Paris a wakeup call for Schengen zone
First let me wish you all a very prosperous and happy 2016 which will bring the London mayoral election for our excellent candidate Zac Goldsmith and possibly the EU referendum, so lots to occupy me. In 2015, amongst other issues, I have been heavily involved in debates in the European Parliament on the threat posed by Islamist extremism at home and across the globe.
The terrible Paris terrorist attacks were a wakeup call to EU policy makers who had extolled the virtues of the border free Schengen area - well intended for bona fide use by EU citizens - but who ignored weaknesses in its security.
The good news is that EU Interior Ministers have changed the Schengen code to tighten up loopholes, pledged more cooperation between police and security services and will insist that Greece tightens border controls.
But it remains to be seen if these changes will be accepted- particularly the right of EU border agency Frontex to impinge on Greek sovereignty - or if Chancellor Merkelís well meaning but unrealistic open door policy for refugees is sustainable.
Fortunately, Britain is neither part of the EU Schengen system nor the Common Immigration and Asylum policy, but indirectly these issues do impact upon us.
The UK is more generous than Germany in the way refugees are treated. In the UK, any refugee after four years is allowed permanent leave of entry, irrespective of the improved security situation in the country they have fled, and after five years can obtain a British passport.
In contrast, in Germany refugees are not given naturalisation rights and when peace returns are normally compulsorily returned to the country they came from.
UK drinks industry a European success story
I have always supported London. business and recently taken a special interest in the drinks industry where London still retains a significant manufacturing base, visiting Britvic, Fullers and Beefeaters Gin in Kennington. All rely on unfettered access to the European Union single market for exports of their finished products.
These companies benefit from UK membership of the EU for importation of their raw ingredients, their packaging and the machinery used in creating their goods.
Britvicís supply chain, for example, draws on countries across the EU illustrating a European success story: equipment at the plant comes from Germany and Belgium and the plastic for bottles from the Netherlands. Britvic has operations in Great Britain, Ireland and France and exports to over 50 countries around the world.
Beefeater, meanwhile, a distillery owned by Pernod Ricard, is seeing growth in Central and South America, and finding more gin is being consumed in places like Spain.
Beefeaterís bottling takes place in Scotland while essential ingredients such as juniper berries - which grow wild - are historically sourced from Italy, making the ginís story a truly European one. Pernod Ricard says it would have concerns around ĎBrexití.
Economically, the UKís trading position with the rest of the world is in my view strengthened by its membership of the EU.
Friends of Cyprus
At the Conservative Friends of Cyprusí reception at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
UK small business briefing
Attending a briefing reception in the European Parliament to support UK small businesses.
Giving an interview in French for BFMTV on how November 11 is celebrated throughout Europe, in particular discussing the significance of Remembrance Day in the UK.
Presidential meeting in Kurdistan
Meeting at his Presidential palace in Erbil, in my capacity as Chairman of the EP Friends of Kurdistan, the legendary former Peshmerga resistance fighter, President Masoud Barzani of the KRG. We discussed the war against ISIS where his government is fighting against its terror, and the need for more EU member state humanitarian and military aid. I also communicated my campaign to get ISIS referred to the ICC for an indictment for genocide and war crimes.
Planning for the future
With Bob Blackman MP and Hannah David, founder of new think tank Planning Futures, at the House of Lords.
EU referendum talks
Taking part in a live interview and panel discussion on the subject of the EU referendum, in Italian, for Rai News.
Greater London Assembly campaign
Campaigning with Timothy Barnes, Greater London Assembly list candidate.
Pet welfare a priority
Supporting action for pet welfare in the EU.
UK referendum debate
At a seminar of the European Ideas Network in Brussels discussing what our EU partners should expect from the UK referendum.
Taiwan video conference
Speaking by video conference to Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou in my capacity as Honorary President of the European Parliament Friends of Taiwan.
Visiting Britvic in East London
On a tour of Britvicís bottling plant in Beckton, Newham in my London constituency which employs around 170 people.
Supporting beer maker Fuller's
With Richard Fuller touring Londonís oldest and largest brewery, Fullerís Brewery in Chiswick, a large UK exporter of the UKís best beers.
Modi's visit to London
At Wembley Stadium to hear India PM Narendra Modi hail his countryís ďspecial relationshipĒ with the UK.
Campaigning in Newham
Outside West Hamís ground, with Emmanuel Obasi, Newham Council byelection candidate.
Appearance on Catalan television
On Catalan TVís Via Europa, discussing the 2015 Catalan parliamentary elections and the experience drawn from our own Scottish Referendum.
France 24 Brexit discussion
Debating on France 24 with UKIP and SNP MEPs on the forthcoming Brexit referendum. I was able to communicate the position of the Conservative government which is currently in the process of negotiating a package with EU partners before putting it before the British people in the referendum which must take place before December 2017.
Congrats to Zac
Delighted to congratulate ZacGoldsmith as selected Conservative candidate to win the next Mayoral London election.