La Treizième Étoile: 08/05/11 - 15/05/11 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Leaked CFP reform proposals could 'wipe out' South West fishing industry warns MEP

Saturday, 14 May 2011
A Fishing trawler (Photo: Wikipedia)The South West’s thriving fishing industry could be “wiped out” if plans revealed in a leaked document turn out to be true, according to one of the region’s MEPs.

While the exact details of the Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s ‘radical’ reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy are not due to be made public until 13th July, a draft version obtained by BBC News reportedly includes proposals that have already been described as causing the "virtual privatisation of the oceans".

Under the new scheme according to the BBC report, boats would have to land all the fish they caught, and the whole catch would count against quotas – thus addressing the concerns over discards – but the European Commission is also reportedly planning to reform the EU's fishing industry by giving vessels quota shares. These shares would be guaranteed for periods of at least 15 years that could be bought and sold within the industry, and the final decision on fishing quotes will remain with politicians and not scientists.

Conservative South West MEP Julie Girling is horrified by the idea, and says that if these plans came into force large foreign fleets could snap up the rights off our coast spelling disaster for fishermen and coastal communities in the South West.

This really favours the large fishing operators and the large producers and in the South West are just not into that type of business,” she said.

We have been speaking to the Commission for months and years and we have been saying that the only way for sustainable European fishing is to return to member states day-to-day management, and I thought they were actually listening to that. This particular proposal simply wouldn’t do that – unless they have another.

Video courtesy of


MEPs vote to press on for coveted EU seat in the hallowed UN Security Council

Thursday, 12 May 2011
UN Security Council (Photo: than two weeks after the EU gained a 'largely symbolic' upgrade to its status at the UN General Assembly, MEPs have voted in favour of pushing for an EU seat on the hallowed UN Security Council (UNSC), shown left.

The resolution ‘The EU as a global actor: its role in multilateral organisations’ adopted by MEPs in May’s plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg states that “an EU seat in an enlarged UNSC remains a central, long-term goal of the European Union” and “calls on the VP/HR to take the initiative to develop a common position of the Member States to that end”.

But the plan is likely to come up against fresh firm opposition from France and the UK who are two of only five veto-wielding permanent members of the 15-member Security Council. Germany and Portugal are currently sit around the table as non-permanent members – but only until January 2013.

Before the resolution drafted by María Muñiz de Urquiza (S&D, ESP) was unanimously adopted, a number of British MEPs took the opportunity to voice their discord during a discussion with Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

Nikki Sinclaire (NI) said such a move would “constitute a significant transfer of sovereignty from the UK, and indeed France” and Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden described it as “totally unacceptable”. “I do not see that either Member State would be willing to do that," he said. “Unfortunately the Lisbon Treaty encourages that, which is, as I say, one of the reasons why we so object to it.

In the final vote, the UK Liberal Democrats were among the 492 who voted for it, while the Tories formed part of the 93 who voted against alongside UKIP who, predictably, said such a move was the 'next step' towards Britain being deprived of its permanent seat – an accusation dismissed by the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling was one of a small number who ‘rebelled’ and voted against party lines and voted in favour of the report.

On 3rd May the UN General Assembly voted to grant the EU enhanced status, entitling EU officials to address the Assembly but without voting rights. The motion (A/65/L.64/Rev.) was passed with 180 votes in favour to none objections. Zimbabwe and Syria abstained and 10 further countries did not take part in the vote. Now dubbed a “super-observer”, the European Union will be conferred special rights in the General Assembly where it can now address UN meetings through its own officials, rather than through the country currently holding its rotating presidency, can present amendments orally, and exercise a limited right of reply.

UPDATE (24/05 – 22:12):

According to theParliament magazine, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has reiterated his country’s support behind calls for an EU permanent UNSC seat as part of a wider reform of the UN structure.

"We know that two EU member states are permanent members of the UN Security Council and that they do not want to give up their seats," he said. "This makes for a difficult situation but Germany's goal is for the EU to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"As one of the biggest members of the UN, the EU ought to take more responsibility […] This is not about obtaining more weight for the EU, or Germany, but about rebuilding the UN's architecture."


South West MEP calls for EU-wide fire safety law for hotels

Wednesday, 11 May 2011
The charred remains of the Penhallow Hotel, Newquay, following the devastating fire in August 2007 (Photo: Daily Mail)In August 2007, fire swept through the corridors of the Penhallow Hotel in the popular Cornish holiday resort of Newquay and flames were reported to reach 30ft into the sky. More than 100 firefighters fought to contain the blaze but were ultimately unsuccessful in what was quickly described as the worst in the UK for nearly 40 years. Three holidaymakers lost their lives.

O&C Holdsworth Ltd, the Yorkshire-based company that owned the hotel, admitted two charges of failing to meet national fire safety standards when the case was bought before Truro Crown Court in March and they were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £62,000 costs.

But now in light of this ruling, South West MEP Graham Watson is backing calls to establish a new Europe-wide law on fire safety following the Penhallow disaster.

