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Ashley Fox

Ashley Fox is an MEP for South West England, and is the leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs.

Private enterprise was responsible for turning Britain from a 19th century agrarian economy into a leader of the industrial revolution. Individuals invested in their ideas, developed businesses, employed others and paid taxes. The benefits spread through communities, enabling others to do the same and providing government with funds to invest in infrastructure, education and healthcare. This model was repeated across the Western world. It works. So why are we not now applying these proven methods in our attempts to help the developing world?

Nirj Deva, our Development Spokesman, is proposing that we do just that. In a report being presented to the European Parliament next week, he argues that traditional aid will never be sufficient to ensure that our sustainable development goals are met. Instead, the EU should work in partnership with local businesses to help them flourish and drive the economy.

Until now, the EU has not entered into public-private partnerships outside of infrastructure projects, but we are advocating a much broader approach while avoiding the kind of over-regulation that would exclude many small and medium-sized firms.

As countries grow wealthier, they become more attractive for private sector investors and a virtuous circle is created.
It is not just about supporting individuals and businesses. Money should be used to create an environment in which private enterprise can flourish by developing markets and building up the financial sector.

The Private Sector and Development Report, which we hope will be backed by MEPs on Thursday, builds upon a report steered through the European Parliament by Nirj in 2014, which called for aid to be targeted at securing property rights in developing countries, where people traditionally have no legal claim to their house and land. Consequently, they cannot use them as security against loans, trapping them in poverty.

The underlying principle in both cases is one of enabling individuals, communities and countries to help themselves. Of course this is not a new idea, simply an application of the old adage that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but buy him a rod and he can feed himself for life.

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Having written previously on this site about unacceptable delays to the Passenger Name Record legislation, it is sad to report that another terrorist attack has occurred before it reaches the statute book.

The bombs in Brussels last month might not have been prevented by a Europe-wide PNR system, but they highlighted once again the dangerous political game being played by socialist and liberal MEPs, who have insisted on creating an artificial link between PNR and new data protection rules.

Thanks to the dogged determination of my colleague Timothy Kirkhope, an end is in sight to this saga. It now seems likely that common procedures for collecting and sharing information about passengers on all flights in, out and within the EU will finally be voted on next week. Not before time.

I appreciate that a lot of political attention at the moment is focused on the coming EU referendum, but the work of Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament goes on – and the purpose of this column is to report it.  Timothy’s efforts are an outstanding example of how this work helps to deliver results for the voters we represent.

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Subsidiarity is not a subject to set pulses racing. But the principle of ensuring that decisions are taken at the appropriate level, be it local, national or European, is central to much of what Conservatives do in Brussels.

In his annual report to the European Parliament on subsidiarity, Sajjad Karim, our Legal Affairs spokesman, is proposing a mid-term evaluation and a further assessment on every piece of new EU legislation to ensure that the principles of subsidiarity are being adhered to. Along with other recommendations promoting a greater role for national parliaments, his work highlights how we are working to reform the EU.

8 comments for: Ashley Fox MEP: How Conservative MEPs want to help poorer people overseas to help themselves

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