Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

14 MAR 2017

Vicky Ford MEP's report closes firearms loophole exposed by Paris terror attacks

 

New firearms legislation which imposes restrictions on the type of guns used in the Paris terrorist attacks has today been steered through the European Parliament by East Anglia MEP Vicky Ford.

 

Revisions to the EU's Firearms Directive mean that guns converted to fire blanks will in future be licensed under the same rules as the original live firing version. Currently these are able to be sold freely in certain European countries despite the fact that some versions are easily converted to use with live ammunition.

Other measures tighten the rules on the ownership of semi-automatic weapons fitted with high capacity magazines, require national authorities to keep details needed to trace firearms and improve information sharing between Member States.

Speaking after her report was approved by MEPs by 491 votes to 178, Mrs Ford said: "The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and at the Bataclan theatre in Paris exposed a dangerous loophole which allowed poorly deactivated firearms, known as salute and acoustic weapons, to be freely available. A number of similar items were amongst a cache of over 30 illegal firearms found by British police on a boat in a Kent marina in August 2015. Following today's vote, this loophole will be closed.

The European Parliament has spent 18 months scrutinising the issue and Mrs Ford met organisations from the UK and across the EU, including the Countryside Alliance, British Sports Shooting Council, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Royal Armouries, the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation and the Nordic Hunters' Alliance. The Imperial War Museum in Duxford also hosted a meeting for Mrs Ford to meet representatives from British museums and collectors. Mrs Ford's report makes sure that museums will be able to continue to hold category A firearms with strict safety and storage requirements, as is already the case in the UK.

She said: "It has been a long and difficult process to reach a compromise which protects the public by making it more difficult for terrorists and criminals to get hold of higher capacity firearms while also safeguarding the interests of lawful sports shooters, collectors, re-enactors and other groups.

"It was not helped by the European Commission's original proposals which were very poorly drafted, contained many technical errors and would have had many disproportionate restrictions on legal owners. However, I believe we have now achieved a sensible balance."

Under the new rules, Member States will be able to authorise target shooters to possess and use higher capacity semi-automatic firearms which are otherwise restricted provided they are training for, or taking part in, competitions. The changes have been drawn up in collaboration with sport shooting organisations, including the International Practical Shooting Confederation.

Exemptions are also made for military and civil defence personnel, especially in countries such as Finland, where reservists traditionally own their firearms and keep them at home.

Museums, military re-enactors and even film companies, whose ability to possess firearms would have been compromised by the Commission's proposals, are now catered for, subject to safeguards. Historically important firearms will not be covered by new marking requirements, nor will the rules apply to antiques.

The legislation now goes to the Council for formal approval, after which Member States will have 15 months to incorporate the new rules into national law.

Mrs Ford is the UK Conservative MEP for the East of England and Chair of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

 

Ends

 

Note for Editors
Background on the revised Firearms Directive can be found here:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20170126BKG59909/revision-of-the-eu-firearms-directive-an-overview

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10 MAR 2017

Vicky Ford: Brexit needs to work for consumers

Consumer organisations in the UK and the rest of the European Union should continue to help each other post-Brexit, Conservative MEP Vicky Ford said today.

Mrs Ford, who chairs the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee, has welcomed a report examining the potential impact of Brexit on consumers that has been published today by European Consumer Organisation BEUC and UK's Which?. It calls for decisions on issues such as safety and quality standards of household goods and products to be assessed against the impact on consumers. The two organisations want existing levels of co-operation maintained to ensure there is no erosion of consumer rights.

She said: "Currently consumer organisations and trading standards bodies all across Europe work with each other. They warn each other of dangerous products, faulty goods or scams and keep consumers informed.

"It is important that practical and pragmatic solutions are found to make sure that this vital work can continue. We hear a lot of people saying that Brexit needs to work for business but it is even more important that it works for consumers."

Mrs Ford (East of England), added: "This is an excellent piece of work. It is important that issues facing every day consumers on both sides of the Channel are put at the heart of the Brexit discussions."

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09 MAR 2017

Telecoms, TV and Media Execs Join Regulators to Discuss Consumer Access Rights in Brussels

Rural broadband, mobile phone contracts and calls to emergency services were on the agenda in Brussels this week. East Anglican MEP Vicky Ford brought together Executives from telecoms and media companies including BBC, BT, Vodafone, Sky, Telia and Deutsch Telekom, as well as the UK regulator, Ofcom, and representatives from European consumer groups to discuss new pan-European proposals on communications.