There is no legislation at all at a European level at the moment even though millions of people travel every year around the European Union. What we have is a Council recommendation which means that the 27 countries have agreed to say to each other you ought to meet certain standards that was adopted 25 years ago and nothing since,” he said.

The Commission and the Parliament have both attempted on previous occasions tried to introduce such legislation, but now Mr Watson is hoping that given the tourism’s importance in the European economy and the Parliament’s new competences granted to it under the Lisbon Treaty will make a revisit to the subject more profitable.

Mr Watson says fire safety experts are telling him the law needs to be stronger, and he believes Europe-wide standards would ensure that citizens could feel reassured when staying in hotels both in the UK and on the continent.

It is often the case that you need to legislate in order to oblige hoteliers to make their hotels of an adequate standard. We have done this in the past in the UK where hotels now have to have fire doors and they have to have sprinkler systems, so let’s make sure that this is the case right across the European Union.

Video courtesy of


Poland unveils its colourful and symbolic logo for upcoming EU presidency

Tuesday, 10 May 2011
On the 1st July Poland will assume the rotating six-month presidency of the European Council, and today the logo for its upcoming spell in the hot seat was unveiled.

EU Trio logos and the new Polish EU Presidency logo (Photos: and of six arrow heads directed upwards (perhaps symbolic for growth / progress), the logo was designed by the Polish graphic artist Jerzy Janiszewski, who created the recognisable Solidarność/Solidarity logo which can be seen in the Polish flag flying leftwards above the red arrow.

Presented at a press conference today in Poland by the Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the logo aims to symbolically relate to values of solidarity, competitiveness, cohesion, openness and community spirit – all of which will be especially necessary within the European Union during Poland’s presidency as difficult and important debates on immigration policy and Eurozone rescue packages will no doubt be addressed.

The new logo is somewhat of a break of tradition since the last three holders of the rotating presidency Spain, Belgium and Hungary used a common ‘EU trio’ design with the colour schemes adjusted to their respective country’s flags (see image above left).

That trio of logos was simple, official and gave the impression of solidarity, cooperation and harmonious relationships, so it initially came as a surprise to me to see the Polish presidency to produce such a new design.

Cyprus EU Presidency 2012 logo (Photo: screengrab from
However, symbolically it is very rich and its colours do make it attracting to the eye, but all hopes it would inspire a new ‘trio’ of images seem to have already been dispelled since Cyprus (third part of the next trio – Poland, Denmark, Cyprus) appear to already have their presidency logo – an outline of the country overlaid by a transparent golden star as seen on the European flag (as shown left in a screengrab from the Cypriot Presidency's website).

UPDATE 30/06/11:

I'm indebted to @VK who in comments below has brought my attention to a competition the Cypriot presidency is in the process of concluding for an official logo for their EU presidency that begins on 1st July 2012. Therefore the picture above left is not the official logo. According to this statement, 97 entries were received and the 'Selection Committee' has since met to choose the best entries which will be sent to the President of the Cypriot Republic who will have the final say. In that case, perhaps their official logo will be unveiled soon...

Lauded Georgieva pledges to 'finish term as a Commissioner' dashing Bulgarian hopes of a Presidency bid

Monday, 9 May 2011
Commissioner Georgieva (left) visits an evacuation shelter in Tsukuba City in the Prefecture of Ibaraki, Japan (Photo: The Mission of Japan to the European UnionKristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response who recently became the first woman to top the most popular politicians' ranking in Bulgaria in 10 years, has today stated she does not intend to run in the Bulgarian presidential elections due in October.

Speaking this morning to Bulgaria’s Nova TV channel and consequently reported by Novinite, when asked about plans to join the presidential race, the Commissioner said “I have a lot of work to do and will definitely finish my term as European Commissioner”. As with the rest of the current Barroso II Commission, her mandate runs until 2014.

With numerous large-scale natural disasters occurring around the world since she took office, Ms Georgieva has been kept busy, and to date has been the only Commissioner who has proved effective in what is also a troubling time for the EU itself.

At the end of last year Ms Georgieva was awarded the titles of 'European of the Year' and even ‘Commissioner of the Year' by the European Voice newspaper, and attracted much praise when she boldly declared that any plans to politicise her department and restructure it under the purview of the External Action Service would take place ‘over my dead body’.

As a result, many back in her home country of Bulgaria have called for her to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. But credited with considerable expertise in the development field from her previous job at the World Bank, Bulgaria’s loss is most certainly Brussels’ (and the EU’s) gain. But let us not forget that Ms Georgieva was not meant to be a Commissioner; she had to be hastily called upon to step in at the last minute after MEPs rejected the Bulgarian government's first candidate, Rumiana Jeleva back in January 2010.

The good news has come on the same day that Europe celebrates the 61st anniversary of the Schuman Declaration – a historic speech that outlining the principles of European cooperation and gave birth to the European Union as we know it today.

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.