British Vice-President of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott told a meeting of the AEJ in London that the EU should champion the cause of press freedom and human rights more vigorously at home and abroad. especially in dealing with what he called China’s “brutal regime” A new European Parliament report on press and Internet freedom was due out shortly which he hoped would be less “tentative” than previous positions taken by the parliament. Mr McMillan-Scott, who this year switched from the UK’s Conservative party to the Liberal Democrats in a bitter row over policies and personalities, said he himself was opposed to the proposed increase in the EU’s budget next year, he wanted to see MEPs take more seriously their new powers and responsibilities under the Lisbon Treaty in areas like fisheries; and he had supported the creation of an informal Study Group to look at the possibility of moving the Parliament out of its expensive Strasbourg seat and instead hold all its meetings in Brussels. He defended the controversial creation of a large EU diplomatic service (the External Action Service), saying it was designed to pool resources, save money and find common positions among EU member states wherever possible on foreign policy matters. The AEJ UK Section meeting was attended by about 20 people and was held in the newly-opened Europe House joint headquarters housing both the European Parliament’s office and the European Commission’s Representation in London.