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Welcome to my October newsletter

Dear Friends

October was a busy and intense month in the European Parliament and in terms of my work on your behalf as your Labour MEP. If you are a new member and receiving this newsletter for the first time I am one of your four London Labour MEPs and this newsletter gives you a detailed breakdown of my work and highlights of the work of my Labour MEP colleagues each month. I hope you will continue to receive the newsletter and contact me if there are any issues you think I should be raising in the European Union.

For more information about my ongoing work in London and the European Parliament please follow @ClaudeMoraesMEP or like my Facebook page.

Claude Moraes MEP
Labour MEP for London                                              
Chair, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee

Update on my work on the Refugee Crisis

Last month I sent a special report on the refugee crisis given the grave importance of this issue and my key work in the European Parliament as Chair of the committee trying to addressing this issue.The refugee crisis remains high on the agenda of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee. With the winter months approaching it is essential the EU member states shake off their complacency in their response to the crisis. While the European Commission and European parliament have put forward strong plans for reception, relocation and resettlement of refugees entering the EU, it is still the case that member states, with a few exceptions, are not willing to work effectively to manage the crisis in an organised and compassionate way. MEPs have continually expressed their frustrations at the lack of a unified, concrete response to the refugee crisis, and underline the EU's responsibility in assisting the countries of entry. On 10 November there will be a joint debate with the European Commission and the LIBE Committee on the refugee crisis and cooperation with Turkey in the area of asylum, migration and management of the EU'S external border. I will also be meeting with NGO's working on the crisis including key charities such as Save the Children. My role in the crisis is to ensure that the Commission and Member States do their job and to ensure that our Budget works effectively in relation to EU resources in managing the crisis, including Frontex, the Asylum Support Office, Eurojust and work with other colleagues including those working in the development committee.

Valletta Summit

I have been very critical of the failure of EU Member states to act on the refugee crisis and I have done some work and commented on this in relation to the EU Valletta Summit, which specifically addressed this week the issue of migration from Africa and a 2.5 Billion Euro trust fund for Africa. You can see some of my comments on BBC and in The Independent newspaper, which you can read here.

This month, the European Parliament  also received an appeal form thousands of Filmmakers from across Europe to support an initiative calling for a compassionate response to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. I chaired a press conference with the delegation of filmmakers following the presentation of their appeal to the European Parliament. Member States must not follow the assumption that the crisis is under control, the EU must continue to work towards a long-term solution to the crisis by enhancing legal routes of entry to the EU as well as improving the situation for refugees within the EU and in neighbouring countries.  Tweet Button

London Refugees Welcome Here Rally

On 4 November a major refugees welcome here rally took place in London organised by stand up to racism. This important rally was addressed by the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn and key speakers. I was scheduled to speak at this rally but due to a broken ankle I was unable to attend. Had I been there I would have underlined what was said by Jeremy Corbyn and others that the EU Member states must do more on the refugee crisis in the run up to winter. Over a thousand people attended this rally at the Camden centre. Tweet Button

European Parliament adopts my report on mass surveillance

In the week that UK MPs discussed one of the most far reaching surveillance bills, the Investigatory Powers Bill, the European Parliament adopted my follow up report on mass surveillance of EU citizens. It has been over a year and half since the European Parliament began its inquiry on mass surveillance and it has significantly helped in raising more awareness of the value of privacy and its implications when online. The context has changed from the time of the inquiry: we have seen an increase in terror attacks in European cities which have also coincided with deeper concerns over privacy. It is clear that a better balance is needed between privacy and surveillance. The follow-up report, gives a clear assessment of the work that has been done to prevent mass surveillance of EU citizens. The timing of the report is even more important given the recent ruling of European Court of Justice which invalidated the Safe Harbour agreement between the EU and US. It is essential that the EU advances in its efforts to take concrete action and rebuild trust in citizens on the issue of mass surveillance by clamping down on arbitrary abuses of the fundamental right to privacy.

I have serious concerns about the current Investigatory Powers Bill going through the UK Parliament. Essentially, the UK is likely to become the only democracy in the world which will openly force internet companies to store peoples browsing history for stated security reasons. It is vital that MPs in the House of Commons look carefully at the experience of other countries on this issue and look carefully at the safeguards which are being proposed to protect the privacy, dignity, and financial interest of people online. Currently judicial oversight and other aspects of the bill are weak and it is vital that MPs scrutinise this important legislation line by line. It is vital that the police and security services give us protect and have the powers that they need, but this cannot be done without proper judicial oversight and with other key safeguards. Tweet Button

