Today Conservative MEPs voted to call on the EU to spearhead a global ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals.

The European Parliament's Environment committee backed the call today and has also asked the European Commission to ensure the EU's current ban on the sale of  cosmetics tested on animals is fully enforced. 

Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup, Jacqueline Foster MEP, said: "Testing cosmetic products on animals is immoral and unjustifiable. We should be proud that the UK and the EU have strict rules prohibiting it, yet it is unacceptable many countries still allow it. That's why Conservative MEPs are calling on the UK and the EU to spearhead efforts to secure an international convention that brings this cruel practice to an end."

In 2013 the EU banned the sale of cosmetics which have been tested on animals. However, 80% of the world still allows such testing to take place.

Conservative MEPs' Deputy Leader, Mrs Foster added: "Now is the time to make a determined effort to ban this practice worldwide. At the same time we must be vigilant to ensure these goods cannot be sold into our market."

The success of a crackdown on internet sites selling counterfeit goods proves more EU legislation is not always the answer.

Conservatives Internal Market spokesman Dan Dalton welcomed figures published today by the European Commission on the performance of its voluntary agreements with online platforms such as Amazon.

They show that in May and June 2017 platforms, on their own initiative, took down 97.4 per cent of listings which allegedly infringed a rights owner's intellectual property rights, up from 86.3 per cent in November and December 2016.

Mr Dalton said:  "When the European Parliament considered this issue back in June it voted to penalise everybody, especially consumers, by demanding heavy-handed regulation of platforms. That makes it difficult for new companies to enter the market and challenge the US-based giants, which in turn reduces consumer choice.

"We believe in the evidence and these latest figures show cooperation with online marketplaces can deliver results.

"Although more counterfeit items have been found, removal rates have increased too. This means overall that fewer fake watches, sports goods and electrical items are being sold online in the big marketplaces, which is good news for consumers and good news for rights holders.

 

"Instead of reaching for the regulation button every time, the Parliament should adopt a more innovation-friendly attitude to the benefit of all players in the market."

 

Farmers face further uncertainty after the EU today voted to re-licence the weed killer Glyphosate for just five years.

The compromise agreed by Member State representatives falls well short of the  European Commission's initial recommendation of a 15 year renewal.

Conservative delegation leader Ashley Fox MEP said: "Today's outcome simply prolongs the uncertainty for our farmers, who are being badly let down. They cannot plan for the future without long term assurances about the availability of substances they rely on.

"Glyphosate has been approved for use by both the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemical Agency, bodies set up and funded by the EU precisely to provide this kind of expert advice.

"Yet instead of evidence-based decision making, the EU comes up with an emotional, irrational but politically convenient fudge. It sets a worrying precedent for the approval of other substances and risks undermining the EU's whole regulatory process."

Countries have come under pressure from campaigners to ban Glyphosate, which is marketed for garden use under the brand name Round Up,  despite the vast weight of scientific opinion concluding it is safe. As well as the EU agencies, the UN/World Health Organisation Meeting on Pesticide Residues backs its continued use. This analysis is supported by national authorities in non-EU countries including Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The current licence expires on 15 December.

It is estimated that banning Glyphosate would cut UK production of winter wheat and winter barley by 12% and oil seed rape by 10%,  costing the farming industry £940m a year. Its use also lessens the need for mechanical ploughing, reducing pollution and soil erosion. No biological alternatives are expected to be commercially available in the near future.

An EU Glyphosate ban would still affect British farmers after Brexit as the bloc would almost certainly block the import of products on which the weed killer had been used.

The UK supported the Commission's original proposal to renew  Glyphosate's licence for 15 years.

 

 

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with India, today welcomed the ruling of the Madras High Court to release the ‘Chennai six’.

Mr Van Orden said: “After many years of strong representations from both at a personal and political level, from both families and government representatives, I am delighted at last that these gentleman will be able to return home to families and friends in the build up to Christmas.” 

Ahead of the EU-Africa Summit next week Conservative MEPs have called today for the private sector to take a leading role in the EU's development policy.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals face a funding gap of $2.5 trillion despite the $1.4 trillion already spent globally on foreign aid. Conservative MEPs believe that by using public money to leverage private investment, this funding gap could be reduced and the strain on the taxpayer reduced.

Conservative Development spokesman Nirj Deva MEP said: "We need to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty. Aid alone cannot do this and taxpayers cannot afford fill the funding gap needed to reach the UN's development goals when our own schools, hospitals and infrastructure require investment. Instead, we must use public money to leverage private investment if we are to reduce poverty."

This new approach was adopted recently and the new European Fund for Sustainable Development will guarantee public-private partnerships. Applications for the first grants will be opened at the EU-Africa Summit next week.

Mr. Deva added: "I am pleased that our work promoting the potential of public-private partnerships has paid off. Ahead of the EU-Africa Summit next week we've been looking at how private sector and financial markets can play an important role in development."

The ECR Policy Group for Wealth Creation today met Michael Laudau, whose company CTI Africa is empowering local communities through public-private partnerships.

Speaking at the policy discussion today, ECR co-Chairman Syed Kamall MEP said: "I am proud the ECR has been championing an ambitious approach to development policy at both the international and national levels, that has the potential to unlock billions of private capital to reduce poverty in developing countries."

"Aid isn't enough to end poverty and risks fostering a culture of dependency rather than innovation, business and empowered communities. Policymakers, development specialists, politicians and NGOs increasingly recognise that we must work with the private sector if we are to help the remaining 767 million people out of extreme poverty ."