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09/12/2016

Tories, UKIP MEPs join far-right in voting against development goals

Development Policy

Tories, UKIP MEPs join far-right in voting against development goals

Nigel Farage: voted against [European Parliament/Flickr]

A recent vote in the European Parliament provided the opportunity to look into which MEPs voted against EU policies to promote the development agenda. Surprisingly, all the Eurosceptic and conservative British MEPs voted against.

A resolution was passed on Tuesday (25 November) on the EU and the global development framework. A total of 666 MEPs voted, with 96 against (14.41 against) and 29 abstentions (4.4%).

MEPs agree that ending poverty and fighting inequality should be the underlying theme of the global development agenda after 2015, and that the EU should ensure that a human rights-based approach and the right to development become the underpinning concepts.

The non-legislative resolution urges EU member states to “meet their commitment to allocate at least 0.7% of GNI to Official Development Assistance (ODA), including at least 0.2% to Least Developed Countries (LDC) and other highly vulnerable states”. It also reiterates that combating corruption, illicit flows of capital, and harmful tax structures should be an “overriding priority in financing development”.

By adopting this resolution, the Parliament is sending a clear message to the Council, where member states sit, said rapporteur Davor Stier (EPP, Croatia).

“We want the Council to adopt a common position that will allow the EU to take a stand and be effective in the global development framework negotiations next year. These negotiations will result in the new set of goals for the period after 2015 and will replace the millennium goals of 2000,” Stier said.

The EU Council of Ministers is expected to decide its position on 14 December 2014.

Yesterday, VoteWatch Europe published the vote details, which show that the Eurosceptic EFDD group, where UKIP sits, has overwhelmingly voted against the resolution. In total, 43 MEPs from EFDD have voted, 27 voting against and 16 breaking party discipline and voting in favour.

Among those voting against are UKIP leader Nigel Farage and all his MEP party members except one, who was absent. All Italian members of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement voted in favour.

But surprisingly, many members of the conservative ECR group, where the leading force is David Cameron’s Tories also voted against. A total of 40 ECR MEPs voted, of which 27 voted against. All Tory’ MEPs, including group President Syed Kamall, voted against, except one, who was absent.

Neither the EFDD nor ECR issued any press statement explaining their position before or after the vote. ECR MEP Ian Duncan explained the reasons for his group’s vote, stressing on two formulations that appear in the resolution. One is “minimum wage” and the other is “Financial transaction tax”, an initiative the EU is prepared to apply on the basis of enhanced cooperation. The UK is against FTT, but it cannot prevent the initiative.

Several countries in the EU, including the UK, are against a EU-wide minimum wage, but a minimum wage in the developing countries has a different meaning.

“Minimum wage” appears in article 61 of the resolution. The article reads:

“[The European Parliament] Emphasises that it is crucial to monitor the degree to which economic development includes the most deprived and vulnerable groups and to which wages remain in line with increases in productivity; recalls that it is the responsibility of the State to provide basic social services to its citizens, thus contributing to eradicating poverty; considers the establishment of nationally defined social protection floors and minimum wage regulation in developing countries to be essential;

FTT indeed appears in article 78. But it doesn’t imply that countries unwilling to apply FTT would be charged. The article in question reads:

“[The European Parliament] Urges Member States to meet their commitment to allocate at least 0.7 % of GNI to ODA, including at least 0.2 % to Least Developed Countries (LDC) and other highly vulnerable states; calls for the EU to take a coherent and comprehensive international approach to financing beyond 2015; reiterates the need to continue to work closely with other donors on developing further innovative financial mechanisms, such as the Financial Transaction Tax.”

In the centre-right EPP group, which massively supported the resolution, prominent German MEP Elmar Brok confounded expectations by voting against.

The Socialists and Democrats nd the liberal ALDE didn’t have any rebels – all their MEPs present supported the resolution.

The leftist GUE/NGL group massively supported the resolution, with only two Portuguese MEPs abstaining.

Unsurprisingly, most of the non-attached members, who resulted from a failed attempt to form a political group around the anti-EU and far-right party of Marine Le Pen, voted against. There were exceptions, though, with a Hungarian Jobbik MEP Krisztina Morvai, voting in favour, alongside Austrian MEP from the Party of Fredom, Georg Mater, and Iveta Grigule, the Latvian MEP from the party the Union of Greens and Farmers.

All four MEPs from the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn voted against.

Marine Le Pen, along with four legislators from her National Front, abstained, while nine others voted against.

 

Background

The EU and 13 of its member states are contributing directly and indirectly to a 30-strong global open working group on the post-2015 development agenda.

Final negotiations on new sustainable development goals (which will also shape the post-2015 development agenda) start in January 2015 and finish in September.

Timeline

  • 14 December: Council to take decisions on global development framework

Further Reading