I welcome ECJ ruling on Safe Harbour

In October as the chair of the Home Affairs committee I welcomed the European Court of Justice declaring the Commission's US Safe Harbour decision invalid as it finally backs up the repeated calls from the European Parliament for the suspension of the US Safe Harbour framework on the grounds that it does not ensure the adequate level of protection required by EU data protection law. The European Court of Justice delivered its ruling on a case concerning the transfer of EU citizens' data by Facebook to the US. The ECJ ruled that the existing framework within the 2000 Safe Harbour agreement between the US and EU does not provide full protection of EU citizens' right to privacy.  This is a significant ruling which supports the European Parliament's long-standing calls to suspend the agreement following the NSA revelations.  It places significant pressure on the European Commission to propose new laws that fully comply with fundamental rights. Following this ruling, businesses will also need clarity with regards to the transfer of data. It is essential that the EU has in place a framework which guarantees adequate protection of EU citizens' privacy rights.

Also in October I called on Commissioner Jourova to prepare a communication by December which will set out all of the consequences of the ruling for EU citizens and business. If you have further questions about this issue please contact me. Tweet Button

Labour MEPs back measures to cut deadly air pollutants which cause 10,000 premature deaths in London

Labour MEPs voted this month for a range of ambitious measures to cut dangerous pollutants that contribute to air pollution.

The European Parliament backed the proposals, which include binding emissions targets for 2025 and 2030; specific measures to protect vulnerable people; a greater say for local councils on how air pollution is tackled; and enhanced public consultation and access to justice if governments fail to deliver.

The proposals also include ambitious and binding limits for six toxic pollutants, which cause 690,000 premature deaths per year in the European Union, of which 50,000 are in the UK - including at least 10,000 deaths in Greater London alone.

We need ambitious measures to force governments across Europe to properly address what is now a public health crisis. More than a third of the UK’s air pollution is blown over the Channel, so a European-wide agreement is crucial.

In addition, vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those from low income groups are particularly affected - people doomed to inhale polluted air, suffer worsening health and even death, as a result of ever-increasing emissions. As regular readers of my newsletter will know I worked for many years on the issue of clean air in London and was very pleased with the vital progress made on this key environmental and London issue. Tweet Button

My work defending fundamental rights and fighting Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

On 1st October, I represented the European Parliament at the first EU colloquium on Fundamental Rights, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Hate Speech in Europe. For my intervention, I called for better implementation of key EU directives such as the Anti-Racism Directive to address structural discrimination as well as more involvement of civic society groups and grass-root NGOs in order to assist with countering islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.  The statistics serve as a clear indication to improve implementation; in London alone hate crime offences have increased by almost 30% from June 2014- 2015. The worrying increase in offences also shows that EU values are not being defended, it is essential that more is done to promote tolerance and respect of diversity. Tweet Button

Justice committee vote on preventing radicalisation

This month I attended a high-level ministerial conference with all the EU Justice Ministers to discuss the EU's response to radicalisation. During the conference, I stressed the importance of effective, practical strategies proven to work in some EU countries in this difficult area, and I also stressed the importance of not undermining the same freedoms and fundamental values that we want to protect when formulating policies and reactions to counter-radicalisation. The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, where I am chair, also adopted a report on the EU strategy to prevent radicalisation and recruitment of EU citizens by terrorist organisations. The report calls for the strengthening of cooperation between Member States and with third countries as well as measures to prevent radicalisation and recruitment via the internet.  The terror attacks that have occurred in cities across the EU including London, continually serve as a pressing reminder of the threats of extremism and radicalisation to our fundamental freedoms. Tweet Button

Labour MEPs to vote to strengthen EU's anti-torture trade regulations

This month in the European Paliament, my Labour colleagues and I voted to strengthen trade legislation designed to ensure the EU is not complicit in torture, and to fulfil the EU’s commitment to standing against the death penalty and torture worldwide.The stronger legislation will make it easier for authorities to block the export of goods which may be used for torture, and will bolster the ban on exporting drugs for use in lethal injections.

There is no place for torture or the death penalty in the 21st century, and EU trade policy can be a powerful global tool in eradicating them. The protection of human rights is a fundamental EU value which must be at the heart of our trade policy. This legislation ensures the EU is not facilitating human rights abuses. It is a key component of our wider efforts to eradicate torture and the death penalty altogether.

Labour MEPs fully support this attempt to make trade fairer, and contribute to making the European Union more than a mere market. Tweet Button

My work on older people issues in the EU Parliament

There are over 1.25 million people over 60 living in London and I continue to work in the European Parliament to promote active ageing and the rights of older people in Europe. The EU Parliamentary Ageing Intergroup, of which I am an Co-Chair, met in October to ensure EU legislation is inclusive of the rights of older people in areas such as social and human rights matters, accessing services, the environment and the like.  

