Tue, 14 Feb 2012
Phillip Bennion has been officially confirmed as the new Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands region at the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg.
The Staffordshire farmer and economic policy expert takes over from Liz Lynne who stood down from Parliament earlier in February after more than 12 years due to the extensive travelling required in the job. Phillip Bennion was elected to second place on the Lib Dem list of candidates at the last European elections in 2009.
Commenting on his new role, Phillip Bennion said:
"I am determined to fight for the vital interests of the whole of the West Midlands region in the European Union and for a more prosperous and democratic Europe. From the shire counties to the manufacturing heart of the nation in Birmingham, this region's economic and environmental future will be shaped by our relationship with the EU.
"Literally hundreds of thousands of local jobs depend on it, so I will do my best to make sure we punch our weight in the corridors of power, whether in Brussels or London.
"I have always been pro-European. I am a strong supporter of a more liberal and democratic EU that concentrates on what it should be doing as simply and efficiently as possible. We are stronger together and would be much poorer apart.
"In our inter-connected world, the financial crisis in all western nations shows that we cannot bury our heads in the sand. If we listen to the siren sceptic voices we will be sleepwalking to disaster.
"Every European country is vulnerable to economic and environmental challenges which individual governments cannot control. Britain cannot tackle these challenges alone but must forge strong alliances with our neighbours. We have to be a strong voice for reform with a seat at the top table.
"I will use my experience as a farmer and independent businessman to work for EU rules that enable European businesses to take on the competition from Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICS) and other developing nations. Pointless red tape has to go and pro-active action taken to stimulate investment, trade and new jobs.
"I am committed to doing all that I can to further food, energy and material security in the long term in a way that conserves biodiversity and addresses climate change.
"Liz Lynne did a tremendous job as our MEP. Following her is a huge challenge but I am looking forward to getting to work."
"Phillip Bennion has been a very active Lib Dem member and campaigner in the West Midlands over many years. He not only knows the region very well, but also has first hand experience of working at a European level through his involvement with the European Liberal Democrat Party (ELDR) and as chair of the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG).
"With his background as a councillor, farmer and businessman, I am sure that he will be a valuable addition to the Liberal Democrat team in the European Parliament and we are looking forward to working with him."