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Monday, 4th Sep 2017 by Molly Scott Cato MEP

What it might cost to leave the EU

This post was originally published on the facebook page of Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP. 

There is so much political heat being generated about what it might cost to leave the EU that I thought I would just summarise what the argument is about. This is not original work: it's based on the figures provided by Alex Barker of the FT back in May for which he used the negotiating guidelines agreed with the remaining 27 EU members. The UK government has not yet come forward with its own figures for what we might owe or even an alternative method of calculating it. Imprecise estimates range from Boris Johnson’s whistling and John Redwood’s zilch to David Davis's acceptance that we do have a moral and financial responsibility, as yet uncosted.

Why do we owe anything at all? There are two basic answers to that question. Firstly, like most political organisations, the European Union runs a deficit budget system. If the Scots had voted for independence they would have taken their share of the UK national debt with them. The same applies to us leaving the EU. You can think of this element of the bill as being our share of the debt that has been accumulated over the years of our membership. This is estimated at €36.2bn.

Then we have the commitments we have already made before we voted to leave. Because EU budgets work on a seven year period, we have committed ourselves up to the end of this financial framework period, which is 2020. So even if we leave in 2019 we have already agreed to pay for things that go on until 2020. You may have heard the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, talking about these commitments in the press conference yesterday. We've already signed off on the infrastructure projects in various EU countries as well as aid projects two countries in Africa, Gaza, and so on. It seems reasonable to me to say that if we were part of a political organisation that agreed to the spending, we can't just leave in the lurch the people who already have these projects on the way. This cost is estimated at €27.6bn.

Barnier also insists that we continue to pay our share of the running costs of the EU until we leave, the majority of which will cover continued payments to farmers, which he estimates at €27.4bn. Some member states think we should pay for more EU projects during this phase or that our liabilities here should be extended to the period after we have left.

Then there are a number of less predictable and longer-term commitments. Many Brits have worked in the EU institutions over the forty years of our membership and once we leave we will take on the liability for their pensions from the EU (€9.6bn). We will also be responsible for a share of ‘contingent liabilities’ if projects of funding arrangements that we have agreed to go wrong and end up requiring additional funding (€11.9bn).

Balanced against these liabilities are considerable assets we have acquired during our membership, including a share of buildings that belong to the EU Commission and Council. A deduction will also be made for spending that would have been made in the UK had we continued in membership. Together these add up to around €40bn

That's all the detail we have so far. On the basis of this, and conversations with those close to the negotiations, the FT estimated a net payment of €55bn-€75bn and as much as €91bn-€113bn if the more hawkish members prevail and we continue to fund the central running costs of the EU until the end of this budget period in 2020.

Clear as mud? I hope it helps to take us away from the tabloid mud-slinging at least.

Tuesday, 29th Aug 2017 by Molly Scott Cato MEP

Brexit: The public must have the final say

This blog was originally published in Green World magazine.

Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party speaker on Brexit, makes the case for the final deal on Brexit to be a matter of choice for the British electorate
 

Theresa May’s snap General Election gamble, seeking a mandate for a hard Brexit, backfired spectacularly. The result undermined rather than validated the Tories’ damaging plans. Yet 83 per cent of people voted for a party committed to leaving not only the EU but also the single market, didn’t they?  

Admittedly, there are no differences in policy between Labour and the Tories on membership of the single market and freedom of movement. However, it seems that a resigned acceptance of the UK leaving the EU led many Remainers to choose the party they believed would negotiate the least damaging Brexit. This was also an election fought largely on domestic issues, so to use the outcome as vindication for any sort of Brexit is disingenuous.  

But Labour and the Tories should take note of how public mood is shifting. Recent surveys suggest a majority of people would now like to see either Brexit abandoned completely, a second referendum, or a distinctly softer Brexit. A recent survey of Labour members showed more than 80 per cent oppose leaving the Single Market.  

Public attitudes towards Brexit are in constant flux. We cannot forever rely on the outcome of a single question on a particular day to determine our future relationship with Europe. The nuances and complexities of our relationship with our European neighbours are becoming clearer as are the protections offered by the EU to our environment and workers’ rights. These are issues that Greens highlighted during the referendum campaign, but such concerns were drowned out by deceitful messaging from the far right and right-wing media. 

 Ultimately, we will arrive at a new fork in the road, where people should again be given the opportunity to decide which direction they want the country to go in. With an idea of the Brexit deal on the table, we will be able to compare this with what we get by remaining in the EU. 

 So the idea of a ratification referendum is now more important than ever – and it must include an option for the UK to remain a member of the EU. This is not just wishful thinking by ‘remoaners’. A chorus of high profile voices have urged Britain to stay, from writer and philosopher Professor A. C. Grayling to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. 