I will be hosting an event at the beginning of next year on the issue of fundamental rights of older people in Europe; this will include the participation of NGOs as well as the Commission and the Committee of the regions to assess the existing framework for non-discrimination of older people.

It was also agreed that we will submit a Written Question on the issue of continence care (independent and dignified living at home and in the community). The question will focus on what the Commission is doing to ensure that care and health systems across Europe are fit for an aging population and promote community-care based systems. 

Click here for the link to a briefing of Age Platform and the European Disability Forum which has also been endorsed by the intergroup on old people in the digital single market. Tweet Button

Labour MEPs welcome end of EU roaming charges

Following a vote in the European Parliament this week, mobile roaming charges in the EU have been abolished. There will be a decrease in roaming charges from April 30, 2016, with an official end to roaming charges on June 15, 2017. Labour MEPs have long campaigned for the end of exorbitant roaming charges, and throughout the negotiations - which have taken more than a year - insisted on a clear end-date for roaming costs in the face of mounting opposition from ministers. Labour MEPs also voted this week for greater protection for holidaymakers, extending cover from traditional package holidays to the 120 million consumers who book other forms of combined travel, such as a self-booked combination of a flight plus hotel or car rental. The end of roaming charges and the proposals on package travel are the latest example of MEPs working to further consumer rights across Europe, and shows once again that we are better off in the EU. Tweet Button

My European Parliamentary work in the media

- EU reporter: My work on mass surveillance: EU citizens’ rights still in danger.
- The Guardian: my comments on the refugee crisis.
- The Parliament Magazine: my committee work on migration and human rights.
- The Independent: my comments on the EU response to the refugee crisis.
- What I am saying about privacy and security in mass surveillance via Socialists & Democrats.
- My parliamentary committee work on mass surveillance.
- My comments on mass surveillance to the EU Reporter.
- My comments on mass surveillance to Diplomatic Intelligence.
- My comments to Yahoo news on citizens' rights and internet privacy.
- MEPS urge EU to protect citizens from mass surveillance - global post.

- An article for the Tribune on Refugee crisis.

VIDEO: My interview with vieuws on far-right nationalist MEPs formation of a new political block in the European Parliament

Labour in Europe and Labour Party News

Labour in Europe

The European Parliamentary Labour Party have launched useful publications to highlight the work of Labour's MEPs, inform the public of the benefits of Britain's EU membership and challenge the most common misconceptions about the EU and its work. Follow the links here to find out more about the achievements of Labour MEPs and discover the truth behind the most common 'Euro myths’.

The EPLP has also produced a handy two-page guide on the priorities of Labour MEPs and the many benefits that EU membership has brought ordinary people across Britain.

London Labour MEPs will shortly be sending a communication to all London CLPs about the Labour case for Europe and this will be coordinated with the help of the Labour Movement for Europe, LME, who are working hard communicating our Labour case for the EU. In the letter we will also be asking if CLPs will affiliate to the LME in the run up to the EU referendum. Please look at their website here for more information and to join.

Meetings on my work in the EU 

I've had many requests to speak to CLPs and Labour Party branch meetings in the run up to the following on from the Refugee Crisis and my work in the EU Parliament on this very pressing issue. The requests have also included topic based discussions on key issues such as the Labour case for Europe, the situation in Greece and TTIP. If you would like me to come and speak at your CLP or to get involved in campaigning activities please do get in touch. In the coming months I will be speaking the following CLPs and branches:

In the past few months I reported back to the following Labour Party meetings:

• Hampstead & Belsize BLP - Thursday 3rd September
• Lewisham East CLP - Friday 4th September
• Hornsey & WoodGreen CLP - Wednesday 23 September
• Bexleyheath & Crayford CLP - Thursday 24th September (postponed)
• Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner CLP - Tuesday 13 October
• Islington South & Finsbury CLP - Wednesday 21 October
• Tower Hamlets BAME meeting - Sunday 25 October

I am due to speak at the following meetings in the coming weeks:

• East Ham and West Ham  CLP special meeting on Refugee Crisis with Cllr Ken Clarke - Saturday 14 November
• Richmond CLP - Wednesday 18 November
• Westminster North CLP - Thursday19 November
• Hackney North & Stoke Newington -Thursday 26 November
• Lewisham Deptford -  Friday 8 January                                                 • Croydon 
• Lewisham West and Penge CLP - Friday 5 February
• Kingston & Surbiton Labour Party - Wednesday 18 February
• Dagenham and Rainham CLP - Thursday 25.FebruaryTweet Button