The group discussed the so called 'universal service obligation' which gives individuals the right to a phone service and the plans to extend this to include internet services.

Mrs Ford said, "As someone who lives in a small village I know what a struggle it can be to access modern communications when the internet service is poor, and what a difference it makes when the high speed line finally arrives. A universal service obligation will be extremely beneficial for rural areas but there are also important questions about how it is funded."

Experts at the Brussels meeting considered alternative funding mechanisms including public and private elements and contribution sharing between operators and content providers and how these could reflect different levels of service quality.

The informal roundtable also discussed the issue of consumer contracts which consumer groups say can be confusing. Questions of whether to introduce standard terms for easier comparison, maximum contract periods and rights for consumers to cancel contracts were also raised.

The group also looked at the issues relating to so-called 'over-the-top' communications services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype which are not currently covered by laws on security and data privacy in the same way as traditional voice and text services.

Mrs Ford explained "These new models are very popular and easy to use. We need to make sure that the legal framework is up-to-date whilst not overburdening companies like this with masses of extra red-tape."

Before entering politics Mrs Ford was involved in raising finance for infrastructure including many of the telecoms networks that consumers across the UK and Europe continue to use today.

Mrs Ford added, "It was extremely helpful to have Ofcom with us as many of the issues that we were discussing will continue to apply in the UK after Brexit. Communications technology is advancing at an extremely rapid rate and there is a strong interest from the UK to continue to work with other countries on developing policy."

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06 MAR 2017

Vicky Ford: Vauxhall sale shows need for a post-Brexit customs deal

Today's agreed sale of General Motors' European arm, including Vauxhall, to France's PSA Group, which owns Peugeot and Citroen, highlights the need for an EU/UK customs deal post-Brexit, says leading Conservative MEP for East of England and Internal Market Committee Chairman Vicky Ford.

Current EU Customs Union arrangements mean that a car or van can be made up of components sourced from all over the EU and sold as a European product to customers in non-EU countries under the beneficial tariff arrangements that the European Union has negotiated. This is the so-called "rules of origin" element of the Customs Union relationship

Mrs Ford, who chairs the European Parliament committee for the Internal Market, which includes responsibility for Customs Union, said: "It is crucial for operations like the Vauxhall van manufacturing in Luton that new arrangements on rules of origin are clearly defined as soon as possible.

"This production line is one of the most efficient General Motors has anywhere in the world and has had close ties to Peugeot for many years. Peugeot has a production line in France that mirrors much of the British facility, making a different vehicle but using many similar parts. Hence why it makes logical commercial sense that many of the components used on the Luton assembly line are sourced from the French supply chain.

"There are similar supply chain arrangements all across the British automotive sector; the engines in a West Midlands-assembled Range Rover are made in Germany and Ford engines, made in Dagenham, are sent to Turkey to be put into vehicles. Restructuring supply chains is possible, though significant investment in time, capital and skill will be needed before the fruits will begin to show.

"In the immediate period as we leave the EU, we need to resolve how products made up of parts sourced from across Europe will be treated. If there is no new arrangement on country of origin rules then many British based manufacturers are concerned that they may not be able to benefit from any new UK trade deals that we ourselves negotiate as the assembled products may not be sufficiently 'British' under the WTO rules.

"Conversely, without a specific deal there is a risk that vans like those made in Luton would not be able to benefit from low tariff rates the EU has negotiated with those countries because significant parts of the vehicle will come from outside the EU27.

"Last week I met representatives from the European automotive suppliers association who pointed out that many continental manufacturers want the negotiations on cars to be resolved urgently. Not only are British buyers a large source of revenue but we are also Europe's most significant market for new vehicles. Without sales to British consumers it is likely that many continental companies will fail to achieve legally binding targets on sales of modern lower emissions products.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that the UK intends to leave the Customs Union but has also stated that she wishes to see a new customs arrangement negotiated. There are countries outside the EU Customs Union which have specific relationships with it on country of origin rules. For example there are rules agreed with Norway that allow for cumulation, so that goods are counted together as coming from one country.

