Theresa Griffin’s Blog: 10th-16th September 2018

Welcome to this week’s update on my recent activities in the European Parliament and North West of England!

Copyright Directive passed in the European Parliament.

Last week there was a major vote on the Copyright Directive. It was to ensure creative workers get fairly paid for their work and are not exploited by large on-line platforms. It closes the value gap, and generates income to reinvest in content and create new work.

As a UK Labour Member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, it is my belief that creative workers should be fairly remunerated. Would we dream of turning to other EU workers and asking them to give their work for free? This is about values, paying creative workers properly for their work, protecting them against exploitation and ending the unfair monopoly of big platforms.

It was passed by 438 votes to 226, with 39 abstentions. We can now look forward to a future with fair remuneration for creators, fair competition and a more sustainable digital market.

European Parliament passes sanctions on Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg and a frank debate followed between him and MEPs. Issues were raised about his populist anti-immigration rhetoric, minority discrimination policies and authoritarian and illiberal state. Following the debate, the European Parliament passed a motion to trigger Article 7.1 of the Lisbon Treaty against Hungary by 448 votes to 197, which would revoke the voting rights of Hungary in the European Council.

This is a great victory for democracy, human rights and European values. I, my Labour colleagues and the vast majority of the European Parliament voted in favour of this motion. I was massively disappointed, although not surprised, to see that a majority of our Conservative MEPs were among those who supported Viktor Orbán’s authoritarian government!

Greek Prime Minister addresses the European Parliament 

The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, outlining the progress Greece has made economically and socially since its financial and migrant crisis. He gave testimony to the suffering of the Greek people under these crises and the austerity policies implemented as part of the conditions of the economic bailout by the European Central Bank. MEPs credited his government with having made considerable improvements for Greece since his last address of the European Parliament in 2017.

He was also praised for having accepted and supported a large number of migrants in Greece, including with the building of Athens’ first mosque since the times of the Ottoman Empire. However, as he and others voiced, there is much more the EU can and should be doing to assist migrants and strengthen the stability of the Eurozone.

ITRE and S&D meetings

I attended an ITRE committee debate on the EU Budget and on Horizon Europe science funding, along with an S&D group meeting with Michel Barnier on his approach to the Brexit negotiations. I also had a EUFORES breakfast meeting on renewable energy technologies with Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources.

Labour North West Regional Board meeting

At a Labour North West Regional Board meeting in Manchester, I presented on some of the great work our Labour MEPs are doing representing the interests of the North West region in the European Parliament. I gave an update on my work and that of my North West Labour colleagues, Wajid Khan MEP and Julie Ward MEP. Wajid Khan MEP also rightly highlighted the recent disgraceful failure by the Tories to sanction Hungary’s authoritarian Government. It was a constructive meeting focusing on how Labour can secure the best for the North West of England and how we need to keep winning elections across the region to achieve that!

Coming Up…

This week I will be part of the MEP delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) in Vienna and the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee Mission to Italy in Milan. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter to find out how these conferences progressed!