I've just got a reply from the SDLP camp. Again, thanks for taking the time out to reply to my questions. I'm very happy with the response I've had so far - with 4 out of a possible 7 responses despite the busy time and close polling day.
Alban Maginness' answers to my questions:
An important task of the European Parliament is to confirm the next Commission. As an MEP, will you back or oppose a second term for Jose Manuel Barroso and why? If you oppose him, is there an alternative you would support and why?
As a member of the Party of the European Socialists (PES) we will not be supporting a second term in office for Jose Manuel Barroso. Only the PES can deliver on a pro-Europe agenda, responding positively to the challenges facing the EU and deliver an effective economic recovery plan, unlike the EEP (conservative group), who have delivered little for the people of Europe.
Over the next 5 years, we want to see a strong, credible and progressive European Commission. This will only be achieved by ensuring that the PES forms a majority in the European Parliament which means the current dominance of the right will be replaced by a forward-thinking socialist at the head of the Commission.
The CAP is an important issue, and there seems to be a lot of talk about its reform. What would you like being done differently, and what aspects of CAP would you retain?
We want to see the money spent on CAP going to the farmer and ensure it is not absorbed in administrative costs and red tape.
We will work with our Socialist colleagues in the European Parliament to ensure that the budget made available for farming beyond 2013 takes into account the needs of Northern Ireland’s farming industry and its unique contribution to our rural economy. We will use the opportunity of CAP reform to integrate health goals into the CAP, with a view to better linking health, environment, infrastructure and agriculture.
CAP reform is also an opportunity to address the global food crisis and tackle the inherently unfair current situation whereby in Africa alone, the number of people vulnerable to hunger has now reached 400 million.
The Common Fisheries Policy has been widely criticized. What would you like to see being done differently, if anything?
We in the SDLP recognise the severe impact that EU cutbacks in days at sea and fishing quotas has had on the fishing industry. We want to work in the European Parliament and with the other institutions to find solutions that restore the worst-off stocks and guarantee that fishing can continue to be a reliable and sustainable source of revenue for local trawlermen, the fish processing industry and our coastal communities.
Financial regulation has become a big issue because of the recession. How do you think the EU should (if at all) regulate the financial services? Do you support the Larosiere report?
The SDLP recognises the important role that Europe has to play in tackling the economic crisis. If Europe is serious about responding to current problems then we need to work towards an end to tax avoidance, curb excessive pay and bring in new regulation for the whole financial sector including hedge funds and private equity.
The de Larosière report clearly highlights the problems with the financial sector that need to be addressed. The 31 recommendations are a starting point for the EU to begin a process of regulating the financial sector and responding effectively to the financial crisis, and thereby restoring public confidence in the financial system.
What do you think will be the most important issues for you as an MEP?
When elected as MEP on 4 June, I will:
· Through my membership of the influential PES group, help create more jobs and ensure economic recovery in our region.
· Protect our workers’ rights and interests by ensuring that positive initiatives in other EU regions are implemented here - including wage subsidy schemes and new training opportunities.
· Use European measures and new ideas to ensure we champion and lead on innovation, and use this as a platform for our future economic development.
· Bring jobs to rural communities, including through green technologies. Push for a sustainable future for rural dwellers by protecting vital services and addressing infrastructure needs.
· Campaign for a Commissioner for small & medium sized enterprises, who will eliminate red tape and champion the needs of local businesses at the heart of EU decision-making.
· Stand strong for a fair deal for our farmers during negotiations on CAP reform and a real future for our fishermen and coastal communities.
· Demand the EU lives up to the promises of increased aid, and delivers on the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
· Develop this region’s renewables industry, help drive down energy costs and support an urgent and ambitious global climate change policy.
· Use Europe as a platform to uphold the SDLP’s founding principles of equality, human rights, social justice and reconciliation in Ireland and throughout the world.
· Just as John Hume championed a “Europe of the regions”, campaign for a new regional policy for the 21st century that allows all regions to better respond to today’s difficult economic environment.