other serious breaches of human rights across the world due to the lack of freedom of expression.”International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Each nominee must have the support of at least 40 MEPs, and each MEP can only support one nominee. Nominations and supporting evidence are then assessed in a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Development Committee and Human Rights Subcommittee.

A shortlist of three candidates is drawn up after a vote by the committees and then submitted to the Conference of Presidents for a final vote. The winner is normally announced in October, and the award ceremony takes place in November at plenary sitting in Strasbourg.

Glenis Willmott MEP added:

“This year has seen various tragedies linked to freedom of expression, some of which occurred in Europe. I remain committed to freedom of expression and strongly oppose the abuse of basic human rights. I hope that by nominating Raif that we will again raise his case at an international level.”

East Midlands MEP welcomes EU funding boost for Leicestershire social projects

An East Midlands MEP has welcomed the announcement that the National Lottery will match funds from the European Union to create a £14 million fund to tackle poverty and unemployment in Leicester and Leicestershire. The fund will assist projects aiming to tackle the root causes of poverty by improving people’s skills, confidence and management of personal finances.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:

“This new fund will be the first time that the National Lottery has linked up with the European Social Fund to provide these vital lifelines to people who are struggling to improve their skills. In Leicestershire we have some of the most deprived communities in the country and these projects will help local people gain the relevant skills to access training opportunities and high quality jobs.”

The overall aim will be to promote employment, social inclusion and economic growth by breaking down the barriers disadvantaged communities face when getting in to work, education and training. The local enterprise partnership in Leicester and Leicestershire will oversee the funding along with the Big Lottery Fund.

The £14 million fund will be split into five potential project areas and awarded to groups around the county who make bids for the cash. Funds will particularly be focussed on hard to reach and socially-excluded areas in inner-city as well as isolated rural parts of the county.

“These sorts of projects are essential to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to get on in life if they work hard. I am glad to see another example of EU funding directly benefitting Leicestershire residents. I would encourage charities and community groups that work in the social sector to apply for these funds so that their brilliant projects can get off the ground.”


For more information about the projects, available funding and deadlines for applications, see the LLEP website.

For examples of existing European Social Fund projects in the UK, see the European Commission’s website.

For more information on how groups can apply for funding and projects which have already been awarded funds, see the Big Lottery Fund website.

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