La Treizième Étoile: 11/11/12 - 18/11/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
South West MEP Sir Graham Watson named one of the most influential Brits in EU policy making

Wednesday, 14 November 2012
A survey conducted as Britain approaches 40 years of European Union membership (1973-2013) has named South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson amongst the 20 most influential Brits in European policy making.

Sir Graham, who has been an MEP for the South West for over 18 years and is currently President of the recently-renamed pan-European Liberal Democrat party, has been named at number 16 just behind former MEP and current Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He is however ranked ahead of David Lidington, the current Government minister with responsibility for Europe.

None of the region’s other MEPs feature in the list.

The most influential – defined from a wide-ranging ‘longlist’ of more than 170 names sent in by EurActiv readers by an expert panel of 15 UK-EU affairs specialists located in London or Brussels - is Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles (South East), who is currently the Chair of the European Parliament’s influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and today was revealed to be on the shortlist to be the next Governor of the Bank of England.

Foreign Secretary William Hague is ranked at number eight, while Prime Minister David Cameron is at number nine and UKIP leader Nigel Farage is at number 34.

At a time when a Brit seen to be 'pro-European' and engaging ‘with Europe’ is viewed with scepticism and suspicion, I am pleased to know that at least through one of my elected representatives in the South West we have an influential voice working hard for us at the heart of the European Union.

The full list can be seen at:


Conservative MEP Girling reaffirms support for proposed badger culls; urges opponents 'to think about it very carefully'

It has been authorised by ministers in the UK, subject to large public disapproval and has now delayed until next summer but South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling is firm in her belief that the culling of badgers is necessary to control the spread of Bovine TB among cattle.

In an interview with EU Reporter she said: “I feel it is necessary because there is a strong belief and science to support it that unless we deal with the TB issue in the wildlife reservoir – which in the case of the UK is largely badgers but is also an issue with deer - we will not be able to eradicate TB in cattle."

"I think it will happen, the Secretary of State [Owen Paterson, Conservative] is absolutely clear and is going to make sure it happens and it reinforces in my mind that it is one of the tools in the toolbox for combating this dreadful disease.

She also spoke about her recent meeting with the European Commission where she asked about the possibility of a vaccination (as advocated by the likes of Dr Brian May on a recent trip to Brussels) and said “the Commission takes the view that no vaccine currently exists and they have not been asked to authorise one as yet.

There are different views from different veterinary sources, but the general view that seems to prevail as far as I can see is that the current vaccine would only work in about 60% of cases on cattle, would not cure cattle that already have TB, and it would be impossible to put vaccinated meat into the food chain in Europe because you would not know, there is no test, if it has been vaccinated or if there is some TB present,she said.

Asked whether she understood why the vaccination is being viewed as the ‘holy grail’ to resolving the problem, she agreed. “I fully understand why, because goodness nobody wants to cull badgers; when you start to talk about it and think about the vaccine it seems like the answer. Absolutely, I clutched at that one myself.

But the reality is quite different as I have discovered,she continued, “we are not the only country that has Bovine TB: many are now free having followed an eradication programme in line with the Commission’s advice, many are on the point of becoming TB-free although it may take a number of years before it is officially declared, and if you take the situation of a country like Spain – which had a similar situation to that of the UK - what they did was put into place the eradication programme in conjunction with culling their wildlife reservoir, which in their case was deer.

She criticised the “mixed messages” that have been circulated and urged those who think vaccination is the answer to reconsider and “to think about it very carefully”.

The full video interview is below.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.