Briefings - 100 Labour Achievements
Labour MEPs have secured new Europe-wide rules which...
...in the workplace
1) signed Britain up to the Social Chapter, giving British workers the rights already enjoyed by their continental colleagues. 2) implemented EU-wide laws on working time, limiting the length of time workers can be obliged by their employer to work to 48 hours per week and required, for the first time in Britain, a guaranteed right to paid holiday. 3) brought in the European works council laws giving new information and consultation rights to workers. 4) reversed the burden of proof in discrimination cases, putting the onus on employers to prove that they do not discriminate. 5) given both parents the right to time off when a child is born or adopted. 6) brought in measures to give part-time and temporary workers the same rights as full time workers as regards training, pensions, maternity rights and leave. 7) adopted common standards on numerous aspects of health & safety at work, including extra protection for workers using machinery which vibrates. 8) ensured that the opening up of the European market to cross-border services does not undermine workers' rights by requiring that the labour laws of the country of sale are respected.
...on consumer protection
9) brought in fines for airlines for deliberate overbooking as well as doubled cash compensation for stranded air passengers with the right to meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation if necessary while passengers wait. 10) brought in a system for the compulsory labelling of food containing GMOs. 11) reduced car prices in the UK. The "block exemption", which allowed car manufacturers to sell new cars exclusively through agreed dealerships expired in 2002. Since October 2003, new rules increase competition and flexibility, allowing dealers to sell more than one brand at the same site. The result: cheaper prices for all. 12) obliged all new urban buses operating in the EU to be fitted with a ramp or lift in addition to a kneeling system, which will make buses across Europe fully accessible for all disabled people. 13) have given shoppers a two year guarantee on new electronic products. If goods develop faults within 6 months of purchase, shopkeepers must prove they were in good condition when sold. Consumers can expect faulty goods to be repaired, replaced or refunded. 14) opened up the telecommunications market, leading to cheaper internet access and telephone calls and set up a dynamic European market in mobile telephony putting Europe far ahead of America in mobile phone usage, including text messaging and other uses. 15) forced car manufacturers to re-design the front of cars to reduce the likelihood of death or serious injury to pedestrians, as well as making cars themselves four times safer than they were in 1970. 16) approved new rules for the labelling of table eggs so that consumers can identify them as free range, barn or cage. 17) secured new Europe-wide rules which protect consumers from rogue traders, dodgy property share schemes and bogus prize scams. 18) prevented pharmaceutical companies from promoting their brands directly to patients over the heads of doctors. 19) provided for a 7 day "cooling off" period for people to change their minds about any purchase made by phone or mail order throughout the EU. 20) improved protection for accident victims and made it easier for drivers to get and make insurance claims when buying or using vehicles outside the UK. 21) championed legislation which will ensure that disabled persons enjoy equal rights and receive the highest quality of care during air travel. 22) brought in new legislation to ensure the safety of fireworks across Europe. 23) passed legislation opening up the market in services across Europe - getting a better deal for consumers and increasing opportunities for British business, while ensuring that consumers are well protected. 24) brought in new rules so that small financial claims can be settled quickly and easily across Europe, as they are in the UK. 25) ensured that vulnerable consumers, including blind people, are not ripped off through the wide range of confusing pack sizes for staple goods sold in pre-packaged format. 26) supported measures to prevent mobile phone companies from ripping off travelling clients through excessive roaming charges.
...on the environment
27) increased the amount of packaging waste that must be recycled. EU member states will be obliged to recycle 55% of glass, paper, cardboard, metals and plastics by 31 December 2008. 28) laid down that all electrical goods sold in the EU after 2005 will have to be recycled at the manufacturer's expense in the biggest recycling programme Europe has ever seen. 29) approved measures to implement the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gases, including the Europe - wide Emission Trading Scheme. 30) adopted higher standards on the quality of petrol & diesel fuels and promoted biofuels as an alternative, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 31) approved new EU-wide measures to improve energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, such as the Energy Star scheme and the Intelligent Energy for Europe programme. 32) made car manufacturers responsible, from 2007 onwards, for taking back old vehicles and recycling all materials from them. 33) adopted measures to protect migrating birds all the way along their routes across Europe. 34) set up a European-wide scheme protecting vulnerable habitats with rare species of animals and plants. 35) enabled shoppers to choose green products by introducing the "eco label" awarded to products that meet strict criteria minimising the damage done to the environment. 36) considerably improved bathing water standards in the UK thanks to the high standards set by European legislation. 37) adopted a European wide system for the Registration, evaluation and authorisation of potentially dangerous chemicals placed on the market (REACH). 38) supported new EU rules which cut harmful emissions from car air conditioning systems. 39) ensured fluorinated gases released from refrigerators that cause global warming have been cut. 40) secured future funding for the preservation of wildlife habitats and the protection of endangered species under the Natura 2000 programme. 41) tightened EU waste shipment rules in order to better monitor cross border shipments of waste. This will mean that exporting ships dumping illegal waste onto non-EU states will be banned. 42) encouraged energy saving measures in buildings to reduce costs and protect the environment. 43) adopted new rules on the eco-design of products which will ensure that washing machines, computers, and other energy using products are designed to be more energy efficient. 44) adopted new legislation that will drastically cut sulphur fuel emissions from ships that cause chronic diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and heart failure. 45) introduced Europe-wide battery recycling requirements. 46) ensured a new European register on environmental pollution will be set up to give the public and decision makers easier access to information about pollution caused by local companies.
