La Treizième Étoile: 30/09/12 - 07/10/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
UK 'should not lose or dilute this vital tool for the sake of political rhetoric' says MEP after European Arrest Warrant success

Friday, 5 October 2012
Ahead of the imminent extradition of Jeremy Forrest back to the UK, missing for almost a week but found within 24 hours of an European Arrest Warrant being issued, South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has penned a letter hailing the benefits of the measure to UK police forces and why David Cameron would be "foolhardy" to exercise the UK’s opt-out for the sake of appeasing his MPs.

Printed in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph under the over simplistic heading of 'Arrests in Europe' it reads:

"SIR – The case of Jeremy Forrest, the maths teacher who travelled to France with his pupil (report, October 1), highlights why it would be foolhardy for David Cameron to opt out of EU measures on crime and policing. It is a clear demonstration that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a critical tool for the British police. The warrant offered Sussex Police a simple, rapid and cost-effective method of mobilising police support across the Continent.

Mr Forrest’s speedy return is in stark contrast to the days before the EAW, when the extradition process and delays meant that even Trevor Masters, a convicted sex offender, could argue for two years in the French courts before being returned to captivity in Britain.

Our police forces rightly recognise that the EAW is a useful tool in their armoury; it has been used to bring serious criminals – such as the London bomber Hussain Osman – back to these shores to face justice. We should not lose or dilute this vital tool for the sake of political rhetoric.

Sir Graham Watson MEP (Lib Dem)
Langport, Somerset

Baroness Sarah Ludford, one of Sir Graham's colleagues in Brussels, is similarly concerned at the Conservative Party's intentions to exercise their opt-out and threaten Britain’s ability to fight serious crime. She has set up a petition of her own, which can be found here:


‘Europe is a club to which we belong’ MEP Girling says now not the right time for UK referendum on EU membership

Thursday, 4 October 2012
South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling does not believe the time is right for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, but has expressed her belief it should be a part of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto for the 2015 General Election.

In an editorial posted earlier today on the website PublicServiceEurope, Mrs Girling writes: “Our financial problems are not ones that we can shy away from and I share public frustrations about the EU."

"I do agree with David Cameron when he says now is not the time for a referendum on our membership of the EU. However, that time is approaching and [it] should be part of the next Conservative Party manifesto.

Europe is currently undergoing radical change and we should see how this crisis ends before making decisions about our own future relationship,” she continued. “There is no doubt that we must protect our own interests, safeguard the single market and stay out of a federal Europe […] For the time being, Europe is a club to which we belong.”

Click here to read the editorial in its entirety.


Gibraltar admitted as provisional member of UEFA so Spain immediately calls ‘foul!’

Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Gibraltar has moved a step closer to becoming a member of UEFA after they were admitted on Monday as a provisional member at a meeting of the European football governing body's Executive Committee in Russia.

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish were not happy and immediately declared they will contest the decision with Spanish Sports Minister Jose Ignacio Wert reportedly telling Spanish TV broadcaster Telemadrid: “We have already said we will exhaust all legal means […] I can say that we are reasonably optimistic that this provisionality will not become a definitive acceptance".

A statement issued by UEFA read: "The committee has admitted Gibraltar as a provisional member of UEFA as from today, 1 October 2012. This follows a ruling by the court of arbitration for sport (CAS) in August 2011. A decision on the admission of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) as a full member of UEFA will be taken by the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London in May 2013". Back in March, UEFA discussed Gibraltar’s membership bid and agreed upon a financial and educational support package for the British colony.

A statement on the Gibraltar Football Assocation’s website reads: “The Gibraltar FA is pleased to announce that it has today been granted provisional membership of UEFA […] The Gibraltar FA thanks the UEFA Executive Committee and reiterates its steadfast commitment to working with UEFA on the ‘roadmap’ towards full membership and to building relationships with the 53 fellow member associations.

Allen Bula, Gibraltar's development officer and national head coach, was understandably delighted at the news and was eagerly awaiting the Gibraltarian team’s entry onto the world football stage. “It's a great decision, and hopefully we will be full members in May 2013,” Mr Bula said to SkySports News. “The Gibraltar National A team is ready for Euro 2016 qualifiers. We have been working hard to show Europe we have the quality to play at this level, and recent results since 2011 have shown this.

