Written Statements

& Explanations

Under Rule 162 each MEP has the right to submit a written contribution to a debate once every Strasbourg session, even if unable to take part due to time constraints. The statement is then incorporated into the minutes of the debate. 

Under Rule 183 each MEP has a right to submit a written explanation of their vote, which will then be included in the Verbatim Report of Proceedings for the sitting.

This page is a record of my written statements, and (where appropriate) written explanations of votes.

2014-2019 Mandate Statements & Explanations


 

Title of debate: Negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Session date : 07/07/15 
Written statement:

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”) is more than a traditional trade deal and the current negotiating position that MEPs have access to is not a text I could support. 

Commerce and democracy are not mutually exclusive, nor should they ever be traded against each other. This opinion must send a clear statement to the Commission that this is the case or it serves no purpose. The Commission must understand that the fear of lowering standards through regulatory harmonisation expressed by citizens from across Europe is not irrational and must be addressed. 

The proposal to create a separate legal mechanism to protect investors is completely unacceptable. As a lawyer I am deeply worried by this because companies can and will take advantage of any avenues that are open to them. That the Scottish Government is currently before European Court of Justice defending its policies against the challenge of the Scotch Whisky Association shows that investors already have numerous avenues to defend themselves.

The SNP could support TTIP but only if it creates trade without compromising European standards, the Scottish NHS or the democratic accountability of the Scottish Parliament.

 


 

Title of debate: European Fund for Strategic Investments

Session date : 24/06/15 
Report/resolution number:1 - A8-0139/2015
Written explanation of vote:

The proposes European Fund for Strategic Investments is not perfect in design: I remain sceptical over the decision to strip Horizon 2020 of 2.5b EUR, particularly from collaborative research and societal challenges, and it would have been preferable to source the guarantee from the margins of the EU budget. The development of the plan also needs to be scrutinised to ensure that the Commission's promises of a leverage multiplier of 15 with private money comes to fruition. Nevertheless, the plan provides the opportunity to front-load important spending on renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, electricity and transport networks, and seed capital for SMEs, at a time when Europe is crying out for investment capital: under this plan many projects which otherwise would have been tied up in red tape for years can be brought forward now. In addition, the Parliament has improved the Commission's original proposal such as through the governance of the Fund and the criteria for project selection. Scotland can benefit significantly, from North Sea marine energy grids to electric car infrastructure to renovation of buildings for energy savings. Therefore I voted in favour.

 


 

Title of debate: Self-certification of importers of minerals and metals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas

Session date : 19/05/15 
Written statement :

Mr President! Conflict minerals are so-named because they are sourced in opaque or illegal practices in unstable areas of the world. For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are sourced in conditions of extreme exploitation, violence and slavery.  

According to the International Peace Information Service, armed groups are present at more than half of all mining sites in the DRC, where the local population is coerced into working in the mines and controlled by rape and violence. These minerals are present in our phones, our cars, even our food cupboards. We are complicit in modern-day slavery unless we take action now. 

A voluntary scheme of self-certification will not work. The EU can be a powerful force in using soft power and trade to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, and we cannot pretend a voluntary system is enough. The upcoming vote can and should strengthen existing laws and I urge my fellow MEPs to be part of that force. Binding rules for firms involved in the production and trade of minerals are crucial for keeping conflict minerals out of Europe. This is our contribution to the fight against modern day slavery.

 


 

 

 

Title of debate : European Council and Commission statements – Report on the extraordinary European Council (25 April 2015) – The latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies

Session date : 29/04/2015
Written statement :

Mr President! More than 1,750 people have perished since the start of the year alone and this crisis is going to get worse unless we change our policies. People in Scotland, Europe and members of this chamber by large expressed a clear demand for immediate action to prevent further loss of life in the Mediterranean. Europe's states cannot ignore the tragedy unfolding on our doorstep. Politicians and policy-makers must stop weighing up the political and economic costs and worry about the impact on their own immigration and asylum statistics. Rescuing people at sea is our obligation, driven by human decency and each EU member state should share in that effort. We all know that the European response to this crisis has been woefully inadequate and it shames us all. The numbers of migrants are significant, but we could cope. Instead, the European states have left it as a local problem for Southern Europe. This approach has resulted in unprecedented tragedy. Lessons must be learned! We must support our colleagues in Italy and Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Spain. People are dying trying to reach Europe’s shores and this is not their problem, this is our problem and we must assume responsibility.

