The recent vote by the European Parliament to support a package of ‘reform’ proposals has been called a major step-back to the days of wide-spread intervention and protectionism by Conservative MEPs.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of Herefordshire Conservative Business Forum, the Conservative Agriculture spokesman, Julie Girling, called the majority of measures “retrograde”.

 MEPs had pored over the outcome of hundreds of detailed amendments and votes on the minutiae of the package, she said: "This was a golden opportunity so set up a fairer and less wasteful system but that opportunity has been squandered.
 
“In some areas Conservative pressure has led to better proposals but overall the MEPs have ended up approving something less fair for British farmers, less helpful to consumers and less supportive of the environment and biodiversity.

“The whole reform package needed to be more market-oriented and less interventionist. Instead we will continue to see French farmers enjoying much more favourable terms than their British counterparts. We will continue to see inadequate support and encouragement for more-efficient medium-to-large farms. Worse than that, we will see a return to the bad old days of butter mountains, wine lakes and rampant intervention which destroys any realistic market and punishes consumers."

West Midlands MEP, Anthea McIntyre, who hosted the Business Forum event, said:

“Once again the EU has failed to grasp the nettle of reform and has instead opted to turn the clock back to a system that failed farmers, consumers and the environment.

“The battle isn’t over.  Although our task has been made harder by this decision, there should be no doubt that Conservative MEPs will keep working to achieve a better deal for our farmers, for families and flora and fauna .”

(Photograph shows Anthea McIntyre MEP with Julie Girling MEP and John Mercer, NFU Regional Director.)

 Members of the Rotary Club of Nuneaton invited local MEP, Anthea McIntyre, to join them for lunch so they could hear about her work in the European Parliament.

“As the Conservative Employment Spokesman in Europe I obviously devote a considerable amount of time to that brief – fighting unnecessary bureaucracy, promoting British business and reminding the European Parliament that that EU growth plans do not create jobs - businesses do. 

“I also serve on the Agriculture Committee; the Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs Committee and the Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering – a pretty diverse range of issues with a single common thread connecting my approach :  does Europe need to be doing this?

The 25 members of the Club asked a number of questions on specific matters and, at the end of the visit, Miss McIntyre said:

“I welcome every opportunity to talk about my work as an MEP – the job is not to act as spokesmen for the EU to represent the views and interests of the West Midlands to our European neighbours.”

The EU must offer more than warm words to address the deep concerns of small businesses over Brussels red tape, Conservative MEPs have cautioned.

The warning came as the EU Commission published a "top ten" list of EU regulations which cause the greatest problems for SMEs. The list was drawn from a Europe-wide consultation process begun in December last year -  which several Conservative MEPs urged their local businesses to take part in.

Predictably, the list includes unwanted social legislation such as the Working Time Directive and labour-market regulation, as well as rules on data protection, public procurement and professional qualifications.

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "Conservative MEPs who are constantly hearing the concerns of small businesses could have written this list for them before the consultation began.

"Now Commissioners have been sent a direct message and they must offer more than warm words in response.

"They have at least had the courage to go directly to SMEs and ask the tough questions about their concerns. Now they must show they can pay heed to the tough answers.

"They have been sent a cry for help. If they are serious about unleashing the economic power of entrepreneurs and smaller traders they must now work with them to reduce this regulatory burden.

"What small businesses really want is for the bureaucrats to get out of their way and let them get on with what they do best - driving enterprise, launching fresh ideas and creating jobs."

Local MEP Anthea McIntyre used her appearance on the BBC ‘Sunday Politics’ on Sunday, 17th March 2013 to welcome two major jobs-boosts for the West Midlands and to call on Chancellor George Osborne to take two specific actions to help the region’s small businesses.

“The region’s unemployment figure is stubbornly high and the statistics hide thousands of individuals desperate to take  a job and make their lives better.  But it is important that we recognise that employment in the region is at an all-time high with 107,000 more people in work today than 12 months ago.

“In the last few days we’ve heard that JLR will be recruiting another 700 workers for their engine plant on the i54 estate between Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire and that JCB, based in Rocester, Staffordshire, have won a £40million contract from the Brazilian Government.

“These most-welcome developments are mirrored day-by-day on a smaller scale by the region’s thousands of small and micro-businesses. 

“I hope the Chancellor in his Budget will take two positive steps to encourage smaller businesses to expand their workforces.

“The  first step is to make the current, temporary, Small Business Rate Relief scheme permanent.  The current scheme is due to expire on 31st March 2014 and action now will help small business-owners plan for the future.

“Perhaps more importantly, I’d be delighted if the Chancellor would amend the National Insurance Contribution Holiday scheme so that it covers existing businesses with four or fewer employees rather than being restricted to start-up businesses only.

“It is existing small businesses who are most likely to create new, long-term jobs and modest help to them when they hire somebody who has been unemployed could have a huge impact.”

Leading UK furniture manufacturer Mereway Kitchens received a visit from Anthea McIntyre MEP this week. After winning the EEF Manufacturing Regional Award for People Management Anthea contacted Mereway to arrange to visit the company.

“During the visit Anthea made some very nice comments about Mereway” says Bob Norris who, alongside his brother Richard, is Joint Managing Director. “She particularly emphasised
the fact that it was very encouraging to see a British Manufacturer doing so well in the
current economic climate.”

Mereway owners Bob and Richard Norris briefed Anthea on Mereway’s history and growth since the company was founded in 1986, undertook a comprehensive tour of the factory and then introduced some of the employees involved with the projects for which they won the award.

Anthea represents the West Midlands – the manufacturing heart of the UK – and is  the Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament.
The annual business awards are hosted by EEF, the UK manufacturers' organisation, and recognise excellence in enterprise, innovation, environmental performance and skills development among UK manufacturers.  Mereway proudly beat a host of well-known companies including Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce to win this prestigious award. 

Projects included focusing on production process, implementing lean business improvement techniques and improving factory layout to reduce waste. The company introduced a major training programme which improved employee morale and motivation, and targeted new market opportunities, implementing new branding to reach new audiences and create opportunities for growth.

“We were delighted to receive a visit from Anthea, ” Bob Norris commented, “it was good to be able to talk to an MEP who understands the problems of businesses like ours which often struggle with the amount of new legislation and red tape that comes out of Europe.”