 Of course to become a reality, the idea of a ratification referendum will need cross-party support. The Lib Dems have pledged support for a second referendum on the Brexit deal, but so far Labour have resisted the idea. However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, one of Labour’s highest profile politicians, recently backed a second referendum, which will likely encourage other Labour politicians to follow suit. Even those Tories desperate to avoid a hard Brexit cliff-edge scenario might regard another referendum as a way out of the quagmire.  

Leaving the EU is not inevitable; indeed, it is less inevitable now than before the general election. Green MEPs will continue to portray both the EU and the Brexit process as accurately and positively as possible to help inform voters ahead of any potential ratification referendum. 

Wednesday, 26th Jul 2017 by Charlie Bolton

RPS in Southville and Bedminster East

Changes to RPS in Southville and Bedminster East

 This webpage details the changes as at 26/7/2017 to the RPS zones in Bedminster East and Southville. These are prior to any formal consultation, and some details are still being ironed out.

If you have any comments, especially 'hold up your hands in horror' comments, please get in touch:

Cllr.charlie.bolton@bristol.gov.uk

Cllr.stephen.clarke@bristol.gov.uk

Extension of zone across North St into Ashton

This will not take place. The council have refused to take on board our request for an extension of the zone to ea limited number of streets.

They have said a new zone will be considered but only if it can be shown that it has widespread support. Given we do not know what this means in practice, you have to reckon any such new zones are some years away.

 Hours and days of operation

There is likely to be an increase in hours and days of operation. To help us better understand the demand for this, please complete the following (simple) survey:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1E0ndLDDEQRS-DLfRlNF9KGgTvelxUSsw-fO9QEC7NtE/edit

Proposed changes to Southville

Area

Change

Beauley Road

Top end – reduce DYL/increase bay by upto 8.9m

 

Change road to mixed use

 

Increase PandD to 5hrs, allow return without penalty

Camden Road

Small extension to bays nr no 40

Coronation Road

Remove parking on river side. Reinstate some on house side

 

Extend bay by 153

 

Turn bay by Avon Packet to shared use from PandD

Dean Lane

Make school Keep Clear signs mandatory

 

Remove bays by Southbank club and make DYL

Gathorne Road

Small extension to space available by removal of DYL over dropped kerb

Greville Road

Increase space available at bottom end near Upton Road

Greville St

Add some 10m or so of bays/reduce DYL near top

Hamilton Road

Small increase in space (2.2m) near top

Howard Road

Remove bays near Dalston Road (on Dalston Road side)

Leigh Road

Remove bay by Ashville pub (safety measure for Chalcroft House)

Lydstep Trc

Remove 3.5m of DYL by no 19

Morley Road

Extend bay on one side to no 22

Gathorne Rad

Remove DYl at North St end by dropped kerb

North St

Loading bay by Ashton fruit and veg

North St

DYL by Lion stores

Frayne Road

Make house side resident only

South side of North St

To be included in scheme???

North St nr Upper Sydney St

Change Pand D to shared use

Park Road

2m extension onf bay near reclamation business

Raleigh Road

Remove disabled bays. Increase bay on north side by 23m

Stackpool

Some changes for new dropped kerbs

Upton Road

Remove DYL y house with droipped kerb

Roads off North St

Extend area of shared use

Numerous queries re blue badge bays

 

Dartmoor St

Being dealt with separately

Stackpool

Reduce number of bays by Faithspace from 3 to 1

 

Proposed changes to Bedminster East

Alpha Road

Remove DYL outside Imp

Church Road

Replace DYL at turning head with 2 additional bays, making 3

Dean Crescent

Convert permit holder bay outside no 11 to shared use

Herbert St

Convert some PandD to shared use

Mead St

Convert to shared use

New Charlotte St

Add parking bays  and remove DYL

Phillip St

Increase to 4 hrs

Southville Place

Convert DYL to bays opposite 30/outside 23

Southville Road

Remove a couple of bays to improve access for funeral  home

Southville Road

Extend shared space in a couple of other locations along road

Spring St

Extend DYLs at York Rd junction

Stafford St

Add 22m of parking bay

Stillhouse Lane

Reduce bays by 2.5m

Whitehouse St

Reduce bays by 1 car length (one end), and by 1m at other end to ease car park access

Willway St

Under discussion

Other

A few changes at specific addresses eg for blue badge bays, dropped kerbs

Warden Road

Extend by 1m the permit holders bay at East St end, and on the other side bring bay to boundary of number 14.

Wesley Street

 

Convert P&D to Shared Use.

 

 

Outstanding issues

The main outstanding issues are Willway St, Dartmoor St and hours of operation. there are also numerous issues concerning individual residences eg droppped kerbs, blue badge bays etc


Monday, 19th Jun 2017 by Molly Scott Cato MEP

Ever wondered what makes tax dodging and money laundering so easy for the rich?