47) enabled all EU citizens to have a health card from 2005. This card has replaced the E111 scheme and will continue to ensure emergency hospital treatment for UK residents and their families while on holiday. It will provide cover without having to reapply each time you travel. 48) banned tobacco advertising across Europe as of 2005 and required all tobacco products in Europe to carry illustrated health warnings. 49) banned children under 3 from travelling in cars without a baby or child seat. Required older children to use special seats or booster cushions and passengers in coaches to wear seat belts. 50) created a European Food Safety Agency and promoted greater food safety measures in general. 51) banned dangerous chemicals, which have been scientifically identified as cancer causing and toxic, from use in the manufacture of children's toys and childcare articles. 52) approved a Europe - wide system for registering, evaluating and authorising chemicals (REACH) which will require all chemicals to be tested and will require substitution of the most dangerous ones. 53) adopted new rules to ensure that pesticides do not leave unsafe residues in our foods. 54) ended the moratorium on EU funding for human embryonic stem cell research, thereby improving the chances of new remedies being found for debilitating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. 55) banned the marketing and use of Asbestos across Europe. 56) brought in better labelling of food products so that those who must avoid particular ingredients can have clear information. 57) set strict limits on the use of chromium in building materials, reducing eczema, dermatitis and "cement burns" among construction workers and DIY enthusiasts. 58) approved new EU rules that will stop children being prescribed reduced doses of adult medicines. Drug companies will be obliged to carry out proper clinical trials on children in return for financial incentives to cover the costs. 59) helped ban vague and often false health claims on food such as "low fat, nutritious and rich in vitamins" as part of new European rules on nutrition and health claims.
... on animal welfare
60) banned the testing of cosmetics on animals and the marketing in Europe of any new cosmetics tested on animals outside the EU. 61) introduced "passports for pets". Since 2004 quarantine-free travel has been introduced for guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas and hamsters (thus extending legislation, which came into force in 2000 for dogs and cats) provided they meet strict health and safety criteria. 62) adapted laws to end battery cages for hens by 2012, and reduced the stocking densities allowed for broiler chickens. 63) initiated proposed legislation to ban trade in cat and dog fur. 64) improved the welfare of pigs, introducing a ban which will end the use of individual sow stalls. 65) supported new stricter standards for tuna fishing to end dolphin deaths and prevent danger to other species like turtles and sharks.
... on fighting crime
66) created a European Arrest Warrant making it more difficult for fugitives from justice to avoid arrest by moving between EU counties (as in the "Costa del Crime" situation in Spain). 67) Adopted a Directive for the retention of telecommunications data which will help police and judicial authorities in the fight against organised transnational crime and terrorism. 68) Adopted legislation to combat money laundering which aims to tackle terrorist financing and cross border crime by strengthening controls and regulations on financial markets and services. 69) adopted legislation which will introduce biometrics into our passports and identity documents with the aim of increasing security, reducing fraud and fighting against ID theft. 70) created Eurojust - a judicial co-ordination unit, which aims to improve co-ordination of investigations where trans-frontier crime or international gangs are involved. 71) introduced a common definition of terrorism to close a legal loophole that prevented action against international terrorism. 72) made many legal decisions, including divorce and child custody, enforceable across the EU. 73) approved a European Network Information Security Agency which will help fight cross-border fraud in e-commerce and telecomms. 74) approved a scheme that will introduce compensation for people who are victims of crime while travelling in other EU countries.