"Negotiations on EU/UK trade post Brexit will inevitably have a political dimension and General Motors may have concluded that finding a technical solution for the Vauxhall plants may be more amicably agreed with a French owner in the driving seat rather than an American one.

"This is a complex area, but it's also one where negotiators on both sides of the Channel need to invest energy in examining options and finding solutions that fit the needs of modern manufacturing economies."

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13 FEB 2017

Thalidomide Campaigner Takes Case to Brussels

Thalidomide Campaigner Takes Case to Brussels

A Suffolk campaigner, who is working with fellow Thalidomide survivors from across Europe has taken his case to Brussels. Roland Bareham, from Sudbury, joined campaigners from all across Europe when they held a special screening of a film about Thalidomide in the European Parliament.

Thalidomide, which caused defects at birth, was produced by a German company. Survivors believe they have a case for compensation from the German Government. There are over 450 survivors living in the UK today, aged between 55 and 59 years old, all affected in different ways. Many sufferers were born without fully formed limbs and as survivors approach retirement, their needs will become more specific and costly.

The Thalidomide campaigners have requested a meeting with the German Minister for Families to address the case for compensation. But the meeting has been refused.

Whilst in Brussels, Mr Bareham also met East Anglian Conservative MEP Vicky Ford to explain their case. Mrs Ford said, "It is clear that the survivors of Thalidomide believe that their case has never been treated seriously by the German authorities. It's pretty shocking that the German Minister, a socialist, has refused to even meet those who were affected. I have written to my German conservative MEP colleagues, from Angela Merkel's party, asking for their support."

For more information about Thalidomide and survivors go to www.thalidomidesociety.org

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09 FEB 2017

British negotiators secure new rules to stop car test cheats

British negotiators secure new rules to stop car test cheats

New measures to make sure vehicles have to meet emissions and safety standards once out of the showroom have been supported by MEPs.

A direct response to the VW emissions scandal, the revised market surveillance rules have been piloted through the European Parliament by British Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton and were passed in a massive voting session overseen by the East Anglian MEP, Vicky Ford.

The rules set out new tests for cars and other vehicles both in the factory and on the road, new reviews of the testors and crucially new penalties designed to prevent test cheats. Furthermore across Europe each country will test samples from 20 per cent of the car models on the market in their country every year. These will be of various ages and so ensure that vehicles still meet minimum standards when in use.

The report was approved today by members of the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) and is expected to be considered by the full Parliament in April.

West Midlands MEP Mr Dalton said: "When buying a car we expect it to perform to the manufacturer's specifications. This legislation reassures consumers that will be the case.

"One of the reasons the car emissions scandal went undetected for so long is that the current arrangements for market surveillance are at best patchy and at worst ineffective. Whilst we can never guarantee another VW will not happen again, my report, combined with the real driving emissions tests for new cars approved by the European Parliament last year, make it very unlikely that any manufacturer would take such a risk in future."

Under the proposed legislation, national market surveillance programmes will be subject to regular review. Cars can be tested at the roadside, be drawn from rental fleets or procured in other ways that do not inconvenience consumers. The Commission will be able to undertake its own testing when necessary and issue EU-wide model recalls and levy fines on manufacturers in the event of failures.

Mr Dalton added: "By addressing the loopholes that allowed the emissions scandal to take place we will begin to rebuild consumer confidence both in our testing systems and in the manufacturers who build our cars."

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who chairs the IMCO Committee, welcomed today's vote.

She said: "Buying a car is the single largest purchase most people ever face. These reforms are vital to restore consumer trust and hold manufacturers to account.

"Achieving this deal has involved deep and detailed work across Europe which was led by a British negotiator. I hope that the new relationship between the UK and the EU post Brexit will enable continued practical co-operation on issues of this nature."

Mrs Ford has worked with local car experts such as Ford in Dunton, Essex as well as consumer group in developing the new rules package.

ENDS

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03 FEB 2017

Cambridgeshire MEP Discusses Brexit with Local Business Leaders

Cambridgeshire MEP Discusses Brexit with Local Business Leaders

Local Euro MP Vicky Ford joined panellists at a Breakfast Discussion held by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) on Friday 3 February.

Audience members quizzed the panellists for 90 minutes on topics covering the current Brexit negotiations to the role that GCGP LEP has to play in encouraging and supporting local business growth.