 


 

 

Title of debate : European Council and Commission statements – Report on the extraordinary European Council (25 April 2015) – The latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies

Session date : 29/04/2015
Written statement :

Mr President! More than 1,750 people have perished since the start of the year alone and this crisis is going to get worse unless we change our policies. People in Scotland, Europe and members of this chamber by large expressed a clear demand for immediate action to prevent further loss of life in the Mediterranean. Europe's states cannot ignore the tragedy unfolding on our doorstep. Politicians and policy-makers must stop weighing up the political and economic costs and worry about the impact on their own immigration and asylum statistics. Rescuing people at sea is our obligation, driven by human decency and each EU member state should share in that effort. We all know that the European response to this crisis has been woefully inadequate and it shames us all. The numbers of migrants are significant, but we could cope. Instead, the European states have left it as a local problem for Southern Europe. This approach has resulted in unprecedented tragedy. Lessons must be learned! We must support our colleagues in Italy and Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Spain. People are dying trying to reach Europe’s shores and this is not their problem, this is our problem and we must assume responsibility.

 


 

 

Title of debate : Subject: Rise of anti-semitism, islamophobia and violent extremism in the EU

Session date : 11/3/2015
Written statement :

Europe is facing an enormous challenge of reacting to racial tensions as we witness the rise of both anti-semitism and islamophobia. 

At a time when tensions are running high, our duty is to stand up to closed-minded prejudices and we must remember not to loose ourselves in statistics but tackle the real causes of these problems.

While attitudes towards Muslims are negative across Europe, we’ve also seen anti-Jewish sentiment growing steadily and it has to be addressed. We need to be vigilant within our communities and not allow for anti-Jewish sentiments to develop just as much as we need to protect Muslims from damaging anti-Islam discourse.

It should also be noted that the European Network Against Racism has called on the European Parliament to create a database to assess the rise of islamophobia as we lack statistics on this, while legal tools have been created in various member states to fight against anti-semitism. We must collate all evidence of all hate crime on the same basis if we are to tackle all such prejudice effectively.

 


 

 

Title of debate : Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy - Shortage of funding for the UNRWA (United Nations Relief & Works Agency)

Session date : 10/2/2015
Written statement :

Mr President!  I have seen UNRWA's irreplaceable role in providing public services to millions of Palestinian refugees, including during many trips to Gaza. The fact is we need UNRWA now more than ever. There is a power vacuum in Gaza which could backfire if the humanitarian situation further deteriorates, following Israel's deadly raids.

UNRWA, we often forget, is also in charge of Syria's 400,000 Palestinian refugees - protecting them in Homs, Hama, South Damascus in Yarmouk Camp, despite Syria's almost continuous starving siege since 2012. We must also urge Jordan to let them in from Syria and not only elderly, children and women - or worse, deport them back to Syria as seen last year.

UNRWA also has to deal with 50,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria to Lebanon, on top of 300,000 already.  We Europeans already pay 57% of UNRWA funding but it is Israel who should be paying for the education of Palestine's refugees, their healthcare and their housing, not Europe.  UNRWA has an $80 million deficit in 2015 and needs an extra $15 million from the EU to cover late 2015: I hope Council and Parliament will set this as top priority.

 


 

Title of debate : Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy - Main aspects and basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy

Session date : 14/1/2015
Written statement :
We all agree there can be no peace without justice and diplomacy; this also applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where decades of armed struggle and on-off peace talks have simply failed. Signing the Rome statute opens up Palestinian territory to future ICC investigations, a situation Israel and its allies, including the UK, fought a long and intense battle behind the scenes to avoid. Forgetting that this decision not only sets the stage for filing a war crimes case against Israel for its actions in Gaza, it also exposes Palestinians to prosecution. The Palestinians will themselves be judged by this court. Surely, if the EU is committed to actively promoting the widest participation to the ICC, we should be backing the right of the Palestinian people to seek justice through accession to treaties and international organisations and not discourage them from doing so. If we, the union of European nations, continue to fail to act and support Palestinians’ campaign to join international organisations, the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain a thorn in the side of the Middle East, causing suffering and destruction which will continue throughout the remainder of this chamber’s mandate and many more to come.

