La Treizième Étoile: 17/04/11 - 24/04/11 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Approved plans to elect additional 25 'pan-EU MEPs' declared as 'nonsense'

Thursday, 21 April 2011
MEPs in Strasbourg (Photo: PRSD)Proposals to increase the number of MEPs by 25, elected on a pan-EU basis rather than representing individual countries as is done currently, have received substantial backing despite one MEP swiftly labelling them as “nonsense”.

In its last meeting before the Easter recess held in Brussels last week, the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) voted 20-4 in favour of the proposals put forward by British MEP Andrew Duff to enhance the “legitimacy of the EU government”, under which 25 more members would take their seats in Brussels that would represent the whole of Europe and not individual member states.

Liberal Democrat MEP Duff, who wrote the report and is a leading campaigner for European and EU electoral reform and president of the Union of European Federalists, said the parliament should exploit the new powers granted to it by the Treaty of Lisbon.

"We have a great chance to establish a coherent modernisation of the electoral procedure," he told journalists after the committee vote. "The proposals, if passed, will transform the elections to the European Parliament … they will create a European dimension to the campaign that has never been there before.

Mr Duff also hopes that the next president of the European Commission would be selected from the ranks of these newly-elected members of the European Parliament, and to implement his reforms there would be a slight complication of the EU voting system. Voters would each have two votes: one to vote for their MEP as normal and one to be cast to choose from MEPs based on their EU political group, not their national one.

The move would require the approval of all 27 EU member states, and already eurosceptics fear the move will further undermine the EU nation states.

South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox, who is the vice chairman of the AFCO committee, described it was "nonsense" and said he expected the UK would veto the idea if it ever came to a vote on the matter at the European Council.

"I am confident that the British government would veto this proposal if it ever came to the European Council," he said in a statement. "I cannot remember a single person on the doorstep who has told me they would ever support such a move.

At a time of economic austerity the last thing the British taxpayer wants to pay for is an extra 25 MEPs across Europe plus the cost of a European electoral authority to oversee the process.

Mr Duff’s report will now be voted by the full assembly at June’s plenary session in Strasbourg, where this author expects it will be passed by a large supportive majority only to then be swiftly swatted dead by EU leaders at their next summit.


70% in South West want a referendum on EU membership according to new poll

Sunday, 17 April 2011
More than two-thirds of people in the South West want a referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the European Union, an exclusive poll published this week in the Western Morning News has revealed.

According to the regional daily, 35% of people surveyed said they "strongly agree" that there should be a referendum on EU membership, while a further 34% "agree" that a vote is needed.

The remainder of the sample either “disagree” (10%), “strongly disagree” (7%) or “didn't know” (14%) whether they wanted a referendum or not.

But then when asked how they would vote in such a referendum, 42% said they no longer wanted the UK to be part of the EU, and only 32% said they wanted to retain membership.

Such euroscepticism is hardly a surprise in the region – after all it is the home of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and five of the six current MEPs are either Conservatives or representatives of UKIP whose raison d'être is leading the campaign to leave Europe. But it is understood that EU enthusiasts in the region also want a referendum in order to "lance the boil", keen to demonstrate the vast economic cost of pulling out and how the Union has helped maintain peace in Europe since 1945.

The results of the poll conducted by the Devon-based market-research company Marketing Means were formulated from the mere 640 responses they received from people across the greater South West surveyed in March 2011.

UK - Entering into a coalition looks like political disaster for Lib Dems in the South West (28/03/11)

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.