...on fraud, mismanagement and transparency
75) voted for reforms of the system of MEPs' expenses and required every Labour MEP to have his/her own spending verified every year by an external auditor, rather than rely only on the Parliament's system of spot checks. 76) provided for MEPs' declarations of interest to be placed on the internet. 77) championed new rules on the Community customs code which help customs officers to combat the entry of counterfeit goods into the EU. 78) persuaded Members States to improve their control systems to ensure EU money is better accounted for. 79) encouraged the publication of recipients of CAP payments online.
...on trade, development and foreign policy
Labour MEPs and the government have...
80) enhanced the EU's overseas development programme making the EU the largest donor of development aid in the world. 81) made poverty reduction the overriding focus of EU development policy. 82) boosted programmes for education (the Education for All Initiative and the Campaign for Global Education) and health (contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and malaria). 83) brought in the "Everything but Arms Initiative" whereby exports from the least developed countries are allowed duty free and quota free into the EU. 84) bought in a common policy restricting the sale of arms to repressive regimes in third countries. 85) secured 103 million Euros of EU money for Tsunami relief and secured over 200 million Euros for victims of the devastating earthquake in South Asia. 86) continuously pressured various government to improve the human rights and democratic situation of their country, by insisting on human rights clauses in all trade and association agreements and by imposing sanctions in particular cases (eg Burma and Zimbabwe). 87) secured new laws in Europe which simplify bureaucratic procedures for businesses importing and exporting goods within the EU, while strengthening security at border controls.
...on general EU policies
Labour MEPs and the government...
88) secured the "Lisbon agenda" for economic reform aiming to make Europe the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. 89) maintained Britain's commitment to and support for the principle of joining the euro - showing that, under the right conditions, the gains to Britain are considerable. 90) obtained further reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy to cut expenditure, lower prices, enhance environmental protection and phase out export subsidies. 91) extended the student exchange programme (Erasmus) that allows thousands of students to spend a year studying in another European country. 92) launched the 'Daphne' EU programme to combat violence against women and children. 93) secured new Europe-wide rules which aid the free movement of professionals and recognition of their qualifications within the EU, doing away with discrimination against non-nationals and the self-employed. 94) facilitated mergers between EU companies with share capital across borders, by getting rid of costly and complex legal arrangements in particular for SMEs. 95) agreed a new budget framework which will continue the shift of spending from agriculture to areas supporting economic development and research while maintaining Britain's rebate - and all within a limit of 1.05% of GNI. 96) supported a 75% increase in EU science spending, helping to create growth and jobs through investment and research. 97) introduced a new European driving licence which will significantly increase road safety and prevent fraud. This will also prevent "licence tourism" whereby a banned driver in one member state can pick up a licence in another.
Constitutional changes ... in the Treaty of Amsterdam
98) improved parliamentary scrutiny of all EU legislation by allowing national parliaments a six week period to examine proposals and discuss them with their minister before decisions are taken by the EU Council of Ministers and by giving the European Parliament the right to jointly adopt or oppose legislation through the "co-decision" procedure. 99) provided for the suspension of any member state that ceases to be democratic or to respect human rights. 100) enabled the adoption of Europe-wide laws against discrimination on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. 101) provided for greater openness and transparency, with a right of public access to EU documents (now available on the internet) and an obligation to publish the results of legislative votes in the Council.
...and in the Treaty of Nice
102) secured many institutional changes required for a larger EU: cutting the size of the Commission, reviewing the weighting of the votes in the Council to better reflect the size of states, and reforming the Court to speed up judicial review. 103) providing for the possibility of EU humanitarian and peace-keeping military action when NATO is not involved.
...and in general
104) secured a right for the European Parliament to veto Commission legislative implementing measures. 105) actively supported the accession of 12 more countries to the European Union. 106) developed the European Parliament's right to secure the removal of Commissioners or candidate Commissioners who are not up to scratch.
Defending British interests
Labour MEPs have blocked or amended proposals which would have...
107) opened up port services to unrestricted competition. 108) introduced an American style patent for computer software programmes. 109) modified our system of Hallmarking precious metal. 110) killed off the red ensign on ships of the British merchant navy. 111) allowed protectionist subterfuges keeping British products out of the market in other countries, notably as regards insurance, construction, and even...chocolate.
Last but not least...
112) Labour MEPs have helped thousands of constituents with problems in other EU countries, from plane spotters arrested in Greece to people who have had accidents abroad or been victims of crime while on holiday. 113) Labour MEPs have worked to report back to their constituents through regular reports, websites, meetings and newsletters, and have welcomed over 10,000 UK visitors to the European Parliament.