03 June 2013

Responses to my questions for London Labour's MEP candidates: #2 Sanchia Alasia.

Following the first response from Seb Dance, I am also now grateful to Sanchia Alasia for her views on the issues I have raised with all six non-incumbent candidates for London Labour's list for the 2014 Euro-elections.

1. The biggest challenge faced by the European project this year has been the Cypriot banking crisis. What is your assessment of the measures put in place by the so-called 'troika' to deal with this and what lessons have been learnt should similar crises arise in comparable euro-denominated economies?

SA: The Cypriot banking crisis shows that the eurozone needs to be transformed into a proper economic, monetary and social union.  This means a radical policy shift away from austerity and towards jobs and growth.  To avoid similar crises in the future the financial sector needs to be reformed.  That's why I would campaign for a cap on bankers bonuses and a financial transaction tax, because it's simply not fair that ordinary hard workers citizens, pay for the mistakes the banks have made and it's important that the financial sector realises that they are serious consequences to risk taking.  

Banks are important and we have seen that is the case in the UK, where the government decided to bail out RBS.  But even though RBS suffered £5.2 billion worth of losses, they still payed out over £600 million in bonuses.  Cyprus also demonstrates why it is so important to crack down on tax evasion, my mentor in the European Parliament, Mojca Kelva MEP, is leading a report for the Socialist and Democrat group, calling for tighter definitions of tax havens, so that it goes beyond places like the Cayman Islands.  we also need national governments to cooperate and share more information with each other..

2. A longer term challenge is that of reducing carbon emissions. It has been claimed that the cap and trade Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has been undermined by the European Parliament's recent failure to agree to the 'backloading' of credits. In such a scheme, do you believe the 'cap' or the 'trade' feature to be the more important? Has the ETS reflected this importance? If not, what reforms or alternatives for regulating the use of carbon would you support?

SA: In the 21st century we face unprecedented global challenges, one of them being climate change.  The EU needs to work towards tackling this important issue and as one of your Labour MEP's I would help to lead the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate change.  London has the highest rate of CO2 emissions in the EU and it's currently the fourth biggest killer, bigger than obesity, alcohol and road traffic accidents combined.  This challenge needs to be taken seriously as the quality of our environment is crucial, not just for us now, but for future generations.  I would work hard in the european parliament to secure new legislation so that the target that has already been set to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 would be achieved.  I think the ETS in principle is a good scheme as it will force companies to think about more green, carbon friendly production methods on a long term basis, but there is room for a rethink of how it will operate in the future.

3. A growing pan-European economy is dependent upon the flow, exchange and exploitation of information. This whole opportunity is becoming better known as 'Big Data'. What are the threats to this from EU legislation concerning data? How do we balance the potential for businesses and consumers with the need to protect privacy and maintain member nations' national security infrastructures?

SA:  I think that the EU should be at the forefront of a digital agenda.  We have seen how we are now made to accept cookies when visiting websites and this is a good first step.  The balance is of safeguarding individual privacy and sharing necessary information so that europe can thrive is a delicate one, but people should have the right to know what data is being held on them, how it is collected and companies should have robust policies in place regarding the processing and storing of that data.

4. Although no fault of any of those selected, it has become increasingly clear that the selection processes for the regional lists was unsatisfactory. In London, only 100 or so applications were made. (Just so as you know, I was one of them so do not write this entirely disinterestedly). For a job that has 8 vacancies and is worth a six figure annual salary, that's astonishingly low and points towards a lack of communication and promotion to the regional membership. How would you rectify this for the 2019 process? Whatever the numbers of members interested, is a pre-selection for selection necessary at all? Given modern campaigning and communications techniques, are short-lists for a regional list necessary at all? How could the regional party better facilitate the participation of more than eight people in the selection for 2019?

SA: I am sorry to learn that you did not get an interview but it's great that you applied.  I am privileged and humbled to have been chosen as one of the six candidates for London.  I think 100 applications is not a bad number for six positions, it's certainly the highest to date for the London region. I recieved the email from the London region about how to apply and the deadline, I hear that many weren't aware, however I was keeping a close eye on members net regularly as it was something that I believed I have the skills for.  

I think for 100 applications some sort of shortlisting is necessary, I don't think Labour party members would want to receive emails and other communications from 100 different perspective candidates and it would be difficult to keep track. I know some of the regions shortlisted more candidates than slots available and this could perhaps be an option in the future.  I do think it's important that the party has a good range of applications to choose from as this will ensure they shortlist quality candidates.  Having been through the selection process, I can assure you it was no piece of cake and I was certainly put through my paces.  I am now really enjoying the process of hustings that CLPs across London are organising, which gives me a chance to engage with Labour party members face to face, which is my preferred method of interaction.

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