Conservative MEPs reacted with dismay today after the new president of the European Commission scrapped the key role of Chief Scientific Adviser.
The U-turn came just weeks after Jean-Claude Juncker assured Conservative MEPs the post would be preserved in his new administration.
Conservative environment spokesman Julie Girling said: "I am deeply disappointed by this news. I wait to hear the details but on the face of it this looks like a complete volte face by Mr Juncker.
"I believe that in a leaner, less bureaucratic, growth-focused Europe, the role of science should be augmented not diminished.
"I shall be pressing Mr Juncker to explain why he has reneged on his commitment and to detail what he intends to do next."
The role of the scientific adviser has been "To provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation as requested by the President, (and) analysis on major policy proposals being submitted to the College."
It has been hailed by many MEPs for providing important scientific checks and balances to wayward or over-zealous environmental and food-safety legislation.
Before his presidency was confirmed last month, Mr Juncker attended a meeting of European Conservatives and Reformists Group MEPs to canvass support. When questioned directly by Mrs Girling he assured her the post would remain.
Today she said: "We need more scientific input, not less. That's how we keep flaky legislation off the statute books.
"I fear Mr Juncker has caved in to the Green lobby."
Ian Duncan MEP has today released a letter from Jean-Luc Demarty, the European Commission Director General for Trade, in which Mr Demarty makes clear that TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) ‘would not affect the UK or devolved governments’ sovereignty over how NHS services are provided, whether in Scotland or the rest of the UK’.
Mr Demarty also states that ‘the net effect of the EU’s approach is that nothing in TTIP will lead to privatisation of the NHS’.
TTIP is the world’s largest free trade agreement, currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union. The most recent negotiations took place in Washington in September and the net benefit of TTIP to the UK is estimated at 10 billion pounds.
Mr Duncan wrote to Mr Demarty in response to numerous constituent letters regarding the perceived dangers to the NHS in terms of privatisation, if the EU and the United States were to sign the proposed free-trade agreement (TTIP).
In his letter Mr Demarty also addresses concerns regarding the Investment protection and ISDS chapter of TTIP, negotiations on which are currently on hold whilst a public consultation process takes place. It has been alleged that in the event of a dispute between investors, tribunals would be held in private and that interested parties such as NGOs, would not be able to make submissions.
Mr Demarty writes ‘The EU will make transparency the default mode for ISDS tribunals…there will be no secret tribunals under TTIP’
Mr Demarty also addresses concerns regarding food safety and the right of national Governments to regulate in the public interest, which can be found in the attached letter.
Mr Duncan commented ‘My mail-bag has been full of letters regarding TTIP, so I sought to find out exactly what the agreement proposes. As Mr Demarty’s letter sets out, TTIP will not lead to the privatisation of the NHS, nor the ability of the UK and Scottish Governments to act in their national interest. Indeed it is projected that the EU would have an extra 70-120 billion euros at its disposal, every year, if TTIP is concluded.
I would also stress that TTIP would be subject to a vote in the European Parliament and indeed MSPs in Holyrood will most likely have to vote to give effect to it.
TTIP negotiations are still in the early stages but I hope the letter from Mr Demarty will reassure concerned citizens and counter some of the misleading comments from individuals, as reported in the press’.
Conservative MEPs today voted against unworkable European Parliament proposals to allow member states to introduce national bans on the cultivation of safe, EU-approved genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A package of measures on GMOs was approved by the European Parliament's Environment Committee, but Conservatives vowed to maintain their opposition.
Conservative environment spokesman Julie Girling MEP said: ""The Parliament's position on GM cultivation risks inflicting untold damage to robust, science-based policy-making in Europe. We strongly oppose these proposals and voted against them today. We will continue to oppose them."
"The EU Council's idea of letting of letting member states seek an op-out before taking the more extreme measure of individually banning certain GMOs on their own soil makes sense. It strikes a fair balance between those that may want to avoid GM cultivation and those that do not.
"The opt-out is quick, simple and legally certain. But it also allows a fair way forward to avoid holding back member states which want to adopt GM cultivation.
"This should be about fixing the current blockage in the approvals process for GM cultivation. But the rapporteur's suggestions would make it difficult, if not impossible, to agree.
"GM crops offer a great potential for growth and jobs in the EU while protecting the environment. Currently we are not able to access these crops because of the political block on approvals at the EU level. The aim of the negotiations is to change that. We need access to these crops to encourage investment and ensure European farming remains competitive."
"There is a single market in European agriculture. This means that farmers across the EU should be working on a level playing field...and bear in mind that half of the EU budget is spent on agriculture.
"The Parliament's proposal to allow some member states to refuse to allow their farmers to cultivate certain crops on non-scientific grounds, drives a coach and horses through this single market.
"We are always being told that we cannot have special conditions for the UK on issues such as free movement, so why should we agree to allow countries like Austria and Slovenia to go their own way on a fundamental single market issue?"
For the 20th year in a row the EU's auditors could today give the bloc's accounts only a qualified statement of assurance.
The Court of Auditors' report on the EU's accounts for 2013, published this morning, shows the estimated error rate, measuring the level of irregularity in the accounts for 2013 payments, at 4.7%. That is almost identical to 2012's figure of 4.8%.
It notes that the vast majority of EU expenditure – 80 per cent – is conducted by member states. Both the auditors and the new Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva today called for a culture change to tackle the root problem. They stressed the urgent need for member states to take political ownership of the EU funding they spend. They also called for the Commission to exercise greater performance management.
Conservative budget spokesman Richard Ashworth MEP said: "We regret that no progress has been made on this deep-rooted problem. We welcome the determination of the new commissioner and the comments of the Court of Auditors calling for culture change and greater political responsibility from national governments.
"But we would go further. Conservatives say it is high time the European Parliament took a more active role in the scrutiny of expenditure of taxpayers' money and MEPs held Commissioners more directly to account for how money is spent on their watch."
The EU Commission's demand for £1.7 billion in additional funding from Britain has been strongly condemned by the leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs, Syed Kamall.
The London MEP said: "The commission is penalising Britain for taking tough decisions, putting in place a long term economic plan and for having the most successful economy in the EU, while actually rewarding France for being an economic basket case," he said.
"This is not moving the goalposts, it is playing the game on a different field.
"David Cameron is absolutely right to stand up to this attempted daylight robbery by the EU."
"This is outrageous and harms the EU's relationship with Britain. At times like this, the European Commission can be its own worst enemy."
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