Text adopted – Establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System in the field of border checks ***I – P8_TA-PROV(2018)0412 – Wednesday, 24 October 2018 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

European Parliament legislative resolution of 24 October 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks,…

European Parliament legislative resolution of 24 October 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks, amending Regulation (EU) No 515/2014 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 (COM(2016)0882 – C8-0533/2016 – 2016/0408(COD)) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Source : © European Union, 2018 - EP

Parliament endorses Brussels’ plan to split quotas after Brexit

The European Parliament’s trade committee today backed a draft law to grant the European Commission special powers to reduce EU food import quotas after Brexit. The law would allow Brussels to unilaterally carve out Britain’s share from EU food import quotas, if it fails to reach an agreement with World Trade Organization countries in time […]

The European Parliament’s trade committee today backed a draft law to grant the European Commission special powers to reduce EU food import quotas after Brexit.

The law would allow Brussels to unilaterally carve out Britain’s share from EU food import quotas, if it fails to reach an agreement with World Trade Organization countries in time for Britain’s exit from the EU customs union.

Parliamentarians only slightly amended the Commission’s original proposal and will now enter into negotiations with the Commission and EU countries on the final text of the law.

In the amendments, Parliament tried to ensure that the Commission would cut the EU’s tariff-free food import quotas by an amount equal to Britain’s average share, and would not go for a smaller reduction — which farmers fear would result in lower food prices, as the imported beef, milk, sugar and other foodstuffs are spread among a smaller market after Brexit.

The new amendments call for “ensuring that the market access into the Union as composed after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom does not exceed that which is reflected in the share of trade flows during a representative period.”

Another amendment automatically extends the Commission’s powers to do these adjustments from the original four years to perpetuity, should Britain remain in the EU customs union for longer than expected.

“We need a radical shift in the NHS, from a hospital service for the ill, to a service to keep us healthy.” – Hancock’s speech, full text

“Over just the last year, emergency admissions at A&E have increased by 6.6 per cent. This rate of growth of demand is simply unsustainable.”

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, delivered the following speech today to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.

We’re here to talk prevention. And if there’s one thing that everybody knows it’s: ‘prevention is better than cure’.

When I was thinking about prevention I looked into where this comes from. I’m told it was Erasmus, the 16th century Dutch philosopher, who coined the insight.

The irony was that Erasmus died suddenly from an attack of dysentery, which we now know is a wholly preventable condition.

The other person who can lay claim was Benjamin Franklin, who said: ‘an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’.

And Franklin founded the first fire brigade in Philadelphia and made it one of the safest cities for fires in the world.

So prevention works. As the founding fathers knew.

Prevention saves lives and saves money.

Two of the biggest health successes of the 20th century had prevention at their core: vaccination and cutting smoking.

In the UK, both were achieved by careful and considered government intervention.

We didn’t outlaw cigarettes because blanket bans curtail personal freedoms and often have the opposite effect.

We encouraged better behaviour through informing the public and by stopping smoking in public places where it could affect the health of others.

We didn’t compel people to vaccinate against their will. We helped them see it was in their interests and everybody else’s too.

Ultimately, at the heart of our public provision for healthcare there’s a social contract. A social contract at the heart of our NHS.

We, the citizens, have a right to the healthcare we need, when we need it, free at the point of use.

But, we have a responsibility to pay our taxes to fund it, and to use the health service carefully, with consideration for others, and to comply with medical advice to look after ourselves.

Because the NHS is not just a service – it’s a shared stake in society.

Too much of the health debate in England has been about our rights: what we deserve, and what the NHS can deliver. And, of course, those rights are important.

But, I think we need to pay more attention to our responsibilities, as well as our rights.

Today, I want to talk about those responsibilities, and our task for the National Health Service to help empower people to take more care of their own health.

I want to talk about how we need to focus more on prevention to transform our health and social care system, save money, eliminate waste and make the extra £20.5 billion we’re putting in go as far as it can.

Because only with better prevention can our NHS be sustainable in the long term.

Over just the last year, emergency admissions at A&E have increased by 6.6 per cent. This rate of growth of demand is simply unsustainable.

But, of course, it’s not just about the finances. I want to talk about how preventing ill health can transform lives, and transform society for the better too.

That might sound radical. It is intended to.

The government-wide plan we are publishing today sets out how we need a radical shift in how the NHS sees itself, from a hospital service for the ill, to a nationwide service to keep us healthy.