Ever wondered what makes tax dodging and money laundering so easy for the rich? It’s the bankers, lawyers and accountants who devise complex schemes to help their clients evade taxes or launder dirty money that really run the tax avoidance industry. They lurk in a murky underworld of the financial system and it is crucial their activities are exposed. While attention has been focused on the corporations themselves Greens have always insisted that the professionals who encourage tax avoidance should be tackled too.

Back in January, together with other Greens in the European Parliament, I published a report on the activities of these intermediaries. Based on the data from the Panama Papers, Bahamas Leaks and Offshore Leaks, the research showed that the vast majority of the intermediaries named in the leaks have a base in the EU. Tax havens are not distant, palm-fringed islands, but our own countries. Shamefully, the United Kingdom emerged as the EU's favourite base for tax avoidance. Among the middlemen are large banks such as UBS, Credit Suisse or Citibank but also law firms and accounting giants.

I'm delighted to say that the Commission has now focused attention on this issue and they will be producing a proposal on Wednesday to shine a light onto the tax middlemen. Since it is intermediaries like banks, accountants or lawyers who advise their clients and devise complex schemes to evade taxes or launder dirty money it is essential that they are required disclose to tax authorities the arrangements they offer to their clients. We are going to be putting pressure on the UK government to agree this proposed directive as quickly as possible – and to stick to these higher standards of transparency after Brexit.

The citizens who are outraged by the burgeoning tax avoidance industry require nothing less from their elected representatives.

Read more - Guardian: European Commission to crack down on offshore tax avoidance

Thursday, 18th May 2017 by Tony Dyer

Housing In Bristol

Friday, 7th Apr 2017 by Molly Scott Cato MEP

World health day: Nestlé’s tax practices: clear as clean water?

This blog was originally published on BlogActiv.EU and was authored by Bristol's MEP, Molly Scott Cato and some Green colleagues in the European Parliament: 

7th of April marks World’s Health Day. This year this day is a bit special: it follows the 150th anniversary of the Swiss company Nestlé. The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament decided to commemorate – so to speak – both, with a letter to one of the biggest food giants on the planet.

Their slogan is ‘Good Food. Good Life’ but you may not know that Nestlé is also a key global player in the bottled water business. And access to clean drinking water, in Europe and beyond, is a priority for our group: we believe access to quality water is a human right.

More than 600 million people around the world still don’t have access to clean drinking water, according to the UN. Yet, there are still profitable businesses out there that make money by bottling water resources and selling them to people. This business model is called privatisation of a natural and vital resource. In the global bottled water market, Nestlé represents 11 to 13%, the biggest part of the pie. In Europe, they outnumber Group Danone and Coca Cola.

We are deeply concerned by the role large multinational companies play in influencing a growing number of such privatisation policies of water resources around the globe. On this matter, 2 million European citizens signed the very first European Citizens Initiative “Right2Water,” which was denouncing water privatisation.

So why write to Nestlé on the World Health Day? Universal access to health means access to clean natural resources for everyone. It also depends on universal access to robust healthcare systems, based on solidarity and fair distribution of wealth. And this means tax justice, one of our political priorities. We have a track record of exposing – IKEABASFZara (Inditex) – accounting tricks that corporate giants use to reduce their tax contributions, to the detriment of the rest of society (small & medium companies, citizens) who are left paying the gap.

So what about Nestlé’s tax policies? In 2014 Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO of Nestlé’s brand Nespresso, said in an interview: “we should pay taxes wherever we have to pay taxes”. We could not agree more! But our preliminary research indicates that Nestlé might not be paying taxes “wherever it needs to pay taxes” and seems to suggest that the company is actually engaged in large-scale profit-shifting and tax avoidance.

There is evidence of large and various kinds of intra-company payments (royalties and interest) which can be abused to significantly reduce the taxation of certain subsidiaries. And we also found structures consistent with classic tax avoidance strategies, for example, holding companies and internal finance operations organized through the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. For example, from 2009 to 2014, an internal financing subsidiary in Belgium paid virtually no tax on €660 million in income, derived primarily from interest on intra-company loans.

As Nestlé was celebrating its 150th anniversary this week, we wanted to put up a solemn request, as appropriate for a jubilee: can Nestlé – with so many decades of experience – make the commitment to support, and fully implement, public country by country reporting

By providing greater transparency on its tax affairs, Nestlé would have the chance to be a first mover and to set an agenda for stronger corporate social responsibility. That would be a fantastic gift for all its consumers for its 151th birthday!

Bart Staes

Maria Heubuch

Sven Giegold

Molly Scott-Cato

Philippe Lamberts

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