Sir Graham Watson, Lib Dem MEP for the South West, responded to the speech by Liam Fox, in which he called for an immediate renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the EU, by calling on tories to come clean on the alternatives to EU membership saying:
"This is a desperate move by a discredited Tory to bang the populist drum to try to revitalise an ailing political career.
"As usual, a lot of hot air is being blown but with few precise proposals. Does Mr Fox wish to see us form a Norway style relationship, where we would lose our rebate, pay £3.5 billion a year into a pot to access the single market but have no say on the directives that we would have to conform to in order to trade freely? Or perhaps a customs union, similar to Turkey, where specific goods would be tariff free but not services and where again, all directives agreed by the others without our input would have to be implemented into UK law in order to trade."Tuesday
Bill Newton Dunn, Lib Dem MEP for the East Midlands, criticised an alliance of Labour, Green and UKIP MEPs who voted against giving greater powers to EU customs authorities to tackle counterfeit goods.
Phil Bennion, Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands, described as "madness" a rejected proposal by Green MEPs to force all vehicles over 1.5 tonnes carrying goods to install digital tachographs which he said would have caused "mayhem" for millions of self-employed drivers, such as farmers and plumbers.
As Cyprus took up their presidency of the EU for the next six months, Sir Graham Watson MEP, in his role as President of the European Liberal Democrat Party (ELDR), referring to the issues facing the presidency (such as budget talks, the EU’s roadmap 2050 and talks on bank supervision and sovereign debt) said that “Cyprus cannot lead by size or strength, so they must lead by example".
Bigger news came in the form of the overwhelming vote in the European Parliament to reject the Anti Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA), spelling the end of the treaty. ACTA had been attacked heavily by civil liberties campaigners for the way they said it infringed online freedoms. And, commenting on the 478 to 39 vote, Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for the South East, said that:
"Today’s rejection of ACTA sends out a clear message that civil liberties and civil society must be taken into account in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy."