La Treizième Étoile: 24/06/12 - 01/07/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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BREAKING: Bristol misses out on European Green Capital award for the second time

Friday, 29 June 2012
So near but yet so far! After missing out on the award for 2010, the South West's capital has again been defeated at the final stage as favourites Copenhagen scooped the 2014 award, announced just a short while ago in a ceremony in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

While the award does not come with a financial prize, being named European Green Capital would have distinguished Bristol from all of the other cities in Europe and gave it a real ability to be able to attract new business and new jobs in to the city.

With its already impressive green credentials, the Danish capital city of Copenhagen was the overwhelming favourite to take the title. Remarkably, 35% of the city's population already cycle to work or school and the council there is working towards ensuring the entire city is be powered by renewables by 2025 and is constructing new parks so as to meet its target of having a beach or green space within 15 minutes' walk for every resident. They were always going to be formidable competition.

But this is not a competition based solely on current performance levels; entrants were also judged according to their future plans, and Bristol's aim for zero waste to landfill by next year was one that impressed and raised a few eyebrows.

The European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik, present at tonight’s award ceremony, remarked that the standard of applicants was very high and that he was grateful not to have been a member of the jury.

Congratulations nonetheless should be addressed to the Bristol Green Capital team, a sterling effort. Third time lucky perhaps?

UPDATE: 29/06, 21:10

The Bristol Green Capital team have responded to the disappointing announcement, posting the following message via Twitter:

Leading Liberal MEP calls for reunification of Cyprus during upcoming EU presidency

Sunday, 24 June 2012
On 1st July the island nation of Cyprus will assume the rotating presidency of the European Council currently held by Denmark for the first time since it joined the European Union.

Cyprus: a divided island (Photo: Economist)On the eve of this historic transition, South West Liberal Democrat MEP and President of the European Liberal Democrat party Sir Graham Watson has called for the Mediterranean island to use their six months in the spotlight to make significant steps towards reunification.

The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters, but the island is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus (comprising about 59% of the island's area), and the Turkish-controlled area in the north (about 36% of the island's area) which calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and is recognised only by Turkey.

Communities kept apart by barbed wire have no place in the European Union,” he said. “All politicians on this island know by now what is needed to unify its people. All that is absent is the political will. President Christofias should use his presidency of the European Union to steer the island to an EU-backed solution."

Sir Graham, a member of the High-Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot Community in the Northern Part of the Island which the European Parliament established in 2005, was speaking after attending meetings in Cyprus with members of the liberal party of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot political leaders, and with the Foreign Minister and President of Cyprus Dimitris Christofias.

Continuing this message on this week’s edition of the BBC’s Record Europe (from 19 minutes 45 seconds), Sir Graham said: “I would hope, more than the economic situation, that the government of Cyprus would use this as an opportunity to seek ways of bringing the island together. The real tragedy of Cyprus is that we have a large number of people in the north of the island who are technically in the European Union but do not have the normal rights that European Union citizens should enjoy.

Screengrab from the BBC Record Europe programmeIn reaction, Cypriot Communist MEP Kyriacos Triantaphyllides said “this is not the fault of the present government of Cyprus; this is the fault of the occupation”. But when asked if the European Union could do more to help reunite the island, Sir Graham said: “I think the European Union could do more, and I hope we will.

We have relied for far too long on being able to say this is a matter for the United Nations [as] they are running the talks; but the United Nations talks have clearly failed, it has not been possible to get the two sides together […] we have to find other ways to move forward. Let’s use the six-month focus on Cyprus to get joint projects going,” he said.


Spanish incursions into Gibraltar waters were a ‘deliberate provocation’ says MEP

In a rather strongly-worded parliamentary question to the European Commission, the Conservative MEP for South West of England and Gibraltar Ashley Fox has described the recent Guardia Civil incursions into British waters as a "deliberate provocation".

In his parliamentary question tabled on 20th June (E-006085/2012), Mr Fox outlines the recent events and praises the Gibraltar’s “dignified and restrained” response.

Here is the question in full:

"I am disappointed to report several incidents of Spain deliberately provoking the Gibraltarian authorities.

Incidents over the last few weeks have included Spanish fishing vessels illegally entering British territorial waters, worryingly accompanied by armed Spanish Government Guardia Civil patrol boats. Details have also emerged of Spanish authorities radioing threats aimed at disturbing shipping docked in the port of Gibraltar.

The incidents have been met with a dignified and restrained response by the Gibraltarian and British authorities so as not to escalate the situation. However, with armed patrol vessels coming into close proximity, this has the potential to quickly turn into a lethal situation.

Will the Commission request that Spain stop interfering with the freedom of Gibraltarian fishermen to fish in accordance with the common fisheries policy?

Does the Commission believe that the threatening behaviour on the part of the Guardia Civil amounts to an infringement of the movement of labour, which is a fundamental right enjoyed by EU citizens?"

I for one look forward to reading the response from the European Commission, which according to official procedure should take no more than six weeks...


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