Where those who work on the front line of the NHS including the GPs, who are its bedrock, feel confident to remind people of their responsibilities too.

So first, let’s talk about those responsibilities.

At the core of my political philosophy is a belief that the state has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society, and an equally firm belief that we must empower people to fulfil their potential to be the best they possibly can be. From the education they receive in school, to the freedom they have to achieve in work.

And nowhere is this more true than with health.

Given this duty, our starting point is to ask: what contributes to living longer in good health?

The Prime Minister has set this question as part of the Ageing Grand Challenge – to seek five years’ longer healthy life expectancy by 2035.

The best evidence points to a 4-factor breakdown.

Around a quarter of what leads to longer healthier life is acute care – or what goes on in hospitals. The second factor is genetics. The third factor is environmental – things like air quality that an individual can’t control.

And the final factor is what people do – the choices they make, the lifestyle they choose.

Different people put different proportions on these four factors: but suffice to say they’re all important.

Yet currently, we spend the overwhelming majority of the £115 billion NHS budget on acute care.

Last year, we spent just £11 billion on primary care where the bulk of prevention happens.

Yet the combination of prevention and predictive medicine have more than twice the impact on length of healthy life.

That isn’t just the difference between life and death, it’s the difference between spending the last 20 years of your life fit and active, or in a chronic condition.

So our focus must shift from treating single acute illnesses to promoting the health of the whole individual. And from prevention across the population as a whole to targeted, predictive prevention.

So as the government is spending £20.5 billion more of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash over the next 5 years – the single, largest cash injection to the NHS ever – we must see the proportion of funding on primary and community care in the NHS rise. And that is exactly what will happen in the long-term plan.

But it isn’t just about the quantum of money. It’s also about reform.

I want to see people taking greater personal responsibility for managing their own health. For looking after themselves better, so staying active and stopping smoking.

Now, I want to address head on how we can do this without undermining people’s liberty.

Take alcohol. Like many people, I enjoy the odd glass of wine.

I support the budget in which we froze duty on scotch and beer. I don’t believe in punishing the masses to target those who need help.

Yet alcohol abuse puts a huge burden on the NHS. High-risk drinkers make up less than five per cent of the population, but consume over a third of all alcohol.

They’re more likely to end up in A&E. And drunk people are more likely to be responsible for abuse and violent attacks on NHS staff. I’ve seen it for myself. So we need action on alcohol that targets those who most need our support, without punishing those who don’t.

Likewise, we know that smoking contributes to 4% of all hospital admissions in England each year. And smoking costs the NHS around £2.5 billion each year. And this is despite the massive reduction in smoking over the past 30 years.

For smoking, the next step towards a zero-smoking society is highly targeted anti-smoking interventions, especially in hospitals.

If someone is admitted as a heart patient, and we know that stopping smoking could save their life, then we will do everything we can to help them quit, as they do in Ottawa.

This is a Canadian model I like the look of. I want to see bedside interventions in our hospitals so smokers who are patients are offered medication, behavioural support and follow-up checks when they go home.

And we need to fulfil our commitments to the obesity strategy, and set ambitious targets also on salt.

Salt intake has fallen by 11 per cent in under a decade, but if salt intake fell by a third it would prevent 8,000 premature deaths and save the NHS over £500 million annually. So we are working on new solutions to tackle salt and will set out more details by Easter.

Because focusing on the responsibilities of patients shouldn’t be about penalising people but about helping people to make better choices.

How do we do that? How can we empower people to take more care of their own health?

By giving people the knowledge, skills and confidence to take responsibility for their own health.

By using new digital technologies, to help people make informed decisions, with more access to primary and community care, and with more social prescribing, all aimed at stopping people from becoming patients in the first place.

So the second thing I want to talk about is how we must focus more on prevention to transform our health and social care system to save money, eliminate waste and get the best return on our extra £20.5 billion.

This isn’t just about empowering people to take more personal responsibility. It’s about reforming the system and harnessing new opportunities.

There are two new technologies in particular with the potential to change everything: the combination of artificial intelligence and genomics.

They promise the potential to unlock our genetic codes; and allow us to apply those codes to how we live our lives. To predict which of us are susceptible to which illnesses, to diagnose those already ill, faster, and to develop new tailor-made treatments to bring people back to health.

Together, they will transform medicine. We are finally now able to crack that genetic factor of our health.

We can intervene earlier. Save money on unnecessary and invasive tests. Eliminate waste by prescribing the right medication or the right treatment the first time round. And save NHS resources for people who really need it.

And this isn’t something that’s far off in the future. It’s already happening.

The new NHS Genomic Medicine Service is expanding.

In Cambridge, we’re at the cusp of sequencing the 100,000th genome, and are now aiming to sequence 5 million so we can diagnose rare diseases, more quickly and with fewer painful tests for patients.

The world-leading Moorfields Eye Hospital is working with the world-leading AI company Deepmind. Their AI system has made the correct diagnosis on over 50 different eye diseases with 94% accuracy – at least matching the best human experts. And that figure is only going to improve.

These technologies, and other new digital services giving targeted health advice, are starting to transform global medicine.

As it has been with every wave of technology for the last 70 years, the NHS must be at the forefront, embracing these new technologies and shaping them as they evolve and improve.

The NHS must go from being the world’s biggest buyer of fax machines to the tech pioneers of the future. And I know we can do it. Because we’ve done it before.

From 1796 when Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine, to 1928 when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, to 1950 when Richard Doll proved the link between smoking and cancer.

The next frontier of prevention is using the data at our disposal to predict who will be ill with what, and to get in there early.

The Prime Minister has spoken with great eloquence about the power of artificial intelligence to save lives by spotting cancer earlier – and we must do that.

But predictive prevention has a far broader application.

From diagnosing a susceptibility to dementia due to a vitamin deficiency, to motivating activity to tackle obesity, we can have better, more targeted interventions than ever before. Again, giving better results, and helping the NHS eliminate waste and save money.

Our aim is to prevent people becoming patients through personalised advice and intervention. Public Health England are leading the way on predictive prevention. They are bringing together a range of experts so we can scale up this pioneering work to a national level.

Now, I’ve talked about acute care, genetics, and choices. So let’s turn to the final factor in determining a healthy lifespan: the environment.

And this is linked to my third and final point: how getting prevention right will transform society for the better. Right now, we tend to think of things in isolation.

Pollution is seen as an environmental problem. Employment is something for the Treasury to worry about. And housing is either a public good or a private investment.

But health can’t work in isolation. Our health is affected by each and every one of those.

So a true focus on prevention means tackling the environmental factors that affect a person’s health too. It means a new drive for clean air, building on the successes of recent years in cutting emissions. Secure employment, building on the record number of jobs available now. Higher quality housing.

And it also means our GP surgeries, our hospitals, our care homes, our entire health and care system working more closely with local authorities, schools, businesses, charities and all the other parts that make up our communities.

It means employers playing a bigger role in helping their staff stay healthy and to return to health after illness. And we can learn from the excellent work of our military here.

Soldiers have an 85 per cent return-to-work rate after a serious injury, and they obviously have some very serious injuries. The equivalent rate for civilians is only 35 per cent. The reason why the military is better at getting people back to work is because they are more engaged in their workers’ recovery at every stage of the process.

Civilian employers must do the same. Employers have a responsibility to help improve the health of their staff and the nation. Each of us has a stake in our health and care system so each of us has a responsibility to work together to build a sustainable system. So, I want us to be open to new ideas and learn from other countries.

Like the Netherlands, for example. Where companies must demonstrate due diligence in their approach to the rehabilitation of sick staff and helping employees return to work.

To achieve this we need to strengthen the links between employers, their unwell staff, and the NHS.

That way, the challenge – for I never think of people as problems – doesn’t present itself at 3am at A&E.

Good health starts with the right pre-natal care, immunisation, nutritional support, fitness advice, minimising social media and mental health harms, secure employment, financial independence, safe housing, help with bad habits, friends and family to fight loneliness, careful and considered interventions at every stage of life into old age.

From cradle to grave, not just for the NHS, but for the whole of society.

Giving people responsibility for their own health. Empowering them to make the right decisions.

The best help when they need help. That is what getting prevention right means. That is the potential of prevention. That is the promise that it offers: a healthier, happier future for us all.

Howard Flight: The best part of a week on, we can see that last week’s Budget was a popular one

The Chancellor has been fortunate that the public finances have improved substantially at a particularly convenient time.

Lord Flight is Chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund, and is a former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Philip Hammond has been fortunate that the public finances have improved substantially at a particularly convenient time. Economic growth has been revised up next year to 1.6 per cent; employment has been revised up, with 800,000 more jobs than forecast in 2023; wages will rise above inflation for the next five years.

The borrowing target has been met three years early, with the deficit now down to 1.9 per cent of GDP. The debt target has also been met three years early at a peak of 85 per cent of GDP. Borrowing is £11.6 billion lower than forecast at 1.2 per cent of GDP. This has improved significantly the scope of what the Budget can seek to address.

Overall public spending will increase by 1.2 per cent per annum, between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent less than forecast growth. The improved tax yields have enabled the Prime Minister’s NHS commitment to be fully funded.

The Chancellor presented a pragmatic “micro” Budget, seeking to address virtually all of the issues which came up as needing attention. Yet perhaps its most important ingredient was a significant cut in taxation for the majority next April – increasing the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate to £50,000 a year.

Local Authorities are getting an extra £1 billion of funding and business rates for retailers with rateable values below £51,000, will be cut by a third for two years. A further £1.7 billion each year will be provided to benefit working families on Universal Credit with the work allowance – the amount families can earn before losing credits – being increased by £1000 per annum.

A new two per cent digital services tax to insure that large digital firms pay a “fair share” of tax, is expected to raise £400 million per annum. Schools will get a further 400 million this year and defence will get a further £1 billion this year and next. There is also £160 million for counter-terror police. The national living wage will increase by nearly five per cent to £8.21. The national productivity investment fund will be increased to £37 billion and will be extended to 2024. Large roads will get £28.8 billion for 2020-25, and even potholes will get £420 million! PFI will be abolished, leaving a bill for £200 billion to be honoured.

There was a range of extra funding largely for small business – extending the annual investment allowance to £1 million; extending the start-up loans programme for 10,000 entrepreneurs; delivering the lowest corporation tax rate in the G20; keeping three million small businesses out of VAT; reducing the cost of taking on apprentices by halving the co-investment rate for non-levy payers; £121 million to support cutting-edge digital manufacturing; £78 million to fund electric motor innovations; £315 million in quantum technologies and £50 million for new Turing Fellowships.

Measures to help more people into home ownership include abolishing stamp duty retrospectively for first time buyers of all shared ownership properties of up to £500,000; an additional £500 million for the housing infrastructure fund; committing over £7.2 billion to a new help to buy equity loan scheme to support 110,000 new home buyers and the abolition of the housing revenue account cap controlling local authority borrowing for house building.

There are measures for those keen on the environment and more money for the Transforming Cities fund. Remarkably, the Chancellor has addressed virtually all the issues of concern to citizens and, as a result, I think, the best part of a week on, that this has proved to be a very popular Budget. The one important reform it has not addressed is the confiscatory rates of stamp duty on larger properties in London and the South East. This had led to a freezing up of the market – bad for revenues and for economic mobility.

Peter Ainsworth: The producers have captured the tuition fees review

This establishment panel will not challenge inefficiency. Parents and business are not represented. Colleges need an incentive to provide a better deal.

Peter Ainsworth is the Managing Director of EM Applications and is the author of Universities challenged: funding higher education through a free-market ‘graduate tax’.

The harsh criticisms from all quarters of the trial balloons floated by the Augar Review suggests it will fail to produce any useful solutions to the tuition fee quandary.

Cutting the headline figure to £6,500 would starve universities of resources. If the Treasury makes up the difference with teaching grants it will cost the state £3 billion it does not have, after making a £20 billion commitment to the NHS. It would be a “Labour-lite” policy and vastly politically inferior to Corbyn’s pledge of zero fees.

A second idea is, apparently, to charge much more – say £13,000 – for medicine and science and other subjects that lead to high earnings. This might mollify the Treasury, but it isn’t true that all medics and scientists have high earnings. Arts graduates of some universities earn more than scientists at others. Even for any given institution the range of earnings is wide, with some graduates doing exceptionally well and others doing no better than if they had never gone to University. This idea is a double fault – it both devalues the arts and overcharges many scientists. Since everybody would pay more than under Corbyn’s plan it remains a political loser.

The fundamental difficulty facing this review is that it appears to require squaring the circle. On the one hand it must address the political challenge arising from Corbyn’s promise to abolish tuition fees altogether. On the other it must preserve the independence and resources of the higher education sector. Preventing the easy delivery of these two is that austerity remains for most departments, and the terms of reference required that any proposal be within present budget constraints.

Without some very creative ideas the task seems impossible. Augar’s team, unfortunately, does not look equipped for out of the box thinking as it is drawn exclusively from the political and producer establishment.

Augar was a non-executive director of the Department for Education. Bev Robinson is the Principal of a Further Education College. Edward Peck is Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University. Professor Alison Wolf – Baroness Wolf of Dulwich – is both producer and politician. Sir Ivor Martin Crewe is Master of University College, Oxford. Jacqueline De Rojas serves on the government’s Digital Economy Council.

Nowhere in this panel are the consumers of higher education represented. The two groups who should be consulted to advise on how to reform this system are businessmen who hire graduates and parents with young children. Despite the ever-increasing proportion of youth attending University the CBI and other business groups continue to complain of a skills shortage. They say that too many graduates lack the attitudes and aptitudes that would make them productive. As a consequence, fully one third of graduates languish in non-graduate jobs. The other group is parents of young children. They want the best for their children and want a system that is fit for purpose – either providing an education that quickly helps students into higher paid employment or supporting them until they do.

Without consumer representation the Augar review is the victim of what an economist would call “Regulatory Capture”. This is a failure in government policy where a body charged with acting in the public interest instead advances the commercial or political concerns of the producers that currently dominate the sector; and consumer dissatisfaction continues.

What a producer/political team cannot see is that the underlying problem is that the sector is inefficient. If that can be improved then the conundrum is readily solved – costs can fall while standards improve. Looking at the problem with the eyes of the consumer makes it obvious that the focus of the review should be how to raise productivity.

The only way that a Conservative government can match Labour’s tuition fee abolition offer is with some form of graduate tax. This has the appeal that it is fair – the better off pay more – and it abolishes the idea that there is a “price” for tuition. Tuition becomes “free” again, but the graduate will pay slightly more tax in recognition of the fact that the degree boosts their earnings.

However, if the tax receipts flow to the Treasury there is nothing to encourage higher productivity and Universities’ finances are at risk from changing political priorities. The solution is to have the graduate tax operate by means of a contract between each University and its graduates so that “tax” receipts flow directly to each institution.

This is not fantasy land. The Economist reports that several US universities had instituted schemes that operated in this way. Purdue introduced ISAs (“Income Share Agreement”) as a means of payment of tuition costs in 2016, funded by its own endowment. Clarkson University in New York and Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania have recently begun similar schemes. The articled stated that it was believed another twelve institutions were due to follow shortly.

Tying the Universities income to that of its graduates aligns interests for the long term. As The Economist noted, such a scheme makes it likely that universities will adjust their courses to achieve better outcomes for both parties. If the Augar review team reads the tea leaves, or just The Economist, they will see that the future is clearly signposted.

May floats Brexit backstop ‘review mechanism’ in call with Varadkar

The UK insists that any arrangement to prevent a hard border must not be indefinite.

LONDON — Theresa May discussed the possibility of a “review mechanism” for the part of the Brexit agreement designed to protect the soft border in Ireland with her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar this morning, in a phone call requested by Downing Street to update Dublin.

According to an account of the call provided by the Irish prime minister’s office, Varadkar “indicated an openness” to the proposal but insisted the outcome of any such process must not be a “unilateral decision to end the backstop,” a legally-binding guarantee that, whatever the outcome of future trade negotiations between the U.K. and the EU, a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will not be required.

The call came amid reports that May’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is pushing for the backstop arrangement to have a break clause that could limit it to just three months. Raab is also pushing for the U.K. to have the unilateral ability to end the backstop arrangement.

Brexit negotiations are still stuck on the issue of the backstop. The U.K. insists any backstop arrangement agreed between the two sides must not be indefinite, but Dublin and the EU have refused to accept a backstop with a time limit. Therefore, the two sides are seeking what the U.K. government has described as a “mechanism” for ending the backstop should that be required.

Varadkar’s insistence makes it clear Dublin will not accept that this mechanism can be unilaterally triggered by the U.K., as Raab wants.

The statement from the Irish government’s department of the Taoiseach read: “Both leaders emphasized their commitment to avoiding a hard border and the need for a legally operable backstop.

“The prime minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop. The Taoiseach indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop. He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply ‘unless and until’ alternative arrangements are agreed,” the statement read.

In a second statement to U.K. journalists, No. 10 Downing Street said: “[The leaders] agreed that the intention was that the backstop should only be a temporary arrangement and that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found by agreeing a future relationship between the U.K. and the EU. In order to ensure that the backstop, if ever needed, would be temporary, the prime minister said that there would need to be a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end.”

Ken Murray contributed reporting.

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