"I am hoping that we will be in same group as England [in the Euro 2016 qualifiers], as playing in Wembley is a dream for all of us. But it can be a nightmare result for England on the night," he continued. "We also can't wait for the day we play against Spain, both at home and away!"

Having fulfilled criteria to join Fifa in 1997, a request to join UEFA was met with condemnation by the Spanish Football Federation, who threatened to pull their teams out of the confederation. A subsequent rule was passed in 2001 that meant only countries recognised by the United Nations as an independent state were eligible for membership. Since this did not include Gibraltar, the Rock’s Football Association decided to take their application before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2003, and were ultimately successful. Gibraltar was thus awarded provisional UEFA membership in 2006 only to see their request to become full-time overwhelmingly defeated at a UEFA Congress in Dusseldorf, Germany following political pressure applied by Spain.

Anticipating a situation of déjà vu ahead of next May’s vote in London, the Government of Gibraltar has issued a statement condemning the Spanish rhetoric. It reads: “Football and all sport should never be allowed to mix with politics. Until now, all obstacles put in the way of the GFA's membership of UEFA have been political so it is gratifying to see that the Executive Committee of UEFA are now considering the matter on sporting grounds.

The Government notes the less than sporting statements reportedly made by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Margallo, stating that Spain will do everything it can to stop Gibraltar's admission as a full member of UEFA,it continued. “This suggests that Spain will once again seek to mix sport and politics; something that all other relevant nations will see through and want to avoid.

Despite its small size, Gibraltar boasts a large number of football teams, with six teams comprising its premier division, 10 in reserves, 12 in the second division, three women's teams, and 47 junior teams from under-sevens to under-16s with about 600 young players.

As MEPs remain in Brussels this week, SW MEP Fox revels in saving taxpayer €15m

Monday, 1 October 2012
Traditionally MEPs would this week be working from Strasbourg to fulfil their obligation under the European Treaties of sit twelve times a year in the French city. However, this is not the case this year and South West MEP Ashley Fox is revelling in this fact, taking to his Facebook account to hail the €15 million reported saving this has made to the taxpayer.

This time it’s a little different as the ‘Fox Amendment’ has cancelled this needless migration,” he wrote. “We will therefore continue to meet in Brussels saving the taxpayer €15 million in the process. Let us hope the European Court of Justice makes this a permanent state of affairs when it reports back in the next few weeks.

In March last year, MEPs voted in a secret ballot to approve the amendment put down by Mr Fox to alter the Parliament’s calendar for 2012 and 2013. So, instead of holding two weeks of three-day’s business in October 2012 there will be a condensed double session occupying one whole week (22nd-26th) thus removing one whole migration for MEPs and Parliament staff (see scan of the Parliament's October 2012 calendar left).

Of course the French Government were less than pleased with this development and took the matter before the European Court of Justice. Last month, the advice of the Court’s Chief Advisor was made public and recommended overturning the Fox Amendment opining it is not compatible with the treaties. However, this is not the final verdict in this matter which is due in the coming weeks, so all is not lost in this first of many battles to overcome in the bid for a single seat.

Keep up the good work Ashley, the Brussels seat is more than capable of housing the European Parliament full time and would save a fortune. Learn more about the Single Seat campaign and add your name to Mr Fox’s petition here.


Is this for real? 'Appreciation' page for SW MEP has just three 'likes' in three weeks

Sunday, 30 September 2012
Here's an interesting page I came across during a browse on Facebook: an appreciation page for South West MEP Giles Chichester.

Adorned with a photo of Mr Chichester taken from his website when he was aboard submarine HMS Astute in naval uniform, the choice of profile picture is rather strange and taking also into consideration the tone of the description it does somewhat call into question to the supposed element of 'appreciation'. Nonetheless it is interesting how the page only has three 'likes' since the page was created on 13 September.

Perhaps as an experiment I ought to create similar appreciation pages for all six of the region's MEPs and see how many 'like' each one...


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.