 

Explanation of vote concerns: Possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs

Report/resolution number: 20 - A8-0038/2014
Session date : 13/1/2015
Written explanation of vote :
The SNP are opposed to the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland: in addition to uncertainties about the long term environmental effects, Scottish farming relies on a reputation for quality and environmental sensitivity, and we must not jeopardise consumer confidence in any way. We cannot support this legislation as it is designed to promote the spread of GM crops in Europe. It was proposed with the implicit understanding that Member States who banned GM crops on their territory would drop their opposition to authorisation at the EU level. This law does not provide enough safeguards to keep Scotland GM-free. The anti-contamination measures would not apply to the border between England and Scotland (England will cultivate GM crops); it would not prevent the circulation of GM products in Scotland, and does nothing on GM labelling. We need to focus instead on reforming the EU's environmental risk assessment and authorisation process to reflect the opposition of a majority of Member States and Europe's citizens to the imposition of this technology.

 


 

Title of debate : CIA torture

Session date : 17/12/2014
Written statement :
Mr President, the US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorists raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the vast secret police networks, which span the globe. The report details harsh CIA interrogation techniques, including CIA officers threatening to hurt, rape, and kill family members of detainees but it omits the wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA continues to be involved. This is simply unacceptable. It is also disgraceful that despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the report is unlikely to trigger any trials or resignations. The Scottish Government is demanding answers from the UK and if we, in this chamber, represent countries that were directly or indirectly involved in these shameful practices it’s our responsibility to put pressure on our respective governments and to conduct a thorough inquiry at the EU level. Member states’ agencies should not have been in the business of kidnapping and ‘rendering’ and I urge my colleagues from countries like Poland, Romania, Lithuania and others to press for judicial inquiries, as we need a full explanation of what happened in our name on our soil.

Title of debate : Situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration

Session date : 25/11/14
Written statement :
Mr President! The EU is seen by many most vulnerable and oppressed people of the world as a zone of stability and safety. Migrants risk and lose their lives trying to reach our shores. According to the IOM, the journey from North Africa via the Mediterranean is the most lethal migration in the world and has killed at least 3,000 migrants this year alone. The situation in Mediterranean is a pressing issue and it’s only going to get worse; war in Syria, Libya and elsewhere is creating millions of new refugees, and the next exodus is underway in Iraq. Mr President, faced with the most dangerous border crossing in the world, Europe is deciding to make that journey even more dangerous — betting that if we make it hopeless enough, no one will attempt to cross. This ‘cruel to be kind’ approach means politicians get to look tough on ‘illegal’ immigration for political benefit back home, but the transformation of the EU into a fortress has created the conditions that have led to deaths along its borders. This isn’t something we should be proud of as a union of member states hence we need to act together so our actions reflect our common values.

Title of debate : Response to Ebola Crisis

Session date : 20/10/2014
Written statement :
Mr President! The ebola crisis threatens not just a humanitarian tragedy but the breakdown of a number of already vulnerable states, creating fertile ground for extremist and militarist forces who have already proven they're more than able to expand into vacuums of authority. I met with the excellent Medecins sans Frontieres last week and have nothing but praise for their work in tough circumstances. Already of their staff 16 have become infected and 10 of those died, people trying to help and assist. We as Europe have no shortage of organisations with expertise and people willing to put themselves in harms way, but we have lacked the political will to get involved. We need to do so urgently, and provide real support to those organisations already on the ground. In particular we must reassure volunteers that there will be a coordinated EU medevac procedure, and that the operation will be properly financed. Mr President, we have a humanitarian duty to intervene, but we have a selfish motivation too. If we allow ebola to destroy such governmental authority as exists, we will see hostile regimes take their place.