Mrs Ford said "The questions coming from audience members today reinforce the importance of communication between local representatives and the public on how we approach the negotiations ahead. It's clear that whilst we can't reveal our whole hand, we can give insights and updates that demonstrate how things are going.

"A good example of this is the situation in Brussels, last week British MEPs, including myself, were re-elected to senior posts within the European Parliament. This is an extremely encouraging step towards the mature and cooperative relationship that the prime minister has been talking about.

"I'd like to thank Mark Reeve and the GCGP LEP for organising this morning's panel discussion, it was extremely helpful. The conversations going on over the next few weeks and months are going to redefine our relationship with our closest neighbours and allies, it is vital that we all understand the needs of local employers in this process."

Other panellists included local MP Jonathan Djanogly, Steve Elsom from Lloyds Bank and Chairman of the GCGP LEP Mark Reeve.

ENDS

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02 FEB 2017

Warning on Scam Business Directories

Warning on Scam Business Directories

One of the East of England's leading MEPs is warning local companies not to be taken in by a new "Business Directory" scam.

The purported directory service contacts local businesses and asks owners to sign and return documents to confirm business contact details, before following up with demands for payment. One local business has been targeted for over £3,000. The documents stipulate, in the fine print, that businesses who return and sign the papers opt into paying for the Directory's services.

Vicky Ford, the Conservative MEP for East Anglia said "This latest scheme, run by an operation calling themselves Portal Empresarial S.L., appears to be very similar to the 'European City Guide' scam which hit many small businesses in the past. I would strongly advise anyone who is approached by this type of organisation not to part with any cash, to take legal advice and contact Action Fraud."

Mrs Ford is working with colleagues from across Europe to tighten up laws in this area before the UK leaves the EU in May 2019.

Action Fraud can be contacted on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

Mrs Ford has written to local Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business asking them to alert their members.

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26 JAN 2017

Revision of the EU Firearms Directive

Revision of the EU Firearms Directive

The provisional deal on the revision of the EU firearms directive, which sets out the conditions under which private persons may lawfully acquire and possess guns or transfer them to another EU country, was backed by the Internal Market Committee on 26 January 2017. The vote by the full Parliament is expected to take place in March.

Firearm types are defined as Category A, B or C. Category A firearms are prohibited except for certain types of individuals, Category B firearms need an "authorisation", and owners of Category C firearms need to declare their ownership but do not need authorisation.

The previous treatment of so-called "salute and acoustic firearms" raised security concerns. These are working firearms converted to fire blanks. Under the existing directive in certain countries these could be sold without authorisations and some were easily re-converted to live firearms. "This type of firearm was used in Paris terrorist attacks. A cache of over 30 were discovered in the UK in 2015", said Vicky Ford (ECR, UK), who is steering this legislation through Parliament.

The rules covering these firearms will now be tightened. Going forward any firearm which has been converted to fire blanks must remain licensed under the same rules as its original live-firing version.

In order to strengthen deactivation regimes, the European Commission introduced a new deactivation regulation which came into force in April 2016. This sets a single standard for deactivation of firearms. However, technical implementation issues have arisen and some countries were concerned that the new standard would be less secure than their previous national regimes. Following pressure from Parliament, the European Commission has now re-convened a working group of experts from the EU member states to review the regulation. The Commission has pledged that a revision will be completed by early 2017.

"The introduction of the deactivation regulation caused problems for legitimate holders of deactivated firearms such as historical re-enactors and those involved in film making etc, as it prohibits them from selling or transferring across borders any items deactivated prior to April 2016 unless the items are re-deactivated to the new standard, which is not technically possible in many cases. Following pressure from Parliament there will now be a process to assess national standards in use prior to April 2016. If the standards are accepted by the working group and Commission as equivalent, then items deactivated to that previous regime will be able to be bought, sold and transferred without requiring further modification", explained Vicky Ford (ECR, UK).

The Commission proposed that all deactivated firearms would become subject to the same registration and authorisation procedures as firearms. This was rejected by the co-legislators. Instead the negotiators agreed that newly deactivated firearms should be categorised in Category C and need to be declared to national authorities but will not require an authorisation or licence. This will not apply to existing deactivated firearms.

Firearm types are defined as Category A, B or C. Category A firearms are prohibited except for certain types of individuals, Category B firearms need an "authorisation", and owners of Category C firearms need to declare their ownership but do not need authorisation.

