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  • EU Flag
    Article: Apr 16, 2014
    By Professor Tony Travers, Director of LSE London, a research centre at the London School of Economics, and Visiting Professor in the LSE's Government Department. in The Euroblog

    There will be both local and European elections on 22nd May. Intriguingly, the BBC has recently commissioned IPSOS Mori to undertake polling which suggests that, compared with 10 years ago, the British are becoming less connected to 'your country' but more connected to 'your neighbourhood' and to 'the global community'.

    Against such a backdrop, this year's local elections are a particularly good pairing, though, it is worth noting that the turnout will probably be under 35 per cent, compared with around 60 per cent for a general election. National government in Britain is still very powerful.

    The European Commission, which has long had a keen interest in 'regional' issues is now becoming involved in city policy. I took part recently in an event in Brussels where larger towns and cities from across the EU explored the kind of things that the Commission might do to help them. There is clearly a continuing EU and European Commission interest in local economies. Cities and city regions, as in the UK, are now becoming more important.

    In fact, EU institutions are of significant importance to local government, LEPs and local economies more generally. In considering the local and national economic outlook, it is important to bear in mind the many ways in which 'Europe' is involved.

    People may or may not welcome it, but the EU's regulatory and legislative regimes affect every part of the UK and every local economy.

    Thus, for example, rules about energy efficiency and consumption will affect civic buildings, social housing and public transport. Targets for the delivery of renewable energy create planning struggles throughout the country.

    The internal market procurement rules affect the way councils and other local public providers offer contracts. State aid rules similarly reduce the opportunities for unfair competition between areas, but in doing so limit local discretion.

    Directives on working hours and health & safety affect local government and other local economic actors. Such interventions often improve people's lives, but can be seen by some commentators as anti-enterprise.

    European consumer policy has often been popular (for example, in relation to mobile phone charges and airline competition), but may add to the burdens faced by trading standards officers. Common EU retail and service standards can have similar effects, both positive and negative.

    But probably the most visible and politically-charged interventions from Brussels relate to 'cohesion' and other regional funding and, spectacularly, in relation to the free movement of people and labour enshrined in underlying EU treaties.

    There can be no doubt that all the above policies, regulations and legislation will affect the functioning of local economies. Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will have to take account of the full range of European actions. It is perceptions of some of these actions which have stimulated much of the opposition to 'Europe'.

    There is now a Wikipedia page about 'Euromyths' such as 'Europe banning curved bananas' or Brussels creating 'metric martyrs'. Misleading though some of these stories may be, they doubtless signal wider disquiet about the State's (that is, not just Europe's) willingness to become over-involved in our lives.

    Local government finds itself facing EU and UK government enforcement costs at a time of continuing austerity. Brussels and Westminster both need to be aware of the major reductions which are being made to local government's funding in England and Wales.

    The EU and the Commission must be sure they consult local government, LEPs and other sub-national players about the impact of any new legislation and regulation. Relying on central government to feed messages through will not always work: in fairness, it is not DCLG's job to do so.

    Many European interventions are important and can be for the wider good. Clean air, for example, as last week's Saharan smog showed, is an international matter. And while no EU interventions could have stopped the natural phenomenon which saw a Saharan sand cloud drift over eastern Britain, there are many other pollution issues which require European-wide action.

    Looking ahead, local areas, represented by councils, city regions and LEPs will need to continue to strengthen their involvement with Europe, both inside and outside the EU. There will be very few new public sector jobs in the coming years. Virtually all new employment will have to come from the private sector.

    Inward investment will be very important and a major part of such money is likely to come from Europe. Of course, the United States, China, Japan, India and others will also be important. But the UK remains a major trading partner with Germany, France, Ireland and other EU countries. Opening up areas beyond London and the South East to international investment is one that local partners can work together to achieve.

    Skills, foreign languages, transport (particularly air links) and a responsive planning system will all help. Britain has a good reputation for reasonably low taxes and its legal system. Local effort to strengthen Britain as a European base for overseas companies will surely pay off.

    Finally, it is important in looking at the economic future to be realistic about local government's financial position. Austerity will last until at least 2020: it will take that long to get rid of the UK's budget deficit. Councils have shed over 500,000 jobs since 2010. At the same time, central government services have shed none.

    This pattern is fixed. Local government will almost certainly continue to face budgetary pressure for at least another six years. Therefore, the key to reducing unemployment (particularly among the young) and to 'rebalancing' the economy will be by local and city regional government embracing the private sector.

