Newsletter of Jean Lambert - London's Green MEP
1. UK and London
2. Brussels and Strasbourg
3. Media Highlights
4. Comment on Current Affairs
5. Jean's reports and MEPs in Action
6. Dates for the Diary
1. UK and London
London's Air Quality - Jean is continuing to highlight the problem of London's poor air quality. London's air quality has fallen below EU standards on a number of different counts, with more breaches confirmed through end of year pollution figures. The Commission has acknowledged Jean's concern about London's air quality breaching EU standards and that infringement action may follow. Jean will continue to monitor the situation, working with the London Assembly Greens.
Energy - To coincide with the Government's Energy Review, Jean appeared as the key speaker at an LSE event on Energy. Drawing on the Green Party's new Energyworks campaign, Jean was highly critical of the government's failure to make far-reaching investments in renewables and energy efficiency. She condemned the government's pro-nuclear stance as unsustainable and irresponsible.
Health: NHS London - Jean met the Chief Executives of London's five Strategic Health Authorities and the Director of Public Health for London at a roundtable meeting of health representatives and London MEPs. Jean highlighted the potential impacts on London's health service of the Services Directive, and how the UK opt-out from the Working Time Directive was having negative health impacts on London's workforce.
RMT conference - Jean was one of the speakers at a special RMT conference looking at the question of 'working class representation'.
Question Time on Europe - Jean was on the panel of this public meeting at the LSE, discussing the future of the European Union.
Sri Lanka and the Tsunami Remembrance Event - In early January Jean met with the London-based White Pigeon charity. They focus on landmine victims in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka's post-Tsunami reconstruction. Jean is a member of the EP's SAARC (South Asia) delegation, which includes Sri Lanka. Jean spoke at their Tsunami Remembrance Event in Trafalgar Square and will be working with them and the Sri Lankan community in London on relevant issues in the future.
Violence against Kurdish women in Turkey - Jean spoke at this event in the Houses of Parliament considering the positive impact of EU-Turkey accession talks for Kurdish women in Turkey. The meeting was addressed by two prominent Kurdish women lawyers, Sehnaz Turan and Ruhsen Dogan.
Meeting with Australian Green - Jean met with an Australian Green working with New South Wales Green Senator, Kerry Nettle. Like Jean, Kerry is a Green Parliamentarian working on issues of asylum, migration and social justice.
Chinese New Year - To mark the start of the year of the Dog, Jean wished Happy New Year to all Chinese people in London, the UK, and around the world. She drew attention to China's human rights abuses and the need for China to ban the cruel practice of farming of bear bile before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
2. Brussels and Strasbourg
UNHCR - At the annual UNHCR EU Focal Points meeting, Jean joined a discussion on strategic and advocacy methods, priorities and challenges with representatives from across the EU. Jean spoke on matters relating to asylum, migration and human rights
CIA - Jean has been appointed as a substitute member on the European Parliament's temporary committee of inquiry into the CIA 'extraordinary rendition' flights. The cross party delegation of 46 MEPs will investigate two questions in particular; do CIA detention centres exist in Europe and has the CIA been using European airports to transport terrorist suspects to places where they could face torture?
AGE Inter-group Meeting - As Co-President of the AGE inter-group, Jean agreed to take the initiative on an event on the issue of poverty and the older population.
Burns Supper - Jean's office and a cross-party group of MEP dinner guests raised a glass of whisky in celebration of the Scottish Bard at the Parliament's annual Burns supper. In his poetry, Burns often wrote about inequality and class prejudice. He believed that a person's worth was measured through honesty and decency - something that most of the guests present could identify with!
Port Services - MEPs were greeted with some angry scenes on their arrival at the Strasbourg Parliament where a demonstration against the Port Services Directive was taking place. While the majority of protesters were peaceful, some took the opportunity to throw debris - causing damage to cars and buildings. At the vote, MEPs rejected the proposal but voiced disappointment that such anger was directed at the institution that could actually represent the dock workers concerns.
Moon Bears - Jean has been campaigning against the horrific practice of bear bile farming for some time now. She would like to thank the hundreds of constituents who wrote to their MEPs on this issue, pressing them to sign the written declaration which calls on the Chinese Government to end such cruelty. The Written Declaration was adopted at the beginning of 2006, putting significant pressure on policy makers to bring about change.
Services Directive - Throughout the month Jean has been involved in discussion on strategy for the vote on Services which will take place on 16th February. To promote the Green position of equal access, conditions and protection, Jean's office collaborated with other key MEPs and advisors to produce a campaign leaflet which is available on her website. Those wishing to join the campaign are welcome to download the document for their website.
Resolution on homophobia - Jean was a co-author of this cross-party resolution which gives Parliament's stance on homophobia. It strongly condemns any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people enjoy the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society.
Forum for the Future - As part of Forum for the Future's Masters programme, Henry Hicks has started a one month placement in Jean's office at the European Parliament. The course aims to build management skills in sustainable development. Henry was thrown in at the deep end as his first week was during the busy Strasbourg Session.
Disability inter-group - Henry attended this discussion on the EU disability 2006/7 action plan. Problems highlighted included the lack of definition about what constitutes disability and the strong link between the ageing population and disability. The inter-group voiced concerns at the 24% employment gap between 'abled' and 'disabled' workers. Technological advancement and improvements in transport were put forward as policy solutions.
Austrian Presidency -Taking the Presidency reigns from the UK, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel delivered a speech to MEPs in which he outlined the Austrian priorities for the next six months. He talked about rebuilding confidence in the EU and about the importance of jobs and growth. Later in the month, Jean met with Austrian Presidency representatives in Brussels to discuss civil liberty and employment issues in more detail.
3. Media Highlights
When the TUC released a report demonstrating that Londoners work the longest hours in the UK Jean called for better regulations and gained coverage in the Walthamstow Guardian.
A letter was sent to the national Guardian in response to the news that the average British lunch break is only 19 minutes long. Jean stressed that unless we end the British opt-out, the 'work-harder, work-faster' attitude to life will continue to weaken our workforce. The letter was printed the following day.
Focusing on Working Time, Jean was interviewed by Independent Radio News looking at the new rules for incapacity benefits and the need to address stress at work.
Two letters from Jean were published in The Independent. One was written in response to an article detailing four men who were held for four years as suspects of plotting terror, but were never questioned or charged. Jean questioned the legality of such events, describing the UK Government as being in a shameful position.
The second letter attacked the UK Governments asylum system after a Kurdish refugee was deported to Iraq by mistake. On a similar subject Jean's letter to the New Statesman asked why Tony McNulty was so proud of the UK's asylum system. It was published in the following edition.
Jean's work with White Pigeon, and her appearance at the Tsunami Remembrance event in Trafalgar Square was covered on Tamilnet.
The Western Daily Press supported the Moon Bears campaign and Jean gained coverage when the written declaration was officially passed.
Jean was interviewed on a variety of subjects by a range of different media including: Pulse FM after speaking at the London School of Economics on energy policy in the UK and across Europe; Pensions Management Magazine; Poland Monthly discussing how Poland is viewed from abroad and Computing magazine on ICONET. Jean also commented for UK Gay News after a debate on homophobia in the European Union.
4. Comment on Current Affairs
27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day, this is Jean's statement:
"Holocaust Memorial Day is a reminder of the horrific events that took place in Europe and more recently for example in Rwanda. Not only should we remember those that sadly died as well as those that survived, but this year's theme, 'One person can make a difference', demonstrates just how important it is to recognise those that rescued and brought hope to so many victims.
The Holocaust was devastating for people and communities throughout the world. Today gives us all the opportunity to contemplate the impact of such tragic events on today's society and understand how it is still relevant to everyone in the UK and the rest of Europe. The many stories we hear from survivors serve as a reminder that even small actions can make a big difference.
With these events in mind we must address our own asylum policy and ensure lessons learnt from history are reflected in modern policies and laws, guaranteeing that asylum seekers are not returned to dangerous or uncertain futures in country's practicing torture."
5. Jean's Reports and MEPs in Action (winter edition)
Jean's MEPs In Action, winter edition
Jean's MEPs In Action, winter edition, large print format
Green Group Newsletter (November 2005)
Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas played hosts when the Green Group visited London to discuss key policy issues such as climate change and green training.
The Services Directive: Equal access, conditions and protection. Green Group campaign document can be downloaded at
The Bolkestein Directive: Health Warning (Report October 2005)
Jean's report on the Services Directive
So Much Hot Air (Report September 2005)
This report, published by the Association for the Conservation of Energy and commissioned by the Green Party group at the European Parliament, says the UK must use the remaining months of its EU presidency to adopt and strengthen relevant directives.
* The presentations from the European Parliament Green Group London conference on Climate Change are now available on Jean's website. See the yellow panel on the right of the homepage, and click on 'Presentations from the London Climate Change conference are now available'.
6. Diary Dates
9 February, UK Race & Europe Network reception, co-hosted by Jean, London
16 February, Vote on the Services Directive, Strasbourg
20 February, Jean co-hosting CRE Meeting and Reception, Brussels
20/21 February, Jean speaking at High level Mobility Conference, Brussels
23 February, Jean launches new report 'I Must Work Harder?' London
24 February, TUC Work your proper hours day, UK
25 February, 'Social Europe and Work/life balance' London
25 February, War on Want conference, London