Category A

The Commission's original proposal added:
Category A6 "Automatic firearms which have been converted into semi-automatic firearms" and Category A7 "Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms."

These were both rejected by Parliament´s negotiators, as "there is experience that categorising items based on the subjectivity of resemblance creates legal uncertainty", said Vicky Ford (ECR, UK).

Category A6

Parliament's initial committee approach was that "Automatic firearms which have been converted into semi-automatic firearms" should remain in Category B if the conversion was irreversible and be placed in Category A only if the conversion was reversible. "Parliament's team proposed that the Commission should develop new technical standards to define which conversions were irreversible. However, the Commission was not prepared to accept responsibility for preparing technical specifications on these conversions", said Ms Ford.

"To reach agreement, negotiators representing the majority of Parliament conceded that automatic firearms converted into semi-automatic firearms should be Category A, but added new authorisation procedures so that, at the discretion of the member state, reservists, target shooters and others with special licences would be permitted to hold these. In addition, a 'grandfathering' clause is added so that existing owners can continue to own, transfer, inherit or sell these firearms to others who have appropriate authorisation. Again this is at the discretion of the member state", explained the rapporteur.

Category A7

Instead of using "resemblance" criteria both Parliament and Council negotiators proposed to add to Category A semi-automatic centre-fire firearms when a high-capacity loading device is fitted. Firearms have been categorised according to loading capacity already in the current directive, and the new rules extend this approach. This only affects firearms which use centre-fire and not rimfire percussion ammunition.

The categorisation applies when the firearm and magazine is in combination together, and does not depend merely on whether the firearm is capable of having a higher capacity magazine inserted. This has been explained in the text:

"The mere possibility of fitting a loading device with the capacity over 10 rounds for long firearms and 20 rounds for short firearms does not determine the categorization of the firearm."

"Therefore a semi-automatic firearm remains Category B unless the high capacity magazine is fitted", explained Ms Ford.

Following lengthy negotiations, it was agreed that for long firearms exceeding 60 cm, a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds would be restricted, while for a short firearm the limit would be set at 20 rounds. This was a major negotiating point for the Council.

Member states will be able to give authorisations for reservists, target shooters and others with special licences for these firearms. As for those firearms that now fall under Category A6, there is a "grandfathering" clause.

"The European Commission proposed to reference specific types of firearms and derivations thereof. However, Parliament rejected this approach as it was considered impracticable for the same reasons as resemblance-based criteria. A clarification has been added in a recital that selective fire firearms are treated as Category A, which accords with current practice. There are no other references to specific types of firearms anywhere else in the text", explained Vicky Ford (ECR, UK).

Recital: "Firearms designed for military use, which are equipped to operate on the basis of selective fire, such as AK47, M16, where they may be manually adjusted between automatic and semi-automatic firing modes should fall within category A, therefore should not be available for civilians and if converted into semi-automatic firearms should fall within category A6."

"Loading devices themselves, including magazines, are not restricted per se. Semi-automatic centre fire firearms which allow the firing of more than a certain number of rounds without reloading will now become Category A firearms only if a loading device with a capacity exceeding that capacity is inserted into it or is part of the firearm", stressed Vicky Ford (ECR, UK).

Member states are able to give authorisation for such Category A firearms for sport shooters, existing holders, collectors, reservists and certain other specialist users.

People with a Category B firearm who are found in possession of a high capacity magazine will risk having their authorisation to hold firearms removed unless they have a Category A authorisation. There is no restriction on re-applying for an authorisation in the future.

New purchases of high capacity magazines are restricted to those with a Category A authorisation.

"This was a major issue for the 28 national government ministers in the Council and the European Commission who both proposed an overall ban on all high-capacity magazines. This was rejected by Parliament as impractical to enforce. This intermediate approach was accepted by negotiators representing the majority of the members of the European Parliament in order to achieve agreement", said Ms Ford.

Member states will be able to give Category A authorisations to individuals for the protection of the security of critical infrastructure, commercial shipping, high-value convoys and sensitive premises, as well as for national defence, educational, cultural, research and historical purposes

Museums and collectors: member states will be able to give Category A authorisations to recognised museums and in exceptional and duly reasoned cases to collectors, subject to strict security measures. The collection of ammunition is permitted.

