A Labour MEP today attacked the European Commission’s “foolish plans” to launch proceedings against the UK for use of the traffic light food labelling system.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour MEP for the East Midlands and Labour’s European spokesperson on health and food, said:
“I am surprised and disappointed the Commission has ploughed ahead with foolish plans to challenge the UK’s voluntary use of the traffic light labelling scheme.
“When I was part of negotiating EU food labelling laws we made it clear that countries could introduce voluntary labelling schemes.
“Consumers like the traffic light scheme because it gives them the information they need to make quick, informed decisions. If we’re serious about tackling obesity and related diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, we need to be transparent about what is in our food.”
The traffic light system, announced in June last year, has been praised by health campaigners for giving consumers the information they need to make educated choices about what they eat.
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“The easiest and most effective way to implement the traffic light scheme with legal certainty would be through EU legislation, and I think this is something we could still achieve in the future.”
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Conference, just four months ago there was a national election where Labour did so well that we increased our number of elected representatives by 50 per cent. Yes, 50 per cent!
Now in any normal election this would have been headline news.
“Ed Miliband on his way to Downing Street”. “Major Labour success” they would have screamed.
But because the elections were for Europe and because Nigel Farage and UKIP were the campaign’s media darlings you may have missed the fact that Labour did rather well.
In fact we secured our best result on the European stage for 20 years and that was despite Nigel Farage managing to convince many voters he was the one who would stand up for working families.
Yes, the same Nigel Farage who wants to charge you to see your GP.
The same Nigel Farage who wants to give a tax cut to millionaires and make you pay more. The same Nigel Farage who wants to scrap your rights at work.
As a miner’s daughter myself it was heartbreaking to stand in the former coalfields of my constituency communities devastated by Thatcher and hear people say they were voting UKIP.
We know people have real concerns, but UKIP offers no answers for our country.
And we will continue to take on and expose their deceptions and counter their inflammatory rhetoric in Brussels and at home.
Yet despite UKIP, Labour sent 20 MEPs back to Brussels and now, for the first time ever, more than half of Labour MEPs are women.
So let’s not accept the media’s line that we did badly in May.
To the contrary your newly elected Labour MEPs are now amongst the strongest in the European Parliament securing more senior parliamentary positions than ever before.
Positions of influence which allow us to ensure Europe works better for Britain.
But we should spare a thought for the poor Lib Dems. They’ve been left with one solitary MEP. Just one it’s a shame.
It does make it much more difficult to face both ways at once!
But I do want to thank you, the party members and activists for all your hard work during the campaign.
And a big thank you to the trade unions. Your continued commitment has ensured working people have a stronger voice in the European Parliament.
Conference, knocking on doors up and down the country, our MEPs and candidates heard the same concerns time and again.
You know them yourself.
You heard them too. Living standards under pressure; economic uncertainty; immigration.
Labour MEPs are determined to put these concerns at the heart of our work in Europe and we will work together with our European colleagues to refocus the EU budget to deliver jobs and growth.
We will champion jobs and training to get young people into work.
We will take on reform of the European energy market.
We will act to address the scourge of zero hour contracts, and prevent the undercutting of pay.
And, let me be very clear. Your Labour MEPs will not support any EU-US trade deal that endangers the NHS.
And we can’t leave that to the Tories, can we?
For goodness sake, David Cameron is a case study in how to lose friends and influence nothing.
The idiot abroad.
Conference, let me remind you of the woeful tale.
If, you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, desperate Dave took a train to Brussels to meet Mrs Merkel.
Mrs Merkel was very powerful and had lots of very powerful friends.
But the naughty boys at the back of Dave’s class, let’s call it the upper class and let’s call the boys Boris and Nigel.
They told Dave that he couldn’t be chums with Mrs Merkel.
Now Dave desperately wanted the naughty boys to like him.
So he did as he was told, and refused to play with Mrs Merkel and her friends.
Of course, then when it came to helping Mrs Merkel chose the new Head Boy shall we call him Mr Juncker.
Well Dave stamped his feet, and suddenly wanted Mrs Merkel and her friends to play by his rules.
Well we all know how that ended in tears and tantrums.
Conference, the Tories simply can’t deliver the leadership and reform we need in Europe.
While David Cameron’s toddler diplomacy is cause of much amusement, his incompetence on the European stage has very real and serious consequences.
Under Cameron, the UK’s influence in Brussels has been eroded.
Putting our national interest, and the reforms and progress we need on hold.
Under Cameron, the UK is sleepwalking to exit.
Causing great economic uncertainty and damaging investment in our country.
That’s why we need a Labour government.
That’s why we need Ed Miliband in Number Ten, because in Brussels, as in Westminster, we need a Labour agenda.
Imagine for a moment what a Labour victory will look like. I’m sure you already have; protection and investment in our NHS; investment in jobs and growth; a freeze on energy prices; scrapping the bedroom tax.
But have you thought about what a Labour victory might look like in Europe?
For far too long Europe’s course has been set by parties of the right.
Conference, Europe is a force for good in the world. It is a force for good in Britain.
But it could be so much better.
With Ed Miliband as our Prime Minister sitting around that table in Brussels we can fight for the Europe we need.
A Europe of solidarity.
A Europe that puts jobs and growth first.
A Europe for the many not the few.
A Europe – and a Britain – made better by Labour.