    The EU may help this process, though uncertainty about the future of the UK within the EU may cause challenges. There is the risk that an 'In-Out' European referendum in 2017 would result in the UK leaving the EU. In the past, most polling has suggested that when there is a risk that a vote would lead to a British exit, the 'pro-Europe' vote increases. But no one could be sure that an 'In-Out' referendum would absolutely and definitely lead to the UK staying in. Any suggestion that Britain might leave would create uncertainty which might affect inward investment and other kinds of confidence
    .
    Whatever happens, Britain will need to strengthen its trading and investment links with our European allies. Local government and LEPs will be very much a key part in this story.

    "The views expressed on the euroblog are those of the authors and not necessarily of the European Movement UK. The European Movement UK is pleased to publish articles on a variety of EU policy areas as a contribution to the debate."

  • Article: Apr 15, 2014

    On 26 April there is a non-partisan event to register as many people as possible before the European elections. Various organisations including 38 degrees are running the event and organising teams. Contact the site below or Sam Asplin (Rutland team) if you can help.

    See www.jointhevote.org for more details.

  • Cyclist Jane Oseman keeps a wary eye on a large lorry at the Green Long Eaton
    Article: Apr 15, 2014

    Bill Newton Dunn, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands has welcomed a European Parliament vote to improve lorry safety through tougher design standards today, which was approved by an overwhelming majority with 604 MEPs in favour.

    Under changes pushed for by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the design of lorry cabs are set to be changed to reduce the number of blind spots under the front windscreen and the side of the vehicle. The new designs would also include safer cab fronts to reduce damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians. It is believed the proposal could help prevent dozens of fatal accidents each year.

  • Bill Newton Dunn in EU Parliament
    Article: Apr 15, 2014

    Imperial Tobacco Group announced today the proposed closure of its cigarette factory and distribution centre in Nottingham.

    The company plans to implement the closing over the next two years. In the announcement, Imperial Tobacco states that the closure reflects among others "declining industry volumes in Europe" and "growing illicit trade in the UK and Europe". The announcement affects up to 540 jobs.

  • Leicester West Fundraising
    Article: Apr 12, 2014

    Two of the East Midlands European Team, Phil Knowles & George Smid, were in Leicester for the latest European Roadshow Event on Friday evening.

    Roger and Hilary Blackmore hosted an open house Cheese & Wine Evening for members, including Regional Chairman Tony Rogers and supporters.
  • Bill Newton Dunn in EU Parliament
    Article: Apr 10, 2014

    UK press reported today about Dutch MEP Toine Manders' call for the Commission to examine the idea of an EU number plate. The proposal however is mainly dealing with plans to make it easier for people to register vehicles in a different European country and to improve free movement around the continent as well as trade in cars. It will be voted next week in the European Parliament.

  • Issan Ghazni 2
    Article: Apr 8, 2014

    ISSAN GHAZNI - a European parliamentary candidate - has said that a new report warning that the Midlands would be hit hardest if Britain quit the EU showed why voters should support the pro-European Liberal Democrat in May's election.

    A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that between 2009 - 2011 the East Midlands were the region with the highest reliance on EU exports with almost one in six jobs associated with demand from the EU.

  • Liberal Democrat Logo - Libby
    Article: Apr 7, 2014

    Parliamentary & Correspondence Assistant to Nick Clegg MP

    Westminster, SW1P

    Salary: £23,000pa + pension

    Nick Clegg is looking for a Parliamentary and Correspondence Assistant to join his Parliamentary Office. The main purpose of the role will be to help respond to the large amount of correspondence Nick receives as a MP and as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

    Given the mix of Parliamentary and Party responsibilities, this position is offered as two part-time roles with separate contracts, but which combined offer the successful applicant a full-time equivalent position.

    • Parliamentary Assistant / Junior Secretary to Nick Clegg MP (20hrs per week)
    • Correspondence Assistant to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats (20hrs per week)

    To download the job description and application details, please visit the Party's website at http://www.libdems.org.uk/work_for_us.

    Please direct enquiries and applications to:

    Emma Peall (HR) on 020 7227 1280 or email emma.peall@libdems.org.uk.

    Closing date: 9am on Tuesday 22nd April 2014

    Emma Peall | HR Administrator
    Liberal Democrats | 8-10 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AE
    emma.peall@libdems.org.uk
    T 020 7227 1280

  • Article: Apr 7, 2014
    By Phil Knowles - European Spokesperson East Midlands

    Industry Bosses must deliver the message direct to their own workforce!

    EU CompaniesAlmost on a daily basis CEO's, Directors and bosses of Industry are adding their names to the growing list of those telling us that the UK must stay IN Europe. They voice concerns that sleepwalking out of Europe will cost Jobs and even see some companies closing.

  • Michael Mullaney, Bill Newton Dunn and Phil Knowles at Hinckley
    Article: Apr 5, 2014

    MEP Bill Newton Dunn was in Hinckley on Friday and accompanied by PPC for Bosworth Michael Mullaney and European Spokesperson Phil Knowles visited the offices of The Hinckley Times.