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Labour MEP calls for tougher action on Ebola crisis

EbolaA Labour MEP has expressed concern at the increasing spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa and has co-written a resolution calling on the EU to do more to help.

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

“The response so far from the EU and its member states has failed to recognise the scale and urgency of the situation. We need all of the organisations involved to come up with a wide-ranging strategy to tackle this epidemic.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 20,000 people could be infected within a few months. Existing shortages of food and water could also be made worse by disruption as people flee the epidemic.

“We cannot afford to sit back and let this crisis continue. We have the research capabilities and medical expertise to beat this disease and therefore rapid, international action is needed to prevent the epidemic from growing worse.”

Labour MEP to lead medical devices overhaul

04C12B1AE3961FCA805880CCD0AGlenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, has been chosen to lead the European Parliament’s work on new legislation on medical devices.

The update to the EU legislation follows a number of scandals involving medical devices.

Glenis Willmott MEP said: 

“I am delighted to have been appointed as rapporteur for this vital legislation. After the scandals involving PIP breast implants and ‘metal on metal’ hip replacements, the public are rightly concerned about the regulation of medical devices. Patients deserve better and so action at EU level is needed.”

Mrs Willmott will now be responsible for guiding the new rules through the Parliament as well as negotiating with the Commission and national governments.

“We must ensure the industry is transparent and works in the interest of patients. This legislation will go a long way to achieving that and I look forward to taking it further in the coming months.”

“I am concerned, however, with the proposals that medical devices should fall under the responsibility of the Industry Commissioner.  Our first priority with these products must be health, and they should be overseen by the Health Commissioner.  I will be doing everything I can to ensure that this is the case.”


EU must act to give young people a future

Low Paid Young PeopleRecent figures released by the Resolution Foundation show that young people in the UK are increasingly stuck in low-paid jobs, often on temporary contracts that offer no security and few prospects for the future.

29% of workers aged 21-30 are now classed as low paid, compared to just 8% in 1975. And although the number of low paid older workers has declined, 1 in 5 of all workers and 1 in 3 of all women in work are still paid less than the living wage. In addition, more than 2 million people in the UK are out of work, and youth unemployment remains at 17.8%, with many looking for work for over a year.

The situation is the same right across Europe. Unemployment may have fallen in some countries but it remains much too high, with youth unemployment at 21.7% across the EU, and over 50% in Spain and Greece. Furthermore, like in the UK, many people who are in work are in low paid jobs on limited contracts, which often offer no real guarantee of work.

Meanwhile, several banks and big businesses are reporting record profits in a recovery that has clearly been for the few and not the many. The gap between rich and poor is widening and Europe is becoming an ever more unequal society. Even the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has acknowledged that rising inequality is a real threat to long-term growth.

The EU can, and should, be part of the solution. It isn’t regulation from Europe that’s holding our economy back, but ideological austerity measures that are implemented with little regard for the misery they cause. Meanwhile, the protection for workers that David Cameron wants to negotiate away – like limits on working time, maternity and paternity leave and rights for part time and agency workers – are the only thing protecting workers from yet more exploitation.

It’s the same with wages. We often hear from those on the right that a higher minimum wage would see jobs lost, but in reality higher wages would stimulate demand and therefore act as a stimulus for further job creation and growth. That’s why a future Labour government would start to tackle low pay by setting the minimum wage as a specified proportion of the national average wage, rather than merely linking it to the economy. This would help to drive wages up and is a policy that Labour MEPs would like to see extended across Europe.

The EU’s priorities for the parliamentary term must be focussed on jobs and growth, and that means creating good quality jobs that offer people security and a fair wage.

I’m now a member of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee and there’s lots that me and my colleagues in the Socialist and Democrat Group want to do to in order to deal with these issues.

Our main priority must be tackling the unacceptably high levels of youth unemployment and the misuse of zero hours contracts that is keeping people trapped in low-paid, precarious work.

Polls show that young people are overwhelmingly pro-European; they believe in European ideals, not just a single market for business, but a social Europe, working together to combat shared challenges. We cannot now turn our backs and leave a generation of young people feeling betrayed, and facing a bleaker future than their parents because of a financial crisis they didn’t cause. Europe must be ready to change direction and take bold action in order to put hope back into the EU economy, and Labour MEPs and our colleagues in Europe are ready to lead this charge.

Juncker should reverse decision on medicines shake up

Glenis Willmott, a leading MEP on health, has lambasted plans for pharmaceuticals and medical devices to be overseen by the Industry Commissioner in Juncker’s new team.

“I find it hard to believe. Medicines and medical devices are first and foremost about improving and protecting people’s health. Of course Europe’s pharmaceutical and medical technology industries are important to our economy, but our first priority must be health.”

“When I was negotiating the transparency laws for clinical trial results, it was DG Enterprise that wanted to water the rules down. Now they will be overseeing the European Medicines Agency as it implements the transparency regime, which is frankly concerning.”

“Following the breast implant scandal people expect stronger regulation of medical devices, regulation that protects patients. Clearly medical devices should be the responsibility of the Heath Commissioner.”

“This was a bad decision from President Juncker, I hope he will quickly come to his senses and rectify it.”

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