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Update From Catherine

by Press Officer on 12 June, 2013

Catherine with Hazel and Trevor at MKC

One of the things that we have begun working on, and that I will be following closely in my role on the International Trade Committee, is the start of historic trade talks between the EU and the US.  A trade agreement could be worth up to £10 billion a year to the British economy or nearly £400 per household.

A EU-US Free Trade Agreement would help even more US firms to set up shop in the UK. This is about making the EU work for us by bringing down barriers.

It’s only the start of what I’m sure will be a long process but will lead to what we’re all here for, creating jobs in Britain and across the EU.

For Our Jobs. For Our Security. For Our Environment.
On Friday I launched our campaign for the European elections next year with a simple message – In Europe In Work, Out of Europe Out of Work.

I joined other Lib Dem candidates at Westminster to stress the importance of the European Union to the South East economy. Thousands of jobs in the South East depend on our continued involvement with Europe, as does our ability to keep Britain safe and secure.

In recent years there has been a rising tide of opinion against the EU, much of it built on falsehoods and misunderstandings. There is a danger that we are sleep walking into potentially withdrawing from the EU.

I believe any threat of exit it would be a disaster for our jobs, our security and our environment, not just in the South East, but across the UK.  Over the summer I and the other candidates will be taking this message to towns and cities across the South East so watch this space to find out when we’re coming to a place near you!

Visit for more information.

A Fisherman’s Friend
As part of my continued support for Greenpeace’s Be A Fisherman’s Friend campaign, I was delighted to hitch a ride from a local fisherman to visit their 50-metre ship the Arctic Sunrise in Hastings last week.

It was fantastic to see the 950-tonne icebreaker up close. They dropped anchor a mile off the Hastings shore where it was met by local fishermen including my lift all the way from Eastbourne!

It was a bumpy ride at points, and getting from one boat to another was quite scary, but really worth the effort to hammer the message that we really do need a better deal for the small fishing fleet.

Greenpeace brought its ship to Hastings as part of their campaign along the English coast to support endangered local fishing communities who are under threat from a system which unfairly favours the most powerful and destructive boats.

Under the current UK fisheries policy, boats under ten metres long, which make up 77 per cent of the UK fleet and provide 65 per cent of our fishing jobs, only receive four per cent of UK quota.

But, the deal over the reform of Europe’s fishing laws reached in Brussels at the end of May could pave the way for a better deal for all small scale fishermen who fish sustainably and bring benefits to the local economy.

You can find out more about the campaign here.

Euromyth Buster
“Now the EU cuts power of your vacuum cleaner!” – This story appeared in The Daily Express at the end of May and, surprise surprise, it really sucked!

The article claims that “the suction power of new vacuum cleaners is to be reduced under yet another “Mad Hatter” diktat from Europe.”

However, less power does not mean less performance. The aim is to give consumers a better deal all round with vacuum cleaners that suck up more dirt, use less electricity, help keep energy bills down and are better for the environment. Inefficiently designed models will be phased out.

The new EU regulation focuses on dust pick-up efficiency as well as power. A vacuum cleaner that picks up more dust per passage over the floor only needs to be used for shorter periods and thus uses less energy.

Studies have shown that the introduction of these efficient vacuum cleaners would save 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually in the EU by 2020. As a comparison, this annual saving alone would keep the London Underground running for up to twenty years.

From September 2014 the maximum allowed input power will be 1600 Watt; from September 2017 it is 900 W. (current average on the market is about 1800 W)

Rather than focus on the energy savings and consumer benefits, the Daily Express said the regulation would create a potential health risk “because lower powered vacuum cleaners will not pick up allergy-provoking dust”. This is simply not the case. The regulation seeks to reduce dust emissions and clearly sets minimum requirements for the ability of a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust.

My Euromyth Buster campaign is building quite a following… with plenty of Europhiles and Eurosceptics getting involved in the debate at

Oxford human trafficking case proves the need to #OpenYourEyes
I’m sure many of you will have seen the convictions of seven members of a sex grooming ring in Oxford last month.

Amongst  the horrible crimes these men were convicted for was human trafficking.

I live in Oxford and was so appalled that these horrific acts were being committed in front of our eyes for years before something was finally done. It was this case particularly that led me to launch my “Open Your Eyes” to human trafficking campaign.

We all need to realise the vital role we all play in combating human trafficking, abuse and exploitation in our communities. I believe that if human trafficking is happening in our communities it can be tackled by our communities.

Please watch and share this short film with as many people as you can.

Find out more about the campaign here and please let me know if you want campaign materials to spread the message in your area.

Thanet leads the way in keeping beaches clean
Blue flags are flying on more beaches run by Thanet District Council than in any other part of the country, it was announced by Keep Britain Tidy last month.

The Kent authority has claimed the title for most exemplary blue flag beaches with eight, while the South East now has 15 in total – unfortunately down from 20 last year.

New European Union regulations have meant stricter water quality standards in an effort to ensure beaches are cleaner than ever before.

The Blue Flag rewards efforts to make sure our beaches are safer places to spend the day, and that has certainly been done in Thanet.  We understand more and more the need to look after our shorelines for both the environment and the economy.

Hopefully, this offers an added incentive for families planning a summer holiday at the English seaside.

You can see a full list of blue flag beaches here.

I will be keeping these newsletters coming out regularly to keep you all up to date with my work in the European parliament and the region but if there’s anything you want to see in these pages or any issues or problems you feel I should be looking at then don’t hesitate to contact me at  My Lib Dem colleague in the European Parliament, Sharon Bowles has now started her own monthly newsletter and you can sign up by visiting her website at

With best wishes,

Catherine Bearder
Member of the European Parliament for South East England

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