Target shooters: member states will be able to give Category A authorisations to target shooters provided the individual is actively practising for or participating in shooting competitions. Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) explained that "the authorisation covers those entering the sport as well as those already competing. The current freedom of choice of equipment used by competitors in their shooting disciplines is not restricted. To facilitate continued participation in international competitions, the rules governing the European Firearms Pass will be updated to cover firearms, including Category A firearms, held by such target shooters".

Reservists: armed forces, the police and the public authorities are outside the scope of the directive. The provisions for authorisation for national defence also enables member states to issue reservists with firearms.

Switzerland: Language is introduced to cover the Swiss system based on general conscription which enables the transfer of military firearms to persons leaving the army.

Film industry: many film productions in Europe use firearms including deactivated firearms, purpose-built blank firing firearms as well as live firearms, usually firing blanks, all depending on the nature of the production. "The Commission's initial proposals would have jeopardised this but the Parliament text has re-instated the ability for special authorisations for the film industry under strict controls", said Ms Ford.

Re-enactors: the European Firearms Pass enables legitimate owners to move firearms across borders. This has been updated to assist historical re-enactors.

Private modifications

Hand-loading and reloading of ammunition will remain permitted. Modifications of firearms for private use are also still permitted by private owners and not restricted only to dealers or brokers.

The existing law states that authorisations are only permitted for those who "are not likely to be a danger to themselves or others". The Commission suggested that medical tests should be required for each authorisation and these should be reviewed every five years. Parliament's lead negotiator, Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) believed that "point-in-time medical tests are not necessarily effective". Instead, it was agreed that each member state must have a monitoring system to assess relevant medical and psychological information which they may operate on a continuous or non-continuous basis.

Authorisation will be withdrawn if any of the conditions on which it was granted are no longer met, or may be renewed or prolonged if the conditions are still fulfilled. Member states may decide whether or not the assessment involves a prior medical or psychological test. This does not change national approaches or introduce new EU-wide requirements for medical testing.

The current directive requires firearms to be marked and registered so that each firearm can be linked to its owner. Law enforcement and Europol noted the risk of sales of parts. Going forward the essential components of a firearm also need to be marked and registered. To avoid risk of confusion, the main identifier will be the mark affixed to the frame or receiver. The new marking requirements will not apply to existing firearms. Firearms of historical importance may not need markings depending on national law.

To improve information sharing, dealers and brokers will need to inform national authorities of transfers through electronic means and member states will share information on firearms held in their country.

All information needed to trace and identify firearms will have to be recorded in "computerised data-filing systems." These records should be kept for 30 years after the destruction of the firearms and essential components.

A module of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), specifically customised for firearms, may be used to exchange information between member states.

The provisional deal still needs to be voted by the full Parliament in an upcoming plenary session (probably in March 2017) and formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers.

Member states will have 15 months after the date of entry into force of the directive to transpose the new rules into national law and 30 months to introduce new systems for sharing of information. They may decide to suspend the requirement for declaring deactivated weapons and prior category D firearms for 30 months from the entry into force of the directive.

ENDS

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25 JAN 2017

European Parliament Internal Market Committee Re-elects Vicky Ford as Chairman

European Parliament Internal Market Committee Re-elects Vicky Ford as Chairman


The EU Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) today re-elected Vicky Ford MEP (ECR, East of England) as Chairman through to May 2019.

Mrs Ford, who first became Chairman of the IMCO Committee in 2014, said "I am pleased to be able to continue this work and to do all I can to help maintain amicable and open dialogue across Europe and between the UK and the EU-27.

"The IMCO Committee looks at the practical elements of removing barriers to trade across Europe. I hope that many of these practical cooperation networks will continue for both the UK and the rest of the EU post-Brexit.

"Committee Chair roles are allocated to political groups according to how many votes they achieved in the European Elections. If this role had been removed from the UK Conservatives it would have been perceived to have set a tone that is markedly less cooperative and collegiate than that which Michel Barnier and Theresa May have been calling for."

The re-election of Mrs Ford emphasises the determination of UK MEPs to continue to fulfil their role in the Parliament's work and maintain active representation of UK interests through to May 2019. Voting took place as part of the midterm review of the 8th Parliament and follow's the election of the President and Vice Presidents of the European Parliament last week in Strasbourg.

 

ENDS

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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.