Tuesday, May 08, 2007


A trip to Brussels.

Many of you reading this blog will have signed the petition to the European Parliament, many more of you made your own petitions or submissions using the website of the parliament. The petition is important because the scam guides have for decades escaped justice by operating across borders. Rarely does a guide target the host country, and when they do the result is often swift action under national laws.

What the ECG does would almost certainly be illegal within most of the countries affected, in Belgium it has been classed as fraud, but the affected countries can do little other than to appeal to the Spanish. The EU offers a chance to transcend national borders, making life impossible for the scams within any member state.

The European Parliament receives thousands of petitions each year, most are not accepted simply because there is not the time, the committee has to select those that appear most worthy, then invite petitioners to make a more detailed submission. Simply to get to the point where I was invited to Brussels on your behalf is a major achievement.

As my train wound its way across the unusually sunny Welsh countryside I considered that my 5 minutes before the Petitions Committee might be as valuable as all the work I have done for StopECG up to now. It was also sobering to know that I would be speaking for all who had signed the petition as Vincenzo, from Italy who initiated it was unable to attend. At least the journey by train allowed me time to prepare the speech and go over it repeatedly.

And so to the morning of the 2nd May, I was due to speak at 10.30 am. The process of accreditation left little time and I was rushed to the chamber to take a seat at the back and await my turn. The chamber used was not the main parliamentary room, it was still a good size, capable of seating 200-300 people. Around the back were 14 smaller rooms fronted with smoked glass, in each stood or sat the translators. Near the front sat the MEPs, behind them the petitioners and at the back guests and press. Facing us all, on a raised platform, the committee. I donned the headphones and listened to the conversation, translated into English form several languages.

In front of the chairman was stacked a huge pile of papers, I looked at them and thought, “Oh my god, this is just TODAY’S business, surely our little petition will get lost in all this!”

Then I was called, the chairman reached over and slid the huge pile of papers forward, it was not the days business, but our petition against scam guides! I pressed the red button on the microphone in front of me and suddenly my amplified voice was being translated into every major European tongue.

Five minutes is not long to explain a subject as extensive as the campaign to stop these guides, and although the speech went well I missed a couple of points I had wanted to make. At least my main point was delivered clearly, that an extension of EU wide consumer protection laws to small businesses and sole traders would offer immediate relief from the worst excesses of these guides.

Next to speak was a representative of the commission, he was not helpful, the commission had no plans to extend consumer protection to businesses, they had made representations to the Spanish government who reported that the Valencian Authorities had negotiated with the ECG to get modifications to the contract. It was very frustrating!

Fortunately my frustration was shared by the MEPs who followed him, they managed to pick up on the main points I had missed and made it clear that the current status-quo in Valencia is not sufficient; many thanks to Richard Corbett MEP for an excellent speech.

It was decided to investigate the matter further and to send it to two more committees, dealing with Legal affairs and the Internal Market, this process will take time, but at least the matter is now firmly on the Brussels agenda.

For those of you who missed the petition, all is not lost, you should still contact your MEP, send them full dossiers of your correspondence with the scam guide you are fighting, and ask that they take an interest in the ongoing efforts of the European Parliament to tackle this problem. The Petition is in the name of the European City Guide, but will examine all the guides, As I understand it MEPs can follow its progress and attend committees where it is discussed. I will try to keep you informed as to the progress in Brussels so that you can update your MEPs on a regular basis.

Labels: , , , ,

Dear James. You are a hero. I have fighted scamguides on behalf of several companies, and have made good use of your advice against ECG and CD. Thanks for the practical and moral support and congratulations with the trip to Brussels.
My friend, signed up into a yahoo group is a big fan of yours, if you are the same Jules, of course. I also have posted some warnings and a list of such firms and registers on my blog jana4ceh and made a lot of effort to publish the problem in S l o v e n i a n media. I also made an email warning in english, slo. and croatian language and started forwarding it throughout the ex-yugoslavian countries. There is a lot of "signers" in our country, and croatia. Most of them are unfortunately ashamed to speak about their problem. I have found your blog by searching for the petition against ECG to the EU parliament. I'm experiencing difficulties finding anything about the petition on europarl site. Additionaly our capital city s EU-info point people don't know anything about ECG. They also claim that european parliament/commission/MEPs are not responsible to deal with the problem. The same annoying sentence I have already heard from almost all of slo. institutions I have asked for help. What phase is the petition in now? Can I still sign/send the petition?
best wishes!
jana . ceh at g m a i l com
Thanks For your help. GO on!!
Franco (Italy)

EuroBusinessGuide located in Bulgaria!!!!

Phone 00359 878507110



57A Ivan Vazov Str.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?