La Treizième Étoile: 26/08/12 - 02/09/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
European Commission admits it has ‘no power to interfere in territorial dispute’ between Spain and UK over Gibraltar

Thursday, 30 August 2012
The European Commission has admitted that it has no powers to intervene in the ongoing dispute over the territory of Gibraltar, heightened in recent months with the standoffs at sea between Gibraltarian law enforcement agencies and the Guardia Civil.

One of Gibraltar’s MEPs, Conservative Ashley Fox, decided to table a Parliamentary question to the Commission on the matter in which he described the Guardia Civil incursions as “a deliberate provocation” before urging the Commission to step in.

Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, has now responded on behalf of the Commission to Mr Fox’s question in a manner that is best described as ‘short and sweet’:

“The incidents evoked in this question have their origin in a territorial dispute between Spain and the UK in which the Commission has no powers to intervene.”

Those 27 words took more than two months to arrive and unfortunately do raise rather more questions on how the European Commission will be able to tackle the ongoing disputes between Gibraltar and Spain – two EU territories – which occur across many disciplines. For example: overlapping environmental protection areas, cases of seemingly premeditated vandalism, and restrictions on the free movement of citizens with lengthy delays often reported at the border.


Would the ‘Norway solution’ be good for the United Kingdom? ‘Absolute tosh from the Tories’ says senior Lib Dem MEP

On last night's episode of The World Tonight for BBC Radio 4, Sir Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, took on arch-eurosceptic UKIP Conservative MEP for the South East Daniel Hannan and refuted his suggestions, and that of many of his fellow eurosceptic colleagues in Westminster that leaving the EU for a ‘Norway solution’ would be beneficial for the UK.

I’m not at all tempted by the Norwegian model,” he said. “The Norwegians are extremely wealth so are able to have, if you like, the luxury of staying out but it is costing them a lot of money: they have to pay into the administration and development fund of the European Union just like full EU members - they pay more per head of population than the UK does actually - and they have no say in how that money is spent.

We would end up outside the European Union paying for the privilege of a simple free trade agreement and having no influence on how our money was spent or the laws that we have to abide by.

Asked to refute this, Mr Hannan said he was “unaware of anyone advocating that the UK should exact replicate the Norway option, we would get our own deal and the Swiss deal is more attractive than the Norwegian one” and that “far from joining a growing single market, we have manacled ourselves to a corpse”.

Hitting back, Sir Graham said:

I think that kind of tosh from the Tories blights Britain’s business prospects. First of all, who is going to come and invest and create jobs here if they think we’re about to pull out of a market worth five hundred million of the world’s wealthiest consumers, and secondly, are we likely to get the same kind of deals in trading with India and China on our own as we are part of the single market? No.

In the programme’s feature (listen in full above), the presenter Charlotte Ashton speaks to Professor Fredrik Sejersted, who was tasked with chairing a review committee into Norway’s status as member of the European Economic Area. He says Norway is “inside rather than outside” and has taken more than three quarters of European law and policy and integrated it into Norwegian law in order to gain access to the world’s largest single market while not being a full member. For him, the only rational conclusion is for Norway to join the EU – “we are effectively inside the EU but without voting rights”, he said.

The radio report also notes that none of Norway’s main political parties have ruled out EU membership one day and features an interview with Ketil Solvik-Olsen, a leading Member of Parliament and economic spokesman for the opposition conservative Progress Party, who said “we can stay out of this because we’re so rich because of the oil; let’s be honest about it, we have all this wealth and we’re afraid that we have to share it with a lot of other countries. It is pure selfishness and if you’re going to make Europe a better place you can’t have this selfishness as a bottom line to what you’re doing.

As a pro-European who would like to see his country as an influential player at the heart of European decision-making, I cannot help but dwell on that last sentence. The UK should not succumb to playing petty party politics and put our place in Europe at stake.


South West MEP makes final shortlist for an MEP Award #mepawards2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012
South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling has been announced on a shortlist of three in contention for an MEP Award 2012. She has been nominated by EU policy stakeholders for making an excellent contribution in the domain of animal welfare.

Mrs Girling, a lover of horses, has long championed animal welfare in the European Union and is the party's current spokesperson for that policy area.

She is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) committee, has also been active in trying to ensure that all EU countries comply with the new animal welfare rules, particularly those which require hen cages to have nest boxes, litter and perches, or call on all member states to comply with a tighter ban on shark finning.

She recently signed a written declaration for an urgent review of the EU legislation governing animal transport, is a supporter of the world horse welfare initiative and provided strong opposition to the long distances over which vulnerable horses are transported to slaughter in Europe. [The founder of that particular campaign ( and president of the intergroup for the welfare of animals, Danish MEP Dan Jørgenson, is also on the shortlist for this award…]

The British MEP has also expressed her support for ending cosmetic testing on animals and co-hosted an event on the subject with two other MEPs.

As the shortlists have now been announced, the voting is now open to solely MEPs with the winners announced at the MEP Awards ceremony organised by the Parliament Magazine to be held in Brussels on 25 September.

UPDATE (25/09, 23:02) The MEP Awards ceremony has been and gone and as I has suspected it was Dan Jørgenson who walked away with the gong. There's always next year